If I told you to close your eyes and picture your bedroom, I’m sure the majority of you can do that. You can probably see the color of your walls, where your bed is, and the pile of (clean?) laundry in the corner of your room. However, there are people in this world that do not have this ability. If you ask them to picture something, all they see is black. The inability to visualize something in your head is a condition called, “Aphantasia.”
I received many messages from people after my last post who reached out to tell me that they have Aphantasia. To this day, it remains largely unstudied considering that the name was coined only 5 years ago by a professor from England named, Adam Zeman.
Once again, I was puzzled by the lack of knowledge I had for what goes on in other people’s brain. It is crazy that people can live their whole life without knowing that they think differently from the majority of others around them. I received a message from a woman who said that, thanks to my post, her husband finally realized that he had Aphantasia. “People used to think he was crazy or a liar when he told them he couldn’t see images in his mind,” she told me.
Now, let me put this into perspective for you. Imagine (if you can) if a loved one passes away. Your wife, brother, friend, etc. A person with Aphantasia has the inability to picture their face and their mannerisms. The majority of the world can close their eyes and remember these loved ones, however there are people out there that lack this skill set. More questions kept coming to my mind. How does it affect their day to day life, relationships, and education? So I reached out to one of my followers that told me that they have this condition to ask them a few questions.
Below is an interview with @ginger_days_
What is Aphantasia?
“Aphantasia is the lack of imagery in the mind. There’s different degrees of it for some people. For me, I just see black in my mind. Some people can vaguely see an image, faintly, however it may fade quickly.
When did you realize you had Aphantasia and that it was not normal?
“I realized when I was young. I couldn’t picture things in my mind. But I thought everyone was the same and that when a teacher or someone told us to visualize something, I thought it was just a way of phrasing what they wanted us to do. I didn’t realize they actually meant to picture it in our mind. It wasn’t until about two years ago when I learned what Aphantasia even was.”
How did it impact your education?
“It never really impacted my schooling apart from art. I love to draw but I can’t just do it from my head. I need some sort of reference so I can check back to see what it looks like.
Do you wish you could visualize things?
“I wish I could visualize things all the time, but I find it hard to even comprehend what that would be like.”
@ginger_days_ went on to say, “I find it hard to imagine a future because I can’t see how it would look. I can’t imagine what my girlfriend will look like when I eventually marry her. I can’t imagine what we would be like with a baby. I can’t see it. I feel a lot though. I am a very emotional person.”
There are 7,794,798,739 humans on Earth, so it is very clear that everyone is bound to think a little differently. However, it has been very eye opening to realize the huge differences that we do have that I was previously unaware of. I am just glad that this topic has resulted in so many different stories and has allowed us all to talk about our thoughts. While mental health continues to be a huge burden with most people, I am just hoping this open dialogue can make a difference. I am glad we are starting to normalize talking about what exactly is going on inside of our extremely complex minds.
My interview with a person who does not have an internal monologue: