6/24/19

Life with Aphantasia

I've spent my whole life knowing there's something wrong with me. Not different - wrong. Broken. Absent. When I'm asked to picture something in my head, I see nothing. It's frustrating and, at times, lonely.


Two months ago, I learned that the defect that has been with me for 47 years has a name: aphantasia. Since then, I've been greedily soaking up as much information as I can find about it, watching countless videos of people with the same condition. (This video could be me, almost word for word.) Many of the interviews feature someone saying they had no idea they were different. I've always known other people had mental images and I didn't. I've been trying my whole life to get those images, practicing like you'd practice trying to wiggle your ears on command (which I can't do either). I dream vividly, so I know it's there. I just can't get to it, like trying to see through a solid wall. I decided I just wasn't doing it right and everyone else had figured out something I couldn't. It's incredibly frustrating.

Learning that this condition has a name was huge, as was discovering that up to 2% of the population also has aphantasia. I'm not alone! Others get it! After creating the graphic above, I went in search of graphics other people had made about their experiences with aphantasia. There are many. Below are some that really spoke to me. You can read their stories in the link below each image.


  


One of my friends commented about how amazing it is that I can create what I do without a way to visualize it. I figure out my craft designs via sketching, not by picturing them in my head. Ideas pop into my head, but it isn't until I work them out on paper that I can see them. When I scrapbook, I just start moving pictures and papers around until I'm happy with it. I wish I could picture things in my head, but I can't. Perhaps someday, but probably not. But I'm going to keep trying.

9 comments:

  1. Wow! That is so good that you have discovered this about yourself! And that there are tools out there for you. I have never heard of this before, and it was interesting reading about it.

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  2. This is fascinating. I’ve never heard if this before. I can’t even imagine putting together a creation without visualizing it first.

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  3. I too have never heard of this! Sorry you have to deal w/ it but your creativity is amazing nonetheless!

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  4. WOW. I'm on the verge of tears. I'm finishing up a Master's Degree and not having a visual memory is such a burden for a student. I cannot believe it took me so long to find that others also have this. I chalked it up to being depression but I was blank as a kid. I don't have very many dreams so when I do, I pay close attention to them. At least you have that to help you escape the mundane.

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  5. Cindy, I'm 61 years old and just discovered today my condition is called Aphantasia. I've been looking around the internet and found a few links you might find helpful.

    https://www.quora.com/Neuroscience-Is-it-possible-to-%E2%80%9Ccure%E2%80%9D-Aphantasia/answers/39628767

    http://winwenger.com/welcomeim.htm


    http://winwenger.com/imstream.htm

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  6. I am thrilled to finally know I am not the only one. When I read "creative visualisation", by Shakti Gawain way back when and I could produce zero mental images I believed it was a serious flaw and added one more to my long list of ways I am inferior.
    Now that the is a name for it, Anphantasia , and i am learning about it i feel aliitle bit less like an alien and abnormal, and to boot I recognize this as the root of my imposter syndrome as a visual artist. I have always loved art and drawing and yet was s9 unable to explain why In order to draw something I have to look at it , I can see it, in my mind . I have been given a real gift to find this one out. I also have misaphonia, sundial, especially chewing sounds are excruciating!

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  7. I found out about it just 2 years ago! I’m 43 yrs old and had no idea I was missing anything, that is I had no idea 98% of people have mental images! I’m and avid Sf book reader my whole life, once day I stumbled upon and an article about aphantasia! I was flabbergasted? What do you mean you read a book and have a whole movie in your head!? Wait what!!!? I went around asking my wife, my parents and all had them, also I was terrified to ask my daughter if she had images and movies in her inner eye and thankfully she does! After this I could not read any book for almost a year finally I started again with some audiobooks and even do I was trying very hard to imagine any mental images I just could not! I dream very vividly and in color, many dream in black and white, but after I wake up they are gone. My dreams are very creative and rich. It’s also very interesting that I’m a successful film and tv editor for years, I can also direct, shoot and all that creative stuff even do I have no images in my mind. But I can’t design from scratch! Give me a bunch of elements, a poster design and I can make it into any format, so I can rearrange and add to it, but can’t make it from scratch. Also people ask me to describe how I see things and I just can’t! It’s impossible for me to explain how I consume books... so strange. My therapist told me that it can have 3 reasons: after some serious trauma, after brain damage and like me it was always like that. Unfortunately I’m still quite sad I have it because I feel like I’m missing out on a huge creative part of my being... hope some day I can fix this!
    Ps also can’t stand the sound of chewing had no idea that is a thing also! ������

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  8. you are definitly not alone. i've been carrying a camera everywhere i go cuz i am teryfied i will lose all that memories without ability to vizualize them. I guess that's why i became proffesional photographer.
    www.goranpirs.photo

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    Replies
    1. And probably why scrapbooking is so important to me.

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