Stream of consciousness problems - Social Anxiety Forum
 
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post #1 of 8 (permalink) Old 09-11-2020, 05:30 AM Thread Starter
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Stream of consciousness problems


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the truth may vary
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post #2 of 8 (permalink) Old 09-11-2020, 06:36 AM
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I feel a lot of existential horror at myself at times, so I relate to that part. I also find it really difficult to concentrate on things and have major issues with attention, organisation, planning, among other things. The inside of my head is always chaotic and I don't think things in an organised way either. I've always done pretty poorly in school though as a result of my various issues so I wasn't able to compensate.

I also have to distract myself constantly, but I'm actually very poor at that, but when I manage things go better.

I don't really relate to having several horror movie characters in my head, probably just the one lol. I am compartmentalised in other ways though.

Oh another thing I often can't think of how I feel about certain things. My imagination isn't that great in regards to myself either. I need to find a better way to articulate this sentence though, my brain isn't functioning that great right now either lol.

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post #3 of 8 (permalink) Old 09-11-2020, 12:26 PM
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@Myosr

yeah I definitely find writing easier than speaking but still have trouble sometimes with answering say questions and things like that but if I'm just rambling about crap that's fine but yeah in real life it's worse and I forget words or say um a lot. I struggle to understand what's being said on TV programs etc often too unless I listen closely. Have to rewind bits a lot and sometimes I stick on subtitles.

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post #4 of 8 (permalink) Old 09-11-2020, 12:28 PM
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I've had a couple episodes that remind me a little of this, but in my case there was no verbal thought at all, just hours of visual pictures. The first time it happened it was a black void filled with endlessly growing pipes moving in all directions. The second time was like a constantly changing surrealist/abstract painting in some weird alternate dimension with a cartoon black cat that kept turning into a white cat (or something). I described these to someone else and they told me I must have been dreaming but I was wide awake at the time they were happening and they were far more random and senseless than my dreams are. I had no way to control what was happening and I couldn't stop the episodes. There was no rational thinking at all, just pure terror over not being able to control my mind. Idrk how to classify those experiences, but schizophrenia runs in my family so I assume my brain chemistry just went a little outside the norm. It was honestly like being on a bad acid trip. I had a psychotic episode after taking drugs once, too. But in that case my short term memory was completely obliterated and I kept "waking up" every second or two wondering what terrible thing I'd just done. Worst experience of my life.

As far as my normal thinking goes, it's not like I'm constantly choosing what I'm going to think about. It's more that I can consciously decide to start thinking about something if I want to (at least until something in my environment triggers a new train of thought). It's like breathing: if I don't consciously decide to breath faster or slower, it just goes at its own rate, but I can consciously intervene and breath faster or slower if I want to. In this case, my mind will just think about whatever randomly until I decide to start thinking about a different subject. And then at some point my mind will wander again and I'll have to bring it back to whatever I need to be thinking about. I think this is how most people think. What doesn't happen is that I don't become confused about who I am or feel like there's no me at all. I can think about who I am and be pretty clear about it any time I like. My preferences are always pretty much the same, I always know what my preferences are, and who I am is basically just a list of my preferences (and things that have happened to me).

My normal thinking can be (and often is) interrupted by intrusive thoughts (images of myself being injured or dying in horrible ways, sudden physical urges to do terrible things, obsessive thinking about health problems, etc.). Those thoughts/urges happen to me and have nothing to do with my regular train of thought. Often it feels like they're messages from my body to resolve stress ("You're under too much stress, kill yourself, here's a suggestion").

I also don't really recognize myself when I look in the mirror/have the strangest sensation that I'm looking at a stranger. It creates a profound feeling of alienation. Sometimes I feel like a mind trapped inside a body and that the two things have very little in common. And I tend to associate the self/other-destructive thoughts/urges with the body that I don't recognize. So I often feel that there's a real split psychologically bordering on multiple personalities. But in my case there's only one conscious me that can guide the direction of my rational thinking and that has a firm identity and then there's another "me" that is my body that has violent reactions to stress and which occasionally intervenes in my thinking through intrusive thoughts/urges.

So yeah. I don't really get what you're describing, but I have my own weirdness that I don't think most people can understand. My conscious self is pretty much always able to exert conscious control over my thinking and has definite aims. I would not describe myself as impulsive and I don't really feel confused or unfocused. It's just that I have some other part of me that tries to take over at times and that subjectively can feel very hard to control.

