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TOPIC: Losing the ability to visualize

Losing the ability to visualize 3 years 9 months ago #1360

  • blackkzeus
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Has anybody once had the ability to visualize but then somehow lost it? I believe that is the case for me. As a child, I remember reading novels specifically Harry Potter and visualizing what the characters and settings would look like and then thoroughly being disappointed when I would watch the movies and it looked nothing like what I visualized. I think I lost the ability to visualize due to mental illness. I've suffered from depression and anxiety and they have an incredibly detrimental impact on your cognitive processes.

For the past few months I've been trying to regain my ability to visualize by trying to think more visually. For instance, at the end of the day, right before I go to sleep , I try to visually recall everything that happened during the day. In a way, I somewhat see the memories I'm trying to visually recall but it's like the actual images are right below my level of conscious awareness. Consequently, I can see the memories are bit more clearly, but they're still extremely vague and dim. I've also been doing something called the after image technique (www.infiniteminds.info/Problem-Solving-a...image-Technique.html) for a few weeks and now I see colors, mostly purple, behind my eyelids.

So, I have hope that one day I'll regain my ability to see mental images. I think even if a person is born without the ability to visualize they can awaken that part of their brain by practicing the aforementioned techniques. I've spoken to the creator of the website I mentioned above and he claims he was born without the ability to visualize but gained the ability by practicing the afterimage and image streaming (also on the website) technique.
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Losing the ability to visualize 3 years 9 months ago #1361

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I lost my ability to visualize in the mind's eye on June 20, 1969 -- 46 years agpo I was shot in the head a few times too many. No mental visualization ability has returned in the least little bit. I lost about 20% of the brain and the brain does not rejuvenate. But just like Blackzeus, I once was quite capable if reading a novel and even visualize the actors I thought would do best play the various characters.
The reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated.
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Losing the ability to visualize 3 years 9 months ago #1500

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Could you tell more about the differences between having and not having visualization? How would you describe it to someone like me, who never had this ability? I want to know how it affected your everyday life. What problems a person has immediately after losing the ability? Have you realised that it happened right away or was it gradual? How much it affected your thinking process?

I know it may be a bit difficult to explain, somewhat like telling a blind person about colors, but I am extremely curious.
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Losing the ability to visualize 3 years 8 months ago #1810

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I was very young when I was able to visualize, so I don't really know how it affected my everyday life nor do I know how it affected my thinking process. But I think I found novels more appealing, as I could visualize what I was reading which made them more interesting.

I think the loss was gradual. I honestly don't remember when I lost it.

I think I had somewhat of an vivid imagination. I remember I would almost scare myself to death conjuring up violent images in my head. I didn't do it on purpose it was apart of the anxiety I was experiencing. Those violent images caused me great pain, and I believe my brain shut down my visualizing function to protect me from those images. Besides the horrific images, to be able to visualize was cool. I could visualize whole worlds in my head vividly and it was entertaining. Sorry I don't have much information to give. I haven't been able to visualize since like the age of 9 and I'm 22 right now. My memory is also horrid by the way due to cognitive impairments from depression and anxiety.
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Losing the ability to visualize 3 years 8 months ago #1846

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Eyeball wrote:
Could you tell more about the differences between having and not having visualization? How would you describe it to someone like me, who never had this ability? I want to know how it affected your everyday life. What problems a person has immediately after losing the ability? Have you realised that it happened right away or was it gradual? How much it affected your thinking process?

I know it may be a bit difficult to explain, somewhat like telling a blind person about colors, but I am extremely curious.

I did not realize that I lost the ability to visualize right away. Of course, I didn't know if I was afoot or horseback for the first month as I was in a coma. In coming out of the coma my world was so confused that aphantasia was the least of my worries. I had temporarily lost the use of both legs and my right arm -- I'm right handed. I could only see in the upper right of the visual field in either eye, I lost a three inch by four inch section of my skull and had been shot in the groin -- a major issue for a 20 year-old male that spent an awful lot of time thinking about women -- and doing unspeakable things to them in my mind's eye. In fact, that last item was such a major concern that I escaped from the hospital against medical advice because. I had to find out if everything down there worked as it should. Fortunately I was in San Francisco, CA and it was 1969, so finding a young lady consumed with the "free love" movement of the time took very little effort. Everything worked as Mother Nature intended-- thank you very much...

