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steven hamilton

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I recently discovered that I have Aphantasia and I am doing what I assume is the typical things when someone figures this out which is re-thinking my life and all the ways that this may have shaped the person who I am. I am reconciling all those weird conversations that I wrote off as hyperbole or metaphor and realizing that all along I’ve had it a little wrong in my head.. 

I am also like many of you considering dreams and trying to determine if I dream in Images or not and I feel like I am in a bit of a conundrum over the topic. The last few days I have tried to remember my dreams which is difficult in the best of times. Most nights I wake up and cant recall anything but occasionally I would wake up in a panic or a sweat and have a vivid memory that I had been dreaming something. The memories of the dream are often not super clear and the struggle I’m having is that when I have a “vivid” memory I may remember all the fine details of something that happened in the past but I don’t form a mental picture of it while thinking about it. In my life thus far my definition of a vivid memory or a picture in my mind was just to recall all the subtle details like the size and shape of the hairs on the persons chin or the fine texture of a peach. My “vivid” dreams are similar in that I recall running or talking to someone or the layout of a maze that I was lost in or the people who were in the dream and where we went but I only remember it while I’m conscious and awake so there is no picture that goes with that memory when I’m looking back at it. 

 

I think some aphants have decided that because memories are based on things we see or hear or do and dreams feel similar to memories when we awaken that therefore we must picture things while sleeping? I wonder though if that is the case, how could I tell if it was a picture or just a memory. I recall seeing things all the time but I don’t see them in my head after the fact. What if my dreams are just a construct of all the relationships and facts about a very detailed “scene” that my mind created without a visual component but because the details of that scene were well enough recalled I believe it was therefore a memory or picture? Does it even matter in the end?

I guess what I’m getting at is I don’t know how to answer the question “do you picture while you are sleeping” and I don’t know if that is because I don’t picture or because I’m still trying to grasp the concept that everyone else has a movie reel in their minds and I don’t. 

If you have Aphantasia and you dream vivid dreams with pictures how do you know that they are pictures? If you have Aphantasia and you dream but do not have pictures in your dream, how do you know that there are no pictures? If you are a person with Aphantasia and you don’t have pictures while you sleep do you still have dreams that you can recall?