Just found out I’m aphantasic at 68

I chanced upon a radio programme last week about aphantasia and was absolutely gobsmacked to find out that most people can really visualise things!  All these years I thought everyone only saw darkness when they closed their eyes.   It’s blown my mind.   I asked my husband what he sees and he’s the same as me but when I told him what it’s like for other people he just wasn’t bothered saying that he’d lived this long without seeing things, so what? 
But he’s never spent hours in the library reading books about improving your memory or reaching your goals (book – ‘visualise yourself doing the thing you want to do’,  me – ‘I am vaulting over a gate’.  He hasn’t been to a yoga class or antenatal class with the relaxation bit – ‘imagine you’re on a beach with the sun shining down on you’, me – I’m on a beach and the sun is shining’ thinking I could be at home doing something.  He isn’t reading a book at the moment about breathing that wants you to focus on the inside of your body (?!).  
I was telling a friend about it and she says she was on that beach soaking up the sun, dipping her toes in the sea (what!).  I asked her to think about a horse and when I asked her what colour it was she said it was brown.  Then said, ‘ And now a white one and a black one are here.’   They’re moving!  I thought maybe you might see a picture of a horse and that was it. 
I can’t help but feel I must have missed out on a lot ( but then at least I’ve only just found out so have been oblivious to it till now), and wonder if I would have achieved more with my life.                                
On the plus side I’m not a worrier and I think maybe that’s because I’m not imagining any catastrophes.   
My son moved to Canada when he was 25 ( I’m in England) and my daughter has been to far flung places on holiday and people would say to me that I must be worried about them and I would say I was because I didn’t want to seem uncaring, but really I wasn’t worried because I didn’t think of anything bad happening.  That might just be me though and nothing to do with being aphantasic.  Does anyone else think the same?

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I am aphantasic and like you was surprised to find out that people actually saw things in that minds eye. I still worry though, but not about imagined catastrophies. No news is good news.

However, there is a possible social issue here. A few years back I was robbed at gunpoint. I was with about a dozen people but it was me and my girlfriend who were the ones actually robbed. Once it was over most of the others were all upset or crying but not me. I told them, we were not shot so let’s go and get a beer.

I can only suppose that the others were running a movie on their minds about what could have happened to them. I can not do that. I did notice that the others were surprised by my reaction and nobody else was up for a beer.


I was 80 when I first discovered that when people said – you see what I am saying – that they actually were expecting me to see whatever they were describing. Being aphantasic hadn’t stopped me becoming a pilot and teaching people to fly although since I found out others have wondered how I managed without being able to “see” in my “mind’s eye”. 

However, having been injured in a car accident as a passenger and in a  mishap with a helicopter as a pilot I agree with Paul that the inability to visualise these and other upsetting events has meant that they did not affect me afterwards either.

Yes I agree that it’s definitely a plus in not being able to visualise  upsetting events.                                  When I was in my twenties I was reading a book (can’t remember what it was now) in which a young lad had a pet rat and someone did something real cruel to the rat.    It really upset me for months but I dread to think what it would have been like if I had visualised it.                            

I am 67 and just learned about this. I asked my wife, brother, both kids, several co-workers and was stunned to find out that they all see these images. Apparently it hasn’t been a big deal for me. I’ve worked in a very visual/color based business for 25 years and its never been an issue.

Hi Gill,
I’m 60 and have recently listen to probably that same podcast regarding aphantasia. What a revelation! Your comment the end of your message resonated with me, as both my children are now abroad living and I get asked the same question about whether I worry about them. Again like you I don’t visualise anything bad happening to them and because I’m a believer I know God is looking after them.