I only learnt 4 days ago that people (who weren't hallucinating) were actually able to see things in their heads! Well no, I initially read the article that and thought - what a load of rubbish.....no-one can actually SEE things in their heads, that would be really odd......but after then asking around, it turns out - of course they can, I am the unusual one.
Its been a really fascinating few days, I'm an optometrist and I have an interest in the visual system anyway, but to discover that after 42 years everyone can see things in their head that I can't see is absolutely amazing.
I have no visual component to my memories at all. I if I think of a horse...I get a verbal word "horse" and then my brain describes what a horse looks like (in words). I don't even dream visually, although I can feel sensations and deals are still very vidid. For example last night I can remember stroking a cat and how that felt in my dream, but the cat didn't have a visual form.
I've also read that it is associated with poor imagination - I've always been good with creative writing, devising games for the children to play and I've never had an issue with finding fun/imaginative things for my rainbow guides to do. I think a good verbal imagination could be a as good as a visual imagination.
Anyway it explains certain aspects of my personality in both a good and bad way.
1. I cannot draw at all, my 8 year old is significant better than me at art. (but I can copy an image okay)
2. I struggle to describe people that I have only met once, today someone asked me at the gym what the trainer looked like that I'd just briefly spoken to and I really couldn't describe him.
3. I can't manipulate images/shapes in my head...I'm pretty good at maths, but struggled with mechanics in further maths at A level as its all about manipulating 3d shapes or vectors.
4. I can't visualise loved ones (but that's what photos are for)
5. I need to remember verbal clue with friends to build on friendships...so most people only have to see someone to remember that their father is ill and then ask how they are. I need to verbally tell it to myself to connect to person to the memory.
1. I find nature and animals fascinating....I think as I don't have an image of something, actually seeing an animal up close is especially poignant to me. I suppose each time, its new and exciting as I can't usually visualise something without actually seeing it and some things do need a visual component to affect a strong emotional one.
2. I am a safe driver...how anyone drives if they are seeing things at the same time I do not know. I like driving whilst listening to audio books and most of the "normal' people can't do that (so I understand).
3. I think it helps in my profession, I'm an Optometrist and our primary aim is to look for abnormalities in the visual system. I think as I am able to overcome a preconceived visual idea of a retina, I can more easily detect irregularities in the retina or external eye.
4. I think being very non-visual means that you are very accepting of people who don't look the same as you. Skin colour and appearance mean less to me.
5. I like my head being clear, I'm very organised and the thought of having visual images in my head is very odd, I think I'd rather be without them.
I'm sure I'll think of some other good/bad things over the next few weeks but as I'm 42 and fairly successful professionally, I did well at school in all subjects (except art!) I have a masters degree in Optometry, happily married with 3 children, living in a nice house, I also have lots of friends. I don't think its really affected my life much - although it is still REALLY interesting....
Anyway, on balance, I'd rather like being like I am.
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This whole thing is fascinating
6 months 3 weeks ago #39292
Thanks for your thoughts. I really liked bad point 5 as that is one of my own major handicaps. I suppose I am socially quite awkward and I can have spent a day with a friend and when I get home, my wife will go like 'How was he? How was his foot? Did his wife get that job and how are they coping with their kid's recently diagnosed diabetes?' and I'd be like 'Oh, I dunno. I didn't think to ask.' I never imagined that could be part of the aphantasia-deal, but I'll gladly take it and use it as a neat new excuse.
I am with you on the imagination/creativity-thing too, though. I don't consider myself bad at it. If anything, it is better developed than for most. I am an excellent improviser. I rig and fix things and people will go 'oh, I'd never thought to do that.' Perhaps for them it has to do with being stuck with a mental image of how things should be and we don't have that, but I have absolutely no scientific or theoretical support for that theory. It could be utterly unrelated. Anyway, thanks again for the pitch-in.