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Are People Who Talk To Themselves Mentally Deranged?

Updated on May 20, 2017

A. Introduction

The question of whether people who talk to themselves are mentally deranged still continues to be a popular one to this very day. Intelligent people already know the answer to that question. This archaic myth that people who talk to themselves are mentally unhinged has been debunked numerous times over the years. However, interestingly enough, there are still people out there who actually debate over whether people who talk to themselves are mentally ill or mentally deranged. I know that it may seem ludicrous, but there are even stupid people out there who actually believe that anyone whom they catch talking to themselves likely has a blood-covered hatchet in their basement with their fingerprints on it that they are hiding from the police. Therefore, I felt that this topic deserved attention.

From the time I was a child up to the present, I have heard self-styled know-it-alls say again and again that individuals who talk to themselves are in dire need of psychiatric help and may snap one day soon. I remember that back in the fourth grade, my teacher, Mrs. Henley, was always obsessing over that topic verbally with her class as though she were on some kind of mission to out anyone whom she suspected was mentally ill. Eventually, after she had brought up this subject for the umpteenth time, this one classmate of mine named Russell joked about it with the other classmates. He said, “Hi, me. Hello, me. How are you doing, me?” The other kids in the classroom, including me, all laughed. However, Mrs. Henley did not seem to be very happy about how Russell had mocked at this topic in front of her. Then again, what else could she have expected? When I was about 6 or 7 years old and my older sister first told me that she believed that people who talked to themselves were mentally ill inasmuch as it was the mainstream opinion back then, I had thought that such a belief was probably the stupidest thing that I had ever heard of. By the same token, no child is going to be able to make sense out of a misguided belief like this, because such a misguided belief has never made any real sense to anyone who was able to think outside the box.

In this day and age, narrow-minded lamebrains like Mrs. Henley are not as easily able to point the finger at anyone of being mentally ill simply for being caught talking to themselves. Whenever I am out in a public place and someone comes out of nowhere seemingly talking to themselves, just about every person nearby begins to stare at that individual as though he or she just got off of an alien spacecraft. However, once people notice that this individual has a cell phone pressed up against his or her ear, everyone around this individual then goes about their own business just as before. It’s incredible how many people here in the United States of America have continued to keep this archaic myth engraved in their minds that people who talk to themselves suffer from mental illness. Then again, if someone were to be put on trial for murder here in our country, I somehow seriously doubt that they could convince a judge or a jury to find them innocent by reason of insanity simply by talking to themselves incoherently on the witness stand during cross-examination.

Nevertheless, I have come across information dating as far back as 1978 that has debunked this same archaic myth that people who talk to themselves are mentally unhinged. That is, the short wave radio station named the Voice of America that broadcasts out of Washington, D.C. to the entire world in numerous different languages once reported on a Spanish-language news program 39 years ago that a group of highly reputable psychiatrists had performed a research study and had discovered that people who talked to themselves had nothing mentally wrong with them. Nevertheless, most of us have heard someone here and there make fun of someone whom they caught talking to themselves. Then those of us who are intelligent ask ourselves this one question. What are these individuals getting out of all this derision that they inflict upon others whom they insist must be mentally unhinged for talking to themselves? When I was in college, I was even disappointed when one of my Spanish teachers used a sentence in Spanish as an example of a translation from English that hinted that she truly believed that anyone who talked to themselves belonged in a mental institution. She initially seemed too intelligent to believe in such nonsense.

When I was living in New York City and working in the public sector there so many years ago, there was this one woman in my office who had a profound obsession with this archaic myth that people who talked to themselves had mental problems. For the purposes of this article, I will refer to her as Winnie. Winnie constantly called people out whenever she caught anyone in our office even murmuring something under their breath to themselves. In the beginning, some of my co-workers discounted it as an attempt on her part to be humorous in some self-defined way. However, this habit of her nitpicking at anybody whom she believed had been talking to themselves got to be a major nuisance after so long. Finally, one day one of my co-workers whom I will refer to as Lulu herein overheard Winnie muttering something to herself at a typewriter while she was typing something. Lulu then made a sarcastic remark regarding Winnie and said that she thought she had heard some strange noise coming from the desk where Winnie was sitting. I was glad that Lulu spoke up.

