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>> No. 28349 Anonymous
13th April 2019
Saturday 6:58 pm
28349 Aphantasia: mind-blindness
Hi all. This is the first time I've ever posted in /emo/ since I'm becoming increasingly sure that I may have a condition that's been tentatively dubbed 'aphantasia'. This revelation has actually made me rather upset.

I feel I should stress from the outset that I'm not the sort of person who shops around for psychopathologies or neurological quirks, rashly concluding 'Aha! I must have that!' since it sounds interesting, or vaguely describes some of my behaviour in specific circumstances. I'm not prone to self-diagnosis and would describe myself as quite mentally healthy. But the description of this apparent condition sounds exactly like my ordinary life, and I can't imagine how wonderful the alternative is.

Basically the word 'aphantasia' means the inability to voluntarily create mental images. I don't have a 'mind's eye', I cannot form 'mental pictures'. All my life I have assumed those terms were metaphors for holding concepts and ideas in one's head. It is mind-boggling to me that other people can apparently form actual pictures in their minds that they can then look at, whether they're memories or daydreaming or the result of reading fiction.

I can't summon images of people I've known or places I've been. I can tell you if a picture of something I recognise looks wrong, but not by any form of internal comparison - I would just sort of know. I've had people say to me that the film representation of so-and-so or such-and-such looks wrong, and I've agreed, but not because I have ever been capable of imagining what they look like. I've always just remembered the words from the book, and noticed the disconnect onscreen.

Take a look at this BBC article on the subject:


One of the first sentences is 'Most people can readily conjure images inside their head - known as their mind's eye'. You have no idea how shocking that is to me, the way it's written so curtly and obviously. I never imagined that people other than savants could do this sort of thing at all. There's a semi-official test for aphantasia by a research group at the university of Exeter here:


I found myself frustrated after just a few questions. Of course I'm not seeing anything in my head, I'm just thinking of the concepts you're describing, how does anyone else do anything different? Do you lot actually see things in your head when you're remembering or fantasising or reading?

I know I'm babbling and I'm sorry, but this has come as a huge shock to me. I'm trying to figure things out and I have so many questions but nobody to talk to at the moment. Do you really get shown pictures of things in your minds when you read books? Or when you look back on happy times in your life? Or dead loved ones? Why don't people read all the time? All I ever see in my head is blackness, nothingness, I just have an awareness of whatever topic or object I'm holding in my head. But I can't see any of it, or even imagine being able to do see it. Does this sound strange to you? Do you pity me, having heard of my apparent inability to visualise? What am I missing out on?
16 posts omitted. Last 50 posts shown. Expand all images.
>> No. 28367 Anonymous
14th April 2019
Sunday 4:55 am
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I've felt like I'm kind of mind-short-sighted and my mind's eye images look more little and washed out and far away than they're supposed to. They're much more vivid when I'm sleep-deprived. I'm pretty bad at remembering faces.

Some people's faces just stick in your head like crazy, even if you have't seen them for 20 years and barely knew them. I don't know why.

If I get a crush on someone it makes me completely forget what they look like and my mind's-eye stars photoshopping that image so it's loosely based on them but much better looking. I remember what they look like again once I go off them.
>> No. 28368 Anonymous
14th April 2019
Sunday 5:11 am
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Aldous Huxley:

>I am and, for as long as I can remember, I have always been a poor visualizer. Words, even the pregnant words of poets, do not evoke pictures in my mind. No hypnagogic visions greet me on the verge of sleep. When I recall something, the memory does not present itself to me as a vividly seen event or object. By an effort of the will, I can evoke a not very vivid image of what happened yesterday afternoon, of how the Lungarno used to look before the bridges were destroyed, of the Bayswater Road when the only buses were green and tiny and drawn by aged horses at three and a half miles an hour. But such images have little substance and absolutely no autonomous life of their own. They stand to real, perceived objects in the same relation as Homer's ghosts stood to the men of flesh and blood, who came to visit them in the shades. Only when I have a high temperature do my mental images come to independent life. To those in whom the faculty of visualization is strong my inner world must seem curiously drab, limited and uninteresting. This was the world - a poor thing but my own - which I expected to see transformed into something completely unlike itself.
>> No. 28369 Anonymous
14th April 2019
Sunday 9:45 am
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>How is it possible to be bored when you can daydream things and actually see them?

This question reminds me of when I was a kid and used to think "Why does the music industry exist? You can just hum your own tunes."
>> No. 28370 Anonymous
14th April 2019
Sunday 12:51 pm
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Mr girlfriend has this. What's amazing though is that she's a very talented artist. I asked her that if she can't visualise things, how on earth does she draw? She has to use a reference to draw anything specific, and the rest of her art is just made up as she goes along, starting with one mark and then seeing where it goes. I compare it to the way I wrote music- I very rarely think of a tune and then recreate it, I just noodle on the guitar or keyboard until I get something I like.

