Benefits to being aphantasic?

Zografos Caramanos asked 10 months ago
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Have you found any benefit from being aphantasic?

Roberto Rojas February 25, 2020 04:49 am

Just as Don Dornblaser describe, I can’t hold a grudge, when needed I can intellectually act as if I was, but is very tiresome and seldom useful; Probably because to me all memories, like imagination is like someone giving me the answers not showing me the data; I’m good with spatial tasks and in college (I studied engineering) I was actually above average in those "visualizing task" like rotating graphs, "projecting" function graphs from diferenc coordinates, etc. But is like a detached answer and the same with memories, no feelings with them, I can recall how I felt but doesn’t bring any emotion to the now. The more I read on this site the more I get at the same time that surprise that not everyone thinks like me but also some do. I seldom delve in the past and when I do, again, no emotion with it, I think it helps to get a more "useful" memory about myself, I think that if I did feel about my memories I would fall into the same circle that would make harder to look events from a different point of view; I can’t be sure of course but I think I know myself better because of it.

Strangely I can "feel" how would do something imaginary, not much but some, but from memories nothing at all.

I can also be easily distracted, I have a thousand interests; I think that if I could form pictures in my mind I wouldn’t even get out of my bed; already is too entertaining inside my head and that’s just with the speachless conversations with myself and "simulations" of people I know and some fictitional ones.

And now that David Sweeney talked about a "safe place", I recalled that when I was a kid my happy place was any small place, even sit in a corner looking the walls at the smallest corner. No imaginary place, just fabricated ones.

Jennifer McDougall Staff January 27, 2020 03:16 pm

This is a great question. Research on strengths is still in it’s infancy, however there is evidence out of the UK that aphantasics excel in fields like science and math. That said, there’s also very successful aphant creatives, like Ed Catmull, co-founder and former CEO of Pixar (creator of Disney classics like Toy Story, Bugs Life, Inside Out, etc). One study showed aphantasics as having equally high spatial accuracy as non-aphants, and make significantly fewer memory errors. You can read more here. Zeman (who coined the term ‘aphantasia’) has also suggested that aphantasics are more likely to live in the present, and have an easier time being present in the moment as they are not distracted by visual imagery of the past or future. Early evidence has also showed that aphants may be less effected by PTSD. We’re working on a major article to cover these strengths & more. If anyone else has any insight into possible benefits we would love to hear from you.

Don Dornblaser replied 10 months ago

I just discovered that I have Aphantasia and it has me reflecting on so many things. One thought that crossed my mind… I tend to forgive very quickly, and I’m always surprised when others don’t. Now that I realize other people have the ability to replay events in their mind’s eye, I wonder if that’s significant. Maybe people Aphantasia are more likely to be forgiving because they don’t have a visual record of past events. OTOH it also means we can’t replay the event to try to reconsider the other person’s behaviour.

lihi michaeli replied 10 months ago

Ive never seen it like this, wow.
Thank you for this.

Chester837 replied 2 months ago

Regarding PTSD, I might be able to help your study with some first hand experience (of being an aphant & not having PTSD when I probably should…). Let me know if you’re interested

a.schroeck7 replied 2 weeks ago

Your comment about spatial accuracy and awareness is really interesting. I have always found that I have had a strength in this area so when I learned about aphantasia I was a little puzzled. I would be interested to learn more about the connection here. Blokus is one of my favorite games because I can find lots of spaces for my pieces and plan ahead where I would put them. I also really loved doing some 3D modeling in an engineering class. I wonder if this is because I was able to make a visual of the ideas in my head even though my “minds eye” couldn’t.

NelleC03 November 06, 2020 10:22 am

One positive I’ve found is not having as big issues with intrusive or unwanted thoughts as others seem to. When people say something grotesque to imagine, lots of people react by saying they now can’t get that image out of their head. I’ve never found this to be a real issue, as I can’t see any image in the first place.

Another small benefit is that I don’t experience ear worms the way other people do. I get songs stuck in my head, sure, but can’t actually hear them in my head which I believe makes them less annoying than they are to other people.

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