The Aphantasia Guide

The above photo is from the Aphantasia Guide

I learned about aphantasia back in February when I discovered I had it. That graphic you see above? I’m a 5. I always assumed phrases like “close your eyes and imagine” and “enter the theater of your mind” were figures of speech. I had NO idea what those words meant to most of the people around me. You can read the start of my aphantasia journey in my post entitled “I Can’t Imagine.”

In my research, I discovered the Aphantasia Network, and today I received an email from them that contained a link to the Aphantasia Guide. Yes, I’m linking to it twice in one post. There’s a reason. It’s that good.

If you have recently (or not so recently) discovered that you have aphantasia, you probably have myriad questions. The Aphantasia Network has created a free guide that contains answers to those most commonly asked and links to articles that offer deeper study. It also links to online aphant hangouts like the Facebook Aphantasia Support Group.

If you know someone who has aphantasia, I encourage you to check out the guide as well. It will give you a much greater understanding of the differences between you and them. In sense, we seem to live on different planets, so understanding helps – from both sides.

It’s a fascinating study, really. God has designed our brains so precisely, and with such diversity, that it never ceases to amaze me. Am I handicapped because I have no visual imagination? Of course not; I’m just different. Frankly, I wouldn’t trade places with a non-aphant if I had the chance. That’s the honest truth.

And, just for fun, here’s a third link to the Aphantasia Guide!

Celebrating Jesus!
Tammy C

I Can’t Imagine

My mind is officially blown.

A year or so ago, I learned that some people can actually see pictures when they “close their eyes and imagine.” It really took me aback; when I “imagine,” I’m pretending to create pictures, but not really seeing them. I thought the whole concept was seriously cool, but didn’t think too much about it until this week when I was sick and awake in the middle of the night. I posted two questions on Facebook because I was wondering if there were any link between having a 24/7 monologue running in your head (Something I learned a while back that not everyone has) and actually seeing pictures when you close your eyes and imagine.

I was shocked to learn, in my tiny science experiment, that pretty much everyone had constant brain chatter, but I was the only one who couldn’t see pictures. That realization sent me to our old friend, Mr. Google.

It turns out I have aphantasia. It’s a condition that, according to the one article I’ve read, apparently only affects 1-3% of the population, and it means you have a limited (or nonexistent) ability to visualize or imagine in the literal sense. Of course, I only recently realized that there IS a literal sense because I’ve dealt with it my whole life. While I may on rare occasions be hit in the face with a flash of memory, I can’t consciously create or pull up anything.

Maybe I should have waited to blog about this when I’ve done more research, or at least had time to think about it, but… oh my word. This explains so much!

I remember when my grandson was a tiny baby. Some friends were holding him and I asked who they had. They were appalled. “He’s your grandson!” The fact that I didn’t recognize him blew them completely away and utterly humiliated me.

But now I get it. They recognized him because, having seen him recently, they carried pictures in their minds that matched him when he showed up. I didn’t have that. I could make notes in my brain, listing details like dimples or whatever, but he was so young that he was literally changing every day and my mental notes couldn’t keep up.

Ok, I’m almost in tears here.

This explains so many things. Pictures are important to me, because I want to remember what people and places looked like. If I have extensive mental notes, I can recreate those pictures mentally, in a sense…but I can’t really see them like most of you can. I can also be talking to someone and, when asked five minutes later what they looked like, I can’t tell you unless I had consciously pulled out my mental notebook and recorded the “picture.” I can usually tell you what we talked about, though, because my mental audio recorder works great.

There is so much to unpack here. It’s not every day you learn something so radical about yourself. And if I don’t stop right now this is going to turn into a legit ramble.

Celebrating Jesus!
Tammy C

Up next?
Aphantasia Revelations