Do You Have Aphantasia?

Andrew

Jedi Master
Hey everyone,

I tried looking this up on the forum but didn’t see anything regarding it. Found a couple articles on SOTT about it here:



Basically, Aphantasia is: “a condition where you lack a functioning mind's eye.”

According to the study that was done in this article here:

“Koegh noted that differences exist even among the general population. "People who are very good at imagining pictures would see the image that they imagined maybe 80 percent of the time," she said. "People with weaker imagery might only see it 60 percent of the time. But in aphantasiacs, we found no correlation. This finding indicates that the people with aphanastia can't produce a mental image at all, Koegh said."

This is something that I came across after watching Lauras Knowledge and Being video, where’s she’s speaking about Visualizing the end of an outcome to get something to happen that you need to have happen.

Knowledge and Being Part 5: Information Theory and Reality Creation - Part 2

1:04:11 - 1:06:37

1:05:01
Laura said:
“[…] Creative seeing in your mind where you see yourself or people that are close to you, sitting down somewhere or in some scene or situation. Discussing the fact that, “isn’t it wonderful that the problem is solved.” “Isn’t It great that we’ve got a solution.” [..] But you never go further in your visualization than that - ever. […] and your visualization must be very precise.

Whenever anyone has ever said to: “Imagine” or “visualize” I never once thought this was meant literally, but was more of some kind of figure of speech. So I tried to ‘creatively see’ or ‘visualize’ an intended outcome, but had a very tough time with it because all I see is black. I can’t actually ‘visualize’ anything in my minds eye. Instead, I seem to think in words instead of mental imagery.

Getting frustrated I started looking into why and if Visualization was a literal thing. Then I came across this ‘aphantsia’ phenomenon and I seemed to fit the bill. Sure I can ‘remember’ how things look, but I can’t actually conjure up a mental image that I’m able to ‘see’.

I never once thought this wasn’t how most people experience reality. And shortly after I came to find out that most people seem to actually be able to ‘see’ in their minds eye what they’re visualizing. Some people reporting that their visualizations are as clear as day. Like a video in HD. This is absolutely mind-boggling to me, never having known anything other than black when I close my eyes.

Sure I’ve experienced vivid dreams and imagery and have had on rare occasions in deep meditative states, been able to actually ‘see’ images in my minds eye. But not to the extent that many people seem to be able to at will. And it requires a great deal of focus and relaxation in order to do - if at all.

So I was wondering how many people here are aphantasiacs? Or can you very clearly see images in your minds eye?

Also, could this indicate there is something ‘wrong’ with aphantasiacs brains for not having a functioning minds eye? Or is it simply a matter of the brain functioning different? If so, that seems to make ‘visualizing’ in the example provided by Laura a bit difficult and challenging to do.

I also wonder if this is something that can be developed, like a mental muscle or not at all?

The individual who created this video for Photographers, seems to have had success with the use of 'image streaming', which seems to be the process of verbally describing any impression that comes into your awareness when your eyes are closed to bridge the left & right hemispheres of the brain.


Curious to see anyones responses.

Thank you!
 

Alejo

Ambassador
Ambassador
FOTCM Member
Hey Andrew,

Thanks for sharing and sorry... out of my field of knowledge here, so I couldn’t suggest or speak to what you describe in any meaningful manner.

As far as I go, I actually suffer from the opposite, a too vivid imagination. It’s one of the reasons I’m able to do my job actually, helping people with cabinetry issues, visualizing solutions in 3D and in color comes quite handy.
 

mrtn

Jedi Council Member
That's interesting. I usually have no problem visualizing something in my mind. I wonder how it relates to the ability to draw something? And also how it works with very simple objects, like 'a box' or 'a triangle'? It would be very difficult for me to not end up with some kind of picture in my mind with such phrases (aka 'don't think of a pink elephant' :-D). In fact when I go to sleep I often 'exercise' this, trying to keep my inner vision black and empty, and it's very difficult.
 

Gruchaa

Jedi
Hi Andrew,

I think similar subject to this was somewhere in the forum. Some poeple connects Aphantasia with this NPC phenomenon on the net I suppose.

See here:

 

Chu

Administrator
Administrator
Moderator
FOTCM Member
So I was wondering how many people here are aphantasiacs? Or can you very clearly see images in your minds eye?

I wouldn't say I see super clearly, but if I concentrate or meditate, it's clearer. It used to be really hard for me, but it has gotten a bit better.

I am more auditive than visual. Maybe that could have something to do with it?

Also, could this indicate there is something ‘wrong’ with aphantasiacs brains for not having a functioning minds eye? Or is it simply a matter of the brain functioning different? If so, that seems to make ‘visualizing’ in the example provided by Laura a bit difficult and challenging to do.

I also wonder if this is something that can be developed, like a mental muscle or not at all?

I don't know whether it's a problem or not, but don't see why it couldn't be developed further if the person makes efforts. I suspect it has to do with differences, as you said, and also with the fact that everyone grew up differently. Some were more encouraged to "imagine", to visualize, etc. Others were told that was bad (my case, for example). So, if you haven't done it throughout your whole life, it may still be there, but it's not so habitual/easy a practice? No idea!
 

3DStudent

The Living Force
FOTCM Member
Andrew or anyone else with aphantasia: do you daydream (with imagery)? Not saying that it necessarily has merits, as it can be a negative dissociative practice. I don't have to close my eyes to imagine an image, as I can imagine or daydream over top of my field of vision with eyes open. But like Chu said, concentrating and being calm makes it clearer. Also, when you're tired and dozing off a bit, do you get hypnogogic dream-like images?

