Lena, like many others, believed she had constant internal monologue. Then she explored her inner experience with Descriptive Experience Sampling (DES). Here's what she's finding....
Lena: On about February 1, I read Ryan Langdon's post about internal monologue and agreed with him: I, too, always hear a voice in my head. I can't imagine how it would be possible to be otherwise.
I'm a student at UNLV, which is also where Professor Russ Hurlburt is located. Hurlburt is the psychologist whose work lies behind Ryan's post. Hurlburt maintains that many people don't have internal monologue (that's the fun fact that ruined Ryan's day and which also seems impossible to me).
So on February 3 I contacted Hurlburt and asked to volunteer in his lab. I thought I might learn something interesting.
Russ Hurlburt: I'm the originator of Descriptive Experience Sampling (DES), a method that uses a beeper to trigger a high-fidelity exploration of inner experience.
Lena's right; we've been using DES for 40+ years, and we've found that many people are convinced that they have internal monologue, but don't. Basically, we have shown that many (perhaps most) people don't know the characteristics of their own inner experience.
I met with Lena on February 5. I told her that my lab rarely involves undergraduates but that perhaps we had an interesting opportunity. We could apply DES to Lena's inner experience and see what we find, making our entire interaction available on the web so that others might participate vicariously. No holds barred; no hidden agendas.
I told her that it didn't matter to me whether she did or didn't have internal monologues. If she did, then we would describe them in detail, thus giving a fascinating glimpse into the way internal monologues actually happen (at least for one person). If she didn't, then we would describe whatever inner experiences she did have, which would provide glimpses that should be fascinating to those (and there are many) who can't imagine not having internal monologues. I told her that my interest was only in demonstrating in public view what is required if one wants to make a careful investigation of inner experience.
I suggested that she take a while to think about whether revealing some aspects of her inner experience to the Internet seemed like a good idea. If she still agreed, then we would videotape and post all our upcoming interactions.
Lena: I thought about it over the weekend, and on February 10 told him I was game. We met for the first videotaped session on February 13.
Russ Hurlburt: As part of the effort to provide careful interviewing, DES typically uses multiple interviewers. I invited Alek Krumm, a graduate student, to join us.
Alek Krumm: I've been training in the DES method with Dr. Hurlburt for a little over 3 years. I am fascinated by the exploration of peoples' inner experience. I get to see DES up close, and I think that many others might like to see what it's like, too. I was part of the process that led to Ryan's interview (also here) of Dr. Hurlburt and me.
Russ Hurlburt: So we invite you to accompany us on this journey into the unknown—into Lena's private, never-before-been-observed-by-anyone-except-Lena world. We don't know what we will find; our invitation is that you can find it with us.
Below are links to the interviews as they occurred.
Dr. Hurlburt and Alek invite Lena to explore her inner experience—whatever its characteristics—in high fidelity. They describe DES and the operation of the beeper, etc....
In general—DES introduction: The DES introduction aims to invite the participant into the spirit of DES, discussing why inner experience might be important, how it is has been investigated historically, why DES might be an improvement; what is and is not pristine inner experience as DES defines it; the DES procedure; the responsibilities of the participants; and so on. The overarching goal is to begin to establish a genuine collaboration. The investigators will be candid and forthcoming with the participant because they will ask the participant to be candid and forthcoming with them.
With Lena in particular: This was a pretty typical introduction to DES. They discussed:
The desirability of functioning as co-investigators and treating each other fairly.
Introductions; background of Lena's participation; Russ's interest in making DES available to public view. Ground-rules for the interaction; privacy.
How to do DES; responding to the beep; the last undisturbed moment before the beep; forthcoming description; lack of pretence.
How the beeper works; why DES uses a beep, not a vibration; get six samples.
Lena is not expected to be good at it on the first day or two; she will likely gradually get better at it.
Lena (like all DES participants) is not expected to be good at apprehending her experience on this first sampling day. In a nutshell, we shouldn't believe what Lena says on this day. That's why DES routinely discards first-day results....
