Can aphantasia be acquired?

I am definitely in the 1% or less after taking the test.  


My question to anyone reading this is… can some people who have aphantasia have it as an acquired phenomenon?


I ask because I remember as a child (very young) having highly graphical, visual detailed dreams and Highly graphical, visual ‘day dreams’.  Today at 58yo my dreams are void of graphical content but memorable.  Is dreaming related?  

I swear I can recall as a child being able to visualize in my ‘minds eye’ while today I cannot at all.  I cannot say this scientifically since as a child I wouldn’t have known the difference.  Today I draw a black void of nothingness. 


Any input would be appreciated and interesting to hear.


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Interesting you recall experiences of imagery from childhood! Yes, aphantasia can be acquired. The majority of people with aphantasia have it since birth “congenital” or “lifelong aphantasia”. However, there are several reports of acquired cases. Rarely, can it result from a stroke or head injury. It may also occur as a result of an episode of depression. So if someone who has previously had imagery loses it suddenly, it’s reasonable to ask and attempt to learn why, says Dr. Zeman. Zeman mentions the acquired phenomenon in this Extreme Imagination Update.

You explained something important to me

Thank you for the straightforward and understandable reply,

I did suffer a long bout with with depression.  Many years of it.  Not sadness but actual clinically diagnosed depression so bad I did seek that medical attention.  I was on anti-depressants for may years, 10 years or more. Personally I feel the drugs did more harm than good.  But they helped me cope for those years.

I seem to recall not having any vivid day dreams, visualizations, or anything during my period of medication and that period of my life but I did feel better as far as the depression is concerned.  Actually more like a zombie.  No depression but less able to feel.  I now believe less able to ‘see’ my minds eye.

Did I give up the minds eye to cope with my depression?  If so I would take that period of my life back and suffer to be able to have a minds eye.

I weaned myself off the drugs with my Dr’s assistance.  I am not still perfectly  healed but I can cope with the depression on a day to day basis now.  For me now, it’s just a thing I feel day to day.  And for the last 5-7 years no mind’s eye is gone.  Aphantasia?  Drug induced?  Depression induced?

I did the experiment with my wife.  She is able to visualize anything I suggest.  I can then ask her questions about the suggested visualizations and she’s spot on with her own additions of detail.  I was amazed and depressed at the same time.  She was Imaginative and saw things I did know people could really ‘SEE’..  She can bring up details, colors, ‘Photos’ in her minds eye.  I want that back.

So, am I permanently ‘here ‘ now?  I am depressed about this.  It really sucks.  But life goes on.

Geese…  I hope the thoughts I’ve tried to explain here make sense to someone. Kind of P.O.’d now. 

I just wanted to add… Related or not, relevant or not, as a younger person, 10-20 years ago or so.  I was able to draw nicely and detailed.  I cannot not now.  When that ability was lost I do not now.  I do know the loss is real.

I was able to draw very nice detailed drawings based on what I had seen in my earlier life or imagine at the time but I cannot even come close to drawing previous memories now.


I believe the loss of that ability coincides with the onset of my GAD and clinically diagnosed and treated depression.

Definitely can be acquired. Patient MX was a case of acquired aphantasia. I believe it occurred after he had a stroke during some sort of surgery. I remember reading a little update is some article about Zeman that said he initially lost his ability to have visual dreams but that has come back.

Hi, Cne9999.  After I wrote this in the Aphantasia Network discussion, a moderator told me that acquired aphantasia is rare. I used to be able to “see” things in my mind’s eye — I remember doing a meditation in yoga class and “watching” ants go up and down the trunk of a tree in my childhood garden  — but I suddenly became blind in my mind’s eye at age 58. So I absolutely believe that you used to be able to visualize, too, and somehow lost the ability. And I do think dreaming is related somehow, as I initially stopped dreaming, or at least remembering dreams, but I often have them now (ten years later). Wouldn’t it be wonderful if, in future, we could regain this ability thanks to discoveries by researchers? Until then, best wishes to you!

