AuthorTopic: Aphantasia - not having the "mind's eye"  (Read 17138 times)

Offline ptoing

  • 0101
  • ****
  • Posts: 3063
  • Karma: +0/-0
  • variegated quadrangle arranger
    • the_ptoing
    • http://pixeljoint.com/p/2191.htm
    • View Profile
    • Perpetually inactive website

Aphantasia - not having the "mind's eye"

on: April 27, 2016, 04:59:06 am
I recently found out that this condition I have now has a name "Aphantasia" - the inability to synthesise sense perception in ones mind. Things like mental images and inner voices don't mean anything to me, I do not have them.
Or well, I get an inner voice, kinda, but I do not hear it, it has not tone, no accent, no timbre, it is very hard to describe.

Here is a link to a site which deals with aphantasia and it has a set of questions which you can try and answer yourself, see how you fare.
http://aphant.asia/have-i-got-aphantasia

For me everything on there comes out absolutely zero, total aphantasia, regarding any senses.

It is impossible for me to imagine how it would be to not have this, to be able to actually visualise things I am not actually seeing with my eyes. I always knew that I could not do this, but being able to give it a name and talk to people who have it as well is comforting. It also seems to explain a lot, in terms of why I am the way I am.

When it comes to art it is also interesting. Basically I think on paper/in the program I am working in. I always liked to doodle, and to just combine things, try new things on paper. One of the reasons I enjoy doing those face sheets so much I reckon.

Would be interesting to hear from fellow artists who might have this as well, in varying degrees.
« Last Edit: April 27, 2016, 05:58:51 am by ptoing »
There are no ugly colours, only ugly combinations of colours.

Offline 0xDB

  • 0011
  • **
  • Posts: 873
  • Karma: +0/-0
  • Dennis inter-is.
    • dennisbusch_de
    • http://pixeljoint.com/p/1287.htm
    • 0xdb
    • View Profile
    • 0xDB

Re: Aphantasia - not having the "mind's eye"

Reply #1 on: April 27, 2016, 08:21:06 am
Does it include the inability to experience dreams while the mind is asleep?

Offline ptoing

  • 0101
  • ****
  • Posts: 3063
  • Karma: +0/-0
  • variegated quadrangle arranger
    • the_ptoing
    • http://pixeljoint.com/p/2191.htm
    • View Profile
    • Perpetually inactive website

Re: Aphantasia - not having the "mind's eye"

Reply #2 on: April 27, 2016, 09:17:44 am
I dream just fine, and sometimes very vivid, have lucid dreams every now and then, so no problems there.
But I think for some people it also goes to not being able to dream, or at least not being able to remember their dreams.
There are no ugly colours, only ugly combinations of colours.

Offline 0xDB

  • 0011
  • **
  • Posts: 873
  • Karma: +0/-0
  • Dennis inter-is.
    • dennisbusch_de
    • http://pixeljoint.com/p/1287.htm
    • 0xdb
    • View Profile
    • 0xDB

Re: Aphantasia - not having the "mind's eye"

Reply #3 on: April 27, 2016, 09:42:25 am
I was wondering about dreams because if they function "normally" it means the mind does not really lack the ability to synthesize sense perception. It then appears to just be different levels of access to that particular function of the mind, depending on whether the current state of the mind is awake or asleep.

Does not that imply 100% sanity and a rational mind though? If while awake, the mind is not muddled by imagined synthetic perceptions that just are not there? Isn't that the most sane state the mind can be in, only perceiving what is actually there and not imagining "random" noise on top of anything perceived at any given moment?

I don't want to claim it's nothing or not a problem but it is a pet peeve of mine that everything has to be a "condition" these days (which often implies that there is some negative "thing" that defines a person entirely, neglecting everything else that is wonderful and good about someone, usually accompanied by the claim a person will never be able to live a "normal" life without some sort of treatment or medication).

