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TOPIC: THANK YOU GUYS SO MUCH!!

THANK YOU GUYS SO MUCH!! 1 year 5 months ago #3222

  • nicholas_J
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You have no idea how this forum has changed my life in the last couple of days... and it's not how you think (maybe I don't know!). It's because I am the EXTREME opposite. I spend many days just sitting in a room with blank walls imagining what I will do, remember everything that has happened, the way things looked, the way people spoke and then piecing together what I am going to do next with my life, but I enjoy it. I like the fantasy. I daydream constantly. I'll just stare at nothing and conjure up stories, but no words. I actually only use words when I talk to people. My mind is ALL SENSES! In fact when people ask me about things I have to spend some time turning it into words. I might not be unusual. I might be more 'normal,' but I'm also extreme because for some people it's like I don't connect and how I explain and interpret the world doesn't seem to make sense to them. You guys have opened my eyes! -so to speak- about how differently some people can think. I am going to really approach the world a different way now. Now that I know this exists it could reduce a lot of frustration in my life.

Imagine or consider that if you guys are on one end of the spectrum there are also people on the other end and they also might struggle with other issues. For instance I'm a computer programmer like a some of the aphantasics except I program by FEELING AHH. I accomplish a lot and can make amazing things. I specialize in animation driven UI, but when I have to connect with other programmers there is a gap sometimes and it is very frustrating. I know how things look and are shaped and the words don't matter as much. I see the code like rocks on a hill. You can recognize a hill, but not necessarily each pebble on the slope. Once you conjure the hill then you focus on getting the details and syntax right. Other programmers start from the details and work toward the hill except I like my way because I can make a bunch of hills and see if it will work before I do the details.

This forum is the most fascinating thing I have ever read honestly and truly. You guys are helping me understand some things that haven't made sense in my own life. I have so many questions for you, but I don't want to bog you down on here. I want to meet an aphantasic in real life and compare experiences. I have my own theories, but I'll let the science develop. Maybe science will even get to me. I have something like synesthesia except it's more like I live in constant strategy. I live in the past and the future all at once and the future is as vivid to me as the past except I can change it and then work toward whatever new future I invent, which is very frustrating if it doesn't work. I never watch movies more than once. I leave friends behind a lot and don't talk about the past much because I'm still there. I remember stacking pillow and jumping into them as a kid. I remember exploring places by myself and sometimes I remember things I thought I forgot just as videos where I can be at any camera angle. I'm there except I never had any words for it or even told anyone sometimes. My imagination is most of my world. The part of me that responds to me is almost a nuisance. Sometimes people say I don't communicate enough, but I'm good with words in so much as I describe what is in my head, but I don't really think about the words themselves. Everything I write I hear and everything I read I hear, but I hear it in the voice I think the author has or in some other character, but it's by choice. I make it all up for fun and it's a huge part of who I am.

There might be some tasks that aphantasics are better at like things that involve focus on the present or being fearless, but I wouldn't give up my world. It's like the whole universe is spinning in my head, the images of every movie or a map of the universe or the layout of a space station or whatever, but it means I don't go out and interface with people as much. I sometimes think I'm too much in my own world. Now I know there is something completely different. Thank you. I hope we learn more about this whole spectrum. This is all blowing my mind the same way as it was incredible for you guys. This is probably the most amazing thing I have learned in my adult life.
Last Edit: 1 year 5 months ago by nicholas_J.
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THANK YOU GUYS SO MUCH!! 1 year 5 months ago #3223

  • Sensorium
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This was more or less my exact thought process when discovering this forum. I'm also on the super sensory end of things... hyperphantasia? The room with blank walls sounds pretty familiar; I have this leather recliner I sit in with the lights out and the curtains drawn when I need to think about things deeply. You can really get a lot done (mentally) that way! Like having virtual reality, but better. Reading the posts in this forum is fascinating - the thought processes are so wildly different from mine that it's almost incomprehensible.

I literally cannot think like they do. They literally cannot think like I (or we, I suppose) do.

