I recently became aware of Aphantasia, and knew instantly that I fit somewhere within the boundaries. I’m not sure how to categorize it.
Ever since I was very young, I have always had a vivid imagination. I can remember mostly everything that I have seen. I even used to watch tv programs within my head during classes at school. None of this sounds like Aphantasia from what I have written so far. I’ll try to put it all together soon.
My recall/imagination, while vivid and colourful, is not under my conscious control. While I can watch a 30 minute tv show (in detail) in my mind, I have no way to call it up, pause, or study it. I can’t even see basic shapes when I try to recall something. Everything is black. Whatever is in controls of my recall, I have no conscious control of it.
If someone asks me a question about something that I know or have experienced, I rarely have an answer right away. But then 2 minutes, 20 minutes, a day or two, or even a week or two later, the answer pops into my mind, and it is correct almost every time. My brain works at finding the answer, which is tucked away somewhere in my memory, and it does it without any conscious effort. The answer shows up without any preliminary bridge or thought associated to/with the original question, but I am aware of the question when I finally find the answer. Usually, the person who asked the question no longer cares about the answer, given the lag time.
Generally, most types of answers or memories that are not stored pictorially come to me almost instantly. I’m good at trivia, math and word puzzles. My spelling is near perfect. I used to win the spelling bees at school, but I barely passed English, because I never could recall the terms and rules, or for that matter, what I had read just a minute before.
When it comes to names or faces, I am lost, unless I meet the same person or hear the name many times. I can’t even remember the name of a person with the same first name as mine, until I have met that person multiple times. When it comes to waiters, cashiers, or other people that I meet, I forget their names and faces almost immediately.
So, that basically it. I can’t recall any pictures or faces in my mind on request – Not even my daughter. But, Very complex images are stored somewhere in my brain, and they pop up at random. They don’t stay there for me to study. It’s more like a moving picture that I have no control over. These images sometimes show up at inopportune times, such as in the middle of a conversation with another person.