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TOPIC: So glad to find other like me!

So glad to find other like me! 1 year 4 months ago #3835

  • Ginny
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I have Aphantasia, and until recently I never knew it existed. I always knew there was something different, something slightly 'wrong' about me. I always thought far more literally, remembered way more than other people, but didn't know people visualised! I never felt I really fit in with a group of people. It wasn't until I was in my mid 30s and married to a man who liked to talk in depth about feelings, life, that I discovered he could picture things. And I couldn't. It really used to frustrate him. Especially when it came to directions. I have no sense of direction, and a complete inability to picture how roads link together, how they join up. I can follow sat nav to the letter, but give me a map and I'm lost! I recall facts well, learn things easily, but imagine nothing. The best way I can describe it is I'm either 'on' when I'm awake, or 'off' when I'm asleep or my eyes are shut. Complete blackness, no sound or image able to be projected in my mind. And I don't dream either - is this usual? For years my husband told me I was weird, or autistic, or stupid, and I believed him, because everyone else could visualise, that was normal, right? I don't easily recognise people, unless I see them where they are 'meant' to be. And if an actor or actress changes their hair/look from what I remember them to be (and I mean factually not an image!) then there is no chance I will recognise them in a different film. I can't describe the plot of a movie well either. I love reading, but read crime fiction and kind of skip the descriptive bits and jump straight to the facts. But my memory is amazing. If you need to find something in the home, ask me and I will tell you which drawer, or which shelf in a cupboard its on, even if its been there years. A piece of filing in the filing cabinet, I'll tell you its in the second drawer, third file from the front.... Is anyone else like this with facts? I'm so pleased to find I'm not the only one like this, and would love to chat with others. For me finding out about this answers so many questions from my life I didn't really understand myself and I'm now doing as much reading as possible on it, adding to all the facts floating around in my brain!
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So glad to find other like me! 1 year 4 months ago #3836

  • ussfa344
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I can identify with much of what you wrote, except the maps part. I'm good with maps. However, I acquired aphantasia, as opposed to being born with it. It sounds as though you may have had aphantasia all your life.
The reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated.
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So glad to find other like me! 1 year 4 months ago #3846

  • cnordlund
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I am 58 years old and discovered my "inability to visualize" about 5-6 years ago, before it had a name. My husband of 25 years was describing how he can visualize in amazing detail (he's super phantasia) and I was dumbfounded. I am a professional (mechanical) engineer by training and have always been good at fixing things, building things, and solving problems. My version of "picturing" something was more akin to re-constructing the item in my mind. I didn't think there was anything weird about it until this conversation took place.

Oddly enough, I have always considered myself a "visual" person. I am affected by my visual environment and there is a place for everything (and everything in its place!) in my house. I also have always loved photographs of my family and I have surrounded myself with these visual reminders. But I am not good at recognizing people or faces in public settings.

However, I find it hard to decide if any of these attributes are related to my aphantasia. So it is fun to hear other stories.
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So glad to find other like me! 1 year 4 months ago #3887

  • Kiingarian
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I've been noticing that we all have another side that we are linked to. Personally Empath and Aphantasian. other have different duality. I'm sorry I can't connect with a few of your en-abilities, My Map guidance is spectacular, I remember how I get to places through concept thinking instead of visual stimuli.
Because of my Empath side, I can sense emotions deeper than most, I have notices that Aphantasia increases the duel side. Like a focus lens of a telescope.
I would like to focus on all the things you do better, than norm like your memory. My long term is crazy good, but short term not so. Even somethings that people ask me to remember just a few moments ago, I can't remember till later, days sometimes. But yeah I can't do any images at all. Welcome to our little group.
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So glad to find other like me! 1 year 4 months ago #3888

  • Kiingarian
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cnordlund, I agree, our stories are so different but also very similar. I've had it since I can remember. Lover of life in general here.
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So glad to find other like me! 1 year 2 months ago #4396

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Me, too. I know somehow what is in the back of a drawer or a box underneath 3 other boxes that I put there 5 years ago... Also know where everyone in my family leaves stuff around when they cannot find it, lol.
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So glad to find other like me! 1 year 2 months ago #4414

  • 1madsci
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I share much of what you said. I am 62 and never realized that other people could form visual images and I cannot. Similar social issues. The ability to recognize facial expressions is a significant part of social interactions. My current wife would go to the hair dresser and change the color or style and I would not notice. She used to get very upset. At least now I understand why. I showed her the original Times article and I think she does also. I sometimes need to remind her. I am a process engineer and often said I have probably forgotten more than most people ever learn. I think storing visual information takes a lot of space in the "normal" persons brain and that unused area lets us retain a lot of information that others do not. It really bothered me when I first learned I was lacking something that most people take for granted. While I cannot picture something I can design and build a new and unique device in my head. I can "visualize" how it will work and how it could be used. I learned that my thought process is often 4 or 5 steps ahead of others and I often have to slow down and wait for them to begin to understand the concepts which I have already worked through.I survived 62 years without it and now I am learning how to work with it.
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So glad to find other like me! 1 year 1 month ago #4439

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I too am always 4-5 steps ahead of others, but not sure that can be attributed to aphantasia. Same goes for the ability to track down ANYTHING in our house, which my "hyper-phantasia" husband finds amazing.

