Ostomy Memories Talks to Itself


DO YOU EVER TALK TO YOURSELF?  Do you ever say, ‘Why the hell did I do that?’?  When I yell at my toaster, or say something to my deaf cat, am I talking to myself?  Do I actually have to verbalize to be talking to myself, or am I doing it when I think stuff?  Like when I think… look at that idiot!... am I talking to myself?  These are not questions to be taken lightly.  Some people might think that a person who talks to himself is a little bit…off.  Mental wards are filled with poor souls who talk to themselves.  If that means they’re crazy, a lot us may be in jeopardy of institutionalization.  Or perhaps there’s a more benign reason for this sort of thing.  “The reason I talk to myself,” said George Carlin, “is because I’m the only one whose answers I accept.”  Carlin, of course, was crazy, but in an extremely sane way.  He could see through the kind of veils that often blind other people.  He was right that he had answers, and they were good ones.  So feel free to talk to yourself, respond if you have answers, and don’t concern yourself.  If your answers are wrong, don’t worry about it; you probably won’t realize it anyway.  

Hi Henry i talk to myself to get the answer i want not whats offered by my wife or my brother or the new neighbor.

Talking to yourself is a sign of genius!

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Reply to eefyjig

Hey, I knew I was smart, but not sure I'd go that far!I have always talked to myself. Often the thoughts that are going through my head are also coming out of my mouth. Maybe I'm a genius, or maybe I'm just weird!


Hello HenryM.

Thanks for raising this very interesting subject.

I spent much of my working life studying the benefits of talking to one’s self.

Indeed, one of my Ph.D. theses was devoted to developing a ‘method' for doing so in a more ‘constructive’ way than usual. 
The technique which was labelled ‘Constructive Conversations’ was applied successfully in many different settings, but was most useful for people who ‘suffered’ from wayward emotions. 
Basically, it taught people to ask their own questions and follow through with their own answers.

The ‘right’ questions seemed to be the key to educing (drawing out) relevant answers, so it was postulated that following a particular sequence could be adopted to gain the most benefit.
Explaining the method is quite a lengthy process, so for those who have the stomach and the stamina for such an exercise, I have extracted a brief, relevant section from ’Constructive Conversations’ - Book 4 (2012) and pasted it below.

Best wishes




 ‘Constructive Conversations’ was therefore based on the concept of the person asking their own questions.

In our language and culture there appeared to be just six basic questions.


When developing the method, it quickly became apparent that WHY posed particular problems of functionality in ‘building’ and constructing the conversations. I concluded that all the other questions had a definable ‘dimension’ and could lead to a logical list of answers.  Whereas the question ‘why’ had three different meanings and only one of these was utilitarian in helping people to stay logical and construct meaningful conversations.


The concepts are explained more fully elsewhere, but very briefly the dimensional questions are listed below:

QUESTION                DIMENSION                                     EQUIVALENT

WHAT                       (EXISTENCE)                                  WHAT – is, was, will be, may be, could be, etc.

WHO                         (SOCIAL)                                      WHAT – person, people etc.

WHEN                       (TIME)                                          WHAT – time, occasion, etc.

WHERE                      (SPACE)                                        WHAT – place, position, circumstance, etc.

HOW                         (RELATIONSHIP)                           WHAT – way, manner, degree, condition etc.

WHY                          (REASON)                                     WHAT – reason. purpose, etc.


At first I postulated the ‘non-functional’ nature of ‘why’ both in the context of Constructive Conversations and with moving forward logically at a more general level.  This was partly on the grounds that - in order to answer ‘why’ adequately, all the other dimensional questions needed to be addressed first.

Having answered all the other questions the question ‘why’ became superfluous.

Another reason for being wary of using ‘why’ stems from my distrust of teachers and politicians. When I was at school, teachers seemed to ask the question ‘why’ and invariably the answers that ‘I’ gave were deemed to be ‘wrong’.   

I argued endlessly and fruitlessly that my answers were not ‘wrong’ - just ‘different’. However, this appeared to make no impression at all on this ‘breed’ of people who seemed to truly believe that any answer which deviated from their perceived ‘right’ was automatically ‘wrong’. Needless to say, my schooldays were far from academically productive and the emotional scars, born from continuous battle, can still occasionally irritate when the spotlight of memory falls upon them.