Winnie was one of those people who thought that she knew everything. She had this mindset that if she accused someone of being mentally disturbed, then that individual magically became a prospective mental patient; and she would hold that person hostage to that baseless accusation of hers. However, here is some interesting information about Winnie. Winnie lied to everyone in my office, misleading us to believe that she actually had a doctorate degree in psychiatry. However, one of my co-workers later found out that Winnie had nothing more than just an Associate’s degree in Business Administration. This transgression of hers did not surprise me in the least, because people who continue to cling onto the archaic myth that anyone who talks to themselves is crazy usually have it in their own twisted mind that they have a doctorate degree in psychiatry from some Ivy League institution like Cornell University. Winnie was someone whom I would have laughed at in a heartbeat and then ignored. However, it was not that simple. She was dangerous to others, and there were higher-ups in our agency who actually took her seriously. She was constantly snitching on her co-workers. She is among the creepiest people I have ever known throughout my presence in the work force. She did a great amount of damage to other people’s careers, and her superiors always treated her transgressions against her co-workers with impunity.

What was even more so disturbing about Winnie was that our immediate supervisor was practically in bed with her regarding this same obsession of hers, in figurative words. For the purposes of this Hub, I will refer to this former immediate supervisor of mine as Mr. Hopper. Mr. Hopper could be best described as someone who was a nightmare to have as an immediate superior in any job position. He got easily offended any time that anyone in my office requested a transfer to another branch office in another part of the country or even across the Hudson River to New Jersey. Any time that he said something unclearly and anyone asked him to repeat himself, he would quickly inhale in a manner that indicated that he felt offended. Just about everything bothered and offended him. People thought that he had something off about him. However, the irony was that he was someone who believed that everyone else but him had a psychological issue in one way or another. People talked behind his back, because he had forged a reputation for himself as being a tyrant and a walking basket case.

Mr. Hopper had served in the military over in Vietnam, and perhaps that fact could explain why he was the way he was. I know that many people who served in the military in Vietnam returned back to the United States of America with deep-seated psychological problems such as Post-Traumatic Syndrome. However, Mr. Hopper had a distinctly nefarious way about him whenever he singled people out to mislabel them as mentally imbalanced. Not only did he agree with Winnie that people who talked to themselves were mentally unhinged, but he also believed that anyone who did not own a television set in their residence was certifiable. He got a great amount of satisfaction out of finding creative ways to humiliate his subordinates in this manner. The most outrageous aspect about his deplorable demeanor in this respect was that certain superiors of his actually took his actions seriously and even went so far as to condone them, even though they should have taken disciplinary action against him for many of his abuses against his subordinates. Because of the way he was, he managed to make enemies all around him before he left my particular office for good. He was the kind of boss that you could never forget about, even long after you were no longer his subordinate. He was the first extremely difficult boss for whom I had ever had to work. He was a hypocrite in that he exhibited blatant mannerisms in his behavior that rose to the level of misconduct on his part and yet he was always so eager to accuse a subordinate falsely of having a psychiatric problem.

The Federal Title VII employment discrimination laws are supposed to protect employees from individuals in positions of authority like Mr. Hopper in that these same laws also prohibit employment discrimination against anyone who is erroneously or wrongfully perceived as having a mental handicap or mental disability. In other words, under these laws, an employee does not have to be actually suffering from a mental illness to have a valid claim of employment discrimination. If he or she has even been falsely accused of having a mental illness, then his or her rights are still supposed to be protected under these same laws. Unfortunately, the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is a broken Federal agency that has allowed for too many legitimate cases of employment discrimination to slip through the cracks of their bureaucratic system over the past three decades, and, therefore, people like Mr. Hopper do not hesitate to engage in the kind of misconduct that they commit regardless of what laws they may violate.

