People say that talking to yourself means you’re crazy. But I’m the picture of sanity, right other Julian? That’s right Julian. Hello out there, It’s Julian for DNews. Recently we got a question from Phyiogambit asking about people talking to themselves. Why do we do it? And is it a bad thing? People often associate talking to oneself with schizophrenia, but that’s not totally accurate. Schizophrenia is different from multiple personality disorder; a schizophrenic hallucinates voices or sometimes sees people or animals, instead of housing multiple distinct personalities in their head and switching between them. Sometimes schizophrenics try to communicate with these other voices or visions, and to an outside observer it looks like they’re talking to themselves nonsensically. But if it’s not caused by the symptoms of schizophrenia, private speech isn’t necessarily a bad thing. In fact it can be good for you. One psychologist, Dr. Linda Sapadin, actually thinks it can be beneficial, so long as it stays positive. According to Sapadin, there’s nothing wrong with giving yourself a compliment after a job well-done, or giving yourself some motivation to get your rear in gear.
She also says that speaking out loud can help you organize your thoughts, decide what you want, and set goals. Sapadin’s claims are supported by studies done on children. Young boys and girls tend to talk to themselves as they go through a difficult task that they’re learning. Children who guide themselves through tests out loud tend to get higher scores. A study of preschoolers asked them to do a task twice, once with private speech and once without.
Again, the children performed better when they talked themselves through it. When we get older we start internalizing our thoughts more, but that doesn’t mean we still can’t benefit from it. A 2001 study gave adults age 18-23 an easy computer problem, a difficult one, a repeat of the difficult one, and making an origami shape 3 times. All 53 participants talked to themselves at some point, but it was most frequent the first time they did the difficult computer trial. It also diminished every time they made the origami model, suggesting that talking to themselves helped them learn and remember how to do a difficult task. Aside from helping you learn, you might catch yourself muttering when you lose something. A 2012 study published in the Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology decided to see if it actually had any benefit. They had subjects repeat what they were looking for while scanning supermarket shelves. When searching for a familiar item, they found it slightly faster. When searching for an unfamiliar item, they were a little slower than if they weren’t speaking out loud. The difference? Only about a hundred milliseconds either way.
They concluded speaking out loud provides no significant difference in the speed of finding something. So mutter away all you want, but it’s not going to make your keys materialize any faster. Talking to yourself probably isn’t a sign of mental illness, but if you are having hallucinations, schizophrenia is treatable. Treatment may actually get simpler soon. Anthony Carboni talks about the schizophrenia switch here. This was a viewer question and we hope we answered it to their satisfaction. Do you have a question you want us to answer? Let us know in the comments or on facebook or twitter. Don’t forget to subscribe so you can see when we answer it, and I’ll see you next time on DNews. .
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