What Aphantasie is to me


I’m 65 and just became aware that how a saw imaginary images is different than most everyone else.  First is all, when someone would say imagine (banana or whatbever), I thought I was imagining the item as a bunch of descriptive words. I thought this was a normal for everyone. For most things in live, I have seem/experienced, I’ve unconciously build a word/metadata memory of them. I have lived without seeing images try whole life, without issue.

learning about Aphantasia, I was confused at first, but started to ask others about their images within their mind’s eye. They told me “of course I can see that banana”… etc. I would have to ask a second time, “you can actually see it and the color?” They would look at me strangely.

My closed eye exploration would manifest only a mottled gray or black background. I have lots of memories, but my memories are a metadata model of words, and maybe emotions. I am creative and can draw well using my metadata to create things. I also have written a couple fiction books without issue.

Has anyone also found your memories relies on words to form them?

Best wishes to all! 🙏

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Thats interesting; I have memories of events but I have no images – your description of metadata is a good one. 

I discover different things every day. Yesterday a friend asked “if you can’t visualise things, how can you spell “ …. I couldn’t see the connection until he explained that he sees words in his head. What the hell?! 🤯

It never even occurred to me that people see words. My friend speaks many languages including Mandarin and said that the Chinese characters are pictures so he couldn’t understand how someone with Aphantasia could learn that ….. as I don’t read Chinese I’ll leave it to someone else to explain how aphantasiacs cope with more pictorial languages (indeed I’m hopeless with any languages apart from English, despite many many hours of effort – is that a common aphantasia characteristic or just my personal defect? ;0) ). I’m still trying to get my head around people seeing simple English words in their heads; I’m surprised non-aphantasiacs manage to get anything done with all this stuff going on up there. 😉

I used to be a confident and superior speller, and could just “see” the spelling in my head. I suddenly became mind’s-eye blind 10 years ago, and my spelling worsened. I compensate sometimes by writing down my spelling guesses on paper, and can often pick out the right one, but not always. You’ve seen how people look up, or down, or to the left or right when asked a question: sometimes they are visualizing the answer that way. I’m not sure I do that anymore.

I’ve never been stellar at spelling, but in the last four or maybe five years, I’ve been using a program called Grammarly. I think its the best spelling checker available.  It sure helps.  👍🏻

My spelling is absolutely fine – though I’m sure I’d be hopeless at a US style spelling bee for longer words as if lose track halfway through. 

Every comment/response I read on this forum amazes me. Whether it’s learning about the techniques people have developed to cope with aphantasia, or learning about how “normal” people see things ….. it astonishes me 

Yes, indeed! I wasn’t born with aphantasia — I lost it overnight about 10 years ago, don’t know why — but I realized only recently that I do describe things to myself in my head to be able to recall them later, as a way of compensating for what I used to “see.” “Karina is the one with black hair in braids, hippie clothes, sings well.” “My running shoes are under the coffee table.” “The pharmacy is not on Stadium Drive, it’s on West Main.” “At James’s party most people congregated in the kitchen.” I, too, have the black/mottled grey background, and sometimes I think there’s maybe a dim, ghostly, distant image hovering in the back of the dark movie theater that used to house my mental images.