Is talking to oneself a voluntary or involuntary act?

I’m not talking about an occasional exclamation of surprise, pain, or emotion. I mean when a person frequently keeps up a running monologue of their thoughts, or when they “sing” along with music they are listening to on headphones.

Are they aware that they are doing this?

Could they stop, at least temporarily, if they really wanted to? Say if their boss threatened to fire them if they didn’t stop talking, or they were in a courtroom and the judge threatened to charge them with contempt if they didn’t stop, could they?

Or is it totally involuntary, like hiccuping or coughing?

Oh, and I’m not talking about mentally ill people, but about people who are apparently normal but just have this “habit”.

All I can offer is anecdotal: I talk to myself a lot. It’s not completely voluntary, but it’s not like a sneeze or something. It’s more like a habit that is hard to keep tabs on. In the situations you espouse, I could see temporarily stopping, but then, getting in too much in the hang of things and forgetting again.

Then again, I really only mouth things unless I’m alone. And the whole reason I do it is that it helps keep my head clearer. You’d be surprised how good something can sound in your head can sound out loud. It’s really useful for posting online.


I do it all time. Mostly on purpose and for what I think are good reasons. I generally DONT do it when others are around. I am fairly sure I could virtually eliminate doing it if I “had” to. But I do suspect that it will become more and more of a habit and when I am much older it will pretty much be involuntary.

It’s voluntary, it’s a habit. Just like I jiggle my leg. I don’t do it on purpose and I can stop but my whole life I always jiggle my leg and it’s just a habit I got into and it’s not worth breaking, but I reckon I could.

I agree that it’s voluntary. When I do it, I’m not exactly making a conscious effort entirely, but I’m having a spasm either. And I can make myself stop anytime I wish.

I must digress from the general consensus of this thread, which, of course is being discussed about and with healthy people.

Talking aloud to oneself “involuntarily” is a very common symptom of schizophrenia. I put the quotes around “involuntary,” because, to the sufferer of the disease, he is simply responding outloud, so he can hear it, the inner conversation of his thoughts that are real, as far as he is concerned.

:smack: For “digress” read “differ.”

Me too.

In this modern cell-phone era, I’ve wondered about putting clips in my ears or some such: people might assume I was on the phone, so it might be less embarassing. :cool:

(PS: I’ve never asked myself if I could stop. I do have bad habits that do annoy myself, but talking to self isn’t one of them!)

I noticed I started doing this once I started living alone. It’s comforting to realize it’s not such a weird habit as I usually think (though I still think it’s worth suppressing).

“Like a habit that is hard to keep tabs on” is a wonderful description.