Hello. I have a horrible habit of conversing with people I know…but they’re not even there! I do it constantly, and for long periods of time throughout the day or whenever I’m alone. It’s really been annoying me lately (gets in the way of school sometimes). Recently I’ve been trying to stop by plowing my head into my studies (small success, but like any old habit, it won’t go down without a fight). They’re weird scenarios I come up with, or sometimes I just pretend the people are there listening to me while I talk to them. Sometimes I even pretend they respond. Is this normal?

A. You engage in these scenarios for “long periods of time” but you did not include how long they lasted. You also characterized the scenarios as “weird” but did not describe what you meant. Having more information would’ve helped me to better answer your question.

Generally, what you described is not unusual. Relatedly, there are some people who talk out loud to themselves. Research suggests that it’s a sign of intelligence. It’s thought to sharpen performance and to clarify thinking. I’m not certain if your “pretend scenarios” are a variation or a precursor to you talking to yourself out loud, but if so, you’re in good company. Lots of people do it and it’s considered healthy and normal.

The main problem may be the distress you feel about engaging in this activity. If you’re worried about it, consult a mental health professional, in- person. They will assess the situation and assist you in making changes, if necessary.

It may simply be that you find it preferable and beneficial to engage in these scenarios. If so, I don’t see why anything has to change.

One final thought. I wonder if your “pretend scenarios” are a sign of creativity and if you would be well-suited for fiction writing. Perhaps you would be particularly adept at writing dialogue and crafting interesting stories. At minimum, writing may serve as a healthy, creative outlet for you, should it interest you. It may be something to explore. Please take care.

Dr. Kristina Randle