Can dreams be a way of visualization for people with Aphantasia?

So I have Aphantasia and I was doing research on dreams and how common they are for my psychology class. I started to ask my family (father, mother, and sibling) how often they dream and remember their dreams. They all said that this was not common for them. I, on the other hand, remember about 60% of my dreams with perfect detail and can recall details, 38% of the time, I can recall pieces of the dreams, and, only once in a while, not remember any part of the dreams. I also know when I thought of these aspects of the dreams in the weeks prior.

My hypothesis is that dreaming is my way of visualization since I cannot. I need to do more research and was hoping for input, opinions, or thoughts. I am hoping for all the help I can get to come up with a working conclusion. This could be a waste of time but it cannot hurt to try.

Thank you

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Hi Torin,

My experiences with Psychedelic, particularly with Ayahuasca for over a decade of regular usage, led me to return to academia and  get a Masters in Transpersonal Psychology a few years ago. Altered states of consciousness from entheogens (Plant Teachers) allows me to experience directly visual information whether my eyes are open or closed. I find it fascinating to “see” the energetic and geometric overlays to Reality. No aphantasia during these states!

You are on to something with your quest for understanding and exploring dreams! What might help you gain a different perspective is to realize that the “process” of Consciousness is the EXACT SAME THING for waking and sleeping. We make an artificial distinction due to the duration of our “blinking”. Fast blinks, you are “awake”-real slow blinks and you are “asleep”. All of sensory input is “imagined”. When I teach Psychology at University, I challenge the students with the statement; You NEVER hear me, see me, or touch me! All of are sensed based data which is imagined. There is NO direct conduit for information or sensation to enter the brain-pan. Example; If I was actually “touching” these key as I type this there would be small nuclear explosions as the atoms from my fingers interacted with the atoms of the keyboard. Instead, I am registering the repellant energetic fields of both and creating the “illusion” of touch. When you “hear” someone speak, the acoustic waves of their voice has literally travelled THROUGH every molecule of air between you and then uses the tympanic membrane to transfer these waves into the water in the inner ear and these waves vibrate two bones and this vibration is imagined/translated into “sound”. But you NEVER hear the person in a true sense-that is why your voice sounds different to you when it is recorded and played back. I share this to allow you to realize that due to the “processing time” of sensed based information-we are NEVER “present” in the moment with regards to waking-time. We operate from the “past” then when we are in waking consciousness.

When we “dream” during sleep-this processing time is not required. Our minds can ‘imagine” in the “present moment”-or at least closer. This shift in relationship to TIME is critical in understanding dreams better. A fifteen minute nap according to linear clock-time allows you to experience a dream that spanned days during this 15 minutes. When you ask others about their dreaming and they report little or nothing-it is because they are not giving that aspect of consciousness attention like you are. Part of the reason you are attracted to Psychology. I have been mentored on “watching” my mind for 30+ years. For decades I made a note EVERY hour on what I was thinking and feeling (the feeling/emotion part is more important than the cognitive-but psychology focuses on cognitive because it is impossible to quantify or qualify LOVE or FEAR). During this, I also keep a dream journal next to the bed and record them in the dark and before “moving” because aphantasia makes it hard to recall them. This journaling of waking and sleep is used to accept greater responsibility for my thoughts and feelings. To actualize the concept that NOBODY can make you angry or happy-that you CHOOSE the emotional state-is very empowering! 

If you really want to plumb the depths of your psyche-after you integrate your dream for Jungian meaning-ask yourself the NEXT real question; “Of all the dreams to have, WHY did I create this one?”. This will take you down the Rabbit Hole for sure. If you can manage it, look at waking Reality as a “dream” and integrate/process it like you do a dream. After all, the process of “waking” and “dreaming” both follow the same parameters. Sort of like the parable of Lao Tzu wondering if he dreamed he was a butterfly or is he a butterfly dreaming he is a man.

You are on the right track-just you are making false or arbitrary distinctions that are muddying the waters. If you care to engage more, let me know. You can email me at; 

Dear Torin, I have the same experience as you (I have Aphantasia but I am a vivid dreamer).

Out of interest, do you see clear image and colours in your dreams?

My dreams are usually in B&W, although they are not perfectly clear, I can remember things like the buildings are in round shape, and I know the people that I ‘met’ in my dream.

Keen to hear about your experience.




Hello Ja W,

I see clear images and very vibrant colors in my dreams. I can still remember what they looked like, though I cannot “see” it like visual memory. Often, I can remember extremely specific details like colors on paintings on walls or other odd details. Then, I remember, or find, when I thought of that aspect of the dream.

I would like to hear more about your dreams to see a comparison, if this is ok.

Thank you

Hi there!

I dream a lot, and  with so much detail. I can see, hear, and smell in my dreams and I remember my dreams almost every night. 

I dream a lot too.

Are your dreams colourful? Mine is mostly Black & White, not as exciting as Torin…

that’s really interesting. My dreams are definitely not colourful as yours, but it’s always very vivid.

In general, I feel like I didn’t get much sleep as I feel like I dream all nights, every single day, and it’s a very tiring feeling as I am always ‘active’ or ‘doing’ something in the dreams.

Are you dreams mostly ‘fictional’ or based on memories?




My dreams are often based on fictional situations (time travel, magic, mythology, spirits, etc) but only take place in locations I know well (school, home, parks) or places I know by heart (titanic, parthenon, etc). It’s an odd thing.

What about your dreams? I’m curious if this is odd. 

How do I know if I dreamt in “vision” or not?
The few times I do remember dreaming, I do remember having seen & heard things. But dreams being how the brain deals with memories; yeah … I have seen & heard stuff IRL. A mix of the memory of having seen things doesn’t mean I have seen new things during the night?

So, me having the memory/feeling of having seen&heard things in dreams; have there been fMRI studies on sleeping aphantasia ppl? Otherwise, I don’t see how this could be an actual thing? If we don’t have connections through the visual cortex etc for memories, why would there be for this?

In the end, it doesn’t matter much, I guess. But it’s interesting. Especially how everyone seem to think the physics doesn’t work the same when they are asleep and when they are awake? 😀 

Actually i’m quite sure i can dream both visually and non visually, the reason why is as easy as this: one of the best feeling in my life was dreaming of me being in a forest full of vivid colors (something similar to the environment of the film Avatar) and secondly because when i dream visually i remeber colors that’s how i can swear i was able to do something i could never do while asleep!