Category: Psychology

Aphantasia - Unable to Visualise

What is Aphantasia?

Taken literally, Aphantasia is a spectrum condition (which means it affects people to different degrees along a range of linked symptoms) where the sufferer cannot consciously visualise images in their mind (sometimes referred to as 'the mind's eye'). The ability of the human mind to conjure up an image, upon demand, has long been taken for granted. If you were asked to picture a forest, an orange square, a toaster, or any other common object or scene – in your mind – you should be able to do so. It is not fully understood how the human brain is able to produce these images, although there are theories based in philosophy, psychology and neuroscience. Of these, it is the evidence in neuroscience that is the most convincing with explanations that the brain can call upon past experiences and extrapolate them to produce familiar or identical images as to those perceived at the time. People with Aphantasia cannot consciously produce these images; they find other ways to remember and describe their experiences. Remember here that the ability to consciously visualise is not the same as dreaming. Aphantasics can dream with images and scenes, though many report that they do not, and will only recall dreams by text, narrative or plot points. People with Aphantasia do, however, possess a visual memory. They instead use facts to recognise objects, places and people. They may, for example, remember that the girl in their lecture class who is quiet has striking blue eyes or that…