Writing on aphantasia, philosophy of mind, and more.

The following is a collection of my posts in chronological order.

Aristotle was wrong

Let’s go back in time to ancient Greece and meet Aristotle, one of history’s greatest thinkers. In his quest to understand the human mind, he stumbled upon phantasia. Phantasia is the capacity between perception and thought, almost like a ‘sixth sense.‘ Aristotle describes this capacity as “that in virtue of which an image occurs in […]

There’s a reason I ask people to think of a horse 🐎…

There’s a reason I like to ask people to think of a horse when describing aphantasia – it’s kind of my thing. Here’s what I find fascinating: everyone’s mental image of a horse is different. If you ask ten people to think of a horse, you will get ten different answers. Someone might imagine a […]

The paradox of imagining aphantasia

Visualizers, have you ever tried to imagine what it’s like not to visualize? It’s a paradox, isn’t it? The moment you try to imagine it, you’re already visualizing, which is the very thing we’re asking you to not do. It’s like asking you to think about something you can’t think about. Let’s dive deeper into […]

Are you a visualizer or conceptualizer?

Ever wondered how your mind processes information? Today, let’s explore two distinct ways of thinking: visualizing and conceptualizing. This distinction was first made by William Grey Walter back in 1963, and it’s as relevant today as it was then. To better understand these two ways of thinking, let’s dive into a simple yet revealing experiment […]

Meta-Imagination: The Language-Game of Visualization

Ever puzzled over how you could live for years, even decades, without realizing you have aphantasia? I’ve been pondering this ever since I discovered my own aphantasia in my early 20s. And believe it or not, I’ve heard from people who found out they had aphantasia in their 80s and 90s! One intriguing theory that […]

What’s it like to visualize?

Ever wondered what it’s like to visualize? For most people, visualizing is second nature. They think of an apple, a sunset, or a friend, and they can “see” it in their mind’s eye. For many years, I thought this was just a figure of speech, not a literal description of how people think. So, how […]

The assumption of universal visualization

When I first tell people I have aphantasia, I often get questions like: “Can you picture your memories? What about dreams?” My response is always the same. If the question is “Do you picture…” the answer will always be no. These questions hint at a subtle yet widespread assumption that everyone visualizes.  Why do we […]

The Visualizer’s Fallacy

In my last post, we explored the widespread assumption that everyone visualizes. Today, let’s delve into a more specific and impactful concept: the Visualizer’s Fallacy. The Visualizer’s Fallacy, as defined in the insightful work of researcher Christian Scholz, is not just the belief that everyone can visualize. It’s more nuanced and consequential. This fallacy involves […]

Confronting Aphantasia’s Challenges

Last week, we touched on the profound, often challenging journey of discovering aphantasia. Your heartfelt responses showed a shared path of exploration and, for many, an existential struggle. It’s a phase that many of us, including myself, have experienced. Upon first realizing that we have aphantasia, it’s natural to feel a sense of loss or […]

A New Year Without Visualization

As we welcome 2024, it’s the perfect time for setting goals and intentions. It’s the season of forward-looking and planning for what we want to achieve. Here’s a twist for our community – how do we approach this season when traditional visualization techniques aren’t in our toolkit? You’ve probably come across countless motivation strategies emphasizing […]

Are aphantasic minds similar to ChatGPT?

I recently had an enlightening conversation with ChatGPT, an advanced AI language model, on the topic of aphantasia. Out of curiosity, I asked it to think of a horse. The response was both intriguing and oddly familiar to me. Here’s the response I got: ChatGPT: As an artificial intelligence, I don’t have the ability to visualize or […]

Should we “cure” aphantasia?

Many people email me looking for a cure to their aphantasia.

I am sympathetic to the idea. For a long time, I believed gaining the ability to visualize would be the thing that improved my life. 

My perspective fully changed when I came to understand two core ideas that I think you should know.