Here's an Apr 2016 Facebook post by the Blake Ross (cofounder of Firefox) on the topic: www.facebook.com/notes/blake-ross/aphant...d/10156834777480504/
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So glad to find other like me! 1 year 1 month ago #4475

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I discovered this after I got married. My wife talked about how she pictures things in her mind. I didn't believe her. I told her my though life is just a tape recorder. She did believe me either. It got me talking to freinds and coworkers and was shocked to find that they thought like my wife did.

When I tried to explain my experience to others, they assured me that I really did have a mind's eye, that I couldn't do the things I've done without visualizing. When I tried to explain the difference, some got frustrated and implied that I was just making it up, being silly, or unaware of what was actually going on in my own head.

I've talked to counselors, doctors, searched the web, done personal experiments, to no avail. When I found an article about aphantasia today on the Guardian I cried. For the first time, what I've been struggling with for years has a name and other people share that struggle.

I have so many questions, so I'm going to be digging into forums. Thanks for being here.
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So glad to find other like me! 1 year 1 month ago #4476

  • Blackstage
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Welcome, kagard! I haven't even written my intro story yet, but have found a lot of great information here that people are sharing with each other. Happy digging!
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So glad to find other like me! 1 year 1 month ago #4491

  • Blackstage
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'I think storing visual information takes a lot of space in the "normal" persons brain and that unused area lets us retain a lot of information that others do not. It really bothered me when I first learned I was lacking something that most people take for granted... I learned that my thought process is often 4 or 5 steps ahead of others and I often have to slow down and wait for them to begin to understand the concepts which I have already worked through.'

Interesting. I also think that since I have so many details of so many things saved somewhere in my brain, everyone else does, too. Nope. It is often amazing to me what other people overlook! I can't! All of the stuff in my face doesn't go away. I presume I am constantly memorizing stuff somehow, hence the details. They are ALL I HAVE. I never thought they might be MORE than what others have, hmmm.

I also have to slow down constantly so that others can catch up to where I am with concepts. There are so many factors that I take into account on any given subject before I even broach the subject. I am always surprised and taken aback that others get to some of these factors later or not at all. I need to work on this, because I think they are joking with me. Or they have been busy with life and have simply not taken the time to think things through very much. Then they get a 'new' idea and want to make sure I take it into consideration and let them know what I think about it - um, that was one of my starting points a long time ago, um, I already did let you know what I thought about it... Are their brains freezing in on one inner picture that has 'enough' of a solution to a problem that they think it is solved without considering any other factors? Wow.
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So glad to find other like me! 1 year 1 month ago #4519

  • 1madsci
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I found this forum a few weeks back and most of the postings looked older. Thanks for the reply Blackstage.

Just to add to my previous comments. I can often look at a problem and find a solution when others do not. Many times in my life I have been asked "What made you think of that?" Are other people so focused on the mental images that they don't or cant see the broader scope? The old not seeing the forest for the trees!

I can see the tree and not remember the details of what it looks like. I can still recognize it as a tree and even remember if it is one I have seen before. Did the aphantasia brain develop some sort of image compression algorithm similar to the way computers store compressed jpeg versions of images? Do we somehow filter the minor details and only save what is required to remember the things we see? Are other types of information stored using the same mechanism?

Someone recently called me the end of the rope guy. The engineers I work with will come to me when they are out of answers "at the end of their rope". I have recognized for many years that my thought process is different. I am starting to understand why.

It is a lot more difficult to notice things which are only visually different.

Anyone else on the forum with similar experiences?
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So glad to find other like me! 1 year 1 month ago #4528

I'm Sierra and i'm only 12 but I think I have aphantasia and I don't know what do about it I am really glad there are others like me. I hate it in class when my teacher tells me to visualize something and then she asked me what I saw and she gets reallymad at me, I just can't stand not being able to visualize. the worst part is I go to visualization based school. I hate it so much. Everyone tells me things to memorize and it is so hard and for awhile I did not know why. Every time I talk about Apantasia my family just says I am making it up to get attention but I am not, I just can't visualize why can't people understand that.

