Can you heal acquired aphantasia?


Hi! I have been a big vizualizer and daydreamer my whole life without any problems. 

Now though i cant visualize at all, and i Feel like i cant daydream, because they have always been so visual. 

My aphantasia/blank mind is most likely due to psych meds and a concussion i had. The psych meds caused hypophantasia and hypovisualization, but the concussion caused total loss of visualization. 

I try to visualize and daydream or imagine, but there is just this black emptyness in my head. I really try but physically cant, and its like there is this empty pressure in the back of my head where the images used to be.  

I also struggle to hold a thought and be creative or think abstract or associative, because i cant see it in my mind. My memory is really bad, and i find it hard to relate to other people and connect with the world. 

I used to spend so much time just thinking and daydreaming, but now that i cant i feel so trapped in my mind, because there is nothing going on. Its boring and scary, and then i get frustrated when i try and fins i still cant visualize or daydream. 

Is there any way you can get visualization back if you had it good before, but then lost it? 

Will it come back naturally or is there exercises one can do?

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The only suggestions we have that this is possible is if the underlying condition which triggered it is addressed, in this case it would be your concussion most likely, there are no links to medications being a trigger that I’m aware of however there are links to psychological issues such as a bought of depression triggering it but it is rare, people tend to go on to medications when that happens so may erroneously link it to the medications due to occurring at nearly the same time rather than there being any actual causative effect. Get yourself healthy again and the visualization may return, it’s a good time to take stock of the rest of your mental landscape, meditation may aid you just in general relaxing and getting more in tune with where your mental state currently is.

Hi, Thank you for your reply. 

Is it possible to heal from aphantasia/hypophantasia caused by a concussion? Is there any specific therapy i should do? 

For me it had come on gradually. It started the same day as the concussion. I realized i could not visualize as well as before when reading. After that it only gir worse. Do you know if this is normal with concussion?

We know nothing about the mechanisms surrounding acquired aphantasia so recommending any specific treatment is impossible. Concussion itself is very poorly understood although there are plenty of commonalities each case is unique so this is a conversation you should be having with a medical Dr as far as treatment goes. In your case aphantasia is not a problem it is just a symptom of the problem the problem is what needs to be addressed if visualization is to return.

The feelings and stress the lack of visualization can create after you’ve had it for a lifetime is something that would be best addressed by a therapist. So basically just focus on getting healthy in your current state and with any luck as your physical/mental health improves the visualization may return. Concussion can linger for quiet some time which is why I recommend possibly a therapist if you can because the additional stress can make dealing with it harder and dealing with the emotional problems that can create is very important. There are almost certainly other mental changes from the concussion that you may still be having problems processing, your mind is literally different than it used to be.

One thing I would recommend is not trying to torture yourself by forcing yourself to visualize again as that could dramatically increase your stress if you’re not succeeding which can make everything downspiral worse, this will take time.

Barring therapy talking about it with others is a sort of therapy so that can be a route to take as well even in addition to any other assistance you are able to get.

I am so sorry you are going through thus experience. I dont have any answers for you. I too had a traumatic brain injury and many concussions, but donr remember if I could “see” things before or not. That must be so hard missing something you had and having no idea how to get it back! 

Adam Zeman has mentioned this briefly that if the underlying trauma that caused the aphantasia is addressed then visualization may return, but in the case of something like a concussion which can go on for years or never truly clear up it becomes difficult to say whether or not that will occur in any specific instance.

There is nothing specific to recommend other than trying to get yourself as healthy both physically and mentally as best as you can and you would probably benefit greatly either way from discussing this with a therapist as the dwelling on the lack of visualization itself could be compounding the issue and getting yourself back to a healthy mental and physical state is the best thing you can focus on.

I’ve had similar experiences of losing imagery over time. I now have total multi-sensory aphantasia, my mind is empty unless I manually think something, then it is just that thought without any sensory component just words I say to myself silently. I also have a lot of issues with memory, concentration, relating to others. I haven’t found anything that brings imagery back, but I am almost constantly daydreaming everyday, my daydreams just don’t have any of the visuals or other sensory parts (which I didn’t notice as my aphantasia developed more). I used to have some weak imagery, and it took years for it to be gone so maybe that gave me time to adapt how I daydream. My daydreams are now all through the narration I manually think. I think everyone’s dialogue, have characters narrate other characters, jumping around in the timeline of the imaginary world and characters. It helps keep my anxiety from latching onto something in my environment, as I have to manually put something into the void (daydreaming or watching/listening to videos) or my brain tries to find something to fill it with (which just ends in spirals of worrying). I don’t know if any of that was helpful. Sorry I don’t know if aphantasia is reversible. I tried to ask a mental health practitioner once and they just told me they had no idea.