I think there's something of a "is the blue I see the same as the blue you see" quality to this. I think everyone can still visualise, but in different and sometimes entirely abstract ways. Thanks to certain hallucinatory substances I have definitely experienced though patterns that are almost completely intangible, no inner voice or visualisation, but seemingly just made out of abstract feeling. Words that mean nothing but still have a story. The brain is a very mysterious thing we still hardly know anything about.
>> No. 28371 Anonymous
14th April 2019
Sunday 12:57 pm
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It would probably help for drawing something right in front of you, so you're drawing that rather than the idea you have in your head of it.
>> No. 28372 Anonymous
14th April 2019
Sunday 1:10 pm
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>>28370 I think everyone can still visualise

I've just had a hard try. Attempted something that I thought should be easy - the sun. Nothing. Close eyes, get blackness with some random crap. Definitely no fiery disc in a blue sky.
Tried the Mrs. Nothing. Tried a lego man, nothing. Stick man, likewise. Tried a monitor, since that's what I spend a lot of time looking at. Nothing. Tried 'some pattern' - nothing other than the usual background chatter.
Sorry, chap, either I'm doing it wrong (entirely possible - seems about as likely that I can't work out how, as that I can't actually do it) or I can't do it.
Couldn't as a kid, used to piss me off when art teacher used to push.
I'm not particularly thick.
>> No. 28373 Anonymous
14th April 2019
Sunday 1:21 pm
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Think of how your name looks when written down. That might be a good start. I can visualise things with my eyes open, so maybe trying to do it with your eyes closed is interfering with your conscious expectations. Then again, I get visual synaesthesia when I'm drifting off to sleep, so maybe I'm not in the best position to advise.
>> No. 28374 Anonymous
14th April 2019
Sunday 1:57 pm
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>Close eyes, get blackness with some random crap.
The image doesn't really appear where your vision would otherwise be, it's more like it's located in your frontal lobe. Even when you're picturing it you can still "see" the darkness of your eyelids (or at least the visual noise that's always there).
>> No. 28375 Anonymous
14th April 2019
Sunday 2:12 pm
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And, as the T-rex comic points out, you can visualise something with your eyes open, too.
>> No. 28376 Anonymous
14th April 2019
Sunday 3:48 pm
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If you're unable to visualise what people look like surely it must be really difficult to remember people's faces.
>> No. 28377 Anonymous
14th April 2019
Sunday 4:00 pm
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It is - watching films is hard work. People I meet in person are easier - partly because context helps and I get a bit longer. (People who I meet unexpectedly - could be anyone).
Dunno if it's related, though - descriptions of visualisation aren't sounding like you get a snapshot of a person in full res?)
>> No. 28378 Anonymous
14th April 2019
Sunday 4:02 pm
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Face-blindness is called prosopagnosia.
>> No. 28380 Anonymous
14th April 2019
Sunday 4:08 pm
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What if I asked you to remember what He-Man's hair looks like? I get the answer by summoning up a mental image. Do you remember a series of words pertaining to the colour/length etc?
>> No. 28381 Anonymous
14th April 2019
Sunday 4:09 pm
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It can be kind of variable and zoomable. I remember a self-help book saying you visualise foods you like as being large and close and ones you dislike as being small and far away. It said if you like chocolate and dislike carrots you should deliberately swap the sizes of your mental images to steer you towards the healthy food.

When I have sexual fantasies I give the people porn-star sized dicks but don't bother to give them faces. I mean my brain just glosses over that bit. They're not all smooth instead or something.
>> No. 28382 Anonymous
14th April 2019
Sunday 4:17 pm
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>Think of a bowl of custard. You can remember the creamy taste, the richness of the mouthfeel, the smell of the vanilla

I can remember that custard is creamy, I can remember that it has a smell distictive to custard, but I doubt anyone could acurrately experience the smell and taste to the same degree as when enjoying the custard, else there'd be a lot of folk screaming in pain just from remembering that time they stubbed their toe or banged an elbow.
>> No. 28383 Anonymous
14th April 2019
Sunday 4:18 pm
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Ah, good one! kind of blonde and plastered down? I did get a flash of what I actually suspect is mostly Skeletor, with He-man off to his left, for maybe 1/10 of a second, which then vanishes, can't get it back, can't interrogate it - but yes, that was an image.
No fucking use - but a good question to ask, thanks.
>> No. 28384 Anonymous
14th April 2019
Sunday 4:22 pm
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Music plays in my head, I have visual images, I can remember the taste and texture of food, but I have no tactile memory of pain and illness. I don't think anyone does. How would anyone have multiple hangovers or multiple childbirths in that case?
>> No. 28385 Anonymous
14th April 2019
Sunday 4:28 pm
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Are you claiming to have tactile memory of taste and texture of food, then? Because that sounds rare. That would imply that you remember these things much like a visual memory appearing in front of your eyes.
>> No. 28386 Anonymous
14th April 2019
Sunday 4:30 pm
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>>28384 no tactile memory of pain and illness.
I can't tell which side of the body pain is on. Get a cut on one hand, feels symmetrical. Same for legs and face. Itching, or wet, I can get right, but cuts, grazes and a broken finger - guess wrong half the time.
Hard to see how that's a useful feature - but filed away under 'not actively harmful' like the visualisation and face thing.
>> No. 28387 Anonymous
14th April 2019
Sunday 4:32 pm
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>I have no tactile memory of pain and illness. I don't think anyone does. How would anyone have multiple hangovers or multiple childbirths in that case?
The same way you can remember that the hangover was so bad you told yourself you're never drinking again but you did anyway.
>> No. 28388 Anonymous
14th April 2019
Sunday 5:09 pm
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I'm Not OP.