B. Evidence That Refutes The Archaic Myth That Self-Talk Signifies Insanity

The evidence that shows that people who talk to themselves are not mentally deranged or mentally unhinged has been piling up since 1978. However, it greatly bewilders me that there are still individuals out there who actually believe that anyone who talks to themselves suffers from some kind of mental illness or another. It appalls me that there are still actually a few mental health professionals who continue to fan the flames of the damage that this archaic myth causes. One such mental health professional that I prefer to remain nameless set forth the argument that there were more mentally ill people who talked to themselves than there were mentally ill people who didn’t talk to themselves, and he used that argument to hint that he believed that self-talk was a sign of mental illness. However, his argument was not cogent, because it was like saying that just because there were more people over the age of 85 years old who were senile than those who weren’t, then everybody over the age of 85 years old had to suffer from some degree of senility or another.

As there will be imbeciles who believe that the Earth is flat or that the moon is made of cheese, I guess that we should not be surprised that there will be idiots out there who will insist that anyone who talks to themselves must have some kind of mental problem. The irony of it all is that according to experts, everyone talks to themselves and the archaic myth that everyone who talks to themselves is crazy has been debunked too many times for anyone rightfully to believe otherwise. The YouTube video below provides you with information to this effect.

Expert Evidence That People Who Talk To Themselves Are Not Mentally Deranged

Unfortunately, collective stupidity can sometimes be contagious and harmfully so. It’s just like that short tale titled “The Emperor’s New Clothes” by Danish author Hans Christian Andersen. Most of the people in that short tale were like sheep in a herd that were easily led to believe in whatever nonsense they were told, whereas there was one smart little boy in that same short tale who only spoke the truth. Well, here is where I believe the problem lies. Even though numerous mental health professionals have debunked the archaic myth that people who talk to themselves are mentally unhinged, the act of self-talk has continued to be a social taboo here in the United States of America. Someone may have the cleanest bill of mental health; but if someone catches them talking to themselves, there is a chance that they will be wrongfully branded as a madman or a madwoman in some way or another. The fact of the matter is that as old habits die hard, social taboos have a propensity to remain in existence here in the American culture long after they have outlived their purposes. If someone believes that another person is crazy for talking to themselves, that individual who believes so is not going to budge on their opinion no matter how much evidence you give them to refute that same erroneous perception of theirs. It makes you want to round up all these self-styled know-it-alls who believe this nonsense and teleport them back to fifteenth century Europe where they would fit in perfectly with the mainstream population there. In the case of both Winnie and Mr. Hopper, it could also be that such stubborn individuals may be the ones who suffer from mental issues and falsely accusing others of being crazy is their own way of taking the spotlight of shame off of themselves, so to speak.

Now, I am not denying that there are people who have hallucinations and carry conversations on with those images or people that they concoct in their mind. I know that there are mental illnesses that do cause people to carry on conversations with people who aren’t even there. However, those individuals are not mentally unhinged for the simple reason that they talk to themselves, but rather they talk to themselves as a result of their particular mental or psychiatric ailment. It is possible that if these individuals were completely cured of their mental illnesses or psychiatric ailments, they would still talk to themselves as many people do. However, the fact that they still talked to themselves would not mean that they were having some kind of psychological or psychiatric relapse. They just would no longer be having conversations with imaginary people that they hallucinated. Moreover, these people who hallucinate are not really talking to themselves but rather to the imaginary people that they have concocted in their minds.

