Topic: Mental Health

Aphantasia is not a mental disorder, but the discovery of aphantasia can be a psychological stressor for some new discoverers. Discover more about the link between aphantasia and mental health through these resources.

A psychology practitioner begins to bridge the gap between practitioner and client in relation to aphantasia.
Aphantasia is not something I have; it is something I am.
A clinical therapist with total aphantasia, mental illness, autism, and other neurodiversities shares her perspectives and strategies.
Visualization is often used in mental wellness and therapy, but what does this mean for those with aphantasia?
Realizing you have aphantasia is a discovery. Discoveries can be challenging. Tips for navigating therapy and aphantasia.
What if there was a "cure"? A fictional story about a man who’s aphantasia is cured in therapy with a fictional technology. That cure comes at a deep cost.
March 28, 2023
Hello all, I’m Chuck and I have Aphantasia. I have an amazing memory for facts, bits of history, and all kinds of things. I multi task better than most. I do...
February 9, 2023
I am troubled at present by PTSD. I have heard about Rewind Therapy – that it is highly effective without the need to re-live nasty stuff, but that it ...
December 4, 2022
So this just popped into my mind but do you think that aphantasia can affect disorders, for example how someone experiences ADHD or Autism? I have suspected ...
May 15, 2022
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 ...
April 29, 2022
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 u...
April 25, 2022
After coming across an article on aphantasia I am fascinated.  I am hugely creative (making connections to seemingly unrelated things) but feel like I only &...
I feel very limited by the aphantasia. I don’t see any pictures, I don’t feel any smell and I don’t hear any sounds when my eyes are closed...
January 2, 2022
Hello. I have aphantasia and my other senses are affected too, e.g I can’t imagine tastes, smells, music etc.  I have always struggled with too much li...
August 17, 2021
Hello! I am being treated for severe refractory depression and the next step will be the application of ketamine and/or electroconvulsive therapy. I also hav...
Hello, I’m currently diagnosed with both Bipolar 1 and ADHD. After finding out that I have Aphantasia this weekend, I’ve realised there’s v...
Recent research reveals that aphantasia, while not a mental disorder, can be a psychological stressor for some who newly discover they have it. Psychologist Merlin Monzel discussed these findings with the Aphantasia Network.
March 14, 2023
Why might traditional therapy not work for aphantasics? Tom Ebeyer, Founder of the Aphantasia Network speaks with Cristina Crowe, a Canadian Registered Psychotherapist about Aphantasia.
December 5, 2022
Measuring imagery strength in schizophrenia: no evidence of enhanced mental imagery priming
Wagner, S., & Monzel, M. (2023). Measuring imagery strength in schizophrenia: no evidence of enhanced mental imagery priming. Brain and Behavior, e3146. doi:10.1002/brb3.3146
This study aimed to explore the relationship between visual imagery, schizophrenia, and the occurrence of hallucinations. The researchers compared a group of 16 individuals with schizophrenia to a group of 44 individuals without the condition. They used questionnaires and a visual imagery task to measure the vividness of visual imagery, and the Launay-Slade Hallucination Scale to assess the occurrence of hallucinations.The results revealed that participants with schizophrenia reported more hallucinatory experiences compared to those without schizophrenia. However, surprisingly, there were no significant differences between the two groups in terms of the vividness of visual imagery as measured by both the questionnaire and the visual imagery task. Interestingly, a positive correlation was found between the vividness of visual imagery measured by the questionnaire and the visual imagery task. This indicates that the measurement tools used were reliable in assessing visual imagery. These findings suggest that the association between mental imagery vividness and schizophrenia may be more complex than previously thought. While individuals with schizophrenia experience more hallucinations, their visual imagery vividness does not appear to be enhanced. This suggests that other aspects of mental imagery may be more relevant in understanding the relationship between mental imagery and schizophrenia.
Imaginal extinction without imagery: Dissociating the effects of visual imagery and propositional thought by contrasting participants with aphantasia, simulated aphantasia, and controls
Monzel, M., Agren, T., Tengler, M., & Reuter, M. (2023). Imaginal extinction without imagery: Dissociating the effects of visual imagery and propositional thought by contrasting participants with aphantasia, simulated aphantasia, and controls. Psychophysiology, e14271. doi:10.1111/psyp.14271
The study investigates the effectiveness of imaginal exposure in individuals with aphantasia, a condition characterized by the absence of mental imagery but intact propositional thought. Imaginal exposure is a cognitive behavioral therapy technique used in the treatment of anxiety and panic disorders. The aim is to determine whether visual imagery or propositional thought is crucial for fear reduction and treatment success in imagination-based therapies. The research involved participants with aphantasia and two control groups. Control group 1 simulated aphantasia by staring at a bright screen to disrupt visual imagery, while control group 2 and the participants with actual aphantasia kept their eyes closed. The study examined the efficacy of imaginal extinction, which is the reduction of fear through imaginal exposure, in these groups. The findings of the study have implications for the design of imaginal exposure. If imaginal extinction is effective despite aphantasia or simulated aphantasia, it suggests that less vivid exposure methods could be used to reduce distress and therapy dropout. On the other hand, if imaginal extinction is not effective in individuals with aphantasia, it supports Peter Lang's Bio-Informational Theory and indicates that imaginal exposure may not be suitable for all patient groups.
Aphantasia: The science of visual imagery extremes
Keogh, R., Pearson, J., & Zeman, A. (2021). Aphantasia: The science of visual imagery extremes. Handbook of Clinical Neurology, 178, 277–296. doi:10.1016/B978-0-12-821377-3.00012-X
Visual imagery allows us to revisit the appearance of things in their absence and to test out virtual combinations of sensory experience. Visual imagery has been linked to many cognitive processes, such as autobiographical and visual working memory. Imagery also plays symptomatic and mechanistic roles in neurologic and mental disorders and is utilized in treatment. A large network of brain activity spanning frontal, parietal, temporal, and visual cortex is involved in generating and maintain images in mind. The ability to visualize has extreme variations, ranging from completely absent (aphantasia) to photo-like (hyperphantasia). The anatomy and functionality of visual cortex, including primary visual cortex, have been associated with individual differences in visual imagery ability, pointing to a potential correlate for both aphantasia and hyperphantasia. Preliminary evidence suggests that lifelong aphantasia is associated with prosopagnosia and reduction in autobiographical memory; hyperphantasia is associated with synesthesia. Aphantasic individuals can also be highly imaginative and are able to complete many tasks that were previously thought to rely on visual imagery, demonstrating that visualization is only one of many ways of representing things in their absence. The study of extreme imagination reminds us how easily invisible differences can escape detection.