I've read this forum a lot after hearing about Aphantasia and as I've thought about this a lot now I thought I'd just add my experiences. Some might be linked to Aphantasia, other's might be just me.
I heard about Aphantasia earlier in the year and like many of you I was shocked that other people could see thing's in their mind. I asked my brother to imagine a beach and explain what he imagined and couldn't believe the detail or even the fact that he was seeing an actual beach with things on it rather than just thinking about the concept of a general beach like I do.
I think my memories are entirely descriptive. When I remember something it's like looking up something someone wrote about it. I can't see it, smell it, feel it, hear it in any way. Other people on hear describe is as completely black when they try to imagine things. I don't know if they're using black as a metaphor for empty but I don't see black at all, I just don't 'see' in my mind at all. I also can't connect to memories emotionally. I think of emotional experiences in my life and I know that I was upset/happy during these experiences but I can't re-experience them like my wife can. If I think of a traumatic experience, I don't get sad, it's just factual. I used to think of this as being quite cold and unemotional but I don't think this is true as I am emotional during experiences, I just can't relive the emotions later. When I had a very traumatic experience a few years ago I was upset but remember that I could just turn off from it at any time and get on with my life happily. People thought I was burying the memory but I just think I never stored the emotional memory at all so it never really affected me. I am emotional when I hear bad news and sad things but feel nothing emotional at funerals. When people close to me say they're upset about something I have always told them just to think about something else but I think I realise now that non aphantasia people can't do this and actually relive bad experiences all the time.
I am very poor at recalling things that happened, although I am very good at recalling facts. Perhaps this is me compensating
I'm very good at math(s). I seem to feel the numbers when I manipulate them. If I add 7 to 6, I feel the 6 being split into two, with half joining the 7 to fill a nice box making 10 and the other 3 left on its own. The result is a 10 and a 3, which is 13. I don't know if this relates to aphantasia or not but I don't know anyone else who does it like this. I used to descibe this as 'seeing' the 6 split into two, but it's not that as I can't 'see' it. It's more that I 'feel' it being split.
I've always been a big picture person, less interested in the detail, which I often think gets in the way. I wander whether this relates to not having detailed memories. I think sometimes this hinders me and sometimes its really helpful. I sometimes think that everyone's getting distracted by the details and I'm the only one who can see the big picture.
Discovering Aphantasia has helped myself and my wife understand each other better. She is extremely visual and when she remembers things of importance she relives all the emotions and can describe the scene in detail, the colour of things there, what people were wearing etc. I just know a few facts. Understanding how different we are in this regard helps us understand each other. She now understands why I don't have a top 5 favourite sunsets. I can't even remember 1.
I don't see this as a disability in any way; it's just part of all being different and has advantages and disadvantages. I'm delighted to have discovered it though as discovering that other people are different is helping me to relate to other people different.
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