That's what I mean. It's an intellectual memory, not a memory of the actual feeling or you wouldn't do it again. I can remember that I considered something to be 7/10 on the pain scale at the time but I don't remember what it actually felt like.
>> No. 28389 Anonymous
14th April 2019
Sunday 5:54 pm
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How can you place something on a scale if you can't remember what other instances of pain felt like? You can't rate a thing with nothing to compare it to.
>> No. 28390 Anonymous
14th April 2019
Sunday 6:00 pm
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You can rate it at the time.
>> No. 28391 Anonymous
14th April 2019
Sunday 6:14 pm
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I don't think the medical pain scale is predicated upon 10 being the worst pain you've ever felt thus far. You'd have to reserve that for being burnt alive or something.
>> No. 28392 Anonymous
14th April 2019
Sunday 6:25 pm
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You can't contextualise something in a framework if you have no frame of reference.
>> No. 28393 Anonymous
14th April 2019
Sunday 6:27 pm
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You know when you're experiencing pain whether it was more or less debilitating or unpleasant than previous pain, you just can't recall the actual physical sensation of the pain.
>> No. 28394 Anonymous
14th April 2019
Sunday 6:30 pm
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>You know when you're experiencing pain whether it was more or less debilitating or unpleasant than previous pain
How? Do you routinely check your expression in the mirror to see which one of those smiley faces seems most appropriate to you at the time? Do you have a decibel counter to compare how loudly you shouted fuck every time you stub your toe?
>> No. 28395 Anonymous
14th April 2019
Sunday 6:47 pm
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You're saying you have no idea at all what levels of pain your previous injuries have been? None at all?
>> No. 28396 Anonymous
14th April 2019
Sunday 6:49 pm
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I'm not the one claiming to have no memory of pain or physical sensation.
>> No. 28398 Anonymous
14th April 2019
Sunday 7:48 pm
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This conversation is pretty painful
>> No. 28399 Anonymous
14th April 2019
Sunday 10:31 pm
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I'm the OP and haven't posted since >>28357.

I spoke with a few family members and they find it strange but aren't of the opinion that I'm missing out on much, although I think my dad was slightly hurt that I can't see the face of his dead mother in my mind.

I suspect one of the above posters was right, it seems world-changing until you realise you never noticed your inability in the first place. My mind still works well enough, but I'm going to make more of an effort to take photos throughout my life and pay more attention to descriptive passages in books.

Also, I do dream in images. Aphantasia apparently refers to the inability to voluntarily see mental images, something which still sounds magical to me.
>> No. 28400 Anonymous
14th April 2019
Sunday 11:10 pm
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Take a look at this, OP
>> No. 28401 Anonymous
15th April 2019
Monday 2:23 am
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I didn't meantime literally, I meant that your brain performs the functionality of recalling information about something in a different way. If most people imagine a penguin they can see a penguin- When you think of a penguin you don't literally see a penguin, but you do pull up information about penguins that enables you to identify that it is a penguin. I spent the second paragraph trying to make the point that what we think of as visualisation isn't necessarily simply forming a picture.

I've had a lot of very deep conversations about this subject with my partner. What we have concluded is that it's a very variable thing, I am similar way to how people are adept at different styles of learning. I have to try very hard to hold a mental image myself, I can definitely "picture" things in my mind but if you ask me to pinpoint how exactly I see it it's a fucking mystery, it's like just a brief glimpse, segments that fit together in a way I simply can't actually describe when I try to explain it out loud. It's definitely not an actual visual visualisation and I think that's the case for the vast majority of people. And yet there are some people out there with literally photographic memory- You're at the opposite end of that scale. Most people are somewhere along it. You can't say that any one position along it is the "normal" way it works, because there's simply no way of quantifying the way human experience works.

