I have a tiny problem. I’ve met a few people with the same problem, but I don’t think any of them had really thought about it until I asked.
Take a moment to close your eyes. You could also leave them open I suppose, it doesn’t really matter. Try both ways even!
Now think of someone close to you. It could be your life partner, a new romantic relationship, perhaps a family member, or a dear friend. Anyone who you know pretty well. Be sure this person you’ve picked, is someone who you have seen a lot. This could even be someone you work with and see often, or the cute guy at the Starbucks who makes the best espressos.
The important thing here is that you’ve seen their face often enough to know it.
Can you picture their face?
Can you see what they look like?
Of course, it is to be expected, that some details may be lost. You may not know the color of someone’s eyes, or their exact face shape, but can you picture a face that you are fairly certain is theirs?
Most people can. Of course they can close their eyes and think about their families! people they know and love. Even celebrities!
I can describe what someone looks like to you. My husband has blue eyes, dark hair, slightly down turned eyes, generally has stubble, even though he shaves every day, bushy eyebrows, etc. etc. But I can’t picture his face when I close my eyes.
I always found it odd, and it generally isn’t a bad thing. I can still recognize people. I have a pretty good memory for recognizing people, I’d say. I don’t tend to forget someone if I’ve actually spoken to them (Or they were ssuuuuuppper hot.) But for some reason I literally cannot picture a face.
Normally this wouldn’t be that big of a deal, but I’m finding that being away from my husband is much harder than it should be. I mean, think about it. Not only is he not around, I literally cannot think of what he looks like. It’s incredibly frustrating! Even after I’ve looked at a picture, I can’t do it.
To be honest, it’s really upsetting and I’m fairly certain there isn’t much I can do about it. Luckily, it really isn’t the end of the world! Especially since I’m not trying to describe someone to a police sketch artist. Hopefully that day never comes either.
I’m curious of other people out there like this. I feel like it shouldn’t be that rare.
Update 7 October 2016: It has a name. Aphantasia.