This is a topic that has been raised on the forum and on the facebook group. Should aphantasia be thought of as more than just a difference and instead be thought of as a disability?
What is a disability?
Defining a disability is fraught with danger, as some people may not want their condition to label them as being disabled, where as some people feel they need the extra support that comes with having a recognised disability.
The definition of a disability varies, but essentially it is "a physical or mental condition that limits a person's movements, senses, or activities.". The question we must answer relates to aphantasia and what we class it as impairing.
So is aphantasia a disability?
As I mentioned in my previous article, I feel Aphantasia is where a person is unable to experience their conscious thoughts or memories beyond their internal monologue.
Should we class the ability to visualise as a sense? In my opinion we shouldn't, being able to visualise is just a different way of processing thought.
My personal opinion is that with aphantasia we aren't at a disadvantage to other people, the fact that many people have gone through life without knowing they were different is a testament to how little it effects someone in integrating into society.
Aphantasia can be described as a difficulty, however, the majority of issues that have been mentioned by people with aphantasia fall within the range of normal human variation and would be issues for people who can visualise.
This isn't for me to say that aphantasia doesn't have an impact on the day to day life of someone with the condition, however, I feel that I am not limited in what I can achieve compared to the general populous by having aphantasia.
Nothing to worry about then?
Aphantasia is a complicated condition that requires the understanding that each person with it will feel slightly different about how it impacts their life.
For myself I have known that I have been unable to visualise for over half my life, so the naming of this condition has just given myself the ability to find other people with the same condition.
For some people who have only just discovered that they are different, they may need more support emotionally. This is why this website exists, to offer people with aphantasia a community, an area to ask questions and feel understood.
Aphantasia can cause certain tasks to be harder, but many of our members have developed strategies for working around situations where a visual memory may be of assistance.
I think it must be remembered that while I believe aphantasia is not a disability, it is most definitely a condition that can cause a great deal of emotional stress.
I can't picture my loved ones in my mind, I can't relive moments and memories I cherish, a moment is just that, a moment, never to be relived.
The feeling of isolation and emptiness that can come with aphantasia is something that we need to understand better.
Aphantasia can be emotionally disabling, but it isn't a disability.