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Writing about how deaf people think


Ragamuffin_John
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During my Bible reading devotion a few mornings ago, I felt lethargic in my praying.

I stopped to ponder how we voice our prayers in our thinking  I started to appreciate

in a new way what a gift that language is to Christians, that our words echo within

our minds and that the Holy Spirit takes this communication direct to the Father

through our Mediator, Messiah Jesus.

 

Then it struck me that something deeper is going on, or should I say "More miraculous" or

"More mysterious"?   That happened when I thought, "Yes, well, but a deaf person who

has never heard words does not hear the echo of words when they think, much less when they pray.

They are praying thoughts based on imagery and symbolism.   Words for the deaf are not

echos but sign language.   The sign language must be like computer machine language

initially, which then evolves into thought patterns that are faster than the language itself.

And yet, don't we who hear experience the same things, words verbalized and echoing

in our minds becoming a world of understanding, only some of which is communicated

outward to people, God, or into the air as self-talk? 

 

I'm thinking about doing a short story that describes the inner thinking of a deaf person.

I'm not sure it's real to simply use words to portray their inner self-dialogue, prayers, etc.

Has anyone ever read stories that depict deaf people inwardly thinking?    I suppose the

only way it can be done is to use words in quotes, but that seems to give the picture of one

who understands words in the sense that a hearing person does.   Perhaps it is

more realistic to simply describe what a deaf person is thinking, from the view of actions

and reactions, and not state what they are thinking. 

 

Maybe all this is over analysis.  Better yet, ignorance.  After all, I've never been deaf

nor have I known anyone who has always been deaf. 

 

I"ll start by studying up on Helen Keller.  I do recall that she got an epiphany when

she understood hearing-language as uttered vibrations.   She probably then got

to associate words as specific vibrations, much like music notes.   And, her recall

of these notes enriched her thought life . . . her perspective . . . her prayer life, etc.

 

 

 

Edited by Ragamuffin_John
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1 hour ago, Ragamuffin_John said:

based on imagery and symbolism. 

 

And feelings. Especially feelings. Though I am not deaf, most of my silent prayer is a stream of imagery and feelings, rather than actual words. While I will pray aloud easily enough in a group or with my wife, that's kinda' a "different" kind of prayer, sort of translated to be shared with a third party, in addition to myself and God.

 

It hadn't occurred to me that others may not do this, but I'll bet that you can find people you know who are sufficiently visually-oriented that they do this too. Their experience might also help guide you.

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I've seen a video before in which two individuals who were deaf were interviewed. One of the questions they were asked was, "Do deaf people think/think in sign language?" I think one of them responded with, "Yes, sort of, but they also think in words."

 

Or maybe it was just the first...

 

If you want the video, I'll send you the link. 🙂 

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Guest Spaulding

Do you know doctors are perfectly capable of tell people that their love one is probably going to die without ever saying anything at all about death? It happened to me three times after hubby was taken away with a heart attack.

 

I also know I can talk to God with no words. When I'm really upset and can't think what to tell him I'm nothing but gestures, body languages and groans. And if 20,000 emotions and thoughts are exploding at once, how else is there to pray?

 

My version of Romans 8:26 "Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words."

 

But if you'd like to read a novel about deaf people, In This Sign is good.

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On 12/4/2021 at 11:17 PM, Spaulding said:

Do you know doctors are perfectly capable of tell people that their love one is probably going to die without ever saying anything at all about death? It happened to me three times after hubby was taken away with a heart attack.

 

I also know I can talk to God with no words. When I'm really upset and can't think what to tell him I'm nothing but gestures, body languages and groans. And if 20,000 emotions and thoughts are exploding at once, how else is there to pray?

 

My version of Romans 8:26 "Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words."

 

But if you'd like to read a novel about deaf people, In This Sign is good.

Thank you for sharing that Spaulding.  I should have thought of the Romans passage.  There indeed have been times that all I could do was groan inwardly and be still—after which I came away with the understanding that God considered me and heard.

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On 12/4/2021 at 10:20 PM, Ky_GirlatHeart said:

I've seen a video before in which two individuals who were deaf were interviewed. One of the questions they were asked was, "Do deaf people think/think in sign language?" I think one of them responded with, "Yes, sort of, but they also think in words."

 

Or maybe it was just the first...

 

If you want the video, I'll send you the link. 🙂 

KYgirl, thanks.  Yes, if you could post that that link here, that would be great.  

