“Boy, I wonder what it would look like to be inside your mind for one minute”


I’ve gotten that a lot during my life. Brainstorming sessions, discussion groups, group project discusssions. And I have just retired after being a professional illustrator/designer for the past 40 years.

I have always been prasised for my ability to ‘imagine’, to come up with ideas that are original and creative. But until recently, I just thought my ‘imagination’ was more active than average. I had no idea that when people talk about visualization, they really meant it.

Nope. Nothing up my sleeve — or behind my eyes. Yes, I dream visually. Even vividly at times. I just cannot pass the mental imagery test. I have taken an aphantasic test that used 3d model questions– but I just analyzed the perspective properties and relationships, and short memorized my way to the answers.

I have investigated some of the ‘cures’ for aphantasia and have experienced some notable results. But, nothing that really ‘stuck’. I have also played around with lucid dreaming with some success, but it meant finding ways around the ‘visualizing’ instructions most how-tos include. But it has taught me that there is a ‘stage’ in the sleep/dream sequence that if you get it just right, you suddenly have almost full conscious control of a visualizing power.

Those episodes, though few, have been amazing, and as a visualizing creative, I would love to be able to conjure up that state at will, as it appears, so many who do not have this condition can easily do without any problem at all.

Still, I have also read that many other creative, and highly visually-creative people are (or were) aphantasic. So maybe there’s a compensatory mechanism at play here?

In any case, knowing about my ‘handicap’ has given me some understanding of why certain teaching methods have always failed miserably with me, so that’s some relief.

Any other visual aphantasic creatives out there experimenting with ways to explore this condition? I’d be very interested to hear others’ stories.

You must be signed in to comment

I am very curious as to how to imagine things. How do you recall memories? Which one of the senses do you use to recall memories? Asking because I am working on a memory recall project and I recently discovered not many people can visualize things the way I do. But I still want to help those people through my work. Can you share your process of a memory recall or imagination?