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Do you think in words?

11050 Views 87 Replies 74 Participants Last post by  saturnne
I don't know if this question has been brought up before. I find that I almost never think in words or sentences, unless I'm thinking about writing something.

When I'm just thinking I tend to think conceptually or visually. Words might float up, but never in a sentence structure.
I'm an INTP. My sister who is an ISFJ says she also doesn't think in words very much.

But in one of my classes, there was a debate in which most people seemed to think that thinking without words is impossible.

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Actually I think without words too. That is why I need to be silent while thinking. For example, if I would like to determine how I should fix something, photos of steps 1, 2, 3, and so on will flash on my mind. I like your question.
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I don't think it is possible to think without having access to words. As in, you might be able to think some things without words, but overall those disparate thoughts are tied together with the discipline and structure of language. This gets to linguistics, as I understand it; is language primarily a system of communication, or primarily a system of thought which can be used for communication? I lean towards the latter view.

I myself think with words, or something close to words, most of the time. Sometimes I use images, but those are mostly as abstract 'sensations' summoned up by the other words. Oftentimes also, my thoughts are like unformed words, if that makes sense. I visualize it as my thinking running along a 'thought' river; when it is submerged just beneath the water but could break out at any moment if I willed it, I think of it as unformed words. When it breaks out, it becomes clearly seen strings of words.

This may be nonsense . . .
Uuh with words, for sure! Monologues, to be specific haha
I was just thinking of making a thread on this exact topic!

I'm INTx and for me, it always feels like I'm in a very crowded room with lots of different conversations going on. All the different conversations blend into indistinguishable background noise -- I get impressions of what's being talked about/the tone of a given conversation, but I don't know exactly what is being said. However I can choose to hone in and pay more attention to one particular conversation, and then the words become clear.

This is another very good way of describing it:

Oftentimes also, my thoughts are like unformed words, if that makes sense. I visualize it as my thinking running along a 'thought' river; when it is submerged just beneath the water but could break out at any moment if I willed it, I think of it as unformed words. When it breaks out, it becomes clearly seen strings of words.
I would say I think half in words and half visually, like watching a video. Sometimes the two are separate, sometimes the words get a picture representation. Not sure when the distinction happens though.
I don't really see words, I just hear myself in my head.
My thoughts are kinda like a swirly mass of thoughts just floating around, coming and is a possible visual thats close but not yet there......still pretty though :D

My thought process is too rapid for the formulation of words. I say this not to accentuate my individuality, but thinking itself is a very, very quick activity that the formulation of words probably can't contain or keep up with.
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Sometimes I make connections and "put two and two together" without words, but for most everything else, I think in words.
I mostly think with words and if not then I usually have a song playing in the back of my head.
Words, music, dialogue from literature or TV but yes-primarily auditory. l'd love to be a visual thinker.

Just a bit of a hodge podge-common enough, although l have heard some people say they think in linear, complete sentences, that wouldn't really be misaligned with what they actually verbalize. Not sure l have a direct mind-mouth link.
I definitely think more in words, or I mean that I orate in my head most the time. I visualize the words here and there, and I'll have visuals in general and other sounds besides my inner voice in the blend but not all the time.

The thought of thinking without any internal dialogue is kind of hard for me to imagine.
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I tried to raise the question of that, not so long ago.

Ofcourse when I think about writing something, or am reading or something.
I will be sort of reading it out loud to myself.

And when I am sitting here, not opening my mouth, it is more coming thru my mind. So id be reading loud, out to me and you. In a way.

And when I walk around thinking about some concept, idea.. And I am not disturbed by something else that critically needs my attention.. For example, I cant calculate something, and speak to people at the same time.
But doing some repetetive task, that has become an habbit, and I can do both.

It is something that is hard to explain.

Here is a question I have been thinking about.

Some people talk very much with themselves, out loud (really annoying.. I know someone who does all the time. You dont know if your suppose to answer him or not.. You can say nothing, and he will answer himself. Like half the time he does not notice you.)
And I may have an inner dialouge.

People who hear voices, cant they distinguish, between themselves and something else?.

Langauge, words.. And any other information, knowgled.. Is sort of what we got to operate with. In front of you.
We have different langauges, some use only visuals because they cant hear or speak..

But there is the "curse of knowgled" and such..
When I first came here on the site, I was very interested. But you have an langauge..
Fe.. Ti..
Id almost feel dumb, or question myself.. Feel imbarrased.. Can I stay?, learn this too?, is it okay for me to be here?.
I read lots of phycology and thought I had most figured out. But now there is a new langauge.
And I will be Thinking-feeling... / Feeling-thinking my way thru it, "is that true or not... right.. or this way"..

Great for trying to understand, or maybe get something going.
But, you may meet someone else, and they wont understand it.


Also often, and most of the time. I dont think in words at all. Or anything at all..
Both. I get pictures, feelings, and sort of like....huge clouds of concepts or meanings that are sometimes difficult to articulate. But I also find myself composing sentences in my head. Most of the time I feel like I think best when I can be typing at the same time, but there are also some amazing moments where I just have this extensive Sense of getting something, or multiple related things, all at once without focusing it into specific words - sometimes trying to do so causes me to loose my grasp on further aspects of the meaning I'd momentarily understood and I grope around trying to find words and only manage to clarify a small portion of what I'd had a glimpse of.

the interesting thing with language is how it selects specific meanings and gives them words, while other concepts may be left with no easy way to explain them, and yet there is a word for them in some other language. language also creates meaning clusters, associated things brought together into a word with its various connotations, and different languages may group things slightly differently. I feel like words can help sort through and solidify concepts, but at the same time they can also limit our perception or understanding when we focus on specific words at the cost of perceiving other nuances or related ideas or perspectives which our particular language has sort of neglected.
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I'd probably go with this in my case
I don't really see words, I just hear myself in my head.
I definitely think in words, I debate with myself inside my mind. I also think in impressions, I don't want to say images because its not quite a visual image, they are impressions that can't really be described in words that give me a sense of what things are like.

Edit: To clarify I don't see words, its literally like myself talking inside my head.
When thinking I never use words. I think in words only if I have to come up with a phrase to say or a message to write. But when I'm by myself I think only visually, in concepts. This has become one of my problems in communicating with people, because I need time to transfer ''the picture'' in my head to ''the words'' I'll say out loud. Sometimes the things I see are hard to describe, so I'm mostly silent, it takes too much effort to describe the concept I've been thinking about.

People who say that thinking without words is impossible, are wrong. If a person would've grown up in wilderness without others to teach him a language, wouldn't he use his mind to think as well? If you didn't know any language, would you be a retarded person? Unlikely, you'd still be able to collect memories, experience, think of new ideas etc.
I usually don't think in words. I generally envision what will happen in the future when I make a certain decision. Only when I am frustrated, I tend to hear my voice in my head saying, "are you kidding me?" I can see the words in my head too when I get angry. When I am in a calm state, usually not trying to decide something, I will hear a song in my head. When I'm feeling down, I will hear a sad song, and see a sad scene from a movie, or just see a sad scene that I make up in my head.
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