In general—sampling day 1: All DES interviews are some combination of iterative training (so that future sampling days can be more skillful) and description of experience. The aim of the first sampling interview (or the first several sampling interviews) is almost entirely iterative training. First-day sampling interviews appear to be inquiries into experience, but their fundamental aim is to facilitate discussions of how to do DES more skillfully. DES recognizes that participants on their first sampling day are not skillful, so DES routinely discards first-day descriptions.
With Lena in particular: This was a pretty typical first-day DES Interview. We discussed:
Lena suggests that the long beep is distracting; Russ explains why the beep is long.
Sample 1.1 [4:35 into video]: On toilet looking on phone at a post about which sibling is smartest. Comparing myself to brother makes me uncomfortable/anxious. My own self-evaluation, and how much of that is genetic. The visual aspect of experience—my brother as a swirl of lights. What of that was that at the moment of the beep? And how? Simultaneous visualization and narration? Narration (my own voice) is more prominent. Russ notes that we're not too good at figuring that out at this (first) beep.
Sample 1.2 27:45]: In class learning about action potentials. Visualizing that life always goes forward like an action potential as wispy lights, and then I put a dialog on top of that—my inner voice saying you can't go back in time. It starts as a feeling, then I see or sense a connection, and then narration occurs.
Keep in mind that the aim of the first-day interview is not to understand Lena's experience. We accept that Lena is not skilled at apprehending or describing her experience, so her first day's attempts are likely to involve talk about things that are not actually part of her pristine experience: contexts, generalities, presuppositions, causation speculation, and so on. The first-day interview is designed to improve Lena's ability on future sampling days to home in on her actual experience. We will discard her first-day's samples.
This is in no way a criticism of Lena: no one is good at DES on the first day or so.
Lena is gradually improving at recognizing her experience. Like all DES participants, we have to work at ensuring that Lena is describing her experience and nothing else, and that she is describing experience at the moment of the beep and at no other time....
In general—sampling day 2: All DES interviews are some combination of iterative training and description of experience. This is the second sampling day, and participants are generally more skillful than they were on day 1, so day-2 descriptions are expected to reflect beeped experiences with somewhat more fidelity. All skill acquisition is gradual, so we expect to be clarifying some aspects of method and experience on this second day.
With Lena in particular: This was a pretty typical second-day DES Interview. We discussed:
Sample 2.1 [1:57]: Lena is speaking aloud “OK. March tenth works.” Those words are mostly on autopilot, not really experienced (even though they are created by and coming from her). At first she said her general experience was annoyance or overwhelmed, but later she said the annoyance/overwhelmed-ness was before the beep, and at the moment of the beep she feels relieved, which includes a sense that she can now keep her doctor’s appointment. The interview included substantial clarification of what is at the moment of the beep and what was before the beep.
Sample 2.2 [19:58]: Lena was reading aloud and saying “that” as part of a sentence. She originally said her feeling was of being focused. Several minutes into the beep-2 interview she said she had been reading in a teacher-y voice, and simultaneously she experienced herself as learning what she is being taught. These are two separate experiences, experienced as two separate Lenas. On top of that there is a noticing of the two Lenas.
Sample 2.3 [30:57]: Lena is taking an online quiz and reading in her own voice silently “Results and Discussion.” We distinguished between short experiences and experiences that are ongoing at a specific time. Several minutes into the interview Lena describes the visual aspect of this experience—flipping through visual displays. We distinguished between metaphor and description.
Note that each of these samples included instances of iterative training. In Sample 2.1, Lena's description of her feeling changed from annoyance/overwhelmed-ness to relief. The interviewers' task was not to decide which of those two possibilities was correct, but rather to notice that in the future, we would like to differentiate between what happens before the beep and what happens at the beep.
In Sample 2.2, we do not take a position on whether there were “two (or three) simultaneous Lenas”; we tried to clarify the distinction between two experienced Lena's and two aspects of one experience. This may lay the groundwork for discussion on future sampling days, should the locus of the experiencer becomes an issue.
In Sample 2.3, we began the clarification of the distinction between metaphor and description.
