Home > Dear Fookem/Bug, Opinion > Deaf Persons Inner Dialogue

Deaf Persons Inner Dialogue

May 7, 2008

I have a question for you. My girlfriends sister brought up an interesting conversation about the deaf persons inner dialogue. As a hearing person, I will never fully be able to understand this, but when you are thinking or day dreaming or just having inner dialogue with yourself, do you “hear” things in your head as you talk to yourself, or do you see pictures or more visual things? For example, do you see words or sentences in your head, instead of auditory? Or is there something else that is going on? I tried to explain to her that you know english, but she wasn’t understanding how you could have a thought without “hearing” it in your head.

Is there any way that I can explain this to her in an appropriate and PC way? I know that I probably have not asked this question appropriately, and it may not make sense, but I thought you would be a good person to ask.

Again, I apologize if I have asked this in any way that is offensive, I am having a hard time wording what it is I am asking. I am not completely aware when it comes to deaf culture.

Thank you!


Sarah, Section 601


Hi Sarah:

The brain has different ways of learning things if you can’t see…same with if you can’t hear….same if you are dyslexic and your brain flips letters around….you still learn to read. Someone asked a question when we were talking about how children learn to read. Since most hearing children learn to read by using phonics (sounding words out) the class got into a debate about how if you can’t hear….how do you learn to read…that’s when the whole lecture turned to shapes of letters….children can recognize their names before they can read….they don’t “hear” their name when they see it. It is triggered as recognition from seeing it …not hearing it. Its just a different way of learning. Words have sounds to people because they “say” them in their head while reading. But it is a symbolic language we have put sound to…it doesn’t have to have sound to understand. Just like you don’t have to hear to have thoughts in your head. Its kind of an odd question …how do you think without hearing things in your head? It is almost like asking if a blind person can see their dreams….and if they can’t, how can they dream?

Good Luck 🙂




Hi Eric,

Thank you for such as a quick response. You explained it much better than I did! I dont think she completely understands, but how can she, or I? We are not deaf. However, it was a perfect response to the question, and I thank you for it! It was an odd question, because you are correct, just because you cant hear doesnt mean you cant think. She was not understanding that, and neither was her psychology class, which is where the question was first broughtup. But, I now can explain it to her, and my mother, who also asked the same question, but I was unable to explain it in an effective way!

Thank you again!


Categories: Dear Fookem/Bug, Opinion
  1. Jo
    May 7, 2008 at 8:05 pm

    that’s awesome! I REALLY enjoyed reading that. Strange: I was thinking about that same question today… When hearing people think, they hear themselves talk in their mind… I was wondering if you, when you think, sign in your mind or see pictures or what? I understand that, you CAN think (haha, that was funny) and blind people CAN dream, of course, but me too, I am still wondering how your thinking goes? Or maybe you already answered that (I guess that girl understood) but I did not yet… I was thinking about the whole difference between deaf and hearing people and the connection with their minds… thoughts. I think, because you are hearing and do not get sound distractions from around you, you are more of a thinker, your thoughts get more attention. I am hearing and have sounds around me whereever I am, so I get distracted…I tell you I am not really thinking anything. Why? because I have distractions from the radio or just the sounds around me and than WHEN it is quiet, I just love to listen to that quietness and not think… Do I make sense or not at all? That’s what I thought today

  2. Jacey125
    May 8, 2008 at 5:20 am

    Very interesting topic…
    From birth to now.. I would never understand on how the hearing people would hear themselves in their mind as well as hearing people would never understand on how deaf people sign to themselves, not hear, they see with their eyes.. Anything that deaf people see, it goes into their mind. Once we unwind our thinking and dream in color, action, and signing. It goes same thing with hearing people to hear instead of their eyes to see….
    As for Hearing Blind people, they would hear which they are very sharp to ear most than normal hearing would do…. as for Blind and Deaf people they might feel everything which I often asking myself and close my eyes to walk around in the past to get grip to feel on how Blind and Deaf people would feel… oh man I found it is VERy Hard…..