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On 12/4/2021 at 7:57 PM, Wes B said:

 

And feelings. Especially feelings. Though I am not deaf, most of my silent prayer is a stream of imagery and feelings, rather than actual words. While I will pray aloud easily enough in a group or with my wife, that's kinda' a "different" kind of prayer, sort of translated to be shared with a third party, in addition to myself and God.

 

It hadn't occurred to me that others may not do this, but I'll bet that you can find people you know who are sufficiently visually-oriented that they do this too. Their experience might also help guide you.

Thanks for sharing that Wes.  Stream of imagery:  without words, I think that has only happened to me a few times.
 

But “on further review”, music has a way of easily speaking to me, and the imagery that springs forth, and my musings at the same time—yes, I have experienced prayer in that sense.   I guess that’s why meditating on Psalms is so refreshing to me, especially the ones about repentance and lament.  A definite release takes place.  Kind of like Spaulding mentioned.  A melodic groaning in this case, which the Holy Spirit graciously joins and takes to the Throne.

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1 hour ago, Ragamuffin_John said:

Thanks for sharing that Wes.  Stream of imagery:  without words, I think that has only happened to me a few times.
 

But “on further review”, music has a way of easily speaking to me, and the imagery that springs forth, and my musings at the same time—yes, I have experienced prayer in that sense.   I guess that’s why meditating on Psalms is so refreshing to me, especially the ones about repentance and lament.  A definite release takes place.  Kind of like Spaulding mentioned.  A melodic groaning in this case, which the Holy Spirit graciously joins and takes to the Throne.

 

It's my suspicion that people think and process the world in far more different ways than we imagine, and we often forget just how different we can be. While we use all our senses, it seems some are more sound and word oriented, others more visual, and others yet more tactile and feelings-oriented, and we each find our own mix of how we combine them. Our internal talk probably includes our own special mix, and it continues into our prayer life.

 

I was once in an auditorium where the speaker asked everyone how many could visualize their car. Most raised their hands, but some did not. Next question, how many could visualize their car in front of their house. For this, the hands were far more mixed. This was harder for a lot of people. Final question, how many could visualize their car, sitting on its roof, in front of their house. For this, a very definite minority of hands; this surprised me (visualizing is no problem for me at all...) and was my first inkling that life inside our own individual heads might be very different from one another.

 

'Course, our God understands everything, and understands just what each of us is trying to say. Just speculating now: it also makes me wonder just how intensely different and unique we each might appear in God's perception. I'm guessing it's far more than we can imagine.

 

 

Edited by Wes B
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When I was in high school, I was on a work program. The first semester, I worked in a hospital medical records room. The lady in charge was deaf. At Christmas, I took my record player and some Christmas records in. She put her hand on the record player and sang along with the carol. (She wasn't deaf until she had a childhood disease at the age of five.)

 

I hope this gives you some insight into what you are thinking about.

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2 hours ago, quietspirit said:

When I was in high school, I was on a work program. The first semester, I worked in a hospital medical records room. The lady in charge was deaf. At Christmas, I took my record player and some Christmas records in. She put her hand on the record player and sang along with the carol. (She wasn't deaf until she had a childhood disease at the age of five.)

 

Wow--that's insightful, @quietspirit!  There has certainly been some interesting answers on this thread.

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21 hours ago, Wes B said:

 

It's my suspicion that people think and process the world in far more different ways than we imagine, and we often forget just how different we can be. While we use all our senses, it seems some are more sound and word oriented, others more visual, and others yet more tactile and feelings-oriented, and we each find our own mix of how we combine them. Our internal talk probably includes our own special mix, and it continues into our prayer life.

 

I was once in an auditorium where the speaker asked everyone how many could visualize their car. Most raised their hands, but some did not. Next question, how many could visualize their car in front of their house. For this, the hands were far more mixed. This was harder for a lot of people. Final question, how many could visualize their car, sitting on its roof, in front of their house. For this, a very definite minority of hands; this surprised me (visualizing is no problem for me at all...) and was my first inkling that life inside our own individual heads might be very different from one another.

 

'Course, our God understands everything, and understands just what each of us is trying to say. Just speculating now: it also makes me wonder just how intensely different and unique we each might appear in God's perception. I'm guessing it's far more than we can imagine.

 

 

So much to ponder here, Wes.   Nicely put.  

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