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TOPIC: Any shortcomings (or strengths) associated with Aphantasia?

Any shortcomings (or strengths) associated with Aphantasia? 3 weeks 6 days ago #39415

  • MvL1234
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I'm curious about whether anyone has noticed any shortcomings or strengths associated with their aphantasia.

I'm not sure if some of my shortcomings are related to aphantasia or if they're just other unrelated problems:
- Although I'm good at mathematics, I'm a very slow mental calculator, and I think this is because I can't picture the calculations in my head, processing them linguistically instead. I also only do well with geometry when I'm allowed to use algebraic solutions - shapes frustrate me.
- I am terrible with maps. And directions. I get lost very easily.
- I always forget which way is left and which is right. I move my good (right) hand and then I go "oh, that's right!" or "that's left!"
- I can't draw from memory.

On the other hand, because, at least for me, it seems that the part of my brain that processes language has taken over as compensation for the lack of a mind's eye, I excel at communication and formulating descriptions and such. My command of the language is very strong.

Then there is the novelty. Every time I look at someone or something, even if I've just looked at the subject, it "feels" like I'm seeing them for the first time, which is kind of nice.

Can anyone relate to any of this? Or notice any individual peculiarities that you think may be related to your aphantasia?
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Any shortcomings (or strengths) associated with Aphantasia? 3 weeks 5 days ago #39418

  • moyer
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I have only my experience with aphantasia to go off, so I do not feel like it has caused shortcomings in my life. HOWEVER!!!!:::: and that is a big however, if I could visualize in the way that I have come to believe visualizers do, I have a suspicion that a LOT of things I struggle with might not be such a problem...kind of a lame spot to find ones self in, knowing that I am not able to use a part of my mind in a way that apparently most people do, and at the same time not REALLY knowing what I am missing. To that point, I have an idea of what I am missing in that I have experienced vivid mental imagery in dreams, meditation(ish), and while using psilocybin and
mdma (separately). As far as mental math calculation, I use a mental-verbal process. The biggest problem is that numbers that are not being mentally verbalized can go missing really quickly. If I could form an image of the numbers in my minds eye, I would have no problem following the correct procedure to solve a given equation.

all this to say, I can come up with aspects of my life that I believe MIGHT be deficient due to aphantasia, but I have a hard time being a person that needs to blame my shortcomings on something I never knew I had in the first place. it is all very confusing :)

** edit to add more
benefits: the big one for me is the idea that I CAN unsee something. Gnarly graphic images don't bother me. I have a feeling that it is because I've come to understand that they won't haunt me down the line. I experience them in the moment.
Last Edit: 3 weeks 5 days ago by moyer.
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Any shortcomings (or strengths) associated with Aphantasia? 3 weeks 4 days ago #39423

  • ron
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one of the realisations i had after i found out i have total aphantasia is that i have no self image - i live in my environment with less self awareness, which i consider a different but not necessarily negative way of looking at the world.
One of the strenghts of having aphantasia became the ability to read body language and read people's emotions very well. It helps me in my job to understand and "read" people with autism, mental disabilities and complex behavioural issues.

I remember images such as photo's of people easier by analysing how they are composed within the picture and what the feelings of the people in the picture might be when the photo was taken - although i cannot see the actual pictures in my brain. I can't even see images of my late parents or my family members - but i can remember emotions associated with them.

I am certain that the brains of people with aphantasia are interesting and just different from the majority of people - with positive creative brain wiring that finds solutions to compensate in other ways.
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Any shortcomings (or strengths) associated with Aphantasia? 3 weeks 4 days ago #39424

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@ron - My aphantasia extends only to sight, smell, and taste, not to hearing (my ability to recall and manipulate sounds in my mind is vivid and clear and complete), nor to my motor sense (imagining yourself doing things like walking, running, swimming, jumping and remembering how that feels and what's involved mechanically) or my tactile sense (I can remember how things feel, at least as far as texture).

I notice that my emotions are heightened in comparison with most other people (I haven't met one with even more heightened emotions, I just assume they exist). This is wonderful through the highs, but terrible throw the lows. My emotions are often so intense that I take pains to hide them from others, or only show an appropriate fraction of what I really feel... which is very draining. I'm diagnosed with major depression disorder, AD&D, and PTSD.

I am starting to see proof of my hypothesis, which is that aphantasiacs (aphantastics? aphantasics?) will be an interesting case study in clear neurodiversity. What I mean is that, like you said about "positive creative brain wiring that finds solutions to compensate in other ways", that how the brain compensates for the lack of a mind's eye varies, in some cases maybe even wildly, from individual to individual. Which is freaking cool!

