Is aphantisa part of a larger memory or brain function issue?


Could all these conditions be related:

Aphantasia, ADHD, Dyslexia, Amusia, Severely Deficient Autobiographical Memory (SDAM)?

Since school I have known that I was dyslexic – I can’t spell phonetically, I either know a word or I don’t, I also knew I was tone deaf and have struggled to speak foreign languages and can’t sing.

Then in my 20’s I started to realize that I couldn’t recall events, places I had visited, books I had read, films I had seen, peoples names or faces – I have no images of them nor any memory of them. Most of my memories of past events are from having seen  photos of them or from hearing someone else talk about them, but I recall very few actual details. At work I have been aware that I always start tasks from scratch as I can’t recall what I did last time, however I am able to understand a problem quickly, see the big picture, and come up with creative solutions.

I also live in a world of post it notes, lists, clutter and unfinished projects.  When I was 55 I read an article of how ADHD presents in women and immediately knew this was me and was subsequently diagnosed.  

Now five years later I have discovered these conditions all have names: severely deficient autographical memory,  aphantasia and amusia (plus dyslexia and ADHD). These help explain a lot of what I “suffer” –  I find it extremely debilitating to not be able to join in conversations with friends and work colleagues, because when they start talking about things they have done, seen, read, which I know I have also done, I simply can’t recall / picture any details to enable me to join in the conversation.

I would love to get answers to what is going on in my brain.

Do any of you also have all of these conditions?

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Total Comments (6)

Hi Gwen. Yup, I have aphantasia and ADHD (but am undiagnosed – and am wondering whether I might be autistic too, who knows! I can see certain traits but then there is an overlap between ADHD and autism). I also suspect I have SDAM as my memory long-term memory is really patchy and I remember hardly anything from my childhood or even more recent past. I’m currently doing a small-scale study into aphantasia & hypnosis and quite a few of my (aphantasic) study participants also have some kind of neurodiversity or suspect they do (as they’re from the generation which was rarely diagnosed!). I do believe there’s a connection between neurodiversity and aphantasia. There’s one paper on aphantasia and autism showing that there is a link there (by Dance et al. 2021) and while I don’t know of any research on other forms of neurodiversity (such as ADHD) I strongly suspect there is a general link between neurodiversity and aphantasia. Hope this helps! You’re definitely not alone in the experiences you’ve described here 🙂 

Yeah, diagnosed with ADHD (Inattentive) in 2018, accidentally stumbled on aphantasia a year later when i was getting frustrated while doing training in hypnotherapy!  It was there that I discovered that people actually “see” (smell, feel, hear, etc) when they talk about visualising…

When the facilitator asked me to describe my bathroom I could in detail but it was because I “know” where everything is, like a blind person in a familiar space.

The memory issue may be more SDAM though as I have an almost (for really the want of a better word) photographic memory of events in my life, and not all of them significant.  Books, movies I will recall in abstract detail without imagery.

Interesting to know that aphantasia doesn’t always affect memory. I must have drawn the short straw!

I am very glad that there are others  like me out there. I can totally relate to all you said. 

To me, this aphantasia condition or whatever this is feels like a prison, I can never get out of. It ruined my entire life. School, highschool, friendships, finding my way – it was all so difficult and exhausting because of all the extra hours I had to do after school to memorize things, write them down in small bits. And the worst, nobody ever believed me. They even said I was lazy… Can you imagine that? 






I totally understand. I have found it more of an issue as I have got older, particularly with friendships, as I think people expect you to remember more about your past.

I could have written this! I’ve know since I was a teenager that I couldn’t picture people or retell stories or movies…the first awareness was when my grandma died. I was trying to visualize her and just couldn’t!!  I could tell you all about her and associated feelings, along with our shared experiences but no visual of her!!

That was the start of lifelong frustrations in so many facets of my life!!   If someone asks me to describe something, I can’t because unless I have a photo to look at, I never was able to register “it” in the first place.     


I could probably write a book!


Hope you get this!




Aphantasia, ADHD, Dyslexia, Amusia, Severely Deficient Autobiographical Memory (SDAM)?

I had to look up amusia…  I can’t play an instrument or carry a tune in a bucket. But, I can hear them. And, I can recognize voices. Really well. I can recognize most actors not by appearance but by voice. 

I don’t think I have dyslexia, a little adhd, definitely have SDAM and aphantasia. 

I can empathize (actually I “can’t” really empathize, but I know what you mean) with not recalling things. 

With friends or at work, I’m more focused on what is going on now, and will be going on vs. what happened. When they start talking about stuff, I often extrapolate to what will/could happen.