“I think I have aphantasia, but I’m not sure…”
I’ve got this question a lot since Aphantasia was first covered in the NYT, 2015. People reaching out on facebook and twitter to learn more about the experience.
It’s hard (or impossible) to diagnose verbally. The nature of the aphantasia experience makes it a self-diagnosis. 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, you remember both their smile and the happy emotion that goes with it. What do you “see”?
Aphantastics don’t fall on this spectrum. There’s no visual representation of that person at all. That visual ability isn’t present… We only “know” that we’re thinking about them. 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.
I’ve put together the VVIQ (Vividness of Visual Imagery Questionnaire) on this page: VVIQ in an attempt to help people determine their visualization abilities. It’s rough, but should at least point you in the right direction!