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post #5 of 8 (permalink) Old 09-11-2020, 05:30 PM
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I can't say I fully understand what you are saying. But it does remind me of something that went around in the media, that some people just don't have an inner monologue. It seems like you do have negative thoughts running (that you drown out with audio), but not a you beyond the negative thoughts? That's the part I don't get, of what you expect the "you" to be.

https://www.today.com/health/experts...ologue-t173490

It also brings to mind a cartoonist was explaining she learned that she could not visualize things in her head the same way everyone else does. And had to look at reference drawings all the time. I think its okay that not everyone thinks the same way, but I bet it would be nice if you could figure out in what way it is different. I wonder if the disconcerting part for you is a change, like if you always thought that way it wouldn't be so bothersome.

I will say I do have trouble keeping concentrated on work especially lately, like it always amazes me people that can work really long hours, I feel like my brain just can't focus that long. But for the most part I am okay with organized thoughts. Maybe just trouble expressing it sometimes.

I also think maybe you are over-stressing about it? Your complaints may be valid, but for example some people with a stutter then focus on it and the stuttering becomes worse? I don't know just a thought. Because while I don't quite understand all of your post, I think that is because of the nature of thoughts, not because you weren't forming coherent sentences.
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post #6 of 8 (permalink) Old 09-11-2020, 06:51 PM
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I have a lot of problems focusing on things. I was tested for ADHD a long time ago and was diagnosed with it - but I never sought help for it tbh. I can remember when I was young scanning through the newspaper for example - and I'd make a mental note of which articles I wanted to go back and read. But then I'd get annoyed because it was literally painful to read them - I had to force myself to concentrate.

Even now my mind is always a bit scattered. If I want to do something like put an ad on ebay for a book etc it's much better if I have a small amount of Valium etc. It seems to just take some of the chaos away a bit and let me relax enough to concentrate.

Sorry, but that's not really the same as your situation.
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post #7 of 8 (permalink) Old 09-13-2020, 04:17 AM
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Originally Posted by Myosr View Post
Most tasks I feel like I should "want to want to do" feel like a "solve 17 x 24" task. It's effortful and absurd. If that makes any sense. Take writing a paragraph for work for example, I can think an initial thought "I want to write this paragraph explaining xyz", but then I just feel confused. Normal people at this point would start asking themselves internal questions about "xyz", "why xyz?" "how xyz?" "when? where? etc". They would think (or just find thoughts or strings of thoughts about that topic they decided to think about). For me, I mostly just get a blank, and the more I interrogate the blank, I start getting to the existential monster stuff. Instead of my mind pursing the "xyz". It starts asking me "why do I want to write this paragraph?" "what are you doing with your life?" "who are you really?" etc. Stuff I just don't have any answer to. So I try to avoid complex mental activity as much as I can.
I don't think most people "want" to write a paragraph for work. Some people may have an intrinsic interest in the work itself, depending on what the work is, but most people want a promotion or recognition or something else that they can only get by writing that paragraph. It sounds to me like you have no ulterior motives to fall back on.

Most people have an idea of how they want their life to be, and they have a sequence of objectives leading to that life. So they have an idea of themselves as a successful business executive with a wife and kids and a big house and they take whatever steps they need to take to get there. They write the paragraph so they can impress their boss so they can get the promotion so they can make more money so they can attract a wife so they can have some kids and stick them all in their big, fancy house. If you have no long-term goal to fall back on, you're just left with the meaningless chore "writing this paragraph", which is, indeed, meaningless. If you're faced with a meaningless task, it's not surprising if your mind rebels.

The image people have of their ideal life tells them what they need to do to achieve it. If you have no ideal life, well, "where there is no vision, the people perish".

