Is there a cure for aphantasia?


Having only just discovered that aphantasia existed and that my non-visual cognitive processing is definitely not the norm, I’ve done some reading and found nothing in the academic literature (scant as it is) that mentions a so-called “cure.” However, I came across this site where someone claims to have found a technique that can kick start your “blank screen:”

It involves a technique called image streaming, a technique used to improve visual thinking and creativity. It involves exploring scenes in your mind by describing it in as much detail as possible, using all of your senses and verbalizing it out loud. As you verbalize the image, apparently you’ll see more.

I’m not convinced myself, I don’t think having a slowly fading image on your retina from looking at a bright light source is actually related to aphantasia so not sure it’s of relevance here. I can’t conjure up any images to even start ‘image streaming’.

It’d be interesting to know if anyone else has heard of, or tried this. I don’t feel traumatized by my discovery that almost everyone else has actual images they can conjure up, as I easily think of words to describe a scene, but it’d be nice if I had a chance to experience what it was like to create images in my head.

What do you think? Is there a cure? Have you tried image streaming? Would you want to experience it?

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Depends on why you have aphantasia.

Some people are born with it.

Some people get it through injury.

And some people develop it through trauma.

I think trauma induced aphantasia could be reversed. My therapist thinks it’s likely as well. If one can address the trauma that triggered it, the aphantasia will probably go away as well.

Sadly the trauma that caused mine is from a really early age, I’m not sure I can even access those old memories enough to really bring them to full closure. I had a visual imagination when I was very young, but since it only showed me horrifying imagery, my brain eventually shut it off.

I bet physical head/brain injury type aphantasia can be fixed too… but that’ll probably take a LOT more research to start to address.

There’s no way to determine if someone was ‘born with aphantasia’. How do you ask a 1 month old baby if s/he sees images? This is a mistake put forward by researchers such as Zeman, who coined the derogative phrase “Congenital Aphantasia”. Since he first observed Aphantasia in a brain-damaged patient, he and his team have always had a bias towards considering aphantasia as a DISABILITY, when in practice it is an ABILITY and aids clear-thinking.

There’s no way to determine if someone was ‘born with aphantasia’. How do you ask a 1 month old baby if s/he sees images? This is a mistake put forward by researchers such as Zeman, who coined the derogative phrase “Congenital Aphantasia”. Since he first observed Aphantasia in a brain-damaged patient, he and his team have always had a bias towards considering aphantasia as a DISABILITY, when in practice it is an ABILITY and aids clear-thinking.

Definitely gotta check the image streaming thing, as its the only solution available out there.

I know I have difficulty in visualization meditation (as in absolute total lack of ability to do so) from various meditation classes I had since I was young, and in a mass meditation class, I’m the only one out of 50ish participant who totally failed to do so. In the past someone told me to close my eye and imagine a flame as an exercise to train myself, but I totally failed so far to do so also.

Just FYI though. Although I dream a lot less often now, I can dream (more a factor of recall ability than occurrence), I can see images in my dream, I can drop into dreaming stage within minutes of closing my eyes and on at least a few occasion I can lucid-dream (but takes a LOT of training to get there, and I drop right out of it in seconds)

I checked the image streaming thing. Like you, I couldn’t even start. I think that’s more for people who can visualize, but want the pictures to be more vivid.

Hallucinogenics, perhaps?

I think overall for me this is the wrong question. I do not see it as a conditon or disability to cure but just a neurodivergence. A different way of thinking. I do agree however that if it is acquired from injury or trauma then it could change if healing for that issue was obtained. So that points to the deeper need to ask, is this aquired or something one is born with? Or perhaps even acquired in utero.?. Also could be both depending on the individual. For me it seems as if it has always been how I process information. Always part of my normal. Never really a problem just interestingly different. Those who process in a hyperphantasia way do not normally try to "cure" it. So why would I.

Hi Tamra, like you I see it as a difference not a disability and lived perfectly well for 50+ years without knowing it even existed so it's certainly my 'normal' – though I was surprised it isn't better known or publicised. My question was based on the fact that people out there do offer, or propose, a 'cure' and I wondered if anyone had any experience or knowledge of this happening as I'm extremely sceptical of the claims being made. I also think your comparison doesn't take into account the fact that as visualisation is the norm. Therefore, hyperphantasia being the ability to visualize very well could or would be considered a 'gift'. Conversely, aphantasia will generally be seen as a deficit, as it's something we can't do that most people can – Hence people online offering a 'cure'.

