When we see a person walking down the street talking to himself, we generally assume that he is mentally ill (provided he is not wearing a headset of some kind). But we all talk to ourselves constantly—most of us merely have the good sense to keep our mouths shut. We rehearse past conversations—thinking about what we said, what we didn’t say, what we should have said. We anticipate the future, producing a ceaseless string of words and images that fill us with hope or fear. We tell ourselves the story of the present, as though some blind person were inside our heads who required continuous narration to know what is happening: “Wow, nice desk. I wonder what kind of wood that is. Oh, but it has no drawers. They didn’t put drawers in this thing? How can you have a desk without at least one drawer?” Who are we talking to? No one else is there. And we seem to imagine that if we just keep this inner monologue to ourselves, it is perfectly compatible with mental health. Perhaps it isn’t.
Sam Harris, Waking up (2014)
Added to diary 28 March 2018