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TOPIC: Trying to describe Aphantasia to fellow creatives

Trying to describe Aphantasia to fellow creatives 1 year 7 months ago #2741

  • scotty
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I work as a Designer/Illustrator and I tend to frequent a few design and creative forums.
I recognised that a lot of people with Aphantasia also happen to be creatives in some way which also seems a bit ironic so I thought I'd pose the question "What do you see with your eyes closed" to see how many other creative had it.
I've found one that has but I've also found myself trying to explain to people what it is like and the people that say "that's impossible" or "maybe you're trying too hard". :huh:

I've tried to explain it as "having a mental image but it's like it's behind a black curtain" or "being in a pitch dark room with an object in front of you. You know it's there but you can't see it.
As these people are designers I thought the best way of getting them to understand it was by comparing it to a JPG image file like any image you see on the internet.
You see this as a picture but the computer sees it as code. A string of data or information that the computer recognises but it doesn't see a picture of a kitten.
I know it's not a prefect metaphor but how do you describe it without getting funny looks from people?
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Trying to describe Aphantasia to fellow creatives 1 year 7 months ago #2742

  • Velvet
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I usually describe my mind as being like a book without pictures. My mind can write, explain and create things in great detail. I just use words rather than images.
Again not a perfect metaphor but it works for me. :P

I do like your JPG explanation.
To be nobody but yourself in a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make you everybody else
means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight; and never stop fighting. - E.E. Cummings
Last Edit: 1 year 7 months ago by Velvet.
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Trying to describe Aphantasia to fellow creatives 1 year 7 months ago #2751

  • Talanic
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I explain that I can handle concepts without issue. That I can write dialogue and interaction without issue, it's just description that bogs me down.

Strangely enough, I can do action scenes. I can't quite see them in my head but I can trace the characters' motion to some degree. It's like following the dust trails in the wake of their passage.
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Trying to describe Aphantasia to fellow creatives 1 year 7 months ago #2752

  • Robson
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Its very interesting to read other peoples problems in trying to explain aphantasia, especially when a year ago it had no name and of course you were the only one, to phantasiacs, I have been called a liar, someone who wasn't trying and of course I must be able to otherwise how do you find my way home.

I used to tell people that it was like have my minds eye/subconsious surrounded by a very high wall, with a very small hatch which notes were passed of the information that I needed to access, so the large curtain analogy above struck a chord with me.

In the past I have studied Photography but any paid training has always had an element of visualise what the picture is going to look like, short of giving them my best Duh look, I just never got it.

Now I'm learning Hypnosis and pretty much all training revolves around visualisation, that's where I have had most of the arguments, so it is with some relief that I have found kindred Aphantasiacs.

Vince
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Trying to describe Aphantasia to fellow creatives 1 year 6 months ago #2852

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scotty wrote:
I've tried to explain it as "having a mental image but it's like it's behind a black curtain" or "being in a pitch dark room with an object in front of you. You know it's there but you can't see it.

I really appreciate this description.This is exactly how I feel about it. I know something is there, I can sort of feel it though I don't know how, but I can't see anything, just black.

I write fiction, and unsurprisingly there's very little description in what I write. Generally it's something I go back and add in the second draft. I don't miss the description, as those are usually the parts I skip over when reading, but I know it's something that should be there so I sprinkle it where ever it seems to fit. I've had some people say I didn't have enough description, but I've also had people say they could picture things very well from my writing, so who knows. I know most people say I have very good blocking and my action scenes are good (probably because there isn't much description).
Last Edit: 1 year 6 months ago by Dria.
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Trying to describe Aphantasia to fellow creatives 1 year 6 months ago #2988

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scotty wrote:
You see this as a picture but the computer sees it as code. A string of data or information that the computer recognises but it doesn't see a picture of a kitten.

Thank you, I send this to my boyfriend, who works in IT and didnt quite understand what I meant with Aphantasia. He is a person who visualize everything like a movie, so I hope that migh helps him not making weird questions again (Like, how do you draw, when you cant see the end result and you will never become a architect nor designer).

I always refered Aphantasia as "not beeing able for having head-cinema", like "I know what you're saying but I dont see any picture of it".

