Mind’s eye picture

I consider I do have aphantasia, but in the questionnaire my version isn’t included. Sometimes I can’t visualise anything but for more familiar pictures what I experience is a fleeting flash of a picture, even in colour, but it disappears before I can focus on it and I cannot consciously recall it. So not ‘no picture’ and not really ‘dim’ instead?

For this reason, during therapy, I wasted hours trying to find a Safe Place! I printed out a picture of a place I’d like to visit as a safe place but it never felt real and I could not recall it when I looked away.

Does anyone else have similar experiences with the extremely short flash of a picture?

Share this post

You must be signed in to comment
Total Comments (6)


I don’t even get the flash of image, so I find your experience interesting.  Where do you see the image relative to your normal field of vision?  Does it superimpose, or show up in another context?

Does looking up and to your left make any sense?

Do you need to shut your eyes or simply alter your mental focus?

There is so much about mental imagery that I don’t understand.  Could you help me.

Very respectfully,

My images flashes seem to appear on the right side. It feels like an invisible spirit is pulling it up and and quickly taking it away. The less I concentrate on it, the more, my inner voice can download information. As a Gemini, I have thought of it as my alter ego and I have joked that there are two of me. I actually see things better with my eyes open, and because description comes from my inner voice, quiet helps. Like when people keep sharing possible answers, I want to scream. It block the voice and images. It’s all very sensory and sometimes feels like an out of body experience.

Yes – that is my experience too. Feels like image is just about to resolve then it disappears.

Thanks for sharing your experience Patricia. VVIQ only accounts for the vividness or clarity of your mental images as compared to real seeing. It doesn’t account for our differences in the conscious control of these mental images. When you have these “flashes” how clear are they? 

Hi Patricia,

I have a similar experience.
I’ll try to describe it:

I don’t ever really ‘see’ anything at all and definitely no colours.
I’m aware of a dim black and white image but only very, very small parts of it at a time. When I try to focus on any tiny part the whole thing just disappears.

Sort of like looking at a greyscale painting in an art gallery through a long thin tube – but as soon as I try to focus the image in the tube disappears.

I have a very similar experience. I get flashes that appear so quickly, I can’t focus on them. When I try and push to see and remember, it disappears. When I let go of seeing the image and just begin to express myself verbally or in writing, my inner voice takes over and descriptions appear. For me it feels like a card catalog of photos that I have stored in my subconscious and they are only accessible when I let go of trying to see them. I also find that I’m a very kinesthetic learner. The more ways I physically take in information, the more links and images I have to pull out of my file system. 

I’m similar, I think. I consider that I have borderline aphantasia – on ‘good’ days, I may get a flash of colour or image that disappears before I ‘see’ it. On ‘bad’ days, I have nothing at all. Occasionally I will ‘know’ that I’ve thought of an image, but not actually able to recall that image at all. I find it a little easier if I’m thinking of a physical object that I have seen in reality (for example a tree for my garden), but faces/people elude me and I can’t imagine ‘made-up’ things at all.