That is, the gradual acquisition of skills (which DES calls iterative training) is an essential part of the DES procedure. Hurlburt (2011) claims that such iterative training is necessary for any attempt to apprehend inner experience in high fidelity.
Lena is now pretty good at recognizing and describing her experience. Two of the three experiences involve seeing inner imagery. None involve internal monologue....
In general—sampling day 3: This is the third sampling day, and participants are generally more skillful than they were on day 2, so day-3 descriptions are expected to reflect beeped experiences with somewhat more fidelity. All DES interviews are some combination of iterative training and description of experience. All skill acquisition is gradual, so we expect to be clarifying some aspects of method and experience on this third day.
With Lena in particular: This was a pretty typical third-day DES Interview in the sense that there is reason to believe that Lena's descriptions today are of higher fidelity than on previous days. We discussed:
Sample 3.1 [00:28]: Lena innerly sees three nurses around a nurse’s station with many more nurses in the background. The nurses are all moving back-and-forth in a wispy, reeds-blowing-in-the-wind motion. The three foreground nurses are clearer and more detailed than anyone/anything in the background. The foreground nurses' scrubs are seen clearly and are tie-died in color. However, their features such skin, face, and hair are seen as translucent or indeterminate.
Sample 3.2 [17:20]: Lena feels relaxed, an all-over bodily feeling of lack of tension; somehow she also experiences herself as allowing this relaxation. Simultaneously she is watching the TV show, which is about the paranormal, and she thinks about or feels [there is reason to be skeptical about this detail] what it would be like to have such a paranormal experience.
Sample 3.3 [43:13]: Lena (~70% of her experience) innerly sees her brother sitting on the couch, sick and wrapped in a velvety red blanket. This is seen clearly and realistically and still frame. At the same time but less salient (~30%), Lena hears someone on the TV show say that ghosts can attach themselves to locations or people. She’s following along, comprehending what that means.
Note that this interview provides evidence of the power of the iterative training. The discussion of sample 3.1 provides substantial clarification of the first-sampling-day samples 1.1 and 1.2, where Lena had described wispy or swirling visual imagery. In the sampling-day-1 interview, we didn't know whether to take wispy/swirly as metaphorical or descriptive. Now, as a result of the sample 3.1 discussion, we have reason to believe that wispy motion is a characteristic of some (but not all) of Lena's inner seeings.
On this day we still were wrestling to some degree with distinctions between descriptive, metaphorical, and theoretical talk. This should be understood as a strength of DES, not a weakness: the three participants are seeking to clarify for each other with precision what their communication refers to, and are willing to consider new experiences on subsequent days that might clear things up.
Lena can now be pretty much trusted to recognize and describe her experience. Both of today's experiences involve seeing inner imagery. Neither involve internal monologue....
In general—sampling day 4: This is the fourth sampling day, and DES participants are generally more skillful than they were on day 3 and before. Day-4 descriptions are therefore expected to reflect beeped experiences with pretty good fidelity. Day-4 interviews continue to provide iterative training where descriptions are ambiguous or for whatever reason difficult, but as a general rule, day-4 interviews are mostly about description of experience.
With Lena in particular: This was a pretty typical fourth-day DES Interview in the sense that we see reason to believe that Lena's descriptions today are of pretty high fidelity. We discussed:
Sample 4.1 [02:33]: [Lena is driving but has no direct experience thereof. Instead,] Lena is innerly seeing/hearing herself in her Philosophy class performing (singing and playing acoustic guitar) a Scottish folk song about dying. She sees herself from a first-person perspective (that is, mostly she sees the guitar in her lap). Maybe she separately or somehow overlaid, sees from a third-person perspective her Philosophy teacher and peers watching her sing. Her Philosophy teacher looks on, enjoying Lena’s performance. [This is an imaginary scene—Lena has never and would never actually sing in her philosophy class.] Simultaneously, Lena feels comforted/soothed by the message of the Scottish song.
