Mental "echo": having a thought before having it--is this a thing and does it have a name?

When I was younger, probably into my 30s, I would sometimes have the experience of having my thoughts twice, so to speak. It was as if my mind was aware that I was about to think “I should go to the store,” and then I would formulate the thought “I should go to the store.” I knew that the process was happening as it happened and I found it annoying and and tiring.

It doesn’t happen any more and I don’t remember any specific examples, but I think it was associated with either stressful decisions or stressful times in life. I haven’t stopped having those, but the “doubling” or “echoing” of my thoughts doesn’t happen.

Is this a known psychological phenomenon, does it have a name, what causes it, etc.?

Could it be somewhat related in some respects to this phenomenon?
"How ‘free will’ is implemented in the brain

Not sure if this has been explained away or expressly disproven in the 5 years since publication…

I sometimes get this when I’m forming words I’m either going to say out loud, or say in my head, to myself. I’d describe it sort of like a ripple pattern, where you get the words forming before you actually think of them, and then think of them again. Hard to describe, but sounds like what the OP is talking about.

Here’s a simple example of “pre-thought” I have. When I’m trying to remember the name of something I run thru the alphabet. A B C D …, etc. Often when I hit certain letters there’s an “aha” feeling. So I zero in. Sometimes I’ll go thru again “looking” for the second letter.

In many cases I finally bring to consciousness the name. Clearly my subconscious knew it and I just had to coax it out.

It can get much more complicated than that for bigger ideas. At the top end is when I’m doing research. I’ll just have this “feeling” that there’s “something interesting” off in “that direction” for a problem I’m working on and it then works out many times. Somewhere in my brain some part already saw it but it just needed to bring it to my attention.

For me, there are “prior thoughts” that can many times be quite helpful if only I can bring them forward.

So in a Minority Report world, can you be arrested for pre-thought of a pre-crime?

Thanks for the replies. These don’t seem quite what I experienced. So…I’m crazy? :eek:

We’re not talking about some level of Déjà vu are we?

This was ongoing when it occurred, and specifically about my internal stream of thought, not about an event in the world. However, I suppose it might be a similar mental process.

The OP made me think about what my own thinking process is like. There are clearly thoughts that are, for lack of a better word, nonverbal. If a plate is falling off a table, I reach over and grab it without thinking the words ‘I should grab that’. In fact I would claim that most of my thinking is nonverbal, in that I formulate plans and act on them without a voice in my head saying, mentally ‘out loud’, “Now I should turn left at this intersection, then slow down at the next curve”. There’s rarely a ‘voice in my head’ unless I’m planning what to write or say, or reading, or doing a math problem. Otherwise, I don’t typically narrate my actions or plans to myself. Maybe, while leaving the house, I’ll pat my pockets feeling for phone, keys, and wallet, thinking ‘(affirmative grunt), (affirmative grunt), nope’ but not thinking “Let me check to see if I have my phone and keys and wallet. Yes, phone is there, Yes, keys are there, but whoops, no wallet”

I suspect that the thinking of persons deaf from birth is like this; the ability to reason, plan, and act without an internal monologue that consists of a voice in your head. I also suspect that the opposite is true for some people; those that seem to need to speak aloud in order to think - or perhaps can’t think without stream-of-consciousness narration.

I think it’s quite possible to formulate a plan to go to the store, decide to do it, and then explicitly ‘say’ ‘out loud’ ‘in your head’ “I’m going to go to the store”, as though you were saying it out loud with your lungs and mouth.

Yes, you’re quite right and in fact a great deal of my thinking/cognition is nonverbal, in just the way you describe. On the other hand, when I’m working through a decision, or trying to compose a literate SD post, I am using an interior monologue.
What I described in the OP–and again, it’s not something that happens any more–is that I seemed to be thinking the same thought twice. Let me be a little more specific–it would be more like–

“I need to save money.” (awareness of this thought forming)

“I need to save money.” (internal monologue)

“I have to make more money then.” (awareness that internal voice is about to say this)

“I have to make more money then.” (internal monologue)

“I can’t do that at this job.” (awareness)

“I can’t do that at this job.”

And so on.

There is a thing called ‘echolalia’. It a thing autistic people do where they repeat stuff back to you. Your brain maybe doing that internally. I gather it’s a communication deficit issue with the autistic person. WAG.
That said, I make lists in my head, and I check things off as I do them. I drive myself crazy doing this. If my list gets really long I have to mentally lose part of it, and realize that will never get done. I just die little bit everytime I do this. Yea, I am nuts.:slight_smile:

In contrast, some people don’t even know what they are thinking until they hear the words come out. The circuit goes brain-words-mouth-ears-brain-mind.

I haven’t got a name for it, but what you describe sounds completely on the spectrum of ‘normal’.

1st sign of craziness: hairs on the palms of your hands.

2nd sign of craziness: looking for hairs on the palms of your hands.

It’s not craziness unless it drives you crazy.+

Am I crazy for looking at my palms, just now?

Were there hairs on them?

Is it simply repetitive thoughts? That’s an issue for a lot of people with autism, OCD and/or ADHD.