Even though the archaic myth that people who talk to themselves are mentally deranged or unhinged in some way or another appears to cling onto the American culture in an obnoxious manner, ethical mental health professionals have actually encouraged people to talk to themselves to improve their mental health. The above-aforementioned YouTube video even shows someone who has consulted with experts on this topic providing that same advice to people who are watching that video. Dr. Janice Stevenson, who is a highly-respected psychologist, once appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show so many years ago, and she told Oprah Winfrey that it was therapeutic for someone to have a conversation with themselves. However, Oprah chose to stick to stubborn, outdated convention, and she suggested that nobody did anything like this in front of anyone who would likely believe that they were crazy. Dr. Stevenson could have scolded Oprah for making such an intellectually bankrupt comment, but, of course, she was not going to do so inasmuch as she was a guest on her television talk show and probably felt the obligation to be extra polite to her. In any event, there are many experts who agree with Dr. Stevenson in this regard regardless of what any self-styled know-it-all may believe.

We have all met at least one person in our lifetime who heavily talked to themselves. I once worked as a paralegal in a law firm, and there was a woman in my office who had that habit. For the purposes of this article, I will refer to her as Renee. Renee did nothing to hide the fact that she talked to herself heavily. She even joked about it to others in the office. I was the one who actually had to share an office room with her, and sometimes it felt a little eerie for me whenever she would be talking to herself. However, among all the things that she did while she worked in the same office room as me there at the law firm, her talking to herself was the least of my concerns. She did other things that were quite annoying to me that I will not go into for the sake of staying on topic herein. Overall, I never thought of her as being a mentally ill person merely for the reason that she talked to herself. I just thought of her as someone who had an ongoing habit of thinking out loud. I felt that it was a habit of hers that I could deal with much better than if she had been a chronic smoker who had to light up a cigarette every few minutes. Of course, my boss and her boss there at the law firm did not tolerate smoking on the premises. Also, her boss couldn’t have cared less that she talked to herself excessively so long as she got her work done.

I am sure that many of you have met someone who fitted the same description as Renee. However, let me ask each and every one of you this question. Have you ever actually met someone who went to a psychiatrist inasmuch as they had a habit of talking to themselves? Probably not. Why? Because nobody goes to psychiatric therapy simply because they have a habit of talking to themselves. At least nobody would admit to doing so. I’m also quite sure that none of you have ever met anyone who was actually sent to an insane asylum merely because they had a habit of talking to themselves. Mental health professionals could actually lose their medical licenses for employing such an archaic myth in their practices, although they could get away with doing so for a very long time before the medical board in their state were finally to make them face the music, in figurative words. Of course, as I said previously, there will be a few shady shrinks here and there who capitalize on such an archaic myth; and I will get to that area of this topic further on herein.

C. The History Behind The Archaic Myth Regarding Self-Talk

The reason that I continue to refer to the misconception that people who talk to themselves are mentally ill as an archaic myth is because there is a history behind this whole myth. When I was a freshman in high school, I recall my World Studies I teacher, Mr. Sawyer, once telling the class that the belief that people who talked to themselves were crazy got its origins from a superstition that was circulating throughout Europe in the fifteenth century. He explained to me and my classmates that Joan of Arc believed that she was having conversations with heavenly beings whenever she spoke out loud in the absence of others. She had also claimed to have seen these heavenly beings appear before her. After people found out that she was having these kinds of conversations, they began to believe that perhaps she might have been communicating with evil spirits. Ultimately, the British burned her at the stake, because, among other things, she claimed to have heard voices of entities from Heaven, including God.

Mr. Sawyer explained to me and my classmates that the scandal that ensued from Joan of Arc’s above-described behavior and her execution that followed it eventually evolved into this belief in later years that people who talked to themselves were somehow not right in their mind. He added that somehow this belief found its way into the mental health profession, and people continued to take it seriously right up into the late twentieth century. Nonetheless, this same belief is no less of an archaic myth than the superstition that black cats are animals of the occult that are capable of putting curses on people. Luckily, decent people do exist in the mental health profession who have debunked this archaic myth again and again that people who talk to themselves are mentally unhinged, and, fortunately, the diagnosis or rather the misdiagnosis of mental illness for people who talk to themselves has been cleaned off the medical books.