Sample 4.2 [19:49]: [A few seconds earlier, Lena had turned the car on; she turned off the windshield wipers (which had come on wildly) and was hearing an NPR radio story about a guy who had flouted coronavirus concerns by touching a series of reporters’ microphones.] At the moment of the beep, Lena innerly sees a man wearing a black suit with a red tie chaotically running around a conference room touching microphone after microphone. This inner seeing is clear, but parts of the seen scene have a wispy/ghost-like movement—like reeds blowing in the wind. [Note that this inner seeing was not a veridical creation of the actual scene, which actually involved a basketball player wearing a warmup suit deliberately touching all the microphones on a table.] Simultaneously, Lena had some residual awareness of turning off the windshield wipers. Also at the same time, Lena felt agitated.
At the end of the interview we noted that despite the fact that prior to sampling, Lena understood herself to have a nearly constant internal monologue, her sampled experiences have not included such monologue, instead frequently involving inner seeing. We agreed that this was not the result merely of overlooking internal monologue, but rather that inner seeing was much more salient.
After the interview, we gave Lena the opportunity to ask questions about the DES procedure.
Lena has some questions about the DES procedure and inner experience. Dr. Hurlburt and Alek candidly respond....
Over the weeks, some questions have occurred to Lena about the DES procedure and how we go about it. We temporarily sidestepped some of those questions because we did not want to bias the exploration of her own experience. We told Lena that we would be happy to answer any such questions when the time was right.
Now, after four days of sampling, we think that Lena is skilled enough in DES and secure enough in her commitment to her own investigation that our concern about our biasing it has lessened, so we invited Lena to ask whatever questions she liked.
All across sampling, we have asked Lena to be forthright with us—she had the right to decline to describe a sample, but if she agreed to discuss a sample, then we wanted her to be complete and candid. Now, we told her, it is only fair that we respond to her questions in the same way. She can ask whatever she wants about the process, and we will either answer forthrightly and completely or explicitly decline to answer.
In this free-wheeling conversation, we discussed issues such as: Is visual experience more common than word experience? What are the characteristics of Russ's and Alek's own inner experience? What are you searching for 'in the footlights of consciousness'? Are you trying to prove something? Are you trying to help other people to 'know thyself'? How could that help them? Do you try to help people bracket away their own hypotheses or theories? Do you think it is easy for people to have clarity about their own inner experience? Is it possible that Lena had interior monologue experience and just didn't report it? Can people get caught up in their own theories of themselves? Is it a problem for Lena to have had a self-understanding of herself as verbal when her experience actually is visual? Are you trying to pierce through the veil that we put over ourselves? Is it scary for some people to recognize their true self? Are you looking for enlightenment? What is the driving force behind DES? Does DES cause anxiety for some people to have their delusions removed? Could it be hurtful for me to know that I am not a verbal person? Why do people resist having their delusions removed? Are there people who can experience their reality in a truthful way? Psychology gets a score on a person and then compares that score to other people; do you think it would be better for psychology to treat people as individuals? Has there been any shift in consciousness over the centuries? For example, does cell phone use change consciousness? What is the experience of iPhone scrolling? What can you say about authenticity? Is scrolling a way to avoid authenticity?
We aimed to provide genuine responses to these questions, not definitive answers.
In an interview conducted over Zoom because of coronavirus social distancing, Lena describes another visualization and also a sample where concern about death seems the driving force....
In general—sampling day 5: This is the fifth sampling day, and DES participants are generally quite skillful by this day. Day-5 descriptions are therefore expected to reflect beeped experiences with pretty good fidelity. Day-5 interviews continue to provide iterative training where descriptions are ambiguous or for whatever reason difficult, but as a general rule, day-5 interviews are mostly about description of experience.
With Lena in particular: This was a pretty typical fifth-day DES Interview in the sense that we see reason to believe that Lena's descriptions today are of pretty high fidelity. However, her third sample this day occurred when Lena was overtaken by anxiety involving ear of death, and her descriptions of that experience were quite difficult. We discussed:
Sample 5.1 [00:40]: [Lena is reading about Epicurus’s teachings on moral constraints for her philosophy class.] She’s reading with comprehension but with no experience of words. As she reads, she innerly sees Epicurus in a white toga teaching in his Garden. She sees Epicurus clearly, but the students he’s teaching are indeterminate—she sees them but they have no particular features.