So... another question is how does this affect your ability to live your life? Or how is it a problem? How does it cause suffering (if any) and what kind of suffering? Is it possible that it's not just causing suffering (if any again) and instead is not rather also a "gift", something that allows you and others who have it, to really focus on the things they currently do instead of constantly being carried away in daydreams about other things?

Offline ptoing

  • 0101
  • ****
  • Posts: 3063
  • Karma: +0/-0
  • variegated quadrangle arranger
    • the_ptoing
    • http://pixeljoint.com/p/2191.htm
    • View Profile
    • Perpetually inactive website

Re: Aphantasia - not having the "mind's eye"

Reply #4 on: April 27, 2016, 10:07:09 am
I think people who have aphantasia access memory differently than those who have not. And maybe dreams have less to do with memory, who knows. But thinking about it, my dreams might be lacking some things, such as less of a sense of touch and I also don't remember if I ever smelled while dreaming, I certainly do not smell in dreams anymore after losing my sense of smell, but that is a different story.

Your point about the "sanity/clarity" aspect is an interesting one, but it's not like this is guaranteed. Things like paranoia and similar mental states still can happen, and you can still have hallucinations. For example I have peripheral movement hallucinations quite a bit, where I think that something in my peripheral vision is moving around, some insect or what have you, but a lot of the time it is nothing at all. Something I have gotten used to over the years.

When it comes to art I think maybe it helps in certain ways. For me the process of making a picture is very much a journey of revealing the image to myself, a lot of the stuff I do is entirely subconscious and I don't really have a lot of insight into what I am doing from a rational standpoint, as in I could not really explain it super well. This however makes making art for me interesting. It is a way to externalise things which I have no other access to, without being creative.

I am not sure how much it helps in terms of not daydreaming, I never was the best when it comes to time management and procrastination, and I tend to think a lot about stuff, just having an internal dialogue. But once I get down to do something and get into it I have a very good focus and learn things quite fast usually. The matter is more actually getting to that point.

I don't think that this is a disability, but I don't think that the term condition is problematic here, because that is what it is. However, I have had bouts of depression in the past and the fact that the inside of my mind is void of images, sound and so on, can give you a pretty powerful feeling of emptiness and disconnection that is hard to describe.

Also things like being able to visualise my girlfriend, who lives in the Philippines, or other loved ones, relatives and friends who have died, would be nice. I know what someone looks like, and I have a very good facial memory in terms of recognising people. But describing someone outside of really hard facts, like eyecolour, where they have moles, etc., is pretty much impossible for me, and I doubt that I could draw many people from memory, if any.
There are no ugly colours, only ugly combinations of colours.

Offline tsej

  • 0001
  • *
  • Posts: 77
  • Karma: +0/-0
    • View Profile
    • Art and Code

Re: Aphantasia - not having the "mind's eye"

Reply #5 on: April 27, 2016, 10:24:56 am
On the subject of dreams, your website says http://aphant.asia/faq?catid=0&faqid=3

Also, one of their FAQ has a facebook comment section as source. Not very convincing.

I'd love to wait this out and see if their supposedly planned researches do happen, and what they find out.
I can see why it can give you bouts of depression. But you seem to be doing fine now, which is great. Don't complicate your life, man. You're a very good artist and I definitely look up to you, along with many others here.

Moving on..

I am able to visualize most things in black and white, like movements, patterns, boxes rotating, people turning, moving their arms etc, but it does take a little effort. Trying to imagine color is a little difficult, but doable.

What I found out is, this "visualization" mostly feasts on my memory and being able to recall things. The website tells you to visualize the contours of the face of someone who you see all the time. I tried to imagine my mother's face. I kinda could, but couldn't. Why? Because I never consciously decided to store that information in by head. Our brains filter out useless information all the time. I looked at my mom again and tried this again after an hour~ and viola, it was much easier.

Have you tried doing that? Seeing things and then visualizing them after some time? How did it go?