It was actually about two months after getting shot that I started to realize I had issues with visual memories. But having been shot in the head four times, I didn't know if it was me going crazy, or what. So I did not mention my inability to visualize things in my mind's eye to my doctors.

My mother came to visit me and that was my first true realization something was amiss. I knew it was her, but somehow she didn't "look" right. I didn't understand that at all, so I kept it to myself. I had this eerie feeling that somehow this "other person" had been substituted for my "real" mother. So many things happened to me at that time that made me feel a few beers short of a six-pack that I kept them to myself just to keep the folks in those nice clean white coats from throwing a net over me and carting me off to the laughing academy.

Then, perhaps another two months after my mother visited me in the hospital, I went to see an old friend. As I started to speak with him, he responded with a stranger's voice. It was not my old fiend at all. But the location was right, the guy had the right job, and he fit my friend's general description, as far as I could tell. I later learned they looked nothing alike.

Problems continued throughout the next 46 years, but knowledge is power. Once I told my neurologist, 13 years after getting shot, I was able to finally get a diagnosis, which facilitated developing coping skills. Hopefully those of you on this forum that have only recently discovered the term aphatasia and how it relates to you, will be able to better cope with your situation now that you have this new-found knowledge.

I would say the most painful part of having aphantasia, for me anyway, is not seeing my loved one's in my mind's eye. Prior to getting shot, when I thought about a loved one, in addition to the fond memories, I could visualize them. Having used that capability almost continuously for the first twenty years of my life, it was an integral part of my life and who I was. With it gone, it caused me a lot of emotional pain, which I kept secret. "Don't it always seem to go, that you don't what you've got 'til it's gone." -- Joni Mitchell

The area where this has had the most profound impact on my life was interpersonal relationships. I have lost potential relationships because of it. But on the flip side, it has brought me a few relationships that I might not otherwise had experienced. I have never been forward with women -- I would not flirt with strangers, for example. But there have been times when I have mistaken one woman for another and acted in a flirtatious way, only to have the new woman respond in a positive way. Oh my! One in particular still blows my mind after 42 years, and it was just a thing, I guess. But after all these years I think about her and that incident almost daily.

Jeez, I wish I could visualize her. At least I can still remember how she felt, smelled, tasted and sounded. I had no intention of doing anything with her. It started with me mistakenly touching her in an intimate way, but not crude, thinking she was someone else. Clearly I missed something as she took over from there.

I wonder if she ever thinks about me after all these years. I'm thinking she might -- I was her first.
The reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated.
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Losing the ability to visualize 3 years 8 months ago #1847

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ussfa344 wrote:
I would say the most painful part of having aphantasia, for me anyway, is not seeing my loved one's in my mind's eye.

For me this is hard to relate to, because I never had the ability. And when you say "Jeez, I wish I could visualize her", it seems to be really important. You can still remember other things, so you can have at least something. These things fade away quickly in my case and I cannot bring them back no matter what. I remember some people important for me: I know who they are, I know what happened, I know what to think of them, but pretty much all sensual information is gone. I don't have prosopagnosia, so I recognize them instantly when I see them and all sensual information seems familiar then (I think it is getting stored somewhere, but I cannot access it on demand), so I don't see any drawbacks when they are near, but when distance is introduced, things fade away fast (it doesn't bother me a lot as I am not very social person, but to other people it might be a bit of an issue).

Anyway, thanks for the story. Write more if you find something else on this. I want to know what I am missing.
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Losing the ability to visualize 3 years 7 months ago #1859

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I couldn't visualize anymore with 12 or 13 I think, at that point I also got depressed, though I can't say which of these events happened first. This article also considers there could be a correlation: www.braindecoder.com/aphantasia-newly-re...-eye-1236434508.html
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