There isn't a lot of information about this, or any aspect of the experience of consciousness, really. Mostly it's just that people don't consciously think too hard about the way their brain actually works, but I'm a nerd who takes loads of psychedelic drugs and has those cliché conversations so I have. But in a long winded way, what I'm trying to say is, don't worry, you're not broken and you've gotten on just fine in life so far, so what's the big deal really?
>> No. 28402 Anonymous
15th April 2019
Monday 5:51 am
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So he was born enlightened and knocked himself out doing the opposite of what students of zen/adavaita etc are trying to achieve? Weird.
>> No. 28403 Anonymous
15th April 2019
Monday 1:01 pm
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I have no idea if he is an elaborate troll or some really weird mental disorder. For example, a men like this would only be able to live on the moment, with no ideas about past, future or objects outside his immediate experience. How could a person like this attend uni and manage to get a degree?
>> No. 28404 Anonymous
15th April 2019
Monday 6:04 pm
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In the year of our lord 2019 we have forgotten about how easily one can anonymously pretend to be a unique and special little flower on the internet. I'm not saying that chap is lying, but I do feel inclined to doubt the authenticity of his story.

I feel like he probably has thought in language, but it's just not his primary method of thought, and he's decided to roll with it as an identity trait, like how when I was a teenlad I used the fact that I thought all metal released after 1993 is shit as an identity trait. The same way most of the Reddit generation has to exaggerate everything (i.e I was LITERALLY shaking!) he has exaggerated the fact that he just didn't really have a strong internal monologue.

Of course, he doesn't sound like the brightest of chaps, having managed to type an entire post as though it were one of those memes you see on facebook that's just a picture of words. I think it's perfectly reasonable to say that for most people, the subjectivity of consciousness itself makes them an unreliable witness. We can't really have these discussions about how it's "normal" to think when it's literally impossible to form an experiential consensus.
>> No. 28405 Anonymous
16th April 2019
Tuesday 6:43 am
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>> No. 28406 Anonymous
16th April 2019
Tuesday 6:45 am
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>> No. 28407 Anonymous
16th April 2019
Tuesday 7:29 am
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I wonder how can somebody even think about taking Alan Watts seriously. It's nothing than meaningless New Age mumbo-jumbo, a mixture of inane buzzwords, non sequiturs and circular reasoning. Maybe idiots like him because he's not saying anything at all, so each idiot can pretend that the "old wise man" is confirming his own ideas. Have you ever noticed how idiots listen an Alan Watts video and then they feel themselves wise, mature and learned?
>> No. 28408 Anonymous
16th April 2019
Tuesday 7:45 am
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It just showed up on my YouTube front page straight after I was googling about the lack of an inner voice. I wonder if google can feed YouTube recommendations when it does things like that but then I'll get one based on something I was only thinking about which is always an odd experience.
>> No. 28409 Anonymous
16th April 2019
Tuesday 7:46 am
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Spell-check is fine with the lack of capitalisation in google but protests at YouTube. I guess because google is a verb now. I've heard someone say "youtube it" but it hasn't caught on the same.
>> No. 28410 Anonymous
16th April 2019
Tuesday 8:24 am
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>> No. 28422 Anonymous
17th April 2019
Wednesday 11:45 am
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How much time have you spent listening to his ideas?
>> No. 28423 Anonymous
17th April 2019
Wednesday 11:59 am
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I'm a different poster but do people predominantly listen to him now? It's funny he died in 1973 but is a YouTube and podcast star. I normally think of YouTubers as being the most vapid people on Earth.
>> No. 28424 Anonymous
17th April 2019
Wednesday 12:02 pm
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His work is still relatively popular but not predominant in any sense of the word.
>> No. 28425 Anonymous
17th April 2019
Wednesday 12:05 pm
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I meant I was wondering whether many more people listen to him rather than read his books.
>> No. 28426 Anonymous
17th April 2019
Wednesday 12:09 pm
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You sound a bit like that guy who was awaiting a lung transport and got banned for being a grumpy cunt. (Although I kind of thought he had the right to be a grumpy cunt, considering.)
>> No. 28427 Anonymous
17th April 2019
Wednesday 12:54 pm
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I think that they almost certainly do.
>> No. 28428 Anonymous
17th April 2019
Wednesday 9:00 pm
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>Also, I do dream in images.
Ah, right. I was wondering about that.

I wonder if dreams are (therefore) a different part of the brain. Dreaming is like being plugged into the Matrix, it replaces your sensory function entirely, which isn't quite the same as conjuring mental images while fully conscious.

Ooh, interesting thought - if you dream and then wake up, you can't imagine what you were just seeing, even though it was a product of your imagination in the first place. Now that's some fuckery.
>> No. 28429 Anonymous
18th April 2019
Thursday 2:52 am
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>if you dream and then wake up, you can't imagine what you were just seeing

I can. Unless I really try and preserve it, the image fades quickly. In some memorable cases, I remember dreams from 15 years ago.

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