D. Shady Shrinks That Profit Off The Archaic Myth Regarding Self-Talk

Now, I mentioned previously herein that there are a few mental health professionals here and there who choose to capitalize off of this archaic myth. They may not go to the extremities of finding a way to get someone immediately locked up in a mental institution simply because that individual has a habit of talking to themselves. However, they still cannot be trusted, and they usually won’t hesitate to put someone on needless medications to address a mental illness that does not even exist. Okay. I realize that I stated previously herein that none of us have likely ever known someone who got sent to an insane asylum simply for the mere reason that they talked to themselves. I have never even known anybody who got committed to a mental institution for talking to themselves per se. However, I have known of unscrupulous shrinks to put patients on medications that they don’t need and to cause them to go over the edge with those same medications to the point that they have to be institutionalized. Shady shrinks that endorse the archaic myth that people who talk to themselves are mentally ill are no strangers to this kind of malpractice, and they would not hesitate to engage in it just to line their own pockets.

In my previous Hubpages article or rather Hub titled “Protect Your Children From Shady Shrinks,” I pointed out the fact that there are psychiatrists and other mental health professionals whose only objective is to make an easy buck. Well, the misdiagnosis of mental illness for those who talk to themselves is no exception to that rule. A scrupulous mental health professional will tell someone who has a habit of talking themselves that they are no less mentally healthy than anyone who does not talk to themselves, and they will even tell them that everyone talks to themselves at one time or another. However, let me tell you a story about a certain little girl I once knew who was the daughter of someone who used to be my supervisor at a call center where I used to work out in California so many years ago.

When I lived in Los Angeles, I had a telemarketing position at a call center in the Wilshire district. It wasn’t the greatest position, but everyone I worked with seemed to have a sense of family. Anyhow, my supervisor, Victoria, was a mother of four kids. Her second oldest daughter was Crystal, who was 9 years old when I first met Victoria and her family. Sometimes Victoria would bring Crystal into the call center. Crystal had been sexually molested when she was younger, and the post-trauma that she was suffering had adversely affected her daily life in so many ways. Otherwise, she was just like any other normal little girl. Anyhow, to make a long story short, Victoria decided to take a blind faith in the mental health profession when she took Crystal to a psychiatrist for therapy. The psychiatrist was a charlatan. This psychiatrist put Crystal on all sorts of medications that she didn’t need. Eventually, the psychiatrist had Crystal placed in a psychiatric ward and strapped down to a bed while she suffered from multiple side effects as a result of her medications. In a nutshell, this shrink did more damage than good to her. From what Victoria told me and my co-workers, a co-worker of mine and I were both able to pick up on the fact that this shrink was exploiting Crystal for his own monetary gain.

Although it was clear that Crystal needed some kind of guidance to deal with her emotional scars from the sexual abuse that she had suffered at the hands of a family member, her psychiatrist’s actions to place her on strong medications was no asset to her life, to say the least. Victoria eventually wised up to the situation and got Crystal away from this charlatan. Victoria even talked about bringing a psychiatric malpractice lawsuit against this shrink. However, here is the problem. Lawyers are usually reluctant to represent someone in a psychiatric malpractice lawsuit inasmuch as such cases are very difficult to win. The main problem is that usually in cases of psychiatric malpractice, it is the patient’s word against that of the mental health professional; and because the mental health professional may have numerous impressive credentials to his or her name to put on exhibition to a courtroom, the patient’s credibility often runs the risk of being severely questioned. It’s a no-win situation for anyone whom a psychiatrist has victimized in the manner that one victimized Crystal, and psychiatrists are well aware of this fact. Therefore, it is so easy for a shady shrink to take wrongful advantage of their patients and never be punished for it by the civil justice system or the criminal justice system in any manner.