But yeah, please don't stress over this, if you are!
« Last Edit: April 27, 2016, 10:28:07 am by tsej »
Correct me if I'm wrong

Offline Ai

  • 0100
  • ***
  • Posts: 1057
  • Karma: +2/-0
  • finti
    • http://pixeljoint.com/pixels/profile.asp?id=1996
    • finticemo
    • View Profile

Re: Aphantasia - not having the "mind's eye"

Reply #6 on: April 27, 2016, 10:31:15 am
So what happens when you attempt to draw blind (that is, without seeing the paper OR the subject)? I'm just trying to separate imagination and memory here, if they can be -- personally, I blind-drew the images requested in all questions possible, with accuracy increasing over time from 2/3 (vague/moderately clear) to 3/4/5 (moderately clear/reasonably clear/vivid as RL).. which is a slightly different test, but I would attribute my improving results to my memory and concentration clarifying over the course of the test.

EDIT: I see you have partially answered questions about memory, but any specific answer to this would be appreciated.

I tried to imagine my mother's face. I kinda could, but couldn't. Why? Because I never consciously decided to store that information in by head. Our brains filter out useless information all the time. I looked at my mom again and tried this again after an hour~ and viola, it was much easier.
This fits my experience; I agree with this model. I think there is reasonable evidence that I have at least mediocre visualization skills, though, so PMMV.

« Last Edit: April 27, 2016, 10:41:09 am by Ai »
If you insist on being pessimistic about your own abilities, consider also being pessimistic about the accuracy of that pessimistic judgement.

Offline ptoing

  • 0101
  • ****
  • Posts: 3063
  • Karma: +0/-0
  • variegated quadrangle arranger
    • the_ptoing
    • http://pixeljoint.com/p/2191.htm
    • View Profile
    • Perpetually inactive website

Re: Aphantasia - not having the "mind's eye"

Reply #7 on: April 27, 2016, 10:33:01 am
tsej:
Not stressing out over it, thanks for your concern, though.

As far as trying to make a conscious effort to remember things, like my mom's face. Doubt that would work. There are characters I have drawn a lot, personal ones, and stuff by Helm, like the Yus Bird and his ZX robot. I can draw those just fine, and consistently, but I still can not visualise them, no matter how hard I try.

And yes, this is a very new field of study, and I think atm there is only Dr. Zeman working on a proper study, from what I know.
There are no ugly colours, only ugly combinations of colours.

Offline tsej

  • 0001
  • *
  • Posts: 77
  • Karma: +0/-0
    • View Profile
    • Art and Code

Re: Aphantasia - not having the "mind's eye"

Reply #8 on: April 27, 2016, 10:40:25 am
A few questions:
-Do you ever wander off somewhere in your brain while doing something?
-Have you ever had a hyperactive brain, trouble sleeping because of constant thoughts and/or images?

I also find it easier to visualize with my eyes open instead of closed, looking at a part of the floor or ceiling.

I suspect you have already, but have you tried exercises of watching a video, say a 3Dbox rotating slowly, observing it and then closing your eyes and immediately trying to recreate it?

And glad you're not stressing over! Man, people get hung up on these little things sometimes and that ruins their lives.
Correct me if I'm wrong

Offline ptoing

  • 0101
  • ****
  • Posts: 3063
  • Karma: +0/-0
  • variegated quadrangle arranger
    • the_ptoing
    • http://pixeljoint.com/p/2191.htm
    • View Profile
    • Perpetually inactive website

Re: Aphantasia - not having the "mind's eye"

Reply #9 on: April 27, 2016, 10:50:00 am
My general thought patterns are very associative, so yeah, my mind does tend to wander. It is also something that I had to learn to suppress in conversation, because people found it hard to follow my jumps in topic (understandably)

I have had the hyperactive brain thing quite a few times, and had an episode of quite bad insomnia in my late teens, so yeah.

Does not matter how I try to visualise something, I just can't. Zilch every time.

I don't think that it is a little thing, as it can have a quite profound impact on you every now and then,
but I agree that it is not something worth stressing over in general.
There are no ugly colours, only ugly combinations of colours.