Do you get all the senses, proprioception, and all the other stuff when you imagine things?
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THANK YOU GUYS SO MUCH!! 1 year 5 months ago #3234

  • sian*
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That's so interesting, thanks to you too!! I think Prof Zeman is looking at both ends of the spectrum, so you could email him if you were interested in participating in anything.
I have visual aphantasia, but I'm reasonably strong in other things (touch, spatial, I think in words lots, getting the 'vibe' of someone). I'm not sure if this is related to aphantasia (I'm sort of thinking it might be to do with 'vibe', but not sure), but I sometimes get something I call 'people shock' where my brain just goes 'PERSON PERSON PERSON' and zones out from whatever the person's saying. I always sit at least two rows back in lecture theatres so I don't get it in lectures.
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THANK YOU GUYS SO MUCH!! 1 year 5 months ago #3440

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@Sensorium So yeah I'm sitting here right now looking at my walls imagining all the things I could hang or paint on them, but then I'm stuck with that...so there they stay blank. I do have lots of computer screens and electronic devices around. I'm on the internet a lot. I love learning new things. As for the other senses. My thoughts are VERY loud. Typing this I also subvocalize to the point where my thoughts are like screaming at myself. It's not uncomfortable. I do hear other people's voices in my memories too, but I think I purposely drown them out because I think hearing voices is scary. I've woken up to the sound of my mother or other people talking many times while alone of course. It actually makes me feel really uncomfortable to imagine aphantasia. It would be like holding your breath for a long time. Imagining not imagining feels like suffocating part of my brain. One of my other theories that many other people seem to be on to is that aphantasiacs are still imagining, but they don't 'live' in that part of their brain. A traumatic experience seems like it might make you want to never remember or block it out, but maybe that it's just a different way of thinking. It is truly fascinating. I sometimes teach programming and sometimes it doesn't attract the visual learners so now I'm coming up with ways to show the visual learners how I think of programming, in terms of circles and geometry. I translate all the programming words into pictures in my head so when I see a lot of words I think "why do we need so many words for this simple concept?" I always want the least amount of unique words necessary to get the idea across whereas some programmers need lots of words to remind them what they are doing. What I'm thinking can't be expressed in words because it's pictures so the words are clutter.

@Sian When your brain goes 'PERSON PERSON PERSON' are you actually thinking of the word person? When you think of the word person are you thinking of the actual word with the letters or it more like a sound like your voice? My other question I've really wanted to ask is what do you think of when you're not thinking? Can you stare and not think as in no words or anything or is there always some kind of words? Sorry, you're the first person I've asked questions to... When you look at someone do you admire them sometimes and think "wow this person is beautiful" or do you think in terms of specific features? Do you have like a sense of when someone is sexy for instance?

Also who is Prof Zeman? Does he run the forum?
Last Edit: 1 year 5 months ago by nicholas_J.
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THANK YOU GUYS SO MUCH!! 1 year 5 months ago #3446

  • sian*
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@nicholas No worries about the questions! Thanks for the discussion :) Here's a link to a BBC article last year about Prof Zeman - he coined the term aphantasia: www.bbc.com/news/health-34039054 Part of the article is about a hyper-visualising illustrator, with video :)

In the particular 'people shock' instance, it's less words than the kind of feeling/vibe that there's someone THERE and I can't concentrate - zone out (maybe this is one of the only times I'm not thinking?). Sometimes I might have some inner monologue going 'oh yes they're talking. I should be listening. Hmm. What was that? I really should be listening'.
When I think of the word 'person', it's definitely the sound of my voice in my head. I might get a shadowy kind of 'spatial' of a person if I think more about it. If I want to spell it, I'll say it slowly in my head and get spatials of the letters as well as semi-tracing them with an imaginary finger.
I'm not sure if I ever stop thinking... I think in words a lot and have trouble getting my inner monologue to shut up, but I do think without words for lots of things - it's a kind of mashup. I think spatially (knowing where things are in a room without seeing them, a 3D model) and with what I call 'vibe' - like I can think of a person and not remember their name or see their face or hear their voice, but I still know who I'm thinking about. Also imagining moving: e.g. if I'm annoyed at someone but can't show it, I might imagine myself whacking them over the head :D. My memories are non-visual 3D models with north points, plus touch and sound and vibe to various extents. I guess I also think conceptually? Like if I skimread, there's no time to say the words in my mind but I'm getting something out of it.
I think I probably don't focus as much on physical attractiveness as others do - I can see objectively that someone's good looking, but in terms of actual attraction it's probably more about spatial, and their facial expressions - which translate to 'vibe' in my head. In terms of faces, I look at it as a whole, not as individual parts.
But I'm just one person, other people will have different modalities and things to work with :)
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THANK YOU GUYS SO MUCH!! 1 year 5 months ago #3468

  • sian*
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I was thinking more about what role words play this morning when planning breakfast. In this case the words were kind of a commentary:
Non-words: feel hungry
spatial plus concept of usual breakfast: cereal with banana
spatial plus concept of cupboard: no bananas inside
Words: oh noooo I forgot to get more bananas
spatial plus concept, moving from the cupboard across the kitchen to the inside of the freezer: spatial+concept of frozen berries inside
Words: Yesss BERRIES for breakfast
It was kind of like the spatial/conceptual side was presenting stuff for the monologue to comment on.
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THANK YOU GUYS SO MUCH!! 1 year 5 months ago #3474

  • Sekhmet
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sian* wrote:
I was thinking more about what role words play this morning when planning breakfast. In this case the words were kind of a commentary:
Non-words: feel hungry
spatial plus concept of usual breakfast: cereal with banana
spatial plus concept of cupboard: no bananas inside
Words: oh noooo I forgot to get more bananas
spatial plus concept, moving from the cupboard across the kitchen to the inside of the freezer: spatial+concept of frozen berries inside
Words: Yesss BERRIES for breakfast
It was kind of like the spatial/conceptual side was presenting stuff for the monologue to comment on.