If you have gone to a psychiatrist for therapy and that individual has told you that you may be suffering from mental illness just because you have a habit of talking to yourself, then you need to fire that psychiatrist immediately. That psychiatrist will only pull you down deeper and deeper and do everything he or she can to make you dependent upon them. Moreover, that psychiatrist apparently doesn’t adhere to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-V), which is sort of a Bible for mental health professionals by the American Psychiatric Association. Otherwise, that psychiatrist would not be engaging in that sort of professional misconduct. This is one of the main reasons that I wrote this Hub, because I don’t like to hear about anyone falling prey to a shady shrink as a result of some archaic myth that no mental health professional should be endorsing in their practices. People can fall into this trap so easily, because society has put the mental health profession up on a pedestal of grandeur. However, keep in mind that like everything else, it is a moneymaking business and there are bound to be greedy individuals in it who couldn’t care less about the patients that they treat. Moreover, mental health professionals are just as capable of committing crimes as anyone else in any other profession is despite that society has made the mistake of putting angel wings on them. Let’s not forget that it was a psychiatrist who went on a shooting spree in Fort Hood, Texas and committed mass murder less than a decade ago.

E. Valuable Food For Thought On This Topic

Now, I have one last thought that I would like to share with you. Like many of you, I am a layman who has not been formally schooled in the mental health profession. However, I read and absorb every piece of information that I can find out about the corruption that goes on in this same profession, because it appears to attract more than its fair share of snakes, figuratively speaking; and the reason that it does so is because it is so easy for someone in that profession to take advantage of their patients and even ruin their lives without interference from the law. In any event, here is my point. Our world has a global population in excess of seven billion people. Therefore, from a logical perspective, it would only stand to reason that if everyone who talked to themselves were mentally deranged or mentally unhinged, the worldwide murder rate would be so explosively out of control that there would likely be fewer than one billion people alive on this planet. The whole world would then be like a graphically violent scene from the 1968 version of the movie titled The Night of the Living Dead on steroids. The above-aforementioned YouTube video already established that most people talk to themselves. Therefore, if we have a global population in excess of seven billion people, then that fact alone would seem to refute and debunk any unsubstantiated claims that anyone continues to make that people who talk to themselves are crazy.

F. My Conclusion Regarding This Topic

The United States of America has continued to be vulnerable to junk science, especially in the mental health profession. There is no excuse for anyone in this day and age to believe in an archaic myth that says that people who talk to themselves are mentally ill or mentally deranged. However, we must remember that we live in the same nation where the Church of Scientology continues to thrive and has done so for over six decades despite the criminal justice system’s efforts to shut it down. If any of you out there are contemplating the possibility of going to a therapist for whatever reason, my advice to you is to steer clear of any charlatan who supports this archaic myth that all people who talk to themselves are mentally ill or mentally deranged. If you ask a mental health professional whether they believe that someone who talks to themselves is mentally unhinged and they say yes, then that response of theirs alone is a red flag that you do not want to throw your hard-earned money away in paying that charlatan to provide you with therapy for whatever problem you may be experiencing in your life inasmuch as that charlatan won’t be giving you therapy but rather a one-way ticket to ruination. Several shrinks may snipe at me for having published this article here on HubPages, but I’m ready for any criticisms that they may throw my way. I’m very confident about what I have said herein on this topic.

Two Polls Voicing Public Perspective On Self-Talk

1. Do you talk to yourself?

See results

2. Do you believe that talking to yourself is normal?

See results

© 2017 Jason B Truth

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    • TheShadowSpecter profile image
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      Jason B Truth 10 months ago from United States of America

      The topic of my article above is something that just about everyone has encountered at one time or another in their life. Outdated psychiatric diagnoses can be just as harmful to the public at large as medieval superstitions. After reading my article above, I would like to get your thoughts about it here in the comments section.