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What's On Your Mind? Part 2

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  • Stoney
    For those who do get literal visuals in their mind's eye, how clear and detailed are they? Is it like seeing the actual item or just some shapes and rough outlines?
    It actually depends on what I try to visualize. If you would ask me to visualize the inside of an electricity control cabinet I would only see a very blurry image (a ball of tangled cables) because I don't actually know what the inside of an electricity control cabinet looks like.

    In @Pricey's example with Buffy and Spike waterskiing, I only see a rough outline of the boat. But I can clearly see the water skis. They are white and the bottom side is dark gray. Also, I immediately saw Buffy telling Spike to switch places, so in my mind, Buffy is having a blast riding the waves while Spike is the captain of the motorboat.

    I am sure there is a huge variety of how much you can visualize and how vivid it is in your imagination in humans who don't have aphantasia. Joanne K. Rowling's always told this story of how she came to write Harry Potter. She said she was going on a train, looking out of a window and suddenly the whole story - all seven books in fact - popped up in her mind. I never doubted that this is what happened. I was only surprised that she could visualize seven books at once because it seemed to be - a lot. Now I just think her imagination or her ability to visualize things must be on a whole other range than mine.

    I also asked my nine-year-old if he can visualize a story he is reading in his mind. He said he can do it but he explicable added "a bit". So, I guess he is on the other end of the scale.

    I also think the numbers of 1% or 2% of people having aphantasia are probably a low estimation. Aphantasia has only been known for a couple of years and many people have never heard of it. Subsequently, they don't know they are affected. I am sure if the phenomenon gets studied more closely we will find out that many more people are affected.

    flow

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    • Priceless
      Priceless commented
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      When I write fanfic I picture every scene in my head as I'm writing.

  • I think the 1 -2 % with aphantasia are probably those who have been diagnosed. I expect most people don't get an actual diagnosis, but suddenly hear of the disease and find they have it, self-diagnosis if you will.

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    • Originally posted by Priceless View Post
      I think the 1 -2 % with aphantasia are probably those who have been diagnosed. I expect most people don't get an actual diagnosis, but suddenly hear of the disease and find they have it, self-diagnosis if you will.
      Ach, it isn't a disease! It's not even recognised as a learning disability. It's not a defect or disability, just a different way of thinking. You can be imaginative and invent things you can then draw, write or talk about without being able to mentally picture it. It's just a different creative process.

      bespangeled I was on the Aphantasia Network website this morning because we were all talking about it and I wondered if they addressed at all the 'how do you know people can see images' point, and they do. They say, "People can take tests like binocular rivalry and other experiments. People who are claiming to have vivid imagery have very different responses to these tests than aphantasics. Although this doesn’t let us know positively that they’re vividly seeing an image, it all points to the fact that something is truly different between people who claim to see vividly and those who don’t. We can also see activation in the visual cortex, the area in the brain that processes images from the eyes, which further suggests actual visualization."

      GoSpuffy you might want to look around that site if you haven't seen it before. It might help with some of how you're feeling from finding out about having aphantasia.

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      • Priceless
        Priceless commented
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        Thanks Stoney

      • bespangeled
        bespangeled commented
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        There is a network! I am actually finding this really interesting - some serious revelations. I've been this way all my life, and done fine. Now I have a name, and an idea of why.

      • Stoney
        Stoney commented
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        I know! It's fascinating isn't it. I spent an entire day reading about it when I found out it was a thing.

    • Originally posted by flow View Post
      I am sure there is a huge variety of how much you can visualize and how vivid it is in your imagination in humans who don't have aphantasia. Joanne K. Rowling's always told this story of how she came to write Harry Potter. She said she was going on a train, looking out of a window and suddenly the whole story - all seven books in fact - popped up in her mind. I never doubted that this is what happened. I was only surprised that she could visualize seven books at once because it seemed to be - a lot. Now I just think her imagination or her ability to visualize things must be on a whole other range than mine.

      I also asked my nine-year-old if he can visualize a story he is reading in his mind. He said he can do it but he explicable added "a bit". So, I guess he is on the other end of the scale.

      I also think the numbers of 1% or 2% of people having aphantasia are probably a low estimation. Aphantasia has only been known for a couple of years and many people have never heard of it. Subsequently, they don't know they are affected. I am sure if the phenomenon gets studied more closely we will find out that many more people are affected.
      flow I think you and Priceless are right that it is a low estimation and more likely indicates awareness than an actual percentage. People don't realise what they are experiencing isn't the same as everyone else.

      It's also a really difficult thing to describe. I wouldn't expect that JK Rowling played through (like watching individual movies) the full seven books in her train journey. She probably wouldn't have time for that kind of literal imagining. But she may have been talking about mentally picturing the characters and even specific moments/scenes while also having a rough idea of the full story direction growing too. It's still incredible, to be able to get a feel for such an extensive story, with that many stages, all at once. With or without vivid visualisations of elements of the story.

      I can visualise the direction and outline for a story in terms of imagining the characters and their overall journeys, picturing how individual scenes between characters would play out, break down sections of the story etc. It just wouldn't be with literal mental pictures. I can invent a character and decide on visual characteristics, describe them, but I just know what it is I'm 'picturing' rather than seeing it. So it depends really what is meant by visualise. I think the vast range of human experiences is fascinating and this is a really interesting thing to have found out about. I was always fairly dismissive until I heard about this when people talked about 'seeing' things they were imagining. I just assumed they were just talking metaphorically in the same way that I would if I was talking about picturing a scene/character/imaginative creature etc I was creating.

      We just never really know what it's like to be in someone else's body, what their experience and interaction with the world looks/feels like. It's why the inclusion of Faith really looking at Buffy in the mirror in Who Are You is such a neat touch. If you could experience being 'in' someone else's body I think you'd definitely take pause and have a nosey around, so to speak.

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      • This is really fascinating. For me as I'm reading a novel I can picture the story as it happens; though I usually have to mentally "pause" for a second after I read the sentence or paragraph to "replay" it in my mind. Sometimes, if there is no visual for what a character looks like, my mind might reassign a minor character in media to what I'm reading. So when I was a kid reading Charlie and the Chocolate Factory/Willy Wonka, before I had seen the film, I saw Augustus the big kid as a meaner version of Neville Longbottom.

        If I'm reading fanfic I can picture the actor or character "design" I have in my head and apply it to the fic story.

        With TV or animated things I can remember what I watched but also picture it alternating. Like if I wanted to picture this attack not working and the protagonists losing I could: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=srtMTfh4e4M
        Last edited by DanSlayer; 20-07-21, 01:04 PM.

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        • Stoney
          Stoney commented
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          Interesting example with the clip. I can picture the attack not working too, but just not with a picture playing in my mind. I just know what I'm thinking about would look like, how a storyboard of the end might play out differently.

      • I had the strangest dream last night. I was sitting on a beach chair in the middle of the mall with CC and we were chatting about everything like we were old friends. It was so bizarre.

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        • flow
          flow commented
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          What makes it even more bizarre is that it was CC's birthday yesterday...

      • What? I didn't know that.
        There's been some cameos in my dreams from the BtVS cast before. Sometimes they're in character, sometimes not but last night's dream were probably the weirdest one so far.

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