So I recently stumbled across an article that talks about aphantasia, and I realize this may be what I have, but never had a name to put to it. I have never been good with visualizing, from math, to trying to draw from memory, I always need a reference. Or with math, scratch paper. When I try to picture any of my family, I can’t. There is nothing. When I took the test on this website it gave a few prompts, for example trying to picture a rising sun. When I tried all I saw was blackness. I KNEW a sun was rising in the sky, but I can’t see it and there were no colors. One thing I noticed is that when someone says picture a red star. I can in my mind draw a star. I don’t see a pencil, paper etc. I see nothing, but I know that I am drawing and outline of a star. The best way I can describe it, is if someone gives you a paper and says close your eyes and draw a star, you can. Why? Because you can feel the movement on the paper, it’s muscle memory. In my mind when I try and visualize a shape, I feel the shape, but I can’t see it. On and end note, I have very vivid dreams, no problem. But everything else is blackness. Thoughts anyone? I really need some input.
Pitch black brain
I like to think of what goes on in my mind is a narrative description. You can draw a star because you know what a star looks like. If someone tells me to imagine a beach, I can’t picture a beach but I can describe what it would look like – blue sky, ocean water, waves hit the sand. There could be seaweed or shells on the beach, maybe foot prints. People who know this because their mind has created a picture will ask, how do you know if you cant see it? The knowledge is in my head. I know what a beach looks like. I was at the beach a few days ago, can I tell excatly what I saw? No. It was cold and foggy, but other than that your basic beach. I hope this helps. Aphantasia is a spectrum and people experience it at different levels. Same with dreaming, people experience it at different levels. I imagine this is true with visual people also.
You certainly seem to have visual aphantasia! Our imagery is multi-sensory, so my question would be whether or not you can imagine in your other senses? Sound, movement of your body, touch/texture, etc.
Having a sensory experience in our minds is different than knowing what it would take to draw a 5 pointed star. I can rationalize that, and even feel like I’m going through the motions, but there’s no sensory experience tied to it.
For me it’s exactly the same. I can read a book and sense the motion of the scenes. Like very basic outlines but nothing is in color. No paper no pencil. I don’t even see the blackness people talk about unless my eyes are closed. But a star I can imagine tracing in my head with eyes open. And if I imagine a rising sun. I understand a sun is round and can imagine the basic horizon as a line. Nothing else. It has been very jarring for me to realize I have thus condition only because I wish I could see my loved ones who have passed on .
Gosh, Savanah, I have the exact same experience as you. But what’s surprising to me is that I never questioned it. It never ever crossed my mind this was an “impairment” — I thought everyone was the same. I do know this is not an impairment, but honestly it is feeling like one ever since I learned about it and did the test yesterday. I was so shocked I cried over what I now know I’m missing.
Blackness is the word. There are no outlines, no nothing. Just the idea, the feeling, the thought or the memory of that sunset or a friend’s face. I never understood when people said “The details of their face is starting to fade in my mind”. I thought it was just something people said, but now I realize people can actually visualize faces with closed eyes.
Right now I can only see the drawbacks of aphantasia. As a designer I feel I am missing a lot. How do you feel about it, Savanah, being an artist yourself?