OMG this sounds so familiar to my thought processes. Also if I'm alone I'll sometimes mutter the words part under my breath talking to myself like a weirdo ^_^
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THANK YOU GUYS SO MUCH!! 1 year 5 months ago #3491

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Lol yep, I do that too, and then sometimes realise I'm not actually alone, and go OH GOD did I say anything really weird? My dad talks to himself a lot (he's a good visualiser though).
I did high school French, and for some reason when I'm trying to make myself feel better I'll think in French for the 'don't worry' phrases, mixed in with English (so I guess it's kind of a dialogue between two versions of me, one wise version in French and the omg everything is terrible version in English). I haven't done French in a while, though, so the grammar's not great and I know I get some words wrong. I say 'neanmoins' to mean 'never mind', when I think it means 'nevertheless', but I've said it so many times that I've decided to just assume it means never mind.
The berries were really good btw :)

@nicholas, could you like decorate your walls with particular pictures in your mind, and have them stay there for a while? Like, it would be perfectly decorated for you and you could change it whenever you got bored in an instant, but sort of permanent. Or do you have to reimagine it's there every time you see it (if that makes sense... tell me if it doesn't :) )?
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THANK YOU GUYS SO MUCH!! 1 year 5 months ago #3548

  • Sensorium
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I suppose I can answer in the place of Nicholas...

Several people have used the metaphor of computers without monitors to try to explain aphantasia to people who visualize. I will extend and refine this metaphor a bit:

There are TWO monitors. One is connected to a webcam/microphone/etc and shows The Real World, the other is showing... anything, really, whatever it is I'm thinking about. You can pay attention to either one as you choose, or split your attention and keep an eye on both, but there is a very definite real/irreal divide between these images (actually, all senses). I suppose you can pretend the monitors are clearly labeled, in the case of a sane individual, so there is no chance of confusion. For instance, I'm writing this, I'm looking at the real screen, feeling the real keys, and on the 'other monitor' I'm seeing things I could write on the screen, hear my voice dictating lines aloud I might want to use, imagining Sian's responses (either as imagined posts or questions asked aloud) as I choose how to describe or explain things, and so forth. Actually writing the post is a process of transcribing the results of that storm of images and sounds into a coherent passage as I go along, grabbing a line here, a line there, and soon it starts getting more and more stable. Eventually the two monitors will coincide: I've written the post I visualized.

Needless to say, when you're working in such a fashion, it matters whether you are going top-down (I have a finished overall vision, and I'm working out the details) or bottom-up (making it up as you go along, like this post, which means things are in pretty radical flux until fairly late in the game). It's thus much slower for me to respond to a post like this than it is for me to write up something novel from scratch, because I'm visualizing/hearing the responses from an imaginary stand-in for Sian asking follow-up questions, requesting clarification, and the like.

As you might imagine, the monitors are (usually) almost the exact same feed, because that's the useful way to work. Right now my mind's eye is focused on the computer, just like my actual eyes. At work, they're both (usually) on the task at hand (sometimes my mind's eye wanders off to somewhere more congenial on a boring day).

So - the above is basically all clarification to "Sian's Imaginary Stand In" for the actual answer to the question - I can decorate the walls with stuff in the 'irreal' monitor and have it stick for a while, with 'a while' depending on the amount of... I'm searching for a word here... expectations or familiarity of the visualization. Have the irreal monitor mirror the real one, save for a few added pictures, and then just pay attention to the irreal monitor rather than real, and bingo, you're looking at nonexistent pictures on the walls while still being able to interact with the rest of the room without problems.

Now, when I say "expectations or familiarity of the visualization", I mean how often I've thought of the image and its location. If, for example, you threw out a picture on my wall that's been there for years, having the picture be there would be the default for the irreal monitor, and I'd have to essentially actively correct it with the real monitor. If it's something I have a very clear picture of in my head, and have had a strong desire to have in a particular spot, it will have a surprising degree of permanence in the mind's eye version of that room, too. If there's no such strong associations, then I have to mentally keep putting it back in place. This isn't a difficult thing; I would compare it to absent-mindedly picking up a paperclip you dropped.

