10 July 2020

Picture this...

As an adult have you ever realized that something you experienced for your whole life was not how most others would experience the same thing? I am coming to that realization about myself now.

When people ask you to picture something, can you actually see that thing in your mind?  Because I cannot.  I didn’t know that when people count sheep, they can visually see sheep in their minds.  I thought flashback scenes in tv shows and movies were idealized versions of how we would like to see things from our past and a tool for the audiences, not that people could actually replay scenes in their minds that way. When you think of someone, you see their face in your mind?  Because I do not. I feel the memories and can describe them somewhat but obviously not as clearly as people who are seeing these things.  For me, it is more like narration.

I found this, new to me, truth on accident.  I recently took up meditation and I was finding that some just didn’t work well for me even though I liked them and the style felt comfortable to me.  So I was trying to figure out why I was struggling with them.  And that is when I realized that some guided meditations have you picturing this and that and then this again.  Cool for people who are actually seeing those scenes in their mind.  Because my mind’s eye is, I guess, blind(?)  I need more time to picture that. If you suggest that  I close my eyes and “picture” a beach, I would not see a beach. I would see darkness and maybe hints of a blob of color.  I would still be imagining the beach.  But instead of a picture I would be thinking something like “Sand, playground, water, birds, rocks, shells, kids playing....”  That takes much longer than seeing a picture in your mind I suppose.  I was still relaxed through most of my meditation sessions, but some had me not able to really enjoy the practice because it was moving too fast for how I “picture” something.  To me “picture this” is a figure of speech.  Imagine? Yes!  Picture it?  Not even a little bit.

Realizing that most people’s imaginations and memories are a completely different style from yours is a very weird experience.

I have been thinking of it on and off since I realized all of this last night. Having an internal monologue with myself.  I guess in some ways I am missing something.  It would surely make trying to art or craft easier if I could picture what I want to do.  Then again, I feel like this way I have to think when I was to “see” something.  I guess there is an advantage to that.

This apparently has a name: Aphantasia.  They don’t know a lot about it.  Some are born with it, some are this way due to trauma, some people on the Autism spectrum have it. I do have MS, so maybe that plays a role, but I really don’t remember even seeing pictures like that, not even before the MS, so probably not.  Whatever the cause, it doesn’t affect my life as it is just how I have always been.  I can see dreams sometimes, but even most of those are more like an audiobook than a movie.  Also apparently many who experience this do not like reading fiction.  I love reading fiction *shrug*. I guess some feel like they are missing something, not me, I didn’t know any of you were truly picturing a movie in your mind as you read.



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