Sample 5.2 [19:07]: [Lena is typing a paper for her philosophy class,] saying aloud “forced to reckon with my maker” as she types it. Her experience is of typing and speaking in sync [even though, her speaking probably far outpaces her typing.] She also experiences herself as deeply thoughtful, which somehow includes sensory, feeling, and thinking aspects.
Sample 5.3 [31:03]: Lena notices a painful sensation in her stomach and feels intensely anxious, which she experiences as a whirlwind of emotion and catastrophic thoughts (like What could this mean? Is this normal? Is it liver failure? Am I going to die?) and a sense of doom. [Lena said that] “whirlwind” was not metaphorical but rather, that her experience was in some way horizontally swirling like an actual whirlwind except with no vertical motion. [It was hard to tease apart description, metaphor, and confabulation about the whirlwind.] At the same time, Lena is engaged in a rational process of trying to calm herself down.
None of these samples involved inner monologue of the kind she described prior to sampling. Lena's experience in sample 5.3 was different from her other samples, and difficult to describe.
Lena and the interviewers wrestle with a basic inner-experience issue: Is Lena describing her directly apprehended, before-the-footlights-of-consciousness experience, or is she reporting inferences based on her self-theories?...
In general—sampling day 6: This is the sixth sampling day, and DES participants are generally quite skillful by this day. Day-6 descriptions are therefore expected to reflect beeped experiences with pretty good fidelity, and as a general rule, day-6 interviews are mostly about description of experience.
With Lena in particular: DES tries to make a bright-line distinction between directly apprehended (before-the-footlights-of-consciousness) experience and all else. We have not been successful (yet) in making that distinction with Lena. Substantial time in today's interview was directed at clarifying and exercising that distinction.
Sample 6.1 [02:09]: Lena is reading her textbook aloud (occupying ~50% of her direct experience), “…made it possible to identify sleep states…” Simultaneously (~40% of her experience) she innerly sees (from a first-person perspective) herself having an out-of-body experience (flying through the air toward a cottage. Simultaneously (~10%) she innerly sees a sleep-study lab. Afterwards, RTH suggests that, in the future, we go as quickly as possible to the directly apprehended portion of experience.
Sample 6.2 [21:20]: [Lena is silently reading a text about chronotypes (which underly circadian rhythms).] She innerly sees, clearly and in color, an old man watering plants. Perhaps there is also some thought-feeling/sense/sentiment that is directly experienced, but we are not confident. We engage in a long discussion of the distinction between directly apprehended and inferred from self-theory (continuing the discussion after sample 6.1).
Sample 6.3 [41:41]: [Lena is watching a TV show about paranormal experiences. She takes a sip of coffee and is] somehow pondering what it would be like if she herself had a paranormal experience. Maybe she also feels spooked, and maybe the coffee is directly experienced too, but we could not be confident. [She said that this experience was especially difficult to describe; the sample provided an opportunity to refine our understanding of experience.]
None of these samples involved internal monologue of the kind she described prior to sampling, so it would seem that we have pretty much established that internal monologue is not a (frequent,if at all) characteristic of Lena's experience. It remains to be seen whether the DES iterative process helps Lena and the interviewers be successful in distinguishing between directly apprehended inner experience and all else, and if so, what are the characteristics of her experience once that distinction is clear.
Acquiring any skill requires effort, and Lena and the interviewers are working at it: Is the experience of inner speaking the same as inner hearing? Are feelings the same as explanations of feelings? How can we be confident that we understand each other?...
In general—sampling day 7: This is the seventh sampling day, and DES participants are generally quite skillful by this day. Day-7 descriptions are therefore expected to reflect beeped experiences with pretty good fidelity, and as a general rule, day-7 interviews are mostly about description of experience.
With Lena in particular: We have been trying to make a bright-line distinction between directly apprehended (before-the-footlights-of-consciousness) experience and all else. We are still working on it.
