Hi everyone,

So, I’ve been strugling a lot these past few months about the idea of Aphantasia. I’ve done a bunch of tests and read articles about this, but I can’t seem to spot a concise criteria of what it is to “create a visual image”.

My my question for all of you is the following: Do people without Aphantasia, close their eyes and see an image instead of blackness? Why do I ask this? I’m unsure whether I have Aphantasia. When I close my eyes and try to imagine something all I see is blackness, but I can somewhat recall the idea of the image. I cannot see that image in my mind, but I can “remember” it, if that makes any sense to you at all.

It feels as if I can create an image but in the backend of my mind, and I’m unable to bring it to the frontend (sorry, I’ve been working on development for some time and this analogy helps me).

Anyway, I hope someone there has found itself in the same situation as I have and can guide me on the correct path.

Thank you,

Discussion Answer #29779

I have just discovered this a few days ago and i’m trying to wrap my head around it. I understand the concept of actually seeing visual images, but i cannot see them and thus cannot really know how people experience this. I kinda feel like i found out that i’m blind in a sense.. We have 3 eyes we can see with, but i’ve only been able to use the 2 that we can percieve.

I understand that there are pro’s and cons to seeing images, i understand that seeing images when you wouldn’t want to is an annoyance. However i feel like i was not given something that i was meant to have. For better or worse, i can just feel that something is missing that should be there. Now i finally know what, but knowing it’s something i can’t fix is hard to accept.

I too want to be able to escape from the often boring and grim reality, and picture myself in a fantasy world… However when i close my eyes and try to go to sleep, i really have to be tired because all there is, is darkness and silence. And while some people that don’t have aphantasia would probably go like ‘i wouldn’t mind that’, i’m also sure most wouldn’t want to give up their 3rd eye for the sake of having some rest once in a while. That’s saying i’d gave up taste to not taste the bad stuff anymore…

I know where i’m at, i know i need to get to acceptance, but i guess it’s just too early for that, i need to be patient and learn to accept that i, and other people with aphantasia here, experience life totally different (with images!!! :s).

Discussion Answer #29701

Do people without Aphantasia, close their eyes and see an image instead of blackness?  Yes! The majority of people close their eyes and see images in their mind. Many can see those images with eyes open as well.

Discussion Answer #29700

Hi Nicolas,

I recently decided to take up meditation and it was going well until day 4 when I was asked to visualise a Dragon Fly in flight. There I am, eyes closed and in complete darkness trying to recall an image of a Dragon Fly in flight. I’m then asked to imagine the Dragon Fly slowing down and landing on a large green leaf and to use this image to guide my attention. Well, I totally lost focus at this point thinking to myself, there is no image, what is she going on about! Anyway, after talking to other people it turns out that they could see a picture of a Dragon Fly!

I went home confused and turned to my friend Google. This is the point at which I realised I’ve been on this earth for 50 years and had no idea that when my mother told me to count sheep when I was a child, people do actually see sheep! or when you were asked to picture a sunset, people actually see a sunset!

If I close my eyes and think of an Apple, I don’t see an image of an Apple, I see darkness, but I can recall what an Apple looks like. I asked my wife to do this and she could conjure up an image of an Apple! It then dawned on me that this may be why I can only draw/paint pictures from a reference.

Anyway, I’m pretty darn confused and not sure what to make of this revelation.



Discussion Answer #29696


You’re describing exactly what I see when I close my eyes and think of an object, face, landscape or any form. I see nothing – no image or picture; just darkness, or the reddish light that comes through my eyelids. However, while sleeping I dream in full colour with vivid, accurate images.

My meditation teacher thought that by practice I could improve my ability, and advised me to gaze at a simple shape – a solid circle, square or star – and then close my eyes and attempt to see it. I had no success at this.

I read that Aldous Huxley was unable to see pictures in his mind, so I feel I’m in good company.

It seems that not having the ability to see mental pictures is no more abnormal than being “tone-deaf” is abnormal. And, by the way, I have exceptional musical ability. I wonder if the mind specializes in one ability over another?

What do you mean by “the correct path”?


Discussion Answer #29614

This is the same for me.

I liken it to seeing a play you know very very well and suddenly the curtain comes down. You can’t see or hear it anymore but you KNOW what is happening.

So when I close my eyes it is only blackness.

But when I sleep and dream I “feel” like I see images.

Since discovering Aphantasia, when I first wake up I try to visualize something from my dream and I think I can actually see something, but as soon as I am fully awake, its like a black curtain comes down  and then I can’t see anything.

Try this and see if you get the same?

That might help you identify if you have it?

Discussion Answer #29380

Hi Nicolas,

I believe I fall into the Hyperphantasic and my partner falls into the Aphantasic parts of the spectrum, so we have had a lot of conversations about this.

The way we have managed to get on the same page about ‘seeing on the eyelids’ bit is through this analogy (the irony of describing a picture is not lost on me here):
When we see things with our physical eyes, it’s just the eye looking at a tree for example.

When we see things with our minds eye, our mind becomes a cinema of sorts. Our imagination is ‘Directing’ a ‘film’ and the minds eye is ‘watching’ it. My partner asked me, so which bit is the screen? where is the film being projected onto? My answer is that, some people project it onto their eyelids (metaphorically speaking I guess, but it still seems real) and others project the image onto their forehead (That’s how I do it so there’s more space – I think I started doing the forehead as a kid because then it’s easier to incorporate the other senses).

I hope you find this helpful!