As a teenager I occasionally took psilocybin mushrooms and NEVER hallucinated. They just made me laugh alot. I never realized I had Aphantasia until I met a few genuses that were able to visualize and store items in their memory storage area. They could then go there and "see" what was stored there. Heck I can’t see anything and never have. I am an artist and I have to view photographs that I take before I can paint a landscape. I can’t imagine how the mountains or trees look like ahead of time. I do know when it looks correct on my canvas, but that’s it. It almost seems weird to me that people have a minds eye.

I realized I had congenital aphantasia late April of 2020. I am 37… I attempted image streaming but like many other was not able to conjure the first images. They did often come after 20-30 minutes of attempting to imagine in the form of like dim blu-ish, green-ish, red-ish or gray-ish (mostly gray-ish/blue-ish) clouds morphing in my mind. The images come much faster now sometimes after a few minutes or less. I’ll be honest it was very frustrating getting started. You will not achieve overnight results and likely not even after several months. I suspect this will take years depending on your age (neuroplasticity?) to literally alter the way your brain works and organizes information.
Anyway so I exclusively use eye masks in darkness to more easily identify the faintest glimpse of an image. I mostly image stream in my head not out loud or with a partner. So I try to describe the image i’m seeing just in my head. I suspect its the same thing as describing out loud? I’m theorizing that no one ever taught me to close my eyes and imagine something and to like literally hallucinate it in my head. I thought that was what happened to crazy people and was something to avoid at all costs. I remember reading a study once on taxi drivers who had developed over time physically larger areas of their brain associated with location awareness. I’m hoping this also might apply to Aphantasia. Anyway it has been roughly 8 months of weekly (sometimes daily) practice and I feel I am developing some ability to visualize. This morning I was daydreaming/visualizing/imagining whatever you want to call it and I definitely can see images of random things that are apparently on my mind. I am still unable to voluntarily conjure specific images but I am able to manipulate the rotations of some images such as blue clouds which like sort of vortex around as I imagine. Maybe 0.5% of the time (this happened a few times basically) I can see crystal clear HD TV-like images of places I have been before or seen somewhere (or maybe imagined)? One time I saw thousands of real-to-life and maybe actual people I’ve seen go throught this flip book in my head really fast. No I was not on drugs and no I was not asleep lol. This works mostly practicing before falling asleep for me. I’ve read that some people say they can only imagine before they fall asleep. I’ve tried other techniques such as looking into light and watching as the image remnants fade and sometimes alter into other forms. I do remember reading about Telsa and how his mother used to shine lights into his eyes for some kind of memory practice. I also remember reading that Telsa literally imagined and fine tuned his machinery in his head down to the bolt before implementing in real life. He also had other weird things he did like live an entire other life like in his head. Weird right? When I read that book I didn’t know about Aphantasia and thought visualizing was just some genius thing. I could probably cite hundreds of references of people (Einstein, Von Neumann, Darwin, Tesla etc.) who used their visual ability to their advantage. I’ve also tried rubbing my eyes which do generate some initial images but still haven’t helped with me self conjuring the images. Some other ideas I think may be related to aphantasia here are reading with intent to imagine. So I have recently been practicing visualizing/imagining/hallucinating? the descriptions in my head (with some success).
I would like to eventually have self-conjured imagery just as vivid as many have today. Also hoping to be able to see numbers and words and such in my future minds eye to help with various things. I’ve listened to some folks which have quite unique ways of organizing information in like this cylindrical timeline in their head. Seems like this ability will be quite useful for many functions. Trying to keep a journal of daily activities as well which help me to attempt visual recall. Anyway I plan to self study until I am able to develop the ability (which I guess could be never).. Good luck. BTW my wife arguably has Hyperphantasia so bouncing questions to here has been interesting. But it has brought a new level of understanding to our relationship. For example I now realize why she hates watching horror movies.. She is so good at decorating because she literally sees how she wants it to look before she does it. So awesome.