I was very interested in cases of acquired Aphantasia, and began compiling a small list, looking for common vectors. My very favorite case is the first reference to the SNRI, but I never had luck chasing down the OP for further info.

SNRI drug (unnamed):

“I did have this happen after a bad reaction to trying out an SNRI… Not that there’s anything wrong with not being able to visualize, but it gave me a huge fright after having my brain work one way all my life and suddenly my ability to visualize disappeared. It was just darkness in my mind’s eye. I usually have a song (annoyingly) stuck in my head, and all the music disappeared too, it was surreal. Over the course of a few hours after taking the tablet, it was like someone – slowly but surely – was diming the lights and turning down the volume on the radio until it was all gone. Needless to say, I took all of one tablet, lol. It took 48hrs for the effects to wear off fully, just bizarre.”

Strattera (atomoxetine):

Reddit post from 2018. “been an avid daydreamer all my life, but it started affecting my school work so I was put on Straterra. I could focus a lot better but it completely killed my imagination. I couldn’t daydream at all and I feel like it changed my personality. It was upsetting so I quit after a few days. Right away, my daydreaming came flooding back. I still have trouble concentrating but I don’t want to be put on meds cause I feel like it would happen again.”

Aphantasia and Stimulants
by u/bzypxl in Aphantasia

Reddit post from 2016: “I used to take a drug called Straterra for ADHD. I noticed the primary effect of the drug was that I could no longer visualize things in my mind. It helped me pay attention since I was unable to daydream but damn did it ever make whacking it without a visual aid tough.”

     side effects post by Hannah: ““I’m only giving Strattera 2 stars instead of 1 because it worked for focus, but the side effects were horrible. The first day taking it, I felt great. I had enough energy to get through the day and I felt present and in the moment. Then the next day I started to feel really strange. I couldn’t sleep through the night. I was majorly wired. I started to not feel like myself. My head was completely empty. I felt like a zombie tbh. I didn’t find things funny and I started to lash out at people which I never do. By like day four, I lashed out at my dad and then I broke down. I cried and was becoming really depressed. When I went off of it, my imagination returned. It was kind of a scarring experience.”


Surgical Causes:

I’ve seen two separate Reddit posts from aphants claiming that they acquired Aphantasia after appendectomies. Here’s the most vivid:

“Back in March, my husband went in for a routine appendectomy and, well, it took a lot more. When he woke up he said his head was silent. No music, his voice was gone when he thought, and it was black. After 29 years his imagination, a huge part of his personality, was gone.”

HELP – surgery induced aphantasia??
by u/LastHopeHousewife in Aphantasia


Reddit post from 2018. “I was on antidepressants for roughly 8 years (Prozac). Over christmas I tapered off them and fully came off at like late Feb or something. Around this time I was able to visualize. A lot. But then it slowly got less so.

Thats not it though, I’m 22 and throughout school life I could visualize fine. I would say even more so that usual infact, I was extremely imaginative and creative. I didn’t notice but it was a slow sort of descent into not being able to visualize at all whilst on Prozac and I’m worried its possibly a permanent effect. I found out about Aphantasia about a year or so ago and it was a smack in the face realization and also the fact I can barely remember my childhood.”

Antidepressants and not always having Aphantasia
by u/KiraNinja in Aphantasia

Quora post from 2021: “Why can’t I visualize as well anymore? Is it because of my Zoloft? I started taking it a month and a half ago and was able to visualize perfectly fine before this. My memories are worsening too.”


I’ve always had it, born with it, so take this only from my discussion and research with others. Yes, trauma, surgeries, and calcification of your pineal gland can cause it.

Last, the Pineal gland not functioning correctly has been linked to Aphantasia. Based on research, fluoride in drinking water or ingesting fluoride; can get into your pineal gland and cause calcification. Your great white teeth may come at a cost if you use fluoride. 

Check out this video,  It’s posted here in the aphantasia network and I watched it just the other day.  Apparently about 70% of us still have visual dreams (if I’m remembering correctly).  He also goes into some good data about acquired vs lifelong aphantasia. Enjoy!