Do i really have (visual) aphantasia?

Hello dearest community,

kind of a weird question to ask I guess. But I really can't seem to figure it out.
There are the tests and I talk to other people and from what I get there is a difference for me.

I have no clue if I just have a very weird understanding of visualizing things or
if I actually can not visualize.

While I can dream in images (that I can say for sure) my approach to this so far
was to ask people if visualizing is comparable to dreaming in any way.
At least in the sense of being able to 'observe' something.
Which led me to the more straight forward question if they can indeed observe something they visualize and describe it instead of thinking about what it might look like. Answers vary but the overall consens is, that it 'kinda' is loosely comparable to dreaming.

So here I am, still not sure if I can not visualize or if I just misunderstand the phrase 😀


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Hey Matt, your approach to comparing visual imagery experiences to dreams is interesting. Though, dreaming and “seeing” mental images while awake are different. From what we understand currently, dreaming and mental imagery likely involve different brain networks. That’s why, when determining if you have aphantasia or where you might fall on a visualization spectrum, it’s best to compare to real seeing. How does your mind’s eye compare to seeing that object before your eyes? Is it clear and lively, only somewhat clear and vivid, or are there no mental images at all? The other thing to keep in mind is that this is a very vast spectrum, with multiple factors that could influence how you might rate your internal experience. For example, familiarity with an object seems to play a role. If you’re very familiar with let’s say horses, this may impact how clear and lively you can “imagine” a horse. Whether the image is static or dynamic might also be a factor. Some can only imagine static images, while others can make the image move or rotate. Even where the visual imagery is experienced can differ among us. Some only see images in the back of their head “associators” while others can project those mental images into physical space “projectors.” There are multiple dimensions and scenarios to consider when evaluating your internal experience. The true spectrum of mental imagery is much more expansive than “seeing” vs “not seeing.” Here’s the Aphantasia Guide that might be helpful in your exploration. It has some additional thought experiments you can try on yourself and with others:

Hi Jennifer, thank you for you very detailed answer!
I took a look at the guide and it already helped a lot.

The “Ball on a Table – Visualization Experiment” kind of broke the wall for me.
It hit the spot on how I described “imagining” for myself so far.
I always have an idea of what a scene looks like and what might happen but
there are no details to it, to objects or living things.
I have to actively think about the characteristics like a decision I have to make.

This also gave me a better understanding on why my dreaming approach
is kind of misleading to me and the people I talk to. But I guess that’s the
hard thing exactly. Trying to find a way to compare something I might never have
experienced to something I very well know I have.

My curiosity in that topic is unbroken and I find it highly fascinating that
every individual is kind of trapped in their own perception and that it is
pretty difficult to get a grasp on how others “see” the world.

I am really glad this site / growing community exists.
For me it is not just about aphantasia. It’s about the mystery of the human mind
and the difficulties to find a “language” or a way to express things / facts so
that everyone can get an understanding of it.