It feels like a dream, since only my dreams are this vivid and scary.

I just found out I’m Aphantasia and although it finally makes sense, it is scary. I have never been able to visualize stuff in my mind and this has also affected some of my friendships because when I meet a person for the first time, my mind doesn’t see them again until I see them physically and before then, I have forgotten their name and we have to start over.

Before I got a name to this, I’ve always felt I was stupid, I had poor memory and I blamed myself for a lot, but now it makes better sense. I don’t know how to completely feel but I hope I can get over feeling like less of myself. I am a writer with two self published books and I’ve always hated writing and reading descriptions. I struggle with writing descriptions and it has always made me feel I wasn’t a good enough writer. I understand better now. How did anyone deal with accepting that they have Aphantasia but it doesn’t make them less of who they are?

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Hi Elizabeth,

I’m 59 yo and it’s been about 5 years ago, I found out about aphantasia and how I am affected by it. Let’s say: I’m a hardcore aphantasiac, like zero on the scale. No pictures, no sounds, no physical sensations, I only phantasize in inner monologues or dialogues, it’s just words.

I vaguely realized what differs me from most other people I knew a long time ago,  but I saw myself as a freak, and in no good way. I never met anyone without “a mind’s eye” except for somebody with severe mental and substance abuse problems, so rather nobody to identify with.

The mere fact it has a name and affects quite may others (2% of the world population is a LOT of people) has done me nothing but good. In general I have a better understanding for my abilities and disabilities.

What you wrote about reading and writing descriptions is exactly what I experienced from an early age on. I would always skip any form of description, so I never really “understood” what most of Edgar Allen Poe’s work was all about 😉 Otoh I started reading Dostoevsky at a young age and really “got” the inner monologues as if they were inside my mind. I would like to know what a vivid dream feels like but I’m glad I’m not haunted by painful memories the same way as people with a mind’s eye often are. The fact that I only phantasize in words has helped my verbal skills a lot I would say, so all in all knowing about (my) aphantasia has helped me feeling “normal” quite a lot.




I share the reading and writing experience of descriptions. Waste of space when reading and did not realise I did not in my writing until (many years ago) a writing group member pointed out what she saw as my difference. “You never describe anyone.” The rest of the group protested as each had visualised my characters and, interestingly, each were different. I took that as having the knack of eliciting visions in the minds of others and regarded that as a gift. I create images from my abstract imagination and other see whatever it is they see:

Those of you aboard my ship

prepare yourselves for a long, long trip.

Do not grumble as we pass the shore.

This is what I ask you

be thankful for the rescue

as I sail the seven seas forevermore.


Settle in for a long, long ride.

Your fare is paid with all your pride.

Know the measure of the ticket you have bought.

Travel now in peace or your journey will not cease

and do not leave this ship before your port.


When you sit down at my table

teach me all that you are able

add your store of knowledge to my hoard.

My ship is called “The Comet”, I shall live my life upon it

Only through learning am I never bored.


Once I sailed this ship alone

searching for my final home

then was told that this was not to be.

Now I understand the message, I carry those who need a passage,

Devil’s refugees on a rescued Destiny.


Those who were stolen, snared or sold

can throw their cargo in my hold

as they jump from the dark side of the moon.

I keep a peaceful ship for the quarrelsome soon slip

on decks holystoned to Heaven’s tune.


There will be times you are afraid

and think mistake has been made

as I steer into the dark of darkest awe,

but in all worlds must be seen, my lanterns red and green

as I sail the seven seas forevermore.

So sad you always felt you were stupid. You are NOT less of yourself! difference is not detriment. There are positives to not wasting mental energy in postulating one’s future life/well-being/whatever in creating what others call their ‘dreams’ which are ACTUALLY wishful thinking fantasies liable to disruption/destruction when confronted with a reality over which they have no control. Far better to work on reality as it presents itself without having to cope with the disappointment of destroyed dreams.

As for intelligence: I am lucky to be of a generation when we had weekly tests at school and were placed in the classroom according to our results. Although never top, I was always within the top group sitting at the back of the class. A teacher told me I had missed a scholarship place to prestigious high school by one point, hoping i would not be disappointed. I knew my parents would take the money instead so accepted the result.

Early twenties, babysitters, arranged I sit a MENSA test. 136 so not Mensa material. Mid-forties, sent by psychiatrist to psychologist for assessment prior to individual therapy. My memory enabled successive backward repetitions of nine numbers before he stopped asking me. At same session when told to place images in order to create a story I asked which of the two stories to be told this the first time anyone had told him two stories from same set of images. Later, in a very roundabout way (nurse bragging to a friend of mine) my score in adult WAIS was 170 = genius. No-one has said so to my face and in fact my eldest son (whose IQ is with top 2%) told me that test is rather soft. So? I don’t know. But if I am, it is down to an exceptional memory – not visual as such, but I can place people/conversations way back in time with a degree that has been embarrassing for some! Best keep my mouth shut? 

As for feeling less than who one is? No way! Different yes. Like from another (and better) planet? Yes. Less emotionally involved? Yes. But not lacking empathy sourced from abstract understanding of suffering.

Can I guess? Are you good in crisis situations? Jump in instinctively knowing what to do because your brain is focused on the reality of the moment and not cluttered from coping with the shock of unmet expectations?

As for not recalling meeting someone for the first time – so what? When you next meet that is because they will be worth remembering? 

I just found out about a year ago that I have aphantasia. I suck at reading and growing up in school we were required to read a certain amount of book in a certain time and I always struggled with completing it. I thought well maybe I suck at reading and my family thought I had dyslexia because it was so challenging to read. When I found out my parents thought there was something wrong with me and there wasn’t I got upset because I felt like I was the problem. Finding out I had aphantasia kinda made me feel better because it finally made sense on why I sucked/hated reading. 

Aphantasia is a superpower

You ever see something gruesome or disturbing in social media, and someone writes “Now I’ll never get that out of my head.” Guess what? As soon as I scroll past – It is gone! It’s not coming back. 

And, I don’t know about you, but since I don’t have an interest in reading fictional descriptions, I skip them. I skip a lot of reading. A LOT. I really just skim. But, I can skim something and tell what’s going on. I only read at two speeds – very slow trying to pretend to understand descriptions, or very fast, and skip that stuff. 

Not knowing what a person looks like is also associated with face-blindness. I have some of that. I am good with voices though. I have to work through context clues and other possibilities to figure out if I know someone, and who they are. If I meet new people, especially if it is a group where I’m going to meet lots of people, I will say, “Nice to meet you. I’m meeting a lot of new people tonight, so please forgive me and remind me if I don’t remember you quickly.” or something like that. 

As for writing. I can’t help. I can’t do descriptions. Good luck.