ForumGeneral Discussion ► Apanthasia & Conceputalization, Imagination, Visualization...
This topic has been under my curiosity for a while.

From what I've determined so far, although I will admit I have not researched too heavily on this subject through official papers and studies, I possibly have and always had aphantasia [Citation Needed], which is kinda ironic as I'm a person who has a decent amount of imagination and have been interested in visual art + drawing all throughout my life.
Whenever I try to visualize something in my head I cannot "see" the image. For example, when I try to visualize an apple while staring at a blank front of a wall or having my eyes closed, nothing changes in my eyes. Apparently some people have the ability to imagine and see a faint silhouette, spot of color, or actually seeing an apple as if it is really there in front of you. All of this still kinda boggles me today.

*Post-Script: Although, visualizing something very, very vividly (Hyperphantasia) is also something quite rare.

However, the strangest thing about my aphantasia is that my conceptualization seems to be pretty strong. While I cannot visualize things, I am somehow able to invisibly sense the thing that I am imagining?
I am aware of the how the apple in my mind curves a certain way, I can describe its colors, and to zoom into the details of the apple in my mind, but as I mentioned before, I can't actually see a projection of the apple.

I am still able to dream relatively fine. When I am about to fall asleep or in some cases, become immerse in a book, I do experience brief glimpses of color and details and could recall these later.

Anyways, enough of my rambling.

From the years that I spent in TwoCans, there are quite a lot of creative people in here and I'm curious on how this affects you all.
How is it like for you to visualize and imagine things?


*Post Script: I misspelled aphantasia, whoops.
  
I think I am pretty close to apanthasia. It takes me a great deal of effort to visually imagine anything. I, pseudoscientifically, suspect it has something to do with the fact that I'm also faceblind. Imagining objects is much easier than faces. But when I can imagine things visually, I don't see them. The image is never clear or complete or stable. It's more of a memory, and not a very good one. It doesn't feel visual (I don't think that makes a ton of sense, but I can't think of another way to describe it). I'm very curious to hear how normal people imagine visually.
  
how can you tell
  
Some people have the ability to imagine and see a faint silhouette, spot of color, or actually seeing an apple as if it is really there in front of you.
This is whack. I've never thought I had this, I can visualize things just fine in my head- do people actually like make themselves hallucinate things? Like they can picture an apple and it's not like remembering what an apple looks like, it's that they like physically see an actual apple that their brain has constructed? That can't be right.
When I think about a tune, it's not like I'm actually hearing it. I can run through a song in my head or remember how something tasted without hearing or tasting it again. Is it not like that for visualizing things for most people?
  
When I remember a song, it does feel like I'm hearing it in my head.
  
Y'all don't just hear a noun and see it? I can see/feel/hear/etc a beach I go to some summers right now and I'm in a dark room and not looking at pictures. I'm thinking of an apple and it's as if I'm looking at a stock photo of an apple. It's a red apple because I like red apples.

Wait so y'all can't imagine yourself standing in front of you house and walking down the road to a different house? How are y'all with directions and like, mentally mapping things? Like when you're going from one part of town to another or one town to another, you can't like, see the route in your head like you were looking at a map?

Is it just imagery or is it all of your senses? Right now I'm imagining taking a shower. If I want, I see myself in third person or first. I'm sitting in my shower with my clothes off, the water all over the floor. Add in the detail of steam, taste the moisture in the air, feel the air as heavy with water vapor while breathing in, the sound of the water hitting the ground, of shampoo caps opening. Now just for the fuck of it, the lights are out and I'm in the dark and having to navigate the shower in the dark.
  
Yeah no, the best I can do most times is a fuzzy windows 7 powerpoint in my head if I try.
I'll be the first to admit I'm not a terribly imaginative person.
When I remember a song, it does feel like I'm hearing it in my head.

Oh music helps things along for me too. Guess it could just vary from person to person, based on genetics and life experiences.
  
I can think of an apple. I can make the picture in my head. It's an image. Shiny and perfectly apple-shaped, red with a little grainy yellow spot and a leaf on the stem even though apples don't really come like that. I cannot open my eyes and see a literal apple in real life.
Same thing with touch, sound, everything- it's like invoking a memory or an echo of my senses in my head. It's not the same as actually experiencing the thing.
  
how can you tell

There's a couple of tests and assessments out there that you can use to evaluate your ability to visualize things.
The Vividness of Visual Imagery Quiz (VVIQ) and the Spontaneous Use of Imagery Scale (SUIS) are two that are fairly easy to complete if you want to do some self-evaluation. The VVIQ measures how vividly you ca see images by a scale of 1-5 (No image, Dim and vague image, Moderately realistic and vivid, Realistic and reasonably vivid, Perfectly realistic) while the SUIS evaluates more on how you use this imagery in your daily life.

Since I'm basically snagging all this info from pour this with me, so check out the video and for a bit more info on the subject as well as resources!

Another quick yet less objective test that I saw floating around is for you to close your eyes (or keep them open) and imagine a red star.
Compare your mental image with the numbered picture that it resembles the most below.
  
Wait so y'all can't imagine yourself standing in front of you house and walking down the road to a different house? How are y'all with directions and like, mentally mapping things? Like when you're going from one part of town to another or one town to another, you can't like, see the route in your head like you were looking at a map?

