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How do I know if I have Aphantasia?

DiscussionsCategory: QuestionsHow do I know if I have Aphantasia?
Tom EbeyerTom Ebeyer Staff asked 1 year ago

Give this a shot.. close your eyes and think of someone whom you care deeply about. 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"?

VVIQ is a proven psychometric instrument and the go-to measurement used by researchers and scientists studying aphantasia. You can take the quiz here. 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.

The key thing to understand is that aphantastics, people with aphantasia, don’t fall on this imagination spectrum. There’s no visual representation of people, places or familair objects at all. That visual ability isn’t present… but it’s not just visual imagery that it’s impacted. It’s all sensory experience in the mind (sounds, smells, tastes, etc).

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 or other sensory imagery. It isn’t as bad as it may sound, it comes with many strengths.

Here are some key readings to get you started:

  1. Think of a Horse, Describing Aphantasia
  2. Vividness of Visual Imagery Quiz (VVIQ), Advantages & Disadvantages of Subjective Measures
  3. Binocular Rivalry Experiment (BR-X), Identifying Aphantasia Objectively

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