We use the example "think of a horse" to describe aphantasia to people who… well…sometimes just don’t get it.
You can read more about our approach here
How have you learned to describe aphantasia? What approaches, strategies and tools have you tried?
My approach was telling someone "imagine a beach" and tell them to rate how clear the image is from 1-10. With a couple of friends of mine, they usually vote around 6/7, which includes two writers and an artist. Then I tell them that I’m a solid 0 on that sliding scale, that I don’t see anything. Usually that gets the idea across, but having a visual with the "imagine a horse/apple/star" is helpful as well!
I always ask people to imagine a dog and ask what breed it is. I do this after a conversation with a friend discussing my aphantasia and my friend asking me to do that. I could say okay to the dog, as obviously I know what a dog is but was completely thrown when asked what breed it was. Obviously I know breeds but being aphantastic I had no concept that my dog would be a breed. But it makes sense, if you visualise a dog, logically speaking, it would be a specific breed of dog.
I generally try to explain what it actually feels like for me, but most people still don’t quite understand that, so then I ask them to picture something in the head (it varies depending on who I’m talking to, but it’ll usually be something like a specific animal, or a scene from their favorite book or movie). I then ask them to rate how clearly they were able to see what they imagined and how vivid it was, with 10 being as clear and vivid as normal vision, or even clearer, and 1 being almost no picture at all. Most people I have asked have said they’re between 5 and 8, most often 6. I then tell them that for me it’s about a 0 or -1, and that it’s the same for every sense except hearing. Most people then ask what it’s like with hearing for me. I tell them to imagine birds chirping or their favorite song, and again rate their imagination on a scale of 1 to 10, focusing on how clear the sound is and how much it’s like the real thing, with 10 being exactly like it is right next to them, and 1 being almost no sound, very unclear, and/or completely unlike the real thing. ("How well can you hear individual chirps/notes? The singer’s voice (if they are imagining a song)? How much does it sound like the real thing?") Once again they usually rate it between 5 and 8. I tell them for me it’s a 1 because it’s unclear and very distorted.
On one occasion, my use of this strategy actually helped a friend discover that they too were aphantic, so that was cool.
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