I can “picture” things but not “see” them?

Hello, I’m 25 and just realized I have aphantasia. At least, I think I do. When I close my eyes, I see gray/black. I can only see the literal back of my eyelids. So if you ask me to imagine an object, physically I do not “see” anything directly in front of me. But then how do I know what the object looks like? I feel like I can almost picture it further back in my mind. It’s more of a concept? 
If you asked me to imagine my mother, I know what she looks like. I can pick details about her skin, her eyes, what she usually wears, etc. but it doesn’t feel like a whole image? I would have to think of those things individually to “visualize” it. 
So I think I may be on the spectrum of aphantasia? Does it make a difference if my eyes are open vs closed? I guess if I can’t tell if I do or do not,  it means I probably have it to some degree. I really only discovered this today, like, an hour ago lol. I’m seeing my therapist Monday and will ask if she knows anything about it. But it’s a bit fascinating either way, because I think I’ll be able to explore how my own mind works better than before!

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Hello Nyila, thanks for sharing your experience!

Most people physically see black when their eyes are closed.” Visualizing with your mind’s eye” is not like real “seeing with your eyes” but comparing the image in your head (if you are able) with how you know it looks in real life can help identify where you might fall on the spectrum of visual imagination.

Your point about “almost picturing it” further back in your head is where the important nuance is. It sounds like you may experience more dim or very vague imagery? Which might be indicative of hypophantasia, or “almost aphantasia.”

We have some great resources you can explore further, I’d recommend: 
Evaluating the Mind’s Eye
Understanding the Nuances of My Aphantasia
Discovering You: Therapy and Aphantasia

Hope these are helpful to you in your self-exploration! You’re right, discovering aphantasia, offers us all a window of perspective into our internal worlds to better understand our own minds. Quite fascinating, indeed! 

I really like your statement “I feel like I can almost picture it further back in my mind. It’s more of a concept?”

It’s the same with me. I have no problem with drawing shapes, describing them or with spatial orientation or anything like that. I verbally guided other people to do visualization exercises – but I can’t create images in my mind … for me it’s something like a concept … 

Mind’s Eye,Visualization and Memory = void (?)

VVIQ Test = No image at all, I only “know” I am thinking of the object. I “know” the characteristics (color, shape) of the object.


Your choice of words interesting “picture” instead of “see”. I’m 65 and only recently became aware of that I have full aphantasia. I’ve been trying to choose words that fit better than “see.” Most often I’ve been replacing “see” with “remember.”  I “know” what things look like, and I don’t need to “see” them to describe something.