Sample 7.1 [0:29]: [Lena is reading.] She innerly says the words “went mad” in her own voice as she reads them. The beep interrupts her saying “went mad.” At the same time, she innerly sees, in color and motion, a young girl in her professor’s apartment. [This is the scene Lena is reading about.] Also at the same time, she feels curious, and innerly says “Do all poets really die young?” in her own voice. [Thus Lena is engaged in two simultaneous inner speakings.]
Sample 7.2 [16:44]: [Lena is still reading.] She innerly speaks in her own voice the words as she reads them. Simultaneously she innerly sees the professor seducing his young female student. Also present to her are simultaneous feelings: disgust and a sense of impurity/innocence-lost; an empathic feeling of the professor’s desperation; and an empathic feeling of the girl’s fear.
Sample 7.3 [47:24]: [Lena is still reading, the same story as in 7.1 and 7.2.] She innerly speaks the words in her own voice as she reads them. She innerly sees the scene she is reading about: the professor walking into the student building to copy the girl’s personal details. At the same time, she marvels (with both feeling and cognitive aspects) at the extent to which the professor will take his obsession.
One (or perhaps three) of these samples involved internal monologue, but whether any of these are the kind Lena described prior to sampling is questionable.
On this eighth sampling day, we discussed six experience samples. Five of the six involved innerly seeing visual imagery. We explored what may be "unsymbolized thinking," the experience of thinking that has no words or images. There were no internal monologue samples....
In general—sampling day 8: This is the eighth sampling day, and DES participants are generally quite skillful by this day. Day-8 descriptions are therefore expected to reflect beeped experiences with pretty good fidelity, and as a general rule, day-8 interviews are mostly about description of experience.
With Lena in particular: We have been trying to make a bright-line distinction between directly apprehended (before-the-footlights-of-consciousness) experience and all else. We are still working on it.
Sample 8.1 [00:26]: Lena is reading, innerly saying the words as she reads them, “graduate students interested in neuroscience.” At the same time, she innerly sees the entrance to the UNLV library and the surrounding trees, clear, detailed, and in color.
Sample 8.2 [02:56]: [Lena is driving.] She’s listening to Scottish bagpipes and innerly sees a soldier dressed in traditional Celtic garb (dark kilt, belt, sword) on a hill in the Scottish highlands. She clearly sees the soldier (except that his face is undifferentiated) and the green, tall grass, hills, and mountains. Simultaneously she wonders what life was like during Celtic clan times. This wondering was apparently unworded (what DES call unsymbolized thinking). The driving is not in her experience.
Sample 8.3 [13:41]: [Lena is still driving and listening to Scottish bagpipes.] She innerly sees herself as if she lived in the Celtic clan times, wearing traditional Scottish dress: a belt, tartan shawl, and dress. She simultaneously sees herself from two different perspectives (her face from the front and her body from straight on). The driving is not in her experience.
Sample 8.4 [24:07]: [Lena is texting with her neighbor who is upset that she has to do all the disciplining of her children.] Lena innerly sees and hears her distressed neighbor. She sees her neighbor’s face) clearly and accurately. She hears her neighbor’s voice which does not have differentiated words but which is clearly heard as upset.
Sample 8.5 [35:11]: [Lena is taking notes for class, but the writing is happening automatically, not in direct experience.] Lena is trying to remember the parts of the ear and innerly sees her own drawing of an ear (that she drew for another class), which is coming to her in this moment only as colors (purple, red, and black).
Sample 8.6 [41:13]: [Lena is in the car driving home. Her daughter is crying loudly in the backseat, trying to escape from her car seat because it’s hot. It’s a stressful moment]. Lena is asking her daughter if she can wait until Lena has a chance to pull over to help her. The crying and her request are present in Lena’s experience along with two feelings: frustrated at her daughter, which includes both bodily (tension all throughout her body) and mental (her senses overstimulated/overwhelmed) aspects; and some kind of defeat/ acceptance, an emotional recognition that there is nothing she can do for her daughter.
Lena is demonstrating a substantial increase in her skills of apprehending and describing experience.
On this ninth sampling day, we discussed five experience samples. Three of the five involved innerly seeing visual imagery. We continued to explore her unsymbolized experience of thinking, and perhaps a parallel experience in the realm of feelings. There were no internal monologue samples....