This level of permanence exists even in imaginary constructs that don't physically exist anywhere and might not even be physically possible. For example, when learning about various medications I associated them with various imaginary things to take advantage of that kind of mind's eye sensory permanence. The end result is a very, very stable marina full of ships, buildings, etc. which are strongly associated with different medications, things I should remember about them, and the like. And, no, I don't remember why I associated medicines with ships/docks/stuff on the docks way back when, and all the other assorted arbitrary details that got dragged along with it, but given how often I've thought about them that nonexistent marina is more clear and permanent in my mind than, say, the actual docks downtown, the details of which have never been important to me.

Triamcinolone is a collier full of coal. Why? Who knows, I've forgotten if there was ever a reason. Risendronate (Actonel) has a floating Star Wars style robot as a kind of visual rebus from when I first was memorizing it (it has a risen drone on deck). There are cats on board a few ships (examples: diclofenac sodium - an orange tabby; tramadol - a calico cat).

Now, if you're aphantasaic, you're probably thinking that's deeply, deeply weird. But to go back to our computer analogy: it's just a GUI. These are all abitrary icons and menus to make finding and organizing information about medicine quick and easy for me, and I used it as an example because it's the most complicated and huge such 'mental GUI' I've ever made, for the obvious reason that it's a lot of life or death information I need to be able to access both quickly AND reliably, but the basic principle holds: there are completely irreal places, things, people, etc which have a very high degree of permanency and effortless recall on my part.
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THANK YOU GUYS SO MUCH!! 1 year 5 months ago #3558

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bVery interesting, thanks! I have a very blank wall in my room at the moment that used to be full of photos (had to take them down for a house inspection) and it seems incredibly bare without them.

I like your metaphor of two monitors and which ones you can pay attention to - I've been trying to think of it as similar to how I could have music playing in my head and still hear the real world (it's fuzzy, but I 'hear' it), but my intuition keeps thinking 'but it's VISUAL which is COMPLETELY different'. Monitors make more sense, and the idea of them overlapping or one fading in or out.

I was just thinking it's pretty meta - reading about you imagining my reaction to what you're writing :D. Now I'm trying to figure out what I'm doing when I'm writing. Usually I'll have a general idea of where I'm going, and my inner monologue just keeps going and I transcribe what it says. The act of writing channels the usual storm of words and other non-visual things into actual grammar - I'm way better at expressing myself on paper than I am aloud, which is partly because of the physical act of writing I think. I like writing fiction because I often surprise myself with what happens - I'll have an idea of what I want to happen in a scene, but I only know what actually happens as I'm writing, sentence by sentence. Sometimes this is annoying if things go off-track...

For posts like this I backtrack and reread to check whether I'm really saying what I want to, but I don't think I imagine reactions - it's more I'll try to look at it from different angles from my point of view I think, see if I've answered what I intended and if it makes sense? (Now I'm thinking that I should really try to imagine what other people might say - that sounds helpful lol. Generally I have the person I'm writing to in mind, but it's more in terms of interest to get their future reaction than imagining reaction).

If I'm planning an in-person conversation, I might have snatches of things I want to say and imagine reactions (non-visually). I'll also replay stuff after the fact (I also often plan or replay snatches of writing, but not the whole thing).

Your marina sounds like a mind palace. I did psychology at university (which now seems quite funny, considering I didn't notice anything amiss apart from mild prosopagnosia/faceblindness) and they had a lecture about different ways to remember things (helpful for the exam). I gave up on the mind palace as a building, but I could do it semi-successfully at the larger scale of my city - I'm good with directions and have a 3D non-visual map of the city to populate with things/ideas. I can't remember anything I put in it now, though.

When I was a teenager I learnt a party trick where you write down numbers 1-20 on a piece of paper and then get people to volunteer names of objects for each number. Each number has a permanent association (e.g. 1 is a candle) and you associate the volunteered objects with the permanent objects. I can do this fine (I use a combination of associated concepts, spatial, words and imagining physical movement I think, rather than visuals), but it's quite restricted and gets overwritten every time I do it. It would be great to be able to do it more generally.
Last Edit: 1 year 5 months ago by sian*. Reason: clarification
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THANK YOU GUYS SO MUCH!! 1 year 4 months ago #3956

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My life is so crazy, but I like coming back to this conversation. I NEED to remember these things. I feel like this is the missing link to so many communication problems I've had. Maybe not all of them, but there have been times when I just couldn't connect with someone about a topic one of us was trying to explain and I think this can help tremendously and not even in terms of all or nothing. I think there is probably a whole spectrum and even different combinations.

