How do I know if I have aphantasia?

Give this a shot.. close your eyes and think a close friend or relative. Make sure they’re not in the room with you!

Think about the contours of their face, their happy smile, a time you remember laughing together. As you think about this person, are there any visual representations of them in your mind? It could be dim and vague, a little fuzzy; or it could go the other way and you see them bright and clear as if they are with you in this present moment, you remember both their smile and the happy emotion that goes with it.

What do you “see”?

People with aphantasia do not see any images at all. There’s no visual representation of people, places or familiar objects. We can’t experience something outside the present moment we only “know” that we’re thinking about them.

Using the example above, we can recall details of the person, biographic or physiological descriptors, and even remember events when they did smile brightly. But there are no visuals. It isn’t as bad as it may sound, it comes with many strengths – strengths we are only just beginning to understand.

You can take a more complete quiz here. VVIQ, the Vividness of Visual Imagery Quiz is a proven psychometric often used by researchers studying aphantasia. It’s a helpful starting place for your own discovery, but keep in mind this is based on subjective reporting, there are other ways to measure aphantasia objectively and the research in this space is still in its infancy.

Here are some key readings/media to help you get started:

  1. What is aphantasia? 
  2. Think of a Horse, Describing Aphantasia OR Think of a Horse, CBC Radio interview
  3.  Learn more about Vividness of Visual Imagery Quiz (VVIQ)

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