Curious because this topic I find interesting. I think I'm both visual and auditive wired. But these things are kind of hard to compare, because how would you know if someone else's mental image or sound is clearer than yours? As for auditory wired people, do you mix or rearrange songs in your mind occasionally?
 

mkrnhr

SuperModerator
Moderator
FOTCM Member
I talked to a person who had trouble with this and had to "train" for years in order to acquire the "skill". So I guess it's a skill that one can lose in childhood if not exercised, and maybe it can be recoverd with some kind of a sustained effort. OSIT
 

Odyssey

SuperModerator
Moderator
FOTCM Member
Whenever anyone has ever said to: “Imagine” or “visualize” I never once thought this was meant literally, but was more of some kind of figure of speech. So I tried to ‘creatively see’ or ‘visualize’ an intended outcome, but had a very tough time with it because all I see is black. I can’t actually ‘visualize’ anything in my minds eye. Instead, I seem to think in words instead of mental imagery.

Getting frustrated I started looking into why and if Visualization was a literal thing. Then I came across this ‘aphantsia’ phenomenon and I seemed to fit the bill. Sure I can ‘remember’ how things look, but I can’t actually conjure up a mental image that I’m able to ‘see’.

I never once thought this wasn’t how most people experience reality. And shortly after I came to find out that most people seem to actually be able to ‘see’ in their minds eye what they’re visualizing. Some people reporting that their visualizations are as clear as day. Like a video in HD. This is absolutely mind-boggling to me, never having known anything other than black when I close my eyes.

Sure I’ve experienced vivid dreams and imagery and have had on rare occasions in deep meditative states, been able to actually ‘see’ images in my minds eye. But not to the extent that many people seem to be able to at will. And it requires a great deal of focus and relaxation in order to do - if at all.

That's very strange and interesting, Andrew. I've read about aphantasia before but I couldn't imagine what it must be like to live with such a condition as I seem to have an exaggerated ability to play movies in my mind. What do you 'see' when you think of future events or plan for upcoming activities? I picture myself engaging in future activities. Do you "talk yourself through" future events?

(Sorry, I have only curiosity to add to the mix.)
 
Curiosity from me too! I have trouble switching off the imagery! I spoke to my daughter about this and she said they touched on it briefly at college, but from a slightly different perspective. For example, if you were a witness to a crime and you don't have a aphantasia, there's a good chance you are open to suggestion when relaying your account of events or having to identify someone in a line-up...just an aside.
 

Laura

Administrator
Administrator
Moderator
FOTCM Member
Whenever anyone has ever said to: “Imagine” or “visualize” I never once thought this was meant literally, but was more of some kind of figure of speech. So I tried to ‘creatively see’ or ‘visualize’ an intended outcome, but had a very tough time with it because all I see is black. I can’t actually ‘visualize’ anything in my minds eye. Instead, I seem to think in words instead of mental imagery.

Getting frustrated I started looking into why and if Visualization was a literal thing. Then I came across this ‘aphantsia’ phenomenon and I seemed to fit the bill. Sure I can ‘remember’ how things look, but I can’t actually conjure up a mental image that I’m able to ‘see’.

Well, "seeing" things with the mind's eye IS VERY MUCH LIKE REMEMBERING HOW THINGS LOOK.

When I close my eyes to visualize something, I have the "blackness" or cloud like things going on behind my eyes, too. BUT the imaginal image is in a different place than something you see with your eyes or any kind of physical eyes. If you are doing a quick visualization, it is "ghostly", but if you concentrate on something over time, it can become as real in your mind as if it were in the room with you. Almost like your closed eyelids were a screen on which things are projected.

So, just practice remembering how things look and meditate on some simple objects regularly. I'm sure you can train your mind to do this more easily.

I think maybe people being unable to do this stems from living in an age of TV and movies. When you read a book, you have to visualize everything happening - or at least I do. And I would much rather read a book than watch a movie. The movies I make in my head are way more interesting than those on screens.
 

cindyj

Padawan Learner
I wonder if it could be practised— for instance, thinking of an object (an apple, progressing to something more difficult) and drawing a picture of it without it being present. Or, drawing something with one’s eyes closed, to train oneself to visualize? I would be curious to learn if that helps.
 

mrtn

Jedi Council Member
I wonder how a description of a drawing process would work. Like 'draw a line 10 cm north, then 10 cm east...etc. what shape do you get'. Could an aphantasia even solve such a task?
 

SlipNet

Jedi Council Member
I have the opposite problem. As a schizophrenic, I'm seeing things unreal even when I have my eyes closed! I'd love a chilled out life without such occurrences, I really don't think aphantasia is anything to fuss over. To me, it sounds like a blessing.
 

Jones

Ambassador
Ambassador
FOTCM Member
I've often said that when I'm reading a good book after a while the words on the page kind of take a back seat to the movie in my mind and sometimes it seems as though I stop seeing the words altogether. It can be a difficult task to stay on point with dense or technical material though and I often need to turn back a page or so because the movie in my mind has diverged from the text. That can sometimes, however, lead to good questions to research the answers to or to looking at things from a different angle.

I also think that it's the movies that I've made in my head that helps me to remember the material that I've read.

I wonder how things would be remembered without visuals? If I ask myself, 'where have I put my car keys?' for example, I visualise possible locations or retrace my steps when I last had them in my mind while I go looking for them.

In any case, maybe reading is good practice for visualising.
 
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