Something else I hate is my memory I can't remember things from even the weekbefore and everyone always thinks I am just crazy.
:woohoo:

~Sierra
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So glad to find other like me! 1 year 1 month ago #4529

  • Blackstage
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Welcome, Sierra!!! So sorry that people around you don't believe you! They probably simply have no experience so far. That is terribly frustrating ; (

I used to teach in schools that used a lot of inner visualization techniques. It was extremely difficult. I didn't realize at the time how strong visualization is for so many people. I thought I could "imagine enough" with my words. But all of the people around me also thought I was not trying hard enough, that I wanted to be seen as "different" or that I should do some kind of psychotherapy in order to "unblock my mind".

I can't give you any advice for now but just to keep reading a lot of things here on this forum. Maybe you can get some strength and a bit of comfort knowing that there are some very intelligent, creative, witty and sucessful people all over the world who have aphantasia. Even though there are a lot of hardships we all have, I sense again and again that we are all somehow very, very strong, in our own ways. Hang in there!
Last Edit: 1 year 1 month ago by Blackstage.
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So glad to find other like me! 1 year 1 month ago #4534

  • ussfa344
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Welcome Sierra. You need to tell your school counselor what you have learned about aphantasia and what you wrote here. If that doesn't work, take it to the principal. If that doesn't work, take it to the school board. Then to your state's department of education, then your legislators, your governor, your congressman, your senator, the federal Department of Education and the President. If that doesn't work, take it to the news media.

The reality is you won't have to take it that far. In no time at all you will find someone to help you. Someone who is not so ignorant that they know we aren't all alike. Someone who will do THEIR homework on aphantasia and make sure that those with whom you deal get their collective heads out of the sand.

Something tells me that your school district just might have a legal staff that knows how much trouble the district can get in by failing to accommodate your special needs. Taxpayers pay the schools to ensure that all young people have an equal opportunity to an education.

Good luck and keep us posted.
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So glad to find other like me! 1 year 1 month ago #4537

  • 1madsci
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Hello Sierra,
I think you will find support on this forum. You could try asking the school to contact:
Dr Helen Ryland CPsychol
Cognitive & Behavioural Neurology
University of Exeter Medical School
Tel 01392 725918
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Dr. Ryland works with Dr. Zemen who popularized the term aphantasia and is doing research on the subject.
If you contact her she might be able to offer some advice on how to explain that not everyone is capable of creating visual images.
You might also want to print this article and show it to your family and teachers:
www.exeter.ac.uk/news/research/title_467790_en.html
It should help you to get some credibility and better understand what aphantasia is.
You are fortunate to know what aphantasia is at an early age. While in some ways it is a handicap it has also enabled some of us to develop skills which "normal" people find difficult to comprehend.
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So glad to find other like me! 1 year 1 month ago #4538

  • cnordlund
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Here's another great article to share with "skeptics". It is written by Blake Ross, co-founder of Firefox.
Attachments:
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So glad to find other like me! 1 year 2 weeks ago #4683

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I am hopeless at directions too. I've not found a single soul who shares my condition (looking for a long time) until a couple of days ago, my wife found the word "aphantasia" on the net and showed me. I am an engineer, and I do designs, but at work I am a "problem solver" for things others don't seem to see. Sometimes I find the problems trivial but they are astounded. On the flip side, sometimes I get stuck with what is, to them, easy-peasy but not so for me. Luckily there are so many of them and only one of me :cheer:
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So glad to find other like me! 1 year 1 week ago #4694

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Read about the research done at Exeter University on "aphantasis" and had the WTF am I surrounded by aliens or what moment. You mean people can actually see stuff??? Especially reading those articles where the authors are like aphantasiacs "suffer" from an inability to conjure mental images but "remarkably" they can still dream. My husband's family are imagers. His sister has a photographic memory. His mum and daughter can conjure up images that they can kind of see in front of them even with their eyes open. Have talked to them about it too now, and it's obvious they really are doing something I cannot. Must be great to be able to actually conjure up images of your family or a relaxing scene but think I'd go insane and spend all of my time doing that if I could so perhaps it's best not.

In terms of what I'm like... find abstract concepts and seeing links between concepts very easy. Have a pHd in physics. I would hazard a guess a lot of people who can't visualise are intuitive and make links between abstract concepts easily. I feel like intuition and remembering links between things might be a compensatory mechanism. Whenever I think of anything there's kind of links to loads of other stuff in a kind of cloud of intuition in my mind. No images though. I'll remember something forever if it is linked to something else i.e., there's a why or a link to something else that's already established in my head.
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