Aphantasia (40+years never knew I had it – maybe you do too?)

Aphantasia (40+years never knew I had it – maybe you do too?)

I’m doing an informal poll of the forum regarding Aphantasia. My revelation has led to an existential crisis of sorts and I’m looking for others who have it to discuss. I’ve been absolutely floored since I’ve found out.

What is it? “Aphantasia is a condition where one does not possess a functioning mind's eye and cannot voluntarily visualize imagery.” from Wikipedia

So, whenever someone said, “picture this” in your mind or “imagine yourself on a beach”, I always took this metaphorically. I can’t actually see pictures in my mind. I see black. I can’t make myself visualize anything at all.

When I discovered that people can actually see images in their mind’s eye – I didn’t believe it was true. I still don’t fully accept it. I have quizzed both my sons who can easily visualize until they are tired of my questions and I still don’t fully accept that they can. UGH. But so many things are falling into place now that I know.

When I asked my daughter and husband if they could visualize with their mind’s eye both said yes, of course. But in further questioning, my daughter actually cannot and my husband got so confused he wouldn’t talk about it any longer. I think they are both aphants too. The research I read shows about 1 in 5 people could have aphantasia.

Here is a quick test to see if you might have it:

Imagine a red star. (open eyes or closed whatever is easier) Study it in your mind. What do you see with your mind’s eye?

1- nothing/ black or mottled reddish background (the back of your eyelids)
2- a faint white outline in shape of star
3- stronger white outline in shape of star
4- a white/gray star filled in (no color)
5- a pinkish color filled in star (muted color)
6- a clear red colored star

I appreciate anyone who reports their score. Feel free to ask any questions.

6 for me. It's a nice looking star too. :-)

Calico696 Calico696
Jan '20

6- I can make the star appear several shades of red, can make it a big star or a little star, an upside down star, etc...

Local chef
Jan '20

Me too, 6.
I can visualize nearly anything.
Except world peace...

Stymie Stymie
Jan '20

So I guess going into a visual/guided meditation is not possible for you ?

Hackresident Hackresident
Jan '20

I can close my eyes and send myself away.
Fla gulf coast
Montauk Point
Times Square.
I thought everyone could.

Stymie Stymie
Jan '20

I don't know what research was read but the reports I see online says maybe 2% of the population "may" have it. That is 1 in 50 not 1 in 5. So it actually not very common at all since that is even a "guess" on how many affected. I personally have no issues with my minds eye and after questioning almost anyone I know no one I know has it. I am sorry if that is an issue for the poster but I am not sure it is life changing or life threatening, just an interesting aside to living.

I see Patrick Star

Iamrite Iamrite
Jan '20

No, guided meditation doesn't work. I thought it just meant close eyes, imagine you're on a beach, water over there somewhere, sand, sun but absolutely no visuals of that. haha. metaphorically on a beach.

Yes, i think the 1 in 50 stat is correct, sorry!! It is supposedly rare, but 3 out of 5 in my immediate family have it. Maybe hereditary component?

It is definitely not a disability or hindrance in itself. I'm a very intelligent, highly functioning person. Just a bit of a shocker that most of the world have very different inner minds. My inner voice is very strong though, so I'm not a total aphant with no inner space.

Re: Aphantasia (40+years never knew I had it – maybe you do too?)

Mr. Natural, curing aphantasia one drop at a time.

I don't want to hallucinate, just to be able to picture a nice warm beach :)

but maybe it would open some neurological pathways... hmm

I’m not really sure if I have it or not. Or, if I even understand what you really mean. When I close eyes, I see the back of my eyelids, but I can “picture” a red star. I think of what a red star looks like and can imagine it, but it doesn’t appear as if the backs of my eyelids were computer monitors. I can “picture” being on a beach and I can think of what it looks like but a 1080p image doesn’t appear and I doubt it does for anyone.

Jan '20

Never heard of this. Lia has this been any kind of hinderance to you? Like difficulty planning things or creating art?

Roywhite Roywhite
Jan '20

I agree with Consigliere. I can “visualize” something, but at the same time I still “see” whatever my eyes are physically looking at (open or closed). Heck, as I’m reading/typing this I can replay scenes from a movie that was on TV earlier and still picture plenty of detail in my mind. That scene isn’t actually projected onto my iPad though. Seems like it’s two completely different parts of the brain that can multi task.

I’d actually be concerned if I did “see” those thoughts as if they were real... the only time I truly do see weird colors/shapes that aren’t actually there is if I get a migraine (scintillating scotoma) where the occipital lobe of the brain goes wacky for a few minutes but gosh darn it really messes with my eyes!

Mark Mc. Mark Mc.
Jan '20

I can imagine a red star too and imagine what it looks like without seeing a visualization.

The test is pretty simple for those that can visualize the red star. They know immediately that they can- in my limited experience asking people. It has been described to me as like another layer. They can see it at will, manipulate it, but know that it is not real.

I can't explain it well because I can't do it. Maybe the people who answered a 6 can explain better.

I have been struggling with this questioning the difference between visualizing and imagination. I think it's a form of denial. We tend to think everyone is like ourselves internally.

Here's something that helped me realize I was different. The phrase about the 'pink elephant in the room'. When you say that to most people they cannot help but to visualize a pink elephant. They 'see' it. I always took it metaphorically. The phrase "i can't unsee that" I'd nod my head and agree with it even though I'm not actually bringing up an image of whatever they're talking about. I didn't think anyone actually was 'seeing it'. haha

This has been absolutely no hindrance to me. I don't draw much (not good at it) but I'm not sure if this is why. I can't pull up a picture in my head and copy it. My 9yo son was horrified and wondered how I draw. He copies pictures that he visualizes. (He's not that good either tho,so...)

I am very creative and have a good imagination. (I write fiction) but in my writing I'm brief with descriptions (of characters, scenery etc) and I tend to skim/skip long descriptive writing when I'm reading novels.

Hmmm. I can’t “see” a thing, but I can imagine any pictures of anything I want to. I just can only “see” them in imagination, not on the backs of my lids. FYI, description brevity is certainly not an outcome for me.

Wonder who got the yuge Mr Natural in the middle ;-$. They’re still seeing stars. Keep on truckin!

Strangerdanger Strangerdanger
Jan '20

1 for me. I do not see anything. Did not know it was a thing.

whocares whocares
Jan '20

I see a nice red star with a black back ground. I dont have much of an imagination. I am a realist.

Old Gent Old Gent
Jan '20

Aphantasia. That's the new Disney movie coming out this summer, right?

dodgebaal dodgebaal
Jan '20

I do agree with that roywhite said, is this something that perhaps hinders someone? Do generally more creative people have the ability to "see" the visualizations? I guess we would have to survey actual creative people, musicians and artists and see what there responses are.

Sure, I am a regular on the Hackettstown Forum and consider myself "creative", but really, that is my subjective opinion. (I guess when I start making money from my creativity, then I can officially call myself "creative", in an economic sense).

BTW- I see a clear colored red star(minus a hammer and sickle). I also am NOT left handed, which often is a sign of creativity.

Just an active imagination I guess. I am sure they will be medicating this condition sometime very soon!

The Rhyme Animal The Rhyme Animal
Jan '20

Does this "seeing" have anything to do with psychic ability?

Hackresident Hackresident
Jan '20

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