Curious what aphantasia means? Ask questions, share perspectives. Connect with like minds.
One of my friends is convinced that I have ADHD (they do) or some disorder similar. I’ve never thought so, because I’ve had descriptions of ADHD being similar to “my mind never shuts up.” On the other hand, my mind tends to be very quiet with usually only one stream of thought happening at a time. I’ve wondered if this is because of my aphantasia and not being able to express my thoughts in pictures or overlapping words and the like, but I feel as if someone with ADHD’s brain would still be more active? I’ve read the DSM-5 criteria for having ADHD, and I just barely hit the line for having it, but that clinical approach and my experience with many of the ADHD people I know seems so different. And I know ‘if you’ve met one person with ADHD, you’ve met one person with ADHD’ but the speed at which many of the ADHD people I know’s minds seems to be such a determining factor of their experience.
I’m by no means an expert in ADHD or aphantasia, so I’d love to hear someone else’s opinions or experiences.
I can’t experience or perceive an image at will but I can access details of previous visual memories. I can also experience and perceive hypnogogic imagery before falling asleep. If I try to focus my conscious attention on it, then the image/video disappears and I’m back, looking through closed eyes. Do non-aphants “see with the mind’s eye” the same as they see hypnogogic imagery? If so, then my issue may be a switching off of imagery by focusing conscious attention, switching to mechanically look out through my closed eyes, instead of maintaining access to some imagery function that comes as the conscious mind is falling asleep. If not, if visualizing is experienced differently than hypnogogic imagery, coming from a different mechanism in the brain, then idunno.
I have aphantasia. I’ve always struggled throughout my life imaging things. All I see is pitch black. That worried me. No matter how hard I try, absolutely nothing. Whether it be teachers asking me to image or guided meditation, whatever the situation, I cannot visualize anything. I can think of it as a thought but no pictures come to mind not even memories. My minds eye is darkness.
Hello, I’m 25 and just realized I have aphantasia. At least, I think I do. When I close my eyes, I see gray/black. I can only see the literal back of my eyelids. So if you ask me to imagine an object, physically I do not “see” anything directly in front of me. But then how do I know what the object looks like? I feel like I can almost picture it further back in my mind. It’s more of a concept?
If you asked me to imagine my mother, I know what she looks like. I can pick details about her skin, her eyes, what she usually wears, etc. but it doesn’t feel like a whole image? I would have to think of those things individually to “visualize” it.
So I think I may be on the spectrum of aphantasia? Does it make a difference if my eyes are open vs closed? I guess if I can’t tell if I do or do not, it means I probably have it to some degree. I really only discovered this today, like, an hour ago lol. I’m seeing my therapist Monday and will ask if she knows anything about it. But it’s a bit fascinating either way, because I think I’ll be able to explore how my own mind works better than before!
I, like probably most of the people with Aphantasia, didn’t even knew that had it before making a little research by yourself.
After feeling very sad and left out (and also making sense of some things that happened in the past that connect with my lack of imagery) and also wanted to learn more, hear more from people with, etc. After one video I ended up here. And yes, also tried to search from a “cure” in Google just before realizing that I was just desperate and it won’t be possible for me.
I’ve also read about people that can live a entire life and not even notice the difference between having of not the condition. I wish that I could be like that too, but sadly I needed to have a visual image of things… Because i wanted to draw. I wanted to create.
It’s been years since I started to study… and I always stopped. I thought I was just lazy, or not doing it hard enough? Things just didn’t get in my mind and I could not use them when I needed. Even so, in 2019 I decided: I’m gonna study and I am gonna do it. This is all I want. After months, every time I wanted to draw something for me, just for myself… things still felt wrong, out of place and needed so many references. I once again got the idea that I was just not being good enough yet. How can I study almost every single day about shapes, forms, 3D and etc. and still get them wrong when I need just to get it from my mind?! Now I know why.
Being honesty with myself I don’t think I can blame all my incapacity to learn in Aphantasia, but it sure puts a name in a invisible obstacle that I always had. Since it’s recent discovery for me I still am trying to make peace with this but at the same time I want to put all to rest. I feel extremely sad that I will never truly create something from myself, and it was all that I truly wanted to do someday. Now I am not so sure.
I really hope to one day we have the knowledge or even technology to change this.
Sorry about this.
I’ve gotten that a lot during my life. Brainstorming sessions, discussion groups, group project discusssions. And I have just retired after being a professional illustrator/designer for the past 40 years.
I have always been prasised for my ability to ‘imagine’, to come up with ideas that are original and creative. But until recently, I just thought my ‘imagination’ was more active than average. I had no idea that when people talk about visualization, they really meant it.
Nope. Nothing up my sleeve — or behind my eyes. Yes, I dream visually. Even vividly at times. I just cannot pass the mental imagery test. I have taken an aphantasic test that used 3d model questions– but I just analyzed the perspective properties and relationships, and short memorized my way to the answers.
I have investigated some of the ‘cures’ for aphantasia and have experienced some notable results. But, nothing that really ‘stuck’. I have also played around with lucid dreaming with some success, but it meant finding ways around the ‘visualizing’ instructions most how-tos include. But it has taught me that there is a ‘stage’ in the sleep/dream sequence that if you get it just right, you suddenly have almost full conscious control of a visualizing power.
Those episodes, though few, have been amazing, and as a visualizing creative, I would love to be able to conjure up that state at will, as it appears, so many who do not have this condition can easily do without any problem at all.
Still, I have also read that many other creative, and highly visually-creative people are (or were) aphantasic. So maybe there’s a compensatory mechanism at play here?
In any case, knowing about my ‘handicap’ has given me some understanding of why certain teaching methods have always failed miserably with me, so that’s some relief.
Any other visual aphantasic creatives out there experimenting with ways to explore this condition? I’d be very interested to hear others’ stories.
I’m 65 and just became aware that how a saw imaginary images is different than most everyone else. First is all, when someone would say imagine (banana or whatbever), I thought I was imagining the item as a bunch of descriptive words. I thought this was a normal for everyone. For most things in live, I have seem/experienced, I’ve unconciously build a word/metadata memory of them. I have lived without seeing images try whole life, without issue.
learning about Aphantasia, I was confused at first, but started to ask others about their images within their mind’s eye. They told me “of course I can see that banana”… etc. I would have to ask a second time, “you can actually see it and the color?” They would look at me strangely.
My closed eye exploration would manifest only a mottled gray or black background. I have lots of memories, but my memories are a metadata model of words, and maybe emotions. I am creative and can draw well using my metadata to create things. I also have written a couple fiction books without issue.
Has anyone also found your memories relies on words to form them?
Best wishes to all! 🙏
I am wondering this because I have had a lot of things happen (multiple things that are known triggers) in my life that have typically messed other people up and I can just shrug them off as I can only recall the stress and emotion of the event in words and thoughts but can’t recall the feelings and other emotions around the trigger event. Yes I will have some emotional dreaming about the event but once this phase has passed I cant re establish it, and only being able to recall the dream in a descriptive sense must help.
I have the ability to remember the description of dreams or nightmares and can describe the worst of them in some detail (well the one’s that I woke up thinking how the hell did my brain come up with that to scare the hell out of me). I also dream in a weird way mostly, so will be a person doing something in a dream and for some reason they die but in every dream or nightmare I become an observer of this death, sometimes the dream ends at this point and sometimes I can resume the dream as from another characters view but this is a rarer occurrence.
As I write this I am thinking about another way of dreaming as a child but that would probably mean being declared as insane or something so probably best to leave it there.