Do you have a physical imagination?

Aimee Seaver asked 12 months ago


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There’s a wide range of ways we can have aphantasia. Some people have total aphantasia, no visual, auditory, olfactory, or motor imagery, and some of us have partial aphantasia (one or two of these senses but still no visual).

I have a physical imagination and I can hear my own voice in my head (though no other sounds).

For me, I can imagine what it’s like to be an object or creature. I can imagine what a texture would feel like if I were to touch it. Lastly, and most strongly, I can imagine moving my body in various ways. Like a particular dance move or a stretch.

Anyone else have a physical imagination? How does it work for you?

Rachel C October 12, 2019 06:04 pm

I know exactly what you’re talking about Aimee. I took dance lessons growing up as well, and a “physical” imagination was all I had to remember what we were doing. I could never visualize what the dance moves were, I just knew what they felt like in my head and body, and that’s how I rememebred them. I rely on physical memory a decent amount, but mostly for dance. I don’t do it anymore now because of school, but when I realized I had aphantasia almost a year ago, I realized a physical memory wasn’t “normal” for others.

When I write, sometimes instead of visualizing what characters are doing, I will ‘use’ my body instead. Like instead of visualizing a character vaulting over a fence, I’d use my own muscles to try to imitate that feeling to get a sense of what is going on in that scene.

Laura Flanigan October 14, 2019 02:48 am

I lack visual, smell and taste visualization completely, but I have sound and feel. I can hear my voice as if I’m reading to myself, as well as play music in my mind. I can imagine physical feelings, such at the feel of an orange peel. The interesting thing is that I associate colours with a physical “feeling”. Not an emotional feeling, but a physical feeling not dissimilar to thinking of the feel of an object. I also associate people I know well with the feeling of certain colours (again not an emotional connection, but a physical “feeling”), and I feel pain in a range of blue to red. Not sure if everyone associates "physical feelings" this way, but that’s how it is for me!

Jennifer McDougall Staff October 14, 2019 06:51 pm

I am really enjoying this thread and where this conversation is going. Thanks for your contributions everyone!
I think the technical term for this is motor imagery, which involves imagining the physical movement without actually performing the physcial movement or tensing the muscles. It can be defined as a "dynamic state during which an individual mentally simulates a given action. This type of phenomenal experience implies that the subject feels themselves performing the action."
Apprently this type of motor-learning is often used in training athletes, as this "imagined behaviour" can actually produce similar effects on cognition and behavior as physically practising the movements in the present can. Super fascinating!
Does this accurately describe your experiences above?

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