In general—sampling day 9: This is the ninth sampling day, and DES participants are generally quite skillful by this day. Day-9 descriptions are therefore expected to continue to reflect beeped experiences with pretty good fidelity.
With Lena in particular: We have pretty much established that Lena has frequent inner seeings and little or no inner speaking (internal monolog). We have also substantially established the distinction between directly apprehended (before-the-footlights-of-consciousness) experience and all else.
Sample 9.1 [00:35]: [Lena is reading notes] and innerly hears herself say "rapid reduction in depression" as she reads it. [This spawns a recent memory about someone lying to Lena and her brother] and she innerly sees herself and her brother in the car when this happened. At the same time, Lena wonders whether people who lie realize they are lying, and experience involving both cognizing and searching. Searching seems to be a sense that is more than merely mental but less that actually bodily—perhaps a bodily readiness [Cf. 9.2].
Sample 9.2 [13:40]: As in sample 9.1, Lena innerly hears herself say while reading "mobile wanderer/nomadic exclusion" (experience of both hearing and speaking). Simultaneously, she experiences a rapid "blip-like" inner seeing of a nomad walking through a sandy desert. Simultaneously, Lena is searching for a way to describe a person who has no connection to the land. Her experience is somehow cognitive but also a sense or mental clarification that seems to clearing her mind or making space for the answer. This experience is not entirely menta but has a slight physical as[ect—maybe including a slight tingle all over her body.
Sample 9.3 [26:17]: [Lena has just typed, "Where was Hitler born?" into an online search, which retrieved the answer, "Austria."] She (70%) wonders how a single man [not specifically Hitler] could do such a horrendous thing. This wondering is mostly cognitive but also includes a mental/emotional sense of empathy toward Hitler-like individuals, a clearing herself out [presumably so she can fully "put herself in another’s shoes." At the same time she (30%) innerly sees green rolling hills [her rendition of Austria].
Sample 9.4 [36:22]: Lena is (10%) saying aloud, "exilic" and, simultaneously, (10%) typing "exilic" into Google to get the definition. Her experience is primarily (80%) of wanting to get the definition of "exilic," which includes a mild excitement [because she’s about to get the answer she wants!] which is like a mental and physical attentiveness. She’s mentally and physically perked up, ready for the answer.
Sample 9.5 [skipped due to time constraints]
Sample 9.6 [47:55]: [Lena is FaceTiming with her daughter, Milla, who is asking for homework help. Lena is finding it difficult to provide that help over FaceTime.] Mostly (60%), Lena feels frustrated and overwhelmed at the situation. She experiences frustration mostly (90%) as mental tension but also slightly (10%) as physical tension like being wound-up. At the same time, she (40%) is blurting at her daughter something like, "Just come home! Just come home!"
Lena is demonstrating a substantial improvement in her skills of apprehending and describing experience, which is now allowing us to explore the unsymbolized experience of thinking and some sort of implied or openness to emotion that is itself not directly experienced.
On this tenth sampling day, we discussed four experience samples. We encountered the phenomenon of meta-awareness, and discovered that that was perhaps a defining feature of what Lena has previously called 'sensing'....
In general—sampling day 10: This is the tenth sampling day, and DES participants are generally quite skillful by this day. Day-10 descriptions are therefore expected to continue to reflect beeped experiences with pretty good fidelity.
With Lena in particular: We have pretty much established that Lena has frequent inner seeings and little or no inner speaking (internal monolog).
Sample 10.1 [00:08]: [Lena’s two-year-old son is digging in a drawer containing scissors.] Lena feels patiently frustrated—simultaneously frustrated and patient. At the same time, she is choosing to feel more patient that frustrated. This choosing is experientially "folded back on herself"—she is, before the footlights of consciousness, noticing her two emotions and explicitly engaged in choosing the patience over the frustration.