So Sensorium described the 'permanent imagined photographs on the wall' question very well in my terms too. There might be people who would see their imagination on the wall without trying, but that could border on a condition that might not be beneficial. I have the two monitor situation. Although my direct visual monitor is just a flat image like your television. My minds eye can expand into a 3d space and doesn't really have edges. For me the imagery isn't as clear as my direct monitor unless I spend time making it up, but in a non-detailed way I can also imagine the 3d landscape spread out in every direction and not really exist in any one part of. My mental mind can imagine an object for instance, like a castle and see it like a cut-away and spin it around or pull all the rooms apart, but most of the time there isn't even any reason to spin around the castle and look at it from different angles because I can work faster not picking an angle. I just decide all the cool things I want the castle to be and it just forms into whatever I want. Then if someone wants me to draw the castle I will pick an angle and draw that angle for them. Until now I assumed this is how everyone's mind worked. If you saw what I saw with my second monitor you might be disappointed that it is not as real as reality, but maybe surprised at what else it can do. I'd like to know.. somehow.

@Sian* It doesn't sound in a practical way we are all that different. You can imagine you are going to a place, like a bar for instance, but you don't see it. You imagine more the feeling of the bar. For all intents and purposes we are both recalling a feeling. The only difference I think is that I'm also figuring out how I might draw the bar on paper so I can 'show' the room to someone later. There is pedestool next to the dark wooden door. There is a marble crow on the pedestal. A man in a gray suit and black tie greets customers with brown plastic covered menus in his hand. There is a green lamp casting a reddish glow on a small table near the door. I remember things like that without consciously trying to remember the details at the time. Instead I take sort of photographs in my mind that I can recall later. Some are more detailed than others. You might take these photographs too, but you do it with words and remember the words. We both might get the same feeling, but it's how we communicate those feelings that could differ. We could have trained our minds to use a different method to remember. You say you have good direction so it makes me think you are aware spatially of where you are. You can think of where your refrigerator is and then walk there. You rehearse conversations. I do that too. It seems like you have good audio imagination. You might only have half aphantasia. Can you tell me the relative distances of things without looking at things? What is longer a leg or a cat? Can you picture them next to each other? When you have to describe a room to someone how do you start? Do you daydream at work about how you are going to re-arrange your bedroom?
Last Edit: 1 year 4 months ago by nicholas_J.
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THANK YOU GUYS SO MUCH!! 1 year 4 months ago #3961

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Yes, I think we end up with a similar thing, just in different ways. I add details and decide on things when people ask about them, or when I think more about it and it seems like I need details - either spatially, or with concepts or description.

I was thinking about the concept of a bar I use for 'a man walks into a bar' jokes - it's a spatial 3D of a square room where I'm behind the bar in one corner, the door is on the right wall close to the bar and the chairs/tables etc are to the left. This is not a crisp idea of things at all - the chairs/tables are more concept than spatial, and the spatial of the bar and the door is pretty fuzzy/not specified. There are no people present - just the ones in whatever joke it is. After reading your description of a bar, I kept thinking about it and adding stuff (over a few hours, getting distracted at work :) ) . I decided I wanted saloon doors in the doorway, then realised that the doorway isn't wide enough for saloon doors which was annoying. The bar is now polished wood, and there are shelves behind the bar with lots of green bottles on them, Wild West sort of style. The lighting is pretty dim, and possibly there's sawdust on the floor but I'm not sure I like that... If I kept thinking about it, I could probably add more details, but generally my imagined spatials like this are extreeemely generic, and I don't usually base them on real places. I wonder if this will come to mind whenever I hear 'man walks into a bar' jokes now.

I have visual aphantasia, but I'm reasonable on hearing and touch and good at 'spatial'. I guess people with less spatial mode would have just the concepts? I'm not that great at judging distances in the dark/eyes closed - I know where everything is, but I still misjudge dimensions a little and bang into things.

A leg (adult) is definitely longer than a cat, but maybe a five year old's leg might be a similar size? Different shapes though (and I'm doing this spatially, so not that much of a problem - can anyone non-spatial share how they do it?). I can put them next to each other spatially, but I can't see them (like I'm the computer generating a 3D scene, no screen). When I describe a room to someone, I will probably say where the furniture is (talking with my hands as well as aloud) and then focus on details and try to remember what they were like conceptually, with shape or colour or words and/or associations. Colour is pretty easy, I get a non-visual 'feeling' of the colour. I can imagine touching things if I want, and describe the touch. I think the visual memory is in there somewhere, I just can't see it. And probably like many people, if I don't notice something I won't remember it.

