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Deborah Hazen's picture

Do you talk to yourself?

Jack, I'm riding the train home and thinking hard about all we covered earlier in the day when I realize that I'm verbalizing disjointed words from my internal conversation. This happens to me...I get awfully engrossed in my own thoughts and likely appear to be a raving lunatic to others. Then there are the moments that I just can't stop laughing---even though there is not external stimulus and I'm not thinking funny thoughts. I'm getting really comfortable with this notion that a lot of behavior has nothing to do with any external stimuli and that human beings are living in the worlds created in their brains.

I'm not however prepared to forgive all manner of antisocial or harmful behavior (or just plain annoying) and chalk it up to something that is just the product of communication between neurotransmitters. I had a student once whose feet and legs moved with no conscious awareness--I'm sure of it. He would step on people or in a conversation be kicking me as I stood next to him---would he have kicked me over and again if he was aware of it--nope, because every time it happened and was pointed out to him he stopped and looked so ashamed. I believed him when he said that he didn't even realize he was doing it. Did I still want to increase his awareness of where his body was and what it was doing--you bet. So, I think you are right---we do place a great deal of value on the conscious. What else can we really respond to or trust to be consistent with our expectations?

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