When Im writing stories I never add details about the surroundings as well, but I have concept about how the characters should look like. In addition, I love to draw more or less abstract or normal pictures. Some of them are on twitter, cause there are about Depressions and I want to see if other people can relate to them :)

Due to the fact of having Aphantasia, I take a whole bunch of pictures so I have something to see how it actually looked a like.
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Trying to describe Aphantasia to fellow creatives 1 year 6 months ago #3016

  • Ethel B
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This is from the Discover article and it describes exactly how it feels to me. Plus it is actual scientists hypothesizing so you are less likely to have people tell you you're making it up. :P

Della Sala and his colleagues have dubbed MX’s related condition “blind imagination.” People with blindsight have suffered damage to the pathways along which visual information travels to our consciousness. But the brain also has pathways that lurk outside our awareness, meaning that we can see without actually knowing that we are seeing. Something similar may be happening in MX’s brain. It may be possible to process visual information without actually seeing it in the mind’s eye.

Here's the full article. It's been linked other places on this site, but if you haven't read it yes, I recommend it. It was the first thing I read that really made sense to me.
Last Edit: 1 year 6 months ago by Ethel B.
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Trying to describe Aphantasia to fellow creatives 10 months 1 week ago #4894

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Velvet wrote:
I usually describe my mind as being like a book without pictures. My mind can write, explain and create things in great detail. I just use words rather than images.
Again not a perfect metaphor but it works for me. :P

I do like your JPG explanation.

I agree with this, I feel as though my mind is a book filled with information but no pictures.. but I can feel them all. Just because I can't see them doesn't mean I can't feel the creations and stories. I think that's the magic of creativity even blind or people who are lacking in sensory input can still FEEL the emotion that causes creation in the first place! just like Stevie Wonder.. it gives you hope!
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Trying to describe Aphantasia to fellow creatives 9 months 6 days ago #5009

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I use this same explanation. As a visual artist it weirds people out that I can't actually visually imagine what I create.
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Trying to describe Aphantasia to fellow creatives 9 months 13 hours ago #5019

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Hi I tend to describe the way my mind works as a hihly structured and interconected database for instance the exercise were people ask you to count the windows in your house.

I in essence have a construct called house in that house are rooms. Each room has other sub catergories like windows - openings - panes of glass etc or bedroom-bedroom table- top draw-contents- cufflinks- cufflinks shaped like dice. So rather than visualize the room I am kind of (but not really) clicking on the text link to get to the next level.
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Trying to describe Aphantasia to fellow creatives 8 months 3 weeks ago #5031

  • Blackstage
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Yes, bookshelfaddict, the feelings are key connectors for me as well!
Last Edit: 8 months 3 weeks ago by Blackstage.
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Trying to describe Aphantasia to fellow creatives 7 months 2 weeks ago #5151

  • JCecorn
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Before I even found anyone or anywhere else to read more about this condition (aside from Blake Ross' enlightening essay which brought it to my attention) i began trying to describe my mind's operation to myself. And, as a lot of you i came up with the dark warehouse metaphor.

I have no pictures at all. My visual memory space is an immense, pitch-black warehouse. My focal point is a very, very small flame. It can walk anywhere in the warehouse--or be transported to any part of it instantly with the proper reminder. But, only a small portion is illuminated at a time, and not well. It takes a conscious dedication; a real concentration to try to manifest the "look" of something. And, even so it's like trying to see something in the dark in the distance. When my mind thinks "see" it automatically focuses on my physical eyes. My brain is trying to process optical data. But, there's no input. I don't have a mechanism or neural pathway built to tell me to see with my mind, no more than I have a mechanism to tell me to move a finger growing out of the top of my head if someone said "hey, you have a finger on your head."

But, thoughts are simple. I can think of a red ball. And, there's no doubt it's red. I don't have to close my eyes to think of it. Closing them does not help or make the idea better. There's just no image of it---nothing I would be comfortable calling a picture. It's just the idea of a red ball. I know its weight, how flexible it is, how hard I would have to squeeze it to deform it, how high it would bounce if I dropped it, what it would sound like when it hits the ground, or a wall, or someone else. I would not be able to discern these things from a photo. But, whatever is in my mind has these qualities.

In the ball example, I just manifested it out of thin air. But, if it were a real memory it would have links. As such, I have a very detailed and accessible memory. Maybe visuals do, too. I don't know. I just know that with the proper stimulus (I'm very list driven...so, lists are an every day tool for me...my typical stimulus is a bullet point reminder on a list) I can just jump down the rabbit hole and access whatever project or task or memory in great detail.
Last Edit: 7 months 2 weeks ago by JCecorn.
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Trying to describe Aphantasia to fellow creatives 2 months 3 weeks ago #39420

  • moyer
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Slannesh's description rings true with me.
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