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Aphantasia, without mental imaginary

I'm over 30 and I just learned that my mind doesn't work like most.

This post will have a lot of "I" on it, will be very subjective but that is the very core of the thing.

My whole life phrases like "picture in your mind", "visualize" and even "happy places", where figurative speech. Have you felt like everybody but you got a memo, that everyone are playing by some rulebook you never got?, apparently most people can actually see pictures in their head, when people imagine being on a beach, can actually see, hear and/or oven smell it, with different levels of detail and control.

You may think, so what?, but if you are like me and you haven't realized yet, you should be getting some really weird feelings and maybe some things are starting to make sense somehow. All I can see with my eyes closed is black, just my eyelids from inside, I can't see pictures, 3D objects, not even a simple circle, not a sound, not a smell and not emotional connection with memories; I can recall past event of course, but just as if someone else where telling me.

I never knew until now because I never had problems with spatial tasks, I actually excel on some of them, when I need to know how would a 3D object be rotated I just know, but I can't "see" it, no image forms in my mind, and until very recently I thought that it was the same of everyone. Talking with my mother yesterday, she explained me how she can close her eyes and "see" herself in a lake and even her feet under the water, full color, Ray Tracing activated and even with smells!, after some DDG searching (I refuse to make a verb out of the G word), I find out that is not her superpower, is my underpower?, apparently there are not many studies about it, aphantasia is now called and from 2% to 5% have it, most of us don't know it and some realize much older than me, some never find out.

But wait a minute, so if I'm like that I'm somehow inferior of lesser?, hell no, I've noticed and is maybe related, that I can't hold grudges, probably because there are no emotions related to memories, they are just facts to me and is no specially interesting to delve in them, in fact I've never spend much time in the past (well in fact all my life is in my past, but you get what I mean) and thinking about the future is just about facts for me, cold planning; kinda zen out of the box; no constant and distracting multimedia feed in my head, just my own inner voice (not heard but still there) an interesting background narration and even group conversations with "simulated" people in my head.

Maybe that's why some of us need or prefer more graphical information, we need those diagrams and graphs made for us, our minds can't draw them, or at least doesn't share the video feed with us. Is like the visual process is running in the background. I dream in multimedia but some can't even do that, some can "see" but not "hear", some can do all of them and in different degrees.

I'm just finding this out, maybe some of you are realizing it now, maybe if you ask around you'll find others, it may help you understand yourself better and think how to work with others.Maybe you felt inadequate and it was just that you have been using the wrong "tools" or feeling dumb because techniques used by others are not a good fit for you. Aphantasia has his pros and cons just like being an Aspie, don't let other to convince otherwise. We are weird, deeply weird, and that is not fine, is better than fine, is awesome, nothing normal ever caused awe, haven't it?.

Top comments (1)

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Casey Brooks

Thanks for sharing and being so vulnerable! I know exactly what you're feeling because I had a very similar experience about 10 years ago. I have synesthesia, which is almost like the opposite of aphantasia: instead of my brain processing descriptions differently, it processes one sense as a different one. Specifically, I hear music in color.

It doesn't really affect me day-to-day, and it's something I have been acutely aware of my whole life, but I distinctly remember a day during band practice in high school when I made a fool of myself by announcing that a song we were playing was pink. Not that it reminded me of something pink or anything like that, just that the song itself was pink. I remember feeling very embarrassed when no one knew what I was talking about, and realizing then that there was something different with me (and it didn't help that I was the "new kid" at this school, too).

In the years since, I've come to embrace this part of me, and it always makes for a great ice-breaker when meeting a new group of people, for example in the game "two truths and a lie". You've clearly got a great attitude about it, the key is to focus on how it makes you better (like not holding a grudge), and not on how it makes you different. Being different is great, life would be boring if we were all the same!