That touched a nerve…

Last week I explored the number one question I get asked: “how do I cure my aphantasia?”  I received hundreds of replies, some very passionate, from both sides of the discussion.  Some were appalled I would suggest their aphantasia doesn’t need curing, and others were upset by the very notion that aphantasia and cure sit […]

We’re in good company

Name any field, occupation, skill or hobby, and I’d bet you’ll find aphantasics succeeding in surprising ways. Art and illustration? You must visualise to be creative and artistic, right? Tell that to Glen Keane, Oscar winning artist behind ‘The Little Mermaid’ and ‘Beauty and the Beast’. Watch him turn an “explosion of scribbles” into the […]

The power of abstract thinking

If I’m so sure that aphantasia doesn’t need a “cure”, then what advantages does it really have?  There are many, but this is the one I believe is most profound: Thinking in Types vs Tokens. A ‘token’ represents a mental image or concept that is rich in detail and sensory information, derived from our personal […]

A truly global phenomenon

My inbox is filled with questions from aphants all over the world. From L.A. to Seoul, Venezuela to Madagascar, people are discovering their mind is free from images at an astounding rate. Global data is preliminary, and I’m not a trained data scientist, but based on my analysis of over 600k VVIQ assessments taken at […]

Can you hear that?

Imagine the sound of a guitar. Can you hear it in your mind’s ear? I don’t mean hum to yourself in the style of a guitar, I mean literally hear the sound. Can you change its volume or pitch? Change the sound from a guitar to a violin? What about earworms? Have you ever had […]

Some can hear it, but others can’t…

My last post touched on the multi-sensory aspect of mental imagery for the first time. Many aphantasics were shocked to hear that sensory imagination can be experienced by sound, taste or touch. It took me a few days to read all the responses, and I’ve selected a few to comment on, which I believe highlights […]

Am I dreaming?

“If you have aphantasia, how do you dream?” Dreams are one of the several areas we see differences between aphantasics.  Some report the ability to “see” their dreams visually, and in great detail, but then cannot visualize them again when they wake. For this group of aphants, their dreams are described similarly to visualizers.  Others […]

So, you live in augmented reality?

Augmented reality is a technology that superimposes computer-generated images, sounds, and other sensory inputs onto the real world, creating an enhanced or augmented version of reality. What would it look like for that white wall to be painted red?  What if there was a yellow armchair resting on that rug? It’s not physically there, but […]

Unseen memories

Can you vividly recall the sights, sounds and smells of your 5th birthday party?  Take some time to “bring yourself there”…. What do you feel? How do you experience that memory?  Most visualizers describe a form of “mental time travel” where they experience multisensory “videos” of those childhood memories. For others, trying to re-experience old […]

A picture is worth a thousand words

“A picture is worth a thousand words” is an adage that rings true across multiple languages. It conveys the idea that visual imagery has an incredible power to encode and convey vast amounts of information in a single snapshot, far more than what could be conveyed through a simple story or description. To put this […]

They said you’re not trying hard enough…

A few weeks ago, an individual reached out to me with a story that struck a chord: “I am currently seeing a therapist for the first time and tried to explain why ‘visualization’ doesn’t work for me. He looked at me like I was crazy.” This isn’t an isolated incident. It’s a story I hear […]

Belief is a self-fulfilling prophecy

That quote from Henry Ford has stuck with me for years: “Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t–you’re right.” It captures something profound about how our beliefs shape our lives. I often hear from fellow aphantasics worried they can’t achieve certain goals because of their mind’s unique wiring. I understand that concern. […]

What does it mean to imagine?

Imagine your life in 5 years from now… What does it mean to answer this question? It’s a difficult one I’ve been wrestling with. I can think of different ways in which my life might evolve over the next 5 years. I have dreams and ambitions; I can make reasonable projections about what might unfold, […]

Apple Recognizes Hyperphantasia

This week’s Apple Keynote unveiled something remarkable – the recognition of hyperphantasia, which represents the vivid end of the mental imagery spectrum. During the presentation, a screen prominently displayed “Hyperphantasia: The Vivid Imagination,” highlighting this extraordinary cognitive trait. For those of us with aphantasia, this acknowledgment from a tech giant like Apple is a remarkable […]