Are you aphantasic if you have vivid dreams and daydreams?

Christoper asked 7 months ago


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I only realised I was possibly aphantasic about 18 months ago (I’m 72) when I heard an Australian Broadcasting Corporation program on it and then did your test on the website. I believe I’m tolally aphantasic as I can’t visualise things or recall smells, tastes, sensory conditions like wind, or even recall feelings about events (including my wedding!). I have never been able to visualize during meditation, but can remember places where I have been in detail.

However I have very vivid dreams and if the situation is right, have daydreams. I can recall them, manipulate them, return to them and describe them – even though I have no actual image when describing them. I can recall the names of the people or places involved and would be able to draw a sketch of of location, but can’t actually “see” or “sense” them.

In my everyday life I am very good at coming up with alternative solutions to problems or situations, and I know they will work. But I do remember quite some years ago when I told a mens group that I was part of, that when I was away from them, they did not exist – they were a bit dismayed, and some felt that I had no feelings or connection with them!

So is it really aphantasia or is it just a lack of realisation or recall?

Jennifer McDougall Staff August 27, 2020 02:40 pm

Thanks for your question Christopher. Many aphantasics will report decreased imagery in the other senses – smells, tastes, sensations of touch as you described. Pretty neat that you can still remember places in detail, could be that your brain found interesting workarounds?

Your dreams also sound very interesting. How often do you dream? According to new research, aphantasics do dream but will often report fewer dreams. From what we understand, the experience of dreams varies widely among people with aphantasia.

Some dream in images, but unable to do so while awake. Others dream with the knowledge they’re dreaming, but without mental pictures or sound. From what I understand, our dreams involve a different neuro-network than the one involved in mental imagery but more research is definitely needed in this space.

You’ve started a very interesting conversation. I’m curious to learn more!

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