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Intrapersonal communication is language use or thought internal to the communicator. Intra-personal communication is the active internal involvement of the individual in symbolic processing of messages. In intra-personal communication, each individual becomes his/her own sender and receiver, providing feedback to him/herself in an on-going internal process. It might be useful to envision intra-personal communication occurring in the mind of the individual in a model which contains a sender, receiver, and feedback loop.
It may be regarded as "self communication" and encompases thought, speaking and gesturing to oneself and writing to oneself. Although sucessful communication is generally defined as necessarily being between two or more individuals, issues concerning the useful nature of communicating with oneself and problems concerning communication with non-sentient entites such as computers have made some argue that this definiton is perhaps too narrow. In Communication: The Social Matrix of Psychiatry, Jurgen Ruesch and Gregory Bateson argue that intrapersonal communication is indeed a special case of interpersonal communication, as dialogue is the foundation for all discourse." Intrapersonal communication can encompass:
- Nocturnal dreaming
- Speaking aloud ("talking to oneself"), reading aloud, repeating what one hears; the additional activities of speaking and hearing (in the third case of hearing again) what one thinks, reads or hears may increase concentration and retention.
- Writing (by hand, or with a wordprocessor, etc.) one's thoughts or observations: the additional activities, on top of thinking, of writing and reading back may again increase self-understanding ("How do I know what I mean until I see what I say?") and concentration. It aids ordering one's thoughts; in addition it produces a record that can be used later again. Copying text to aid memorizing also falls in this category.
- Making gestures while thinking: the additional activity, on top of thinking, of body motions, may again increase concentration, assist in problem solving, and assist memory.
- Sense-making (see Karl Weick) e.g. interpreting maps, texts, signs, and symbols
- Interpreting non-verbal communication (see Albert Mehrabian) e.g. gestures, eye contact
- Communication between body parts; e.g. "My stomach is telling me it's time for lunch."
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