Aphantasia: Living without mental images.The lack of visual imagination
Most people consider it normal to be able to visualize. But a small percentage of humanity does not have this ability. We call this Aphantasia. This is what this article is about.
Anyone can visualize, right?
It’s hard to imagine that not everyone can visualize. But for some people it is not possible: counting sheep in front of the mind’s eye, imagining the plot of a novel or the face of a friend. The lack of visual imagination is called Aphantasia.
Aphantasia is innate for a small part of the population. It was described in 1880 by Sir Francis Falton. The neurologist Adam Zeman of the University Exeter Media School has scientifically confirmed this assumption and published details in a study.
Consequences of the Aphantasia
For those affected, this has a significant impact on their lives, as they are not able to visualize situations from their memory. For them, jobs in architecture or design are difficult. All tasks that require imagining the result in advance require hallucinating with open eyes, so to speak. Many creative fields require visual imagination. However, there are possibilities here as well. I know people with Aphantasia who are very creative in visual design.
It is possible to live without inner images, but how far-reaching the absence is, is shown by the fact that many affected people get interpersonal problems because of their deficit. Affected people themselves only notice in contact with other people that they are blind on the inner eye. There are certain similarities with people who suffer from red-green color blindness.
Rays of hope
In dreams and hypnotic trance, it is easier for many people to visualize. In dreams and with a little practice thanks to hypnotic trance even people with Aphantasia can do it, even if they think they can’t do it in everyday life. In sessions using trance I regularly get feedback from clients that they experienced images on the inner canvas.
Causes of Aphantasia
The causes of the Aphantasia are not yet clear. Probably the areas in the brain responsible for visual imagination are not working together.
Advantages of the ability to visualize
When planning, solving problems, learning, and exams, … In so many situations, a visual image is very useful. In many articles, I enthusiastically praise the possibilities of using visual imagination.
For those who find it commonplace to imagine things, people, and situations visually, it is hard to understand the value of this ability.
What to do?
As helpful as it is to imagine things, people and situations visually, we humans have other senses for the design of thoughts.
We humans have five senses available. And so people are also blessed with different accesses to these senses. We can explore the world visually, kinesthetically, auditory, gustatory, and olfactory. This way we can resurrect the world in our minds. We use the five senses seeing, hearing, feeling, tasting, and smelling differently. So it is worthwhile on the one hand to promote potential and on the other hand to focus on the strengths. And we do this automatically. The choice of career shows this. If we are successful in one area, then the necessary senses are obviously at work.
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This article is a short excerpt from the more comprehensive course materials my clients receive in a group or individual training or coaching.
Published: May 20, 2020
Author: Karsten Noack
Revision: May 27, 2020
German version: https://www.karstennoack.de/aphantasie/