Aphantasia – So It Does Have a Name

A while ago I wrote this post. In it I detailed my inability to picture faces, though the more I think about it, I can’t picture much, faces just have the most detail which is obviously lost.

Last night, I was talking to my mother about drawing, I can’t remember exactly what she said, but it prompted me to reply with, “That’s the weird thing. I can’t picture faces.” Without missing a beat she said, “There’s a name for that.” Unfortunately, she couldn’t remember the name.

There’s a great moment in this video by the Game Grumps, these two men just randomly get really deep and one of them starts talking about dealing with OCD. He essentially says that he found out about OCD by just Googling somethings and next thing he knew he was crying because he finally had a name for what he suffered from. That was me last night.
(Note on the video: Please do not throw away your medication without talking to a doctor. They address that in a later video after fans pointed it out, but I’m going to also put that out there.)

I believe, the best way to define aphantasia is the inability to picture things, and instead thinking more in concepts. A lot of people like to use terms like “mind’s eye”. People with aphantasia don’t have one, or it needs some serious glasses.

I would say I fall in the almost aphantasia, or not complete aphantasia part of the spectrum. I can get vague images of a lot of things, like outlines, and bits and pieces of an image, but I can’t picture things how they truly are.

It seems like such a small thing. Not being able to picture things isn’t a big deal, right? And it doesn’t effect my life most of the time, but you feel weird and different because of these things. Finding out that there are people like this is a huge relief. I don’t think I’ll even join a support group, or actively search for other people with this, because now I know that I have walked past people who are the same, if not met them. (If you do have aphantasia and want to talk about it, you are more than welcome to reach out to me. I’d love to learn more information and I would be interested to hear your experiences as well!)

This also explains a lot of my writing style. As some of you may know, I’ve been playing around with writing fiction lately, and my style was very talky. As in, lots of talking, not a lot of description. My mom even said it was a bit like reading a movie script. I’ve tried to include more details, but I sometimes can’t picture what would be happening exactly. If you ever see me pacing around gesturing wildly, or typing away at my keyboard making facing, I’m literally acting out what’s happening so I can describe it. Though I’m willing to bet people without aphantasia do that too, it’s definitely been vital to my writing and understanding what to say is happening. Also explains my obsession with character’s eye color, but lack of facial features.

Discovering there’s a name for what you’re going through is no longer being alone. At least for me it was.

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