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Aphantasia: When the Mind's Eye is Blank

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  • Tip Bones

I've written recently about the phenomenon of people having no inner monologue, or no 'inner voice' narrating thoughts, instead experiencing thought as abstract or inner visual conceptualization. This perspective has led me to yet another thing I hadn't considered: aphantasia.

Picture this: you cannot voluntarily 'picture' things in your mind. There isn't much research on aphantasia, but the interesting and helpful site has given me a fascinating insight into lives that don't rely on mental images. Some personal accounts on the site describe the inability to recall even memories visually, but it doesn't stop there. Some experience aphantasia in other sensory recall, such as smell or taste. For example, some people with aphantasia may not be able to recall a meal's scent or taste at a restaurant they really loved.

It's almost the opposite to having no internal monologue, for some. As Tom Ebeyer says in his article on the website, "Think of a Horse:"

"...when someone asks me to think of a horse, I just know that I’m thinking about it. It’s processed with language and internal dialogue. I can tell you that horses are mammals with 4 legs, yay tall, can be these colours, etc, but it’s the idea of the horse that’s important, not the details."

It's interesting, for me at least, to think about how thought is experienced differently in minds other than my own.

Photo: Pixabay