I also perceive the question of ‘why’ to be the question of the politician and the philosopher because it has the overt quality of seeming to be a genuine, functional question. However, there cannot be any definitive answer.  This is because ‘why’ is fundamentally about reasoning and one person’s reasoning is/may be different to another’s. ‘Why’ also has a quality akin to infinity, in that has there is no end to the question or to the potential answers.  Covertly ‘why’ has the characteristic of a whirlpool, taking you round and round in ever decreasing circles until you disappear into a different dimension, yet rarely if ever with an adequate explanation. Children (under 5years?) illuminate the pitfalls of the infinity’ of ‘why’ by asking ‘why’ and then upon getting an answer will proceed to  ask ‘why’ again and again and again to infinity. Unless the respondee chooses to end the conversation in some way.
I sometimes call this a ‘god’ question because some people end it by saying things like “because God says it’s so” or they might put themselves in the ‘god’ position and say it’s “because I say so”.   If the respondees knew about the nature of ‘why’ they could use the alternative of asking the question of the questioner - “When asking ‘why’ -do you mean ‘what reasons are there?”  This transposes the question ‘why’ into a ‘what’ question – which is much more logical, functional and can produce a useful and relatively finite list.

Probably the most important reason for not encouraging the use of ‘why’ in ‘Constructive Conversations’ with emotionally unstable people (EUP) is that one use of ‘why’ is as an emotional defence mechanism.

An example of this is in traumatic situations. A graphic example is when someone who is emotionally close dies in unexpected circumstances. Invariably a wreath appears with the question ‘why’ written upon it.  In essence ‘why’ in this context is not a true question requiring answers. It is a statement of overwhelming emotions and it may also be a way of avoiding more functional questions. The example I usually use to illustrate this point is when Princess Diana tragically died. There appeared the wreaths with ‘WHY’ which reflected the emotional mood of the people.  However, the police, who had a more logical, functional role to play in understanding the events were not asking ‘why’ so much as concentrating on what, who, when, where and how, which are deemed as much more functional in finding relatively objective answers.

Another example of an ‘emotional use of ‘why’ is when people say “Why me?” This is not a ‘real’/functional question but an expression of frustration not requiring a logical answer. Indeed, if an answer were forthcoming it would probably be interpreted as ‘critical’, unhelpful and upsetting to the individual who is already emotionally stressed.

This emotional defensiveness is not a condition to be encouraged in people that are already emotionally unstable and often dysfunctional. If they are to learn the skills of thinking logically they also need to learn the skills of controlling wayward, dysfunctional emotional states.

Back to the logic and reasoning of questions:

The ‘primary question’ is WHAT and all others are subsumed under it.  Presumably the other dimensions were at some time in the past deemed by someone as important enough to warrant their own specific questions.

My interest and the interests of fellow ‘personal construct’ researchers, indicate that there are not enough of these specific questions to cover all the dimensions we wish to explore.

Thus in ‘Constructive Conversations’ I have included some extra dimensional questions to complement and extend the list.


QUESTION                        DIMENSION                                     EQUIVALENT

WHINK                             (THINKING)                          WHAT – thINKing, cognition, etc.

WHEM                              (EMOTION)                          WHAT – Emotion, feeling, spiritual experience, etc.

WHELSE                            (ALL ELSE)                            WHAT – ELSE, anything not yet thought of, etc.

WHEXT                             (FUTURE)                              WHAT – nEXT, future, plans, goals, aspirations etc.



It will come as no surprise that if we are interested in personal meaning systems and personal constructs we will see the significance of asking specific dimensional questions about what we ‘THINK’ , what ‘EMOTIONS’ and what NEXT is relevant. The question what ELSE is relevant in that it encourages participants to generate as many answers as they can. It also gives a clear indication that there may be more answers that we have not yet brought to mind.

Stories of Living Life to the Fullest from Ostomy Advocates I Hollister

I rationalise my talking to myself by telling my selves that sometimes you just need to have some intelligent conversation.

Reply to Bill

Thank you so very much for taking the time to write a concise, readable abstract of an amazing concept which you have studied so much!I am so interested in reading, knowing, understanding, and applying more of your work to my own life. I am reluctant to disclose that I am a recovering trauma victim and have not realized until now that I stay in 'why circles' not consciously aware of avoidance but at times can live in a land of looking around the whole world and all the people wondering what brought us to where we are. Before reading your response, I thought understanding 'why' would help me make a good choice for myself or how to offer the best help to another. I suppose I am working on either reconciling different conclusions on the topic or working towards coming to peace with dialectical ideals or maybe I will decide to surrender (possibly contain and redirect it to writing?) all the thinking and focus on simple, yet extremely difficult daily life functioning decisions and actions.

Anyway, I would love to know more!Is there a way I can read your research in it's entirety?Or do you have a book I can get at the library?

I am not a premium member... not sure if that is going to hinder our ability to connect. If so, know you have already started me on an awesome adventure! :)

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