Having just watched a short video about someone with aphantasia it got me thinking about myself. I am 68 and up until now have never heard of this condition but I think that I may be aphantasic. When I close my eyes, nothing, a black, blank canvas, and if I try really hard I may see a vague or partial image but mostly nada. This may explain when, over the years, people have suggested trying visualisation techniques as a growth tool I have come away totally unimpressed. For me, it comprises of someone just talking. When I look out of a window then close my eyes I do not see an image of the view, whereas my wife sees the image clearly.
However, if asked to describe a place I have been to or lived in I have no difficulty walking through the place and describing it. I do not need to close my eyes, if I did I would not see anything, but I feel this is more about memory and impressions. On the other hand, I cannot bring faces to mind and only see/feel people in a remembered situation. I move on from experiences of death and departure with little difficulty even though they are dearly loved. At first, I thought I was somewhere along the autistic spectrum but I have a very good and well-developed empathy ability.
Dreaming however is vastly different, for me when I fall asleep it is like Alice falling down the rabbit hole. It is a new, often unsettling and surreal, world where I not only see clearly in glorious technicolor but can smell, feel, taste, and hear perfectly, they are incredibly vivid and lucid. This sounds amazing but quite frankly it is exhausting as I don’t seem to get much deep sleep and wake up tired and sometimes disorientated. My wife does not dream like this. Once awake those dreams soon fade and I can no longer recall their details.
I cannot draw well unless I have something to copy but I am an artist that works in collage, not abstract but figuratively. Mostly, though, I draw with words I have written a few short stories but I prefer the medium of poetry, not about nature or beauty, but humorous, idea-driven, verse. I realise now that pastoral poetry is not my style because I can’t visualise it. I am great with words, can solve problems and puzzles and I love reading. Due to my discovering aphantasia I now realise why I skip or glaze over when I come to long descriptive passages. I just don’t see them.
Am I aphantasic, I can’t visualise, I have vivid dreams, I can’t picture faces, I would love to know?