Flat-looking things are much harder to hold onto e.g. Imagining a painting or a sunset. I can kind of imagine my hands moving in shapes to outline things and the colours they might be, but it's a bit like outlining shapes in water - the outline fades almost immediately because my imaginary hand has moved on.

Your castle sounds really cool, and I'm intrigued by the idea of not picking an angle - do you kind of have it at all angles at once? Or just that you're continually moving around it, or something else?
Last Edit: 1 year 4 months ago by sian*. Reason: Adding spaces
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THANK YOU GUYS SO MUCH!! 1 year 4 months ago #3975

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When he says he doesn't pick an angle, I figure he's just saying he goes with whatever angle his subconscious generated the castle in to begin with. To be honest, this wasn't something I thought much about before learning about aphantasia, but since I became aware of it, it's become something I've been mulling over. A huge chunk of visualization is entirely automatic and without volition, and I've been wondering how the brain makes the apparently instantaneous choices it makes in filling in all the details you didn't intend when picturing something.

You imagine a castle, the brain picks a scale, an angle, all sorts of things. I can easily imagine rotating the castle, scaling it, making it come apart in pieces like IKEA instructions, whatever. And there's other details: colors, texture of the stone, patterns in the masonry, windows, roofing, etc. The brain fills in all this stuff.

How does the unconscious detail-picker make its choices?

Is there an analogous process in an aphantasaic brain? Sian's spatial bar seems much more barebones and unelaborated unless he works at it. Tell me to imagine a bar and I get all kinds of irrelevant unasked for details - bartenders, random barflies, bottles of liquor in front of the mirror, tasteless track lighting on the ceiling.
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THANK YOU GUYS SO MUCH!! 1 year 4 months ago #3980

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@sian* So the fact that you can move around with your eyes open makes me think you have no problem judging distances. Maybe possibly you don't remember distances. Do you remember time? How well do you remember how long something took? Do you remember when something took a long time like a long car ride? That seems related to distance and how long, for instance, it takes you to get across the city or a room. It also seems like you remember things heavily in the way you feel them directly with your hands and body rather than how they look. But then you can describe something and you'll know when you see it so those things are represented in some way in your head, perhaps also mostly a feeling. Color is the most interesting thing to me though. I can't imagine how you can remember color in a tactile way. How do you remember green?

As for my castle. It's sort of like Sensorium says. If I think about it at all then I imagine some sort of imagery. The word castle is less important than the imagery. Once I start thinking of a castle I see the mote around the castle, the meadow the castle is in, brown dirt it sits on. It's a cartoon now in my mind, then it changes again. There is definitely a subconscious and conscious aspect to it. It really changes too much to speak about. The way they say and image is worth a thousand words. It's definitely like that. I could make an image of something like a giant bug attacking the castle and it could take a split second to make the image and I could spend an hour drawing and trying to describe the image I made up in that split second. Now I know I have to try and describe that image. I've spent a lot of my life thinking I could just beam that image into peoples' heads with enough words, but many times people will say they need me to communicate more and now I think I know why. I imagine they can see what I see and that when I say a few words the entire image will burst into their heads, but now I am certain that is not the case. I also know my audio imagination is not nearly as good as my visual. I hear things, but not in pitch. I'm trying to learn pitch now, but I still don't remember in pitch.
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THANK YOU GUYS SO MUCH!! 1 year 4 months ago #3999

  • sian*
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I haven't thought that much about time (just posted in the Time thread though so on a roll). I think I'm reasonably good with time? I know when an hour long meeting stops fifteen minutes early. If a car ride was long I'd remember it, either because I know it was a long distance, or the feeling of frustration/boredom in traffic jams.

Colour is really weird. I skimread an academic paper (I think it was this one www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1364661315001801 ?) that said that colour and spatial things are done in a different part of the brain from some other visual things, which matches what I experience - space and colour don't have to be visual. Colour for me is a non-emotional feeling - I can tell you what colour everything is, and which is darker or lighter or bluer or redder etc. I can hold the feeling of two or three colours in my mind, but not much more than that (hmm now I'm thinking about this, and I can get a rainbow and an opal. So maybe I can do more colours? Though perhaps they have to be a unit, something I've seen?). Someone on these forums had different spatial positions for different colours, kind of synaesthesia-like.

It would be so interesting to be able to directly transfer imagery between brains, or even to swap brains for a day :) From what I've read on the forum, sound seems to be split into two: your own voice in your head which might not have pitch, and outside things like music, noises. Would your not-much-pitch be to do with the difference between them?