I can't really respond to this question with much confidence since my sense of direction / spatial memory isn't the best compared to some people.
If I went to the house beforehand, I would generally know what directions I should take in order to get there. However, I struggle with seeing the routes in my head. If I were to imagine a map of directions in my head and print out what I've visualized, the buildings and roads would look all faint and blurry while the directions would just point towards an approximate direction of my destination.

Is it just imagery or is it all of your senses?

Apanthasia tends to refer to visual imagination but it can also branch out and include multisensory imagination.
  
Damn. I thought it was normal for imagined images to be basically photographic. I don't have an eidetic memory, but I can definitely see even the wrinkles in my grandmother's face right now. Like, with those stars, mine is way more vivid than 6.

Wait, coldfrost, how are you with stereoisomers then? Like do you tell R from S by the whole prioritize the functional groups thing? I rotate them in my head.
  
I feel like I have something along the lines of aphantasia for my sense of smell
  
I cannot visualize anything without an inner description. So when someone says to visualize an Apple. I can't just close my eyes and see the apple. I have to describe it into existence. So I say to myself there is an apple. It is red and it's squat, plump and rounded. Then I see a shape and a flat color.
Then I tell myself that the brown stem protrudes from the top a curves a little to the right. Shadows play along bottom, deepening the red and giving depth. light shines down on top brightening the red and leaving a curved reflection
There are little light speckles along the top and droplets of water.

I build an apple. Without the words. There is no apple.
  

Wait, coldfrost, how are you with stereoisomers then? Like do you tell R from S by the whole prioritize the functional groups thing? I rotate them in my head.
I can picture them just fine.
It's kind of like watching a video of something vs watching the real thing? My brain very much knows it's not real and I'm not receiving any stimulus. The way pik here was describing it was that for most people, picturing things would lead you to actually seeing them, which sounds bonkers to me. I can picture a tree all I want in my head, the bark texture, the leaves, how they rustle in the wind, etc, but I cannot see the tree I am picturing with my eyes in real life. I can picture climbing the tree and remember how pulling myself up would feel, but I can't actually feel anything other than my phone in my hands.
  
Honestly, I'm still confused on how exactly the whole visualizing thing works in regards to people who could and couldn't see things in their mind.

Which kinda summarizes the purpose of this thread, to compare notes and see if there's a general consensus to help define what it is actually like to imagine things visually.
Like you, I could distinctly remember what the bark of a tree feels like and hear how the leaves rustle in the wind, albeit it's nothing that overpowers my current senses.

From what I've read from people's accounts, I think that the more vivid visualizers are not necessarily inducing themselves hallucinations or anything like that. The images are usually somewhat faint + people are aware that they are imagining something and are able to control it. obv this will depend on the person

To clarify a little bit on what it's like for me more abstractly is that visualizing things is like looking at an object with the lights turned off? I know and understand that the apple is there in front of me and how the apple would look like if I changed perspectives or if it was manipulated, like if it was sliced by a knife or started rolling. I could recall its texture and how the colors blend on the peel (as well as any additional sensory stuff like hearing the clatter of the knife as it sliced the apple or smelling fresh apple slices)-- despite nothing actually being seen. It's this sort of blankness rather than darkness.
  
I will say, having very limited visual imagination is rather helpful in my line of work. I can't really imagine pictures if my eyes are open. Sometimes I'll end up remembering images that I don't necessarily want to remember all the time (eg: videos of people being shot, photos of graphic autopsies, etc.), but as soon as I open my eyes I can no longer imagine them. I hope that continues to be effective when I start having to watch more gruesome shit like child porn.
  
I recall some people bringing up a similar point in a discussion talking about the more practical/beneficial effects of having aphantasia.
Some are less likely to feel squeamish from disturbing descriptions or feel alright after watching a scary movie. Another few mentioned that they seldom/never visually recalled terrible memories or graphic experiences.

Though, one thing I'm still trying to wrap my head around is that I still feel disturbed after looking at unsettling images. I can't really "see" the image, but I remember most of the grisly details that sets off the alarms in my head. Maybe I am able to visualize a little bit? or is it the reaction that I associate it with...
  
Another thing that is typically associated with aphantasia is one's inner monologue/voice. A lack of inner speech can be possibly linked to aphantasia.
How are words processed in your thoughts? Do you have an inner monologue or is it more fragmented? Does it come by automatically or is it something that needs to be prompted?
  
I have aphantasia, but I have a very strong inner monologue and general memory of sound. There is almost always some kind of sound in my brain, whether it be inner monologue or a different sound memory of some sort. Comparing the way I recall sound, which is almost as though I'm actually hearing it again, is what made me understand that I was aphantasic. While I can remember what something looks like, it's not in a visual sense so much as it is a collection of impressions. I know what it looks like in an abstract sense, I can describe it, draw it, etc, but the image doesn't exist in my head in a truly formed kind of way.
  
That's peculiar. At no time is my mind silent.
  
I just tried that star test and like Antimony said, my star was way better than the picture. The first 'red star' that came to mind was a shiny foil sticker like you get on your homework if your teacher is a communist, floating in the void i.e. I hadn't paid any attention to surroundings yet so there weren't any. Then I switched it to a painted wooden kid's block standing point-up on a formica tabletop in front of a glossy white painted cinderblock wall.

I can imagine an abstract geometically-perfect star filled with #FF0000 against a pure black background. It's actually harder to deliberately visualize no background at all - like empty-mind meditation I keep wanting something there.

I also noticed that I'm not literally seeing these scenes or objects over top of the room with my eyes open or the reddish dark of closed eyes. Visual imagination doesn't actually look like anything.
  
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