Think of a horse...
You might see a lifelike image of a horse in your mind, while your friend might only see a dim or vague image. Some will find it easy to visualize, while others will have to work a little harder to paint that picture. But almost all of us 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 mind’s eye. Not for thoughts, memories, or images of the future.
We lack this visual system completely.
It’s not just the visual system, it can impact all sensory experience.
Imagination is multi-sensory. There exists remarkable, often unsuspected invisible differences in our imaginative experiences ranging from aphantasia (absence) to hyperphantasia (abundance) of multi-sensory experience.
We all imagine differently.
Aphantasia is a variation in human experience.
A cognitive process that typically involves creating mental representations of things, people or sometimes entire worlds inside our mind.
Aristotle first described this ‘sixth sense‘ as “phantasia”; the “a” in aphantasia denotes its absence.
An estimated ~3-5% of the population have aphantasia, yet this variation in human experience has only just begun to be studied.
Fact: Aphantasics can be richly imaginative
‘Imaginative’ means having or showing creativity or inventiveness. It involves a whole network of activities from integrating past events and identities to thinking about the future and navigating different pathways toward desired goals to create or invent novel things.
Aphantasics can still do all these things! We simply go about the imaginative process differently.
Aphantasia leads to an alternative way of thinking.
People have described feeling isolated and alone after discovering that other people can create sensory experiences in their imagination 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 neither a disability, nor defect. Nor is it a barrier to success.
Discovering you have aphantasia can lead to new insights into your unique imaginative experience, insights that can impact your life often in unimaginable ways.
Aphantasics are brilliant creatives, inventors, authors, musicians, scientists, entrepreneurs & more!
Ed Catmull, co-founder of Pixar and former president of Walt Disney Animation Studios. Craig Venter, biologist who first sequenced the Human Genome. Blake Ross, creator of Mozilla Firefox. Glen Keane, Disney Animator and Creator of The Little Mermaid. Penn Jillette of Penn and Teller.
All have aphantasia.
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