I Can’t See You However I’m Not Blind
8 mins read

I Can’t See You However I’m Not Blind

If I ask you to think about an elephant, do you see an elephant in your head if you shut your eyes?

elephant image
Elephant Picture — I Can’t See You

I don’t see a picture. No matter how descriptive the imagery, story or textual content is, I can’t create any photos in my head in any respect. Two % of the inhabitants can’t see a picture both. This incapacity to visualise known as aphantasia.

I by no means knew this absence of psychological imagery was even a factor till my daughter identified that she and I had been lacking one thing my spouse and different daughter had. Ask us to visualise a rainbow or a sundown, and we simply see nothing. We will’t create photos of objects, folks, locations, or experiences in our heads.

The place others can visualize these items, we will’t. This implies we don’t visualize folks, recollections, or photographs previous or future. When folks used to say “think about” or  “visualize,” this in your thoughts’s eye — I simply thought that was a flip of phrase. It now dawns on me that different folks had been truly seeing one thing of their heads.

Have a look at the Apple shut your eye and movie it once more. Are you able to see it in your head?

Suppose you need to see what aphantasia is like — have a look at the image of the Apple. Now shut your eyes and attempt to think about the apple, seeing it mentally in your thoughts’s eye. If you happen to don’t see something, you may need aphantasia.

How Can I Discover Out About Aphantasia?

For a extra detailed check, take a look at the Vividness of Visible Imagery Questionnaire.

Do Your Ideas Shout at You, or are They Silent?

(I additionally notice that when folks describe that they’ll hear the sound of their voice of their head (a practice of thought), that it wasn’t only a metaphor. However my ideas are silent.)

What About Studying?

My response to studying that most individuals can create visible photographs was, “huh.”  I lived my whole life pondering the phrase “visualize” meant “take into consideration what this implies,” not truly having the ability to “see” it.

Studying that different folks truly see photographs of their head was like studying there was one other sense that most individuals had that I used to be lacking.

I used to be bemused that I had lived my complete life with the equal of seeing the world in black and white and discovering out that different folks see the world in colours. (The one exception to that is that I usually get up remembering visible photographs from my goals.)

visual images
Visible Pictures — I Can’t See You However I’m Not Blind

Is Being In a position to Visualize All the things a Handicap or Asset?

My incapacity to visualise doesn’t appear to have handicapped my creativeness or creativity. Quite the opposite, I’m continuously fascinated by new issues – I simply don’t see them as photos (or hear them.)

I’m unsure what it’s I can’t do these different people can. Maybe I can blame my failure in sports activities on it? Or my incapacity to sing or dance? It possible explains why I come up empty when my spouse asks me what somebody was carrying or what their home regarded like. Or, extra telling, why I can’t visualize the descriptive language in poetry or in a novel.

How do You Talk to These Round You?

What’s attention-grabbing is that missing what most everybody else appears to have the ability to do might clarify how I believe, talk and course of info. Maybe this explains how I am going concerning the artistic course of. For instance, after I need to describe an occasion that occurred, I don’t deliver up the visible imagery of what the locations or folks regarded like. As a substitute, my tales are of what I bear in mind concerning the information, knowledge, and conversations across the occasion.

Ideas, Concepts, Patterns

It may also clarify why sample recognition and summary thought (the flexibility to consider ideas, and concepts that aren’t bodily current) come simpler to me. That is presumably as a result of I’m not distracted by visible photos related to the info that others see. As a substitute, I simply see uncooked knowledge.

break concepts into simple steps
Break Ideas into Easier Steps

To work out sophisticated concepts, I usually diagram concepts and ideas (however don’t draw photos of issues.) Then, I break concepts and ideas down into less complicated steps by drawing every half. Breaking ideas into easy steps helps me simplify concepts so I can first clarify them to myself after which to others.  I then translate the diagram into phrases.

At occasions the end result has been transformative for extra than simply me.

The best way I’m wired has given me (and sure different founders and people in different fields) an edge. So, how can others with aphantasia consciously harness that? And for many who do see photos in your heads, is there something you may study from these of us who don’t?

(I ponder if I might have benefited from a modified classroom curriculum if this had been found this early. Or if I might have been taught easy methods to visualize. However what would have been misplaced?)

Pluses and Minuses

After I first heard about aphantasia, I puzzled if these of us with it will are likely to excel in particular fields and keep away from others. I used to be stunned to search out out that somebody already ran a research that confirmed that individuals with low or no visible imagery usually tend to work in scientific and mathematical industries.

And does having hyperphantasia (folks with the other situation – having an especially vivid psychological imagery) predispose folks to work within the arts? It makes me surprise if the response and restoration from trauma/PTSD have some correlation with these with the flexibility to visualise these recollections versus those that don’t. (Right here’s an incredible future research space for the Veterans Administration.)

We’re Simply on the Starting of Understanding

This newest recognition of aphantasia as a neurological distinction is just a decade or so outdated (though references within the literature return to the Nineties).

My wager is that as science continues to discover neurodiversity (mind variations amongst folks), we’ll acquire a broader understanding that individuals expertise, work together with, and interpret the world in many alternative methods.

Hopefully, we’ll learn how that results in completely different strengths in comprehension, sample recognition, and problem-solving. We’ll possible uncover extra connections.

I’m curious if there’s anybody else who can’t see photos of their head.

Let me know.


Picture Credit score: Elephant, Pixabay; Pexels; Thanks!

Picture Credit score: Man on Tree: Lukas Rodriguez; Pexels; Thanks!

Picture Credit score: Apple; Juan C. Palacios; Pexels; Thanks!

High Picture Credit score: Asiama Junior; Pexels; Thanks!

Steve Blank

Steve Clean

Steve Clean is an Adjunct Professor at Stanford and Senior Fellow for Innovation at Columbia College. He has been described because the Father of Fashionable Entrepreneurship. Credited with launching the Lean Startup motion and the curriculums for the Nationwide Science Basis Innovation Corps and Hacking for Protection and Diplomacy, he’s modified how startups are constructed; how entrepreneurship is taught; how science is commercialized, and the way firms and the federal government innovate. Steve is the writer of The 4 Steps to the Epiphany and The Startup Proprietor’s Guide which revolutionized how startups had been built– and his Might 2013 Harvard Enterprise Assessment cowl story redefined how giant firms can innovate at velocity.

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