Think of a horse...
What do you see?
You might see a lifelike image of a horse, while your friend might only see a dim or vague image. Some of us will find it easy to visualize, and some will have to work a little harder to paint that picture. But almost all of us will have some variation of this ‘quasi-perceptual’ picture-it system.
People with aphantasia don’t create images of familiar objects, people, or places in their minds’ eye. Not for thoughts, memories, or images of the future.
They lack this visual system completely.
It’s not just the visual system, it can impact all sensory experience.
Can you hear the horse neigh? Imagine what it might have been like to travel on horseback?
We all imagine differently. There exists remarkable – often unsuspected – invisible differences in our imaginative experiences ranging from aphantasia (absence) to hyperphantasia (abundance) of sensory experience.
An estimated ~3-5% of the population have aphantasia, yet this variation in human experience has only just begun to be researched.
Aphantasia is a variation in human experience.
Imagination is defined as “the ability to produce mental images of objects, people and ideas in the mind without any immediate input of the senses.”
Aristotle first described this ability as “phantasia”, the “a” in aphantasia denotes its absence.
But that doesn’t mean people with aphantasia aren’t imaginative…
Fact: Aphantasics can be richly imaginative
‘Imaginative’ means having or showing creativity or inventiveness.
Being imaginative is far more complex than the ability (or inability) to visualize. It involves a whole network of activities from integrating past events and identities, thinking about the future, to navigating different pathways toward desired goals to create or invent novel things.
Aphantasics can still do all these things. We simply go about the process differently.
Aphantasics are brilliant creatives, inventors, authors, musicians, scientists, entrepreneurs & more!
People like Ed Catmull, co-founder of Pixar with Steve Jobs and former president of Walt Disney Animation Studios, where some of the most beloved Academy award-winning films are made like, The Lion King, Toy Story, The Little Mermaid and Finding Nemo.
All have aphantasia.
Aphantasia is an alternative way of thinking.
People have described feeling isolated and alone after discovering that other people can create sensory experiences in their mind and they can not.
It’s okay to feel this way, this is an entirely normal reaction. But the important thing to understand is aphantasia is not a disability, nor defect. Nor is it a barrier to success.
Discovering aphantasia can lead to new insight into your unique imaginative experience, insights that can impact your life and work – often in unimaginable ways.
There’s lots to learn about aphantasia.
Check out these topics to learn more.
HISTORY OF APHANTASIA
History of blind imagination
started way before the term
“aphantasia” came to be
SCIENCE OF APHANTASIA
Science of Aphantasia
Imagination involves a complex
network of brain areas from the
frontal cortex to sensory areas