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Durf te vragen: mensen die doof zijn, hoe klinkt jullie innerlijke stem?

Soms kom je van die vragen tegen waar je oprecht nooit over hebt nagedacht, maar die wel meteen je interesse wekken. Dat was bij mij in ieder geval zo toen ik de volgende vraag op Reddit tegenkwam: “People who born deaf. How’s your inner voice sound, or you just speak sign langue in your head?”

Natuurlijk dacht ik er meteen over na hoe mijn eigen innerlijke stem eigenlijk klinkt, en ik denk dat die gewoon zoals mijn eigen stem is. Maar dan hoe je dénkt dat je stem klinkt, want ik schrik me elke keer rot als ik m’n stem terug hoor. En dan heb ik spontaan medelijden met de mensen die mijn geklets moeten aanhoren, want mijn stem klinkt echt niet prettig, vind ik. Grappig: dit is heel logisch en veelvoorkomend, en het komt doordat onze stem op twee manieren onze mond verlaat. Intern én extern, en dat interne valt weg wanneer je jezelf terughoort. Je hoort dan ineens een afwijkend geluid dat je niet herkent, en daardoor voelt het raar en vreemd aan en niet als van jezelf.

Maar hoe zit het dan als je helemaal niet kan horen? Dat externe is er dan natuurlijk niet, maar heb je dan wel een interne stem en zo ja, hoe klinkt die? Op Reddit werd deze vraag gesteld en met ruim 2,2K reacties blijft het misschien nog steeds moeilijk om voor te stellen, maar we krijgen er in ieder geval meer een beeld bij.

Een greep uit de antwoorden:
“My mom is profoundly deaf and I asked her this same question (totally not a stupid question!) She said she thinks in ASL. I have caught her signing to herself just like I sometimes talk to myself.”

“Before I got surgery for my cochlear implant/before learning ASL, I don’t exactly recall knowing about any “mental functionalities” like using a thinking voice. Most of my mental uses were re-imagining images in visual thoughts (if I wanted a hotdog, I’d visualize a hotdog). Besides that, my dreams were like silent films (and 95% still often are silent even after my surgery to help me hear).”

“For the first 5 years of my life i was technically Deaf, i couldn’t hear anything.

I remember thinking by closing my eyes and imagining the thing i wanted to think. so i would close my eyes and see my own imaginary world.

I can still do it but only in complete silence. It’s a trait I will forever hold but I’m not mad at it. It can be very helpful in some situations!”

“A deafie here – naturally we can’t even describe what it sounds like as we don’t really understand sound in the way you do. Maybe the basics like deep and high pitches but the difference between notes or octaves are something only understood through theory (i.e. reading about them).

We don’t understand what makes a singer good but we for sure know how to tell if it’s a good beat (provided it’s loud enough to feel).

As such, speaking for myself here – my inner voice is more literally like thinking. A mixture of instinctual understanding and the words that describe the meaning I want to express.

I am a writer so words are quite colorful to me. They convey a myriad of imagination. I also am a philosopher so I admire and observe closely the metaphysics at play here.

Words can occasionally come out in English as it is best expressed through English. Some come out as sign language as there are sayings that only make sense in sign language. It’s a blend of both as well as the raw emotional output that form my thoughts.

Also, there is the silence in between the thoughts. Depends on how much you pay attention I suppose.”

“Not deaf, but my brother is. I remember when we were in our teens on a family vacation and I caught him signing to himself when he was bored. The first time I saw it I thought he was telling me something but I noticed he wasn’t making eye contact and it made no sense, that is when I realized he was thinking to himself. After that, my family and I wouldn’t watch when we noticed him doing it since we figured it wasn’t fair to know what he was thinking at times when the same couldn’t be said for him.”