@Sensorium: the idea of volition is really interesting. When I was thinking about the bar, it was very much about choices, but those choices were guided by those I'd made before. So saloon doors cos they're cool (though they didn't fit in the doorway, so the doorway is still just a blank space) led to green bottles Wild West style, which led to sawdust on the floor, which I didn't really like, but I haven't tried that hard to replace it with something I do like. Generally when I'm asked to imagine a scene, I make choices as questions are asked, and while mostly these are conscious, sometimes my brain does the sawdust trick.

When I write a story, I often feel like I'm writing into the dark - things just come up as I'm writing, and I don't know where they came from - the unconscious detail-picker, and/or plot-guider. So a bit like your imagery, but.a LOT slower. And I can't 'see' the end result, just the words.
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THANK YOU GUYS SO MUCH!! 1 year 4 months ago #4006

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@sian* I can see how it would take so long to figure out there was any sort of difference! From an external observer both of us would probably seem very similar. You can even remember colors shortly, but perhaps you cannot think of the color red when you haven't seen it for a while? As far as I can tell most of the difference between us is exactly an image vs. not and image. It seems really specific. We both have a concept of a clock for instance, but your clock is like a verbal clock or maybe how a clock makes you feel and mine is more like a picture of an exaggerated cartoon clock or whatever image pops up in my head when I hear the word. A clock is just an image to me. It's removed and abstract. I don't know how a clock makes me feel. Maybe that's a difference? I wonder what the advantages and disadvantages are to either way. I've read on these forums that it would make it easier to focus without the images and concentrate on the moment instead of watching clocks mutate and get pulled apart into various clock pieces in your head. I am generally not a very focused person and my mind wanders a lot. But without the pictures I think I would find it hard to do something like build a cabinet. How could you figure out what shape of cabinet and wood finish you want if you can't see it in your head? When you think back on your memories is it like being in a dark room? As I move through life I love looking back at all the places I've been and situations I've been in. I relive memories and imagine how things would have been if I would have done things differently. I cherish a lot of those memories. I see back in my childhood when I was a kid and the way things looked in my home town before they paved the roads. Do you have those memories? Do you spend time thinking about that stuff and telling people about it?
Last Edit: 1 year 4 months ago by nicholas_J.
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THANK YOU GUYS SO MUCH!! 1 year 4 months ago #4038

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@nicholas_J yes it does seem we're not that different! We just use slightly different ways of getting to similar results.

For building a cabinet, I think I could get a spatial idea of the shape of the cabinet, the same way my memories work, and an idea of what colour I wanted it to be, but then it might be a little trial and error once I was actually making it. I'd probably draw lots of pictures and maybe do test varnishes or finishes first - external visual thinking, when the spatial isn't enough (spatial seems to be pretty coarse grained, like I can't think of a spatial of a face, but I could do a cabinet okay because simple lines etc., but maybe not decorations on the cabinet).

With colours, I think I'd still be able to 'get' them if I was in solitary confinement for ages. I can remember the colour of my front door when I was seven (light blue, and then repainted white). Colour's one of the hardest to explain, because it SHOULD be visual but it doesn't seem to be. Maybe my brain is doing almost all the same things yours is, but it's just not going right to the end and sticking it up for me to 'see'.

The 'feelings' of things generally aren't emotional - I have a visualising friend who says she thinks mostly in feelings, which she explained by saying it's like when you want to use a really complicated word and you know the feeling of it, but you can't quite remember the word (would you get a picture for the word? Does it depend on the word?). I guess when I'm thinking of a clock, I might get the idea of a clock in the way she says, possibly think the word 'clock', and if I need to think more about it I'll maybe get a spatial, and zoom into the clock if I want, but that takes effort, and once it's complicated it's hard to hold things together and remember. It's like when I've tried to do guided meditation, it generally takes a lot of effort on my part so doesn't really help me relax and I tend to daydream unrelatedly or start laughing because the speaker has a funny voice. I think this is a bit of a disadvantage, and was talking to a teacher about visualising while reading to help comprehension, which would be useful (and very very cool).

Yes, my memories are like the dark room thing (though some are in the open air, so a really really big dark room). They tend to be me moving like a floating camera through a still spatial/concept unless I focus on something and make it move (and then it's a little like a gif, not very long and repetitive). There are often lots of random associations that might lead me off into other memories or thoughts. I like thinking back on them, though I try not to think too much about what would have happened if I'd done things differently, because generally I do that when things go wrong and that doesn't help the current situation. Do you think about whole alternate universe kinds of things, or just small things or both? Is it generally fun when you do it?