  3. May 8, 2008 at 2:37 pm

    My internal dialogue is composed mostly of images but I do have internal captions and an internal interpreter/asl signer for the text part. no kidding seriously!

    – Leah

  4. June 30, 2008 at 1:43 am

    This is a superb discussion. As a Tibetan linguist, I have translated for Tibetan masters for about thirty years. The topics of Buddhist mind training, especially what is known as Vipassana, (heightened awareness) has a most extraordinary perspective on this subject regarding the six senses. May I offer this perspective.

    The six senses are; sight, hearing,taste,smell,touch,mentation.
    Each have; an object, a sensory vehicle, and that which knows and identifies the sensations: i:e consciousness.
    The realm of form is the object, the eye is the sensory vehicle, and the eye consciousness is the seeing. The realm of sound is the object, the ear is the sensory vehicle, and ear consciousness is the hearing. The world of smell is the object, the nose is the sensory vehicle, and nose consciousness is the smelling. The world of taste is the object, the tongue is the sensory vehicle, and tongue consciousness is the tasting. The world of touch is the object, the body is the sensory vehicle and body consciousness is the feeling. The world of thought, memory and cognition is the object, the cognitive sphere is the vehicle, and mind consciousness is the recognition. (The tibetan word for consciousness; nam par she pa, literally means knowing in parts)

    Some Lamas say, “Even though thoughts are discursive, they make no sound. Thought is not heard by ear consciousness. The mind only thinks it is sound”

    “Even though dreams are lucid there are no real visual events. No world of form really occurs”

    Furthermore, all the Lamas say: Minds nature is indestructible, it is luminous and open. It is not composed of anything, it is empty, luminous and awake. It is the luminous awake quality that is mistaken for the senses with a self and other, or subject and object.

    The mind habituates the sense of self, and the dichotomy of subject and object. It constantly believes in its own existence as a separate entity. Existing as an individual separate from the objects of the six senses.

    The mind imagines thought to be separate individual objects, with their own individual shape, color, sound, smell, flavor, and feel. The mind does not recognize its own essence.

    The Buddha says the deaf person still has ear consciousness, and the blind person still has eye consciousness. The deaf dumb and blind kid still has the infinite minds nature that is luminous and unobstructed.

    Does any of this make sense? I hope I haven’t distracted anybody with these words. I do offer them humbly and I hope it does add to your marvelous discussion.

    Best regards,


  5. Anonymous
    December 17, 2008 at 9:05 am

    Previously heard, seen, experienced items remain in the brain as a memory trace. These traces come alive relevently and in relevances we cannot figure out (so called irrelevantly). They seem to come on and off. We experience these relivings also as thoughts. Our needs, desires, expectations, fears are all different parts of us. All the above interact with each other. We conjure up situations in our mind, imagine conversations, we bounce responses from others (as per what we have seen/ heard/ experienced earlier). Much of what we call thought is interacction between these parts of personality. Transactional Analysis puts a lot of these into P (exteropsyche), and a lot of these into C (archeopsyche), and some into A (neopsyche). This labelling helps in putting order into the disorderly state of inner dialogue.

  6. g counsellor
    December 17, 2008 at 9:11 am

    …inner dialogue. (continued from above)
    Incongruences between these become the basis for trouble in the mind, and in life.
    One part (voice, image, vision, memory, etc.) carries the person for some time, then another. This change in inner dynamics is also called Games, No-handed Games, and One-handed Games.

  7. March 17, 2013 at 2:15 pm

    As you are considered a minor, you must have pessomriin from your parent or guardian, and also need to apply, and qualify’ for classes, as well as pay for them in advance. To apply and qualify, I mean that there are forms to deal with, papers to sign etc. These vary by schools and state requirements if you expect credit, expect to fill out information. and to take 11th grade classes you should have records of successful 10th grade classes taken. Was this answer helpful?

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