Do you think in words or pictures?

Reply Wed 3 Aug, 2011 05:15 am
I was having this conversation the other day in the pub.

I predominantly think in words; I have a conversation with myself all day. My friend however, who is an artist, says she never really thinks in words and there's rarely any language in her head unless she's actually talking.

I asked her what she would 'think' if she wanted to get another drink, and she said she'd just picture herself getting another drink. I said I would probably just say to myself 'uh, I need another drink', and she said she found that confusing, because that's not what the drink actually is, as in, the word doesn't look like a drink.

Another interesting thing to note was that sometimes I can't get to sleep because of voices racing in my mind, but she said she's never had that problem and can even fall asleep on purpose on public transport as an alternative to being bored.

Can anyone else describe the manner in which they think?
Reply Wed 3 Aug, 2011 06:06 am
Both. Often, when i free-associate in words, it's in the form of song. Sometimes, my memory banks provide music as a soundtrack to events. When i think in "pictures," it's either a memory of a photograph or work of art, or it's a vivid memory of an event in my life.
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Reply Wed 3 Aug, 2011 06:09 am
@The Pentacle Queen,
Both ~ words and images/pictures. I've been thinking about writing a similiar thread about this myself.

At work, when I'm verifying the numbers on a clients legal folder to that on the printed manifest(to check for typos) .

A little context:
At this stage of work, I am taking a group of folders that have been scanned and will box them up to be sent to a storage facility in Brooklyn.

To do this, I have gotten in the habit of putting the folders in numerical order. They will not be consecutive because the scanners (the people responsible for scanning the legal documents) don't need to pull the folders in numerical order. But for the most part, even though there will sometimes be gaps between one folder's number and the next, the folders will be roughly in the same numerical range.

Say the 43000's (the recent batches we've been getting these past couple of months).

Say I have a box of 3 folders (the average amount of folders we can fit into a single banker box).
Client number's

I have observed the following pattern.
When verifying the numbers, I mentally read out from the printed manifest
These numbers are clearly thought out in words. But I am not neglecting the 43 on the folders. I am looking at them but clearly not mentally converting them to words. I believe this part of the thought process is numbers as symbols/pictures. And yes, before you say, I'm being neglectful I have caught typos in this part of my verification process.

And of course, finding a typo, I will change the manifesto on the shared server.
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Reply Wed 3 Aug, 2011 06:09 am
As an example, when i was typing the end of that last post, this song popped into my head:

. . . it was just the song, not the images (i've never seen the musical).
Reply Wed 3 Aug, 2011 06:11 am
The admins at my workplace block youtube videos. There is a blank spot where the youtube video box is supposed to be.
Reply Wed 3 Aug, 2011 06:13 am
@The Pentacle Queen,
I think it depends what you mean by "think", doesn't it? I am aware that every first year philosophy student could leap on me here. Personally, I am aware of having thoughts, and also of the separate thing of articulating them (either internally or verbally to others).

For example it seems to me that a thought might pop into my head fully formed and complete, presumably from what I might call the cogitation engine, and then at that point I might "think" to myself: "I'll have a beer tonight", and at that point I will then (more or less simultaneously):

1. "see" words as if typed on a kind of screen in my head e.g. "beer tonight", in an old-fashioned typewriter font. I have had this as long as I can remember, although it clearly cannot pre-date my learning to read at the age of 4. (I check spellings this way)

2. "see" a bottle of beer (recognisable as a brand I might buy) being opened and poured into a glass (recognisably one I have at home in my kitchen cupboard).

3. "feel" a kind of mental virtual tongue, larynx and lips "say" some words, e.g. "I'll have a beer tonight."

4. "hear" a mental voice (mine) "saying" those words.

The central problem for me is not to describe the way I experience these things I listed above, but to contemplate the ineffable nature of the thought which gave rise to them. All I can say is that it contains the whole idea in a sort of holistic way. Of course I have described a comparatively simple thought, many are more complicated than that, sometimes very much more, so that "decoding" or unpacking or even just contemplating them can take a considerable time and effort.

Reply Wed 3 Aug, 2011 06:21 am
Unlucky you . . . the song is "Memory" from the musical Cats.


Although i often think in words (although not exclusively), i don't believe i've ever seen the characters as on a printed page. When i think in song, it is often appropriate to the context. So, if someone were to say: "He's got a bad history of missing appointments," that wouldn't spur a song thought. However, if someone were to say: "Most people don't know much about history," then i'm very likely to (and have several times in the past) immediately hear this song:

. . . which would be my brain's way of articulating the thought "Yeah, and they don't care, either."

(Tsar, that's Sam Cooke singing "Wonderful World," the opening line of which is "Don't know much about history.")
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Reply Wed 3 Aug, 2011 06:27 am
i think in interpretative dance
Reply Wed 3 Aug, 2011 06:31 am
DJ? Would that be the Martha Graham, Alvin Ailey, or Paul Taylor school of interpretative dance/thought?
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Reply Wed 3 Aug, 2011 07:06 am
I am such a visual person that I must write down things in order of when they must be done.

The next few days are jammed packed with everything from picking up my screen door to painting the trim around a window. All within a class reunion I am helping to host this weekend, including having everyone over on Sunday.

My minds starts getting overwhelmed, but writing things down allows them to leave my head. The item is on the list, I don't need to think about it anymore.

I think knowing what to forget or set aside is the secret to sanity - at least for me.
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Reply Mon 22 Aug, 2011 08:26 pm
@The Pentacle Queen,
i will have to picture the question a little longer, but in the mean time i would give anything to no the teqnique this person use to fall aseep to avoid being borded . i have same issue with racing thoughts and falling asleep in general. espectaly difficult w/ try to sleep becuse of lack of anything to do / bored. I envy the person that can fall rt to sleep and more so , people that can sleep more than 2hrs a time much less all night! whats the secret it would be alife changer peace terry
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Reply Mon 22 Aug, 2011 08:30 pm
well said
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