@moyer - You are SOOO right about the ability to UNsee things. I also find that "my emotions aren't connected with my sense of sight." Meaning that sights never moves me, one way or the other. I can see wonderful or terrible things and I would feel nothing. This unfortunately can sometimes make me seem a bit psychopathic, cold, or callous. I just connect emotionally with sounds, smells, tastes, and really all of my other senses, including introspection. It's just vision. Which is odd because my aphantasia also applies to my senses of smell and taste, but those things can stir emotions in me.

Thanks for responding. Ever since I found out I had aphantasia I have just grown more and more fascinated in all areas of it, like how my brain has compensated, and how others have, etc. I'm a little obsessed. ;)
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Any shortcomings (or strengths) associated with Aphantasia? 3 weeks 2 days ago #39427

  • ron
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Thank you for your well phrased response. I can relate to your descriptions of emotions being overwhelming strong - which can distort a "view" of reality. After all reality is how we interpret our thinking in the brain.

Aphants have the gift of seeing the world differently, experiencing life possibly more on a day-to-day basis without a visual memory affecting the current images as we see them.

I find music a great alternative to sight - feeling the emotions in music and how they assist in channeling my moods.
Only since finding out that aphantasia is something most people do not have, I am experiencing life with more optimism than before and i hope that you find strength in your ability to be an aphantastic aphant.
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Any shortcomings (or strengths) associated with Aphantasia? 3 weeks 1 day ago #39428

Realized I had aphantasia about two years ago. I share many of the "shortcomings" that you mentioned, and am very excited that these seemingly simple problems may be a result of aphantasia rather than my being an idiot.
- I'm terrible with directions. I'm a college student, and for the entirety of my first year I had to carry a printed map of campus around with me in order to keep track of where I'm going. I ski, and I'm constantly getting lost on the mountain even though I've been skiing the runs since I was 10.
- I can't keep track of my right and left, and have to do the same physical reminder where I think "Which hand do I write with? That's my right hand, so my other hand must be my left." I'm always turning the wrong direction when friends say "look at that thing to your right!"
- I am bad at simple math calculations, which is probably because I can't visualize the numbers in my head to add or multiply them. But algebra and calculus always came very easily to me, so it's not a problem of not being mathematically minded.
- I lack artistic ability, and can't draw, paint, or sculpt. I definitely can't draw from memory.

Other things:
- I can't remember details of conversations I've had or things I've done with people. I can't remember funny inside jokes to put on birthday cards, or quote what people said to me word for word.
- I have a terrible habit of misplacing things. I've lost more jackets in my life than I can count. When I'm trying to recall my steps or where things could be, I literally go by the "feeling" of having to carry it around rather than being able to picture when I last had it or when I last saw it.
- I'm good with faces, but bad with names. I always know when I've seen a face before, but I won't be able to place where I know them from or what their name is until a while later.
- I can write and form arguments well, but it's slow going. It takes me at least twice as long to write an essay as it does my friends.
- I have bad handwriting? Is that a thing?

Good things:
- I'm a great note taker, and can hear things and hold them in my head until I can get them down. I think this is a result of having to commit so many things to memory instead of being able to rely on memory tricks.
- I fall asleep really easily, as I don't have images racing through my mind at the end of the day.
- It's easy for me to get over failed relationships or bad experiences, as I can't "relive bad memories".
Last Edit: 3 weeks 1 day ago by hannahcantsee.
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Any shortcomings (or strengths) associated with Aphantasia? 3 weeks 1 day ago #39431

  • Kc99
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In my experience the bad things are lack of general memory , as I can't visualise I feel it effects my ability to remember what I did yesterday or what I'm meant to be doing today
And the big one obviously is not being able to visualise loved ones , especially if they have passed , for example before I realised I had aphantasia I didn't take any photos and then I had a close friend pass and now I have no photos of us to look at to help me remember how I felt and how close she was to me (now I take a lot of photos!)

Good things about it - I feel it has helped me a lot with my art , which is strange.. but I think because I am lacking in imagination it has made me want to create more and draw and express myself .. and of course it is a great conversation topic , my friends are fascinated when I tell them and I am fascinated about there Ability to imagine.
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Any shortcomings (or strengths) associated with Aphantasia? 2 weeks 6 days ago #39440

  • Keepuppolo
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The things that I visualize is my job today and the future and I Think I'll be more successful and earn more. Is that a good thing to visualize?
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Any shortcomings (or strengths) associated with Aphantasia? 2 weeks 4 days ago #39449

  • Jojo W
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My answer will be short, forgive me for my negativeness. In the middle of depression episode.
Strengths because of aphantasia-none.
Weaknesses- everything mentioned.
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