visual memory in aphantasics


There is a lot of stuff on the internet about not being able to visualize at will or at all. However, I have never seen this as a major issue for me since I rarely need to visualize an apple and in my view the only real use of the ability would be to describe the culprit of a crime I had witnessed. I would not be able to do that with any detail. Maybe size, race and gender.

In  my case Aphantasia, more than anything, is a lack of visual memory. That means a lack of memory of events not just people´s faces or the places i have lived in (which are many).

I  lived for  more than 5 years in each the UK, Canada, Spain and the Dominican Republic. Now i am getting to my point. In each of these situations it seems that someone else actually lived that time and not me. This is because of the scarcity of  visual memory of my time there. I know i lived in those places but would be hard pressed to describe any specific event or person.

For me the past is sort of black and white. Then and now, but with the Then compacted into a homogeneous unit. So one year ago and 20 years ago are essentially the same since i have almost no visual memory of either.

The consequences of this disassociation with past events are interesting. An example. I was attacked in the street last year and taken to hospital with my nose destroyed (n0t just broken) and covered in blood. a stranger found me and called the ambulance to take me to hospital. Fine so far. When i woke up the next day in a hospital bed it was already like ancient history.  Over and done with.

A similar situation occurred when i was robbed at gun point in the DR (i mentioned this event in an earlier post). I was in a group of about 12 people but it was my girlfriend and I who were the actual target of the robbery. The rest of the group were traumatized to a greater or lesser extent but I was not. I had not been injured so the robbery was already in my big bag of past events. I was ready to go for another beer but had no takers.

Now some information about me. Like a lot of people who believe they have Aphantasia I am self-diagnosed. I became aware of limited visualization skills more than 40 years ago in a course that included the Memory Palace technique. I could not even visualize the Palace never mind the objects to be remembered. I figured memorizing lists was hardly an interesting skill anyway since i could just make a written list and promptly forgot about the issue.

It was only when i saw a report on Professor Zeman´s work on Aphantasia that i connected the dots.

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