I remember for instance going to see a Beauty and the Beast when I was three with a baby sitter and a friend. This might be a little reconstructed and embellished, but in my memory we're sitting in the old theatres in my hometown that are now gone, in the cinema to the left of the candy bar, near the front in the middle, facing north. I'm on the left of the babysitter, my friend is on the right. I don't get any sense of what was on the screen, but I know in general we were seeing Beauty and the Beast. The babysitter had a very impressive eraser collection in a cupboard at her house. The cupboard was in a large rectangular room with one wall all glass, and the cupboard faced the glass. At some point I got a Beauty and the Beast colouring book, and coloured it in sitting on the window seat at home, facing northeast. I liked the page with Belle feeding the birds in the snow. So not much actually happens in my memories I think, apart from 'this is what we were doing' and 'this is what this person was like'. If I focus I can generally get sound, touch and possibly taste/smell, but it's not automatic. I can walk around my hometown in my head and get nostalgic - remember 'that used to be a supermarket', 'I used to hide in that hidey hole', 'I stayed overnight at the zoo down that road and balanced peacock feathers (proprioception of balancing a peacock feather on hand)’.

Are your memories like snapshots, or do they go longer? Do you feel your memory is good compared to other people's? I think mine is reasonable, but it's probably quantity rather than quality.
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THANK YOU GUYS SO MUCH!! 1 year 4 months ago #4040

  • nicholas_J
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sian*, Thanks for more description. I can see how the difference is very subtle. While there may be some advantages to visual thinking, there may be some disadvantages, which I am also trying to find. Many people think I am kind of unusual. I go for long times without talking to anyone and sometimes I think I'm communicating when I'm not. I want to be a better communicator. I don't think I have poor communication skills necessarily I just don't know when to use, which type of communication. Like the cabinet you describe. I might never draw it or try any colors. I might design it in my head, go to home depot get all the wood and then build it with a few numbers scribbled on scrap paper. I might tell describe that cabinet to someone and they might get mad at me because I think I described it, but I really needed to draw it. I do spend a lot of time imagining possibilities and re-arranging events. I blame that on me being overly manipulative. That is not a good quality. It could be that at some point we chose to exercise different parts of our minds or maybe connect certain parts to certain other parts as in what parts of a memory are important. You might remember how you would describe an event to someone else. I don't know that I even tell other people about my memories very often. Other than that I believe if you saw that old theater that was torn down, you would recognize it. I think like you said it's the part that is connected to your conscious part perhaps.

When you describe remembering a word, but having to wait for it to show up I think we have a very similar experience for that. I don't see it first. I also have to sort of think around it until it just shows up comes to me, but that process before I get the word is mysterious.

What I wonder is how people with aphantasia come off maybe differently in every day life. Are you talkative? Cheerful? Outgoing? Do you have a lot of friends? I feel like there might be some advantages to not being pre-occupied with pictures in your head and that's maybe why so many people have it. Maybe there is some social advantage.
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THANK YOU GUYS SO MUCH!! 1 year 4 months ago #4098

  • DrPepperFiend
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I'm in IT, I have aphantasia, and I still design top-down, more like gears than hills. Or nodes with connections, more like. So I'll work on this node and that node, and it's quite useful because engineers and such will demand flow charts for lots of shit anyway, and by labeling connections I can map it out pretty well layman-style.

In fact, I'm realizing why I gravitate toward MS-Paint-edited screenshots and flow charts for much of my business communication. The former for low visualization effort, the latter because spatial relationships and sequences are easy enough to conceptualize in detail without visualizing (for me).
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THANK YOU GUYS SO MUCH!! 1 year 4 months ago #4106

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@nicholas_J you're welcome! I've been thinking more about remembering situations and rearranging them, and I do do it for conversations that went okay, but could be improved or I could have said other things. It's only snatches of conversation, though.

I'm pretty cheerful, but on the introvert side of the spectrum - there was a thread a while back about introverts/extroverts and it seemed that more people were introverts here (though that could just be about who answered that question). I'm talkative with people I know well, but not so much otherwise (sometimes because of 'people shock' where I can't think of anything to say). To me it sounds distracting to have pictures in your head all the time - maybe people in the middle of the spectrum don't have them as much? Maybe there's a frequency scale and a vividness scale?

I think a/hyperphantasia probably has different 'effects' on different people, depending on what else is in your personality. It's interesting to think about how, over a whole life, the way you think and act and how other people and things react, and different life events and other things, have spiralled together to make the way you think today.

@DrPepperFiend I love diagrams! I always find I want to make more connections than are possible on paper or computer programs though...
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THANK YOU GUYS SO MUCH!! 1 year 3 months ago #4137

  • Facewithaview
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Yes, the term is hyperphantasia - one of the articles I read about aphantasia also discussed the opposite extreme and featured a children's book author who always thinks in images.
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