Sample 10.2 [12:33]: Lena is listening and singing along to a song she’s trying to learn to play on guitar. She’s singing more or less automatically—only slightly aware of herself as doing it. [She’s also searching online for the chords to the song.] She feels excited, like she’s on the edge of her seat waiting for the search results. At the same time, she wonders whether the chords will be easy or difficult to learn. This wondering is mostly a cognitive think-y experience, but includes (as in sample 10.1) a "folding back on herself" meta-awareness of noticing her emotion and thinking.
Sample 10.3 [28:55]: Lena is looking in the freezer and (90%) thinking about which foods her family will eat and which ones she should donate to her brother. This is a cognitive/analytical process (similar to the wondering in 10.2) except there is no accompanying meta-awareness/inner sensing here. At the same time, and part of the 90%, Lena innerly sees her brother’s face. Simultaneously, Lena is (10%) aware that her daughter has asked her a question that ended with, "...too much of the cereals?” and that Lena has responded mindlessly in a sing-songy voice, "Cereals?" This experience is mostly a meta-awareness—more about the mindlessness of Lena’s response than about the meaning of her daughter’s question.
Sample 10.4 [44:25]: [Lena has made a phone call; the woman has answered by immediately saying "please hold" in an agitated tone. At first, Lena had taken this personally, but now Lena experiences some kind of inner, soulful wisdom that has the tone of Let’s give her the benefit of the doubt. We can’t always know what other people are feeling. This is a comment on Lena’s reaction (that is, involves a meta-awareness).
Samples 10.5 and 10.6 [skipped due to time constraints]
All the samples on this day included some form of meta-awareness. It is likely that what Lena has called 'sensing' on previous days involved a meta-awareness aspect, but we weren't yet in a position to notice that.
On this eleventh (and final) sampling day, we discussed five experience samples. We clarified our understanding of 'sensing'....
In general—sampling day 10: This is the eleventh sampling day, and DES participants are generally quite skillful by this day. Day-11 descriptions are therefore expected to continue to reflect beeped experiences with pretty good fidelity.
With Lena in particular: We had established that Lena has frequent inner seeings and little or no inner speaking (internal monolog). We have now discovered that she also has frequent 'sensings', a phenomenon that involves somehow folding her experience back on itself. She has been trying to describe this experience pretty much all along, but without success
Sample 11.1 [01:02]: Three strands of experience: Mostly (60%), Lena is thinking without explicit words, pictures, or other symbols about how much upkeep is required to maintain houses. Simultaneously (30%) she hears her friend talking about a video. Also simultaneously (10%) she says aloud “fricken frack!” a lighthearted expression of slight annoyance that the door is stuck.
Sample 11.2 [10:59]: [Lena and her daughter, Milla, are reviewing Milla’s schoolwork.] Lena is feeling pride / awe at Milla’s talent. She also realizes that Milla has become a talented artist. The feeling and thinking seem inextricable (and thus is an example of what DES calls thought/feeling.
Sample 11.3 [24:54]: [Lena and her friend are discussing how they might reorganize Lena’s closet.] Lena says aloud about a closet drawer “I think it’s too shallow,” but most of her experience is innerly seeing a rapidly alternating (a fraction of a second each) sequence of her drawers in different configurations—organized this way, then that way, then another organized this way. [The rapidity would likely be measurable in physical time, but Lena doesn’t experience rapidity.]
Sample 11.4 [32:24]: [Lena is talking about consciousness on the phone with her brother, but she isn’t paying attention to him.] Instead, she’s contemplating about whether someone who has been injured oses the function of consciousness. This contemplation involves an empathic feeling /sensing / entering into the what’s-the-point feeling, the defeated feeling that one who has been deprived of consciousness due to injury or disease might feel.
Sample 11.5 [49:02]: [Lena is on the phone with her brother. Her brother is talking about genetics.] At the moment of the beep, his sentence includes the words “human DNA” and she innerly sees a double helix in bluish tones against a pink-ish background. Lena has been visually illustrating each word (or perhaps phrase such as “human DNA”) with its own inner seeing—that is, as her brother speaks the sentence, Lena illustrates each word (or phrase) separately from the previous word (or phrase).
Sample 10.6 [skipped due to time constraints]
The two inner seeing samples on this day (11.3 and 11.5) are unusual for Lena in their rapid fluctuation.