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The no identity thing is hard to explain. I know some people have like disassociation episodes and I don't experience those, but it's just hard to describe how I feel without it seeming like I'm describing disassociation. I guess I can try with the System 1 & 2 idea. If you spend your time, say, sleeping 24/7 or in a coma, do you really have an identity? That's an extreme example, but my point is that what we mean by identity is generally stuff we do in System 2 mode. Trying to spend as much time as possible in System 1 mode makes me think there is nothing constant in my life, because everything (well most things anyway) I experience are a direct result of my environment. (which I do not try to control, controlling it is very System 2). Even having a strong opinion about how you feel about it is a System 2 thing. I can have strong emotions about some particular thing, but if the emotion went away, I won't try to stick to the meaning behind it or keep any form of consistency.
Speaking very loosely, your identity is what you recognize to be true of yourself. If you're in a coma, you have no (psychological) identity because there's no self-reflective awareness. You have an identity when you recognize that some quality or preference accurately describes you, and when you have memories of things that happened to you. "I was in a car accident two years ago. I'm a person who has been in a car accident. I'm a little bit nervous about driving." <- This is part of your identity, if it happens to be true. "I try to avoid driving if I can." <- This is an operational goal that drives behavior. When presented with the task of driving somewhere, you try to find some way to avoid it, because you would prefer not to drive. You are a person who prefers not to drive. This is why I say identity is essentially a list of your preferences (and memories, which have helped shape those preferences).

If you have an ideal future that involves being a successful business executive with a wife and kids and a big house, then that ideal future is part of your identity. That ideal exists now in your mind. It is a part of your current experience. And it drives your behavior. You try to find ways to make your external reality come into alignment with that ideal. You may not be a successful business executive yet, but in a very important way you are already identified as one if that ideal is driving your behavior. If you have no ideal future, if everything seems pointless (nihilism), or you don't enjoy anything (anhedonia), or you don't believe you're capable of achieving anything (poor self-esteem), or you just plain can't make up your mind, then you're going to have identity issues of one sort or another, because goals are an important part of identity. At the very least, you're going to feel very different from all the goal-directed people around you.

So yeah, it's 'system 2' stuff, in the sense that you need to be able to figure out the steps you need to take to get from where you are to where you want to be and how to complete each of those steps, but the ideal itself probably isn't system 2. People don't sit down and decide what they're going to want; they just want what they want. What they sit down to do is figure out how to get it. I can't tell you how people end up wanting what they want.

I'm fortunate in that I have a long list of experiences I would like to have, and I'm not suffering from nihilism or anhedonia. I'm unfortunate in that I don't seem to have the ability to get any of the things that I want. The problem for me is not a lack of meaning or purpose or any conflict over my identity but a lack of ability and/or resources.

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hm. I wonder if identity comes from confronting other people. Maybe the internal voice people have is built through interaction with others, drawing boundaries, setting limits, etc. What do you think?
No one invents themselves out of nothing. We come to understand who we are in part by contrasting ourselves with other people. "I'm this, he's that." A lot of it depends on language and definitions.

People sometimes try to push you to be a kind of person that is more useful or convenient for them (parents, for example), and that often involves manipulation or persuasion. So, in that sense, you have to be able to set and enforce boundaries. "No, I don't want to be that person, I want to be my own person." And that might show up in your internal monologue. "They can go **** themselves. I'm not doing that." But this all depends on your ability to know what it is that you actually want. And other people can't tell you that. Only you have the ability to figure that out.

Beauty isn't everything. It's the only thing.
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post #8 of 8 (permalink) Old 09-13-2020, 05:00 PM
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I have several similar problems. One problem is its basically impossible for me to turn my brain off. It jumps from thought to thought to thought without any coherent pattern. This is particularly problematic at night when I'm trying to go to bed. Its impossible for me to just be in the moment and and to quiet my mind. It races all the time. One of the only ways I can quiet it or focus it is to listen to music, which is just a distraction really and doesn't actually quiet my brain I guess. It's just something else to think about. I've been tested for ADD and the psych who tested me didn't think I had it but gave me Ritalin anyway which didn't really help.

I also have difficulty maintaining my train of thought when I'm speaking to someone. Like I get lost. I'm not sure if this is due to the chronic insomnia or the SA or both or maybe the ADD or some other issue. But I often feel lost when engaging in a complex and prolonged verbal interaction.

My working memory and recall sucks too. This could be due to the insomnia or stress but I always have a hard time finding the right word or label for something. I know the thing more by it's essence than its english name or description.

So these things all coalesce into a stream of consciousness deficit. I try to overcome them through organization, pre-planning and just brute force, i.e. by doing extra work on a project or extra prep for a call to make sure it goes smoothly.

You live up in your head
Scared of every little noise
Someone's always breaking in accidentally
Using nothing but their voice
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