Aphantasia (A Complete Guide)

In this article, we explore Aphantasia, the causes, and ways to improve this condition.

What is Aphantasia?

Aphantasia is the inability to imagine mental imagery. Recognized also as blind imagination. 

Think of the sea. We can easily visualize the sound of the waves, the waves hitting against our feet. It will be simple for most of us to envision, though some will have to try a little harder to visualize the image. But there will be a variation in this ‘quasi-perceptual’ picture-it system for almost all of us.

Individuals with Aphantasia don’t produce pictures in their mind’s eye of familiar things, people, or locations. Not for the future’s feelings, memories, or pictures. They lack this vision system.

Multi-sensory is imagination. In our creative experiences, from aphantasia (absence) to hyperphantasia (abundance) of multi-sensory perception, there are amazing, mostly undiscovered, hidden discrepancies.

All of us visualize differently.

Visual imaging, or thinking from the lens of the eyes, leads to critical cognitive processes such as episodic memory, prospection of possible events, visual working memory, and dreaming. By enabling us to remember the past and simulate possible futures, visual imagery helps us view the situations we witness in the world efficiently and adaptively. By implication, it seems to be a significant precursor to our ability to participate in directed decision-making effectively.

In human consciousness, Aphantasia is a variant. The desire to switch between ‘what is’ and ‘what might be’ is creativity. A cognitive mechanism that * generally * includes constructing within our mind cognitive imagery, individuals, or even entire universes.

This ‘sixth sense’ was first identified by Aristotle as ‘Phantasia,’ and the ‘a’ in aphantasia signifies its absence. An approximate ~3-5 percent of the population has aphantasia but has only just officially started to research this difference in human existence.

Aphantasics can be excessively imaginative.

‘Imaginative’ means possessing imagination or creativity or displaying it. It is much more difficult to be imaginative than the capacity (or inability) to imagine.

It requires a whole system of activities to build or create new things, from incorporating previous experiences and personalities, dreaming about the future to exploring various paths to desired goals. Aphantasics can still do any of these stuff! We go differently about the creative process.

Aphantasia refers to an alternate form of thought.

People have reported feeling lonely and depressed after learning that other individuals can construct sensory information in their imagination, and they can not.

It’s all right to feel this way. This is a perfectly natural response. But aphantasia is not a disorder, nor a flaw, which is important to acknowledge. Nor is it a performance obstacle. Realizing you have aphantasia will contribute to new perspectives into your own creative experience, perspectives that can affect your existence sometimes in unforeseen ways.

Brilliant designers, creators, writers, singers, scientists, business people, and more are Aphantasics!

People like Ed Catmull, Steve Jobs’ co-founder of Pixar and past president of Walt Disney Animation Studios, where several of the Academy’s most famous award-winning films are made, such as The Lion King, Toy Tale, The Little Mermaid, and Finding Nemo.

The biologist who first encoded the genetic code, Craig Venter. Blake Ross, the Mozilla Firefox developer. Penn Gillette, one of the Penn and Teller magicians. Everybody has aphantasia.

In 2015, Aphantasia had first been given a name, but you will find evidence of its presence dating all the way back to 340 BC. When aphantasia had not been a known subject of debate, Aristotle stood at the beginning of this background. In De Amina (On the Soul), Part III, Aristotle introduces the word Phantasia to define a separate skill between vision and thought, a kind of ‘sixth sense.’

Phantasia is usually translated into imagination, and in the sense of visualizing and dreaming, it is also clarified. While scholars differ with the precise translation, most would accept that Phantasia is not ‘unrelated to the imagination,’ while Aristotle uses it to describe other mental mechanisms such as memory, thinking, reasoning, desire, action, and more.

The incapability to do so could represent a learning difficulty if visualization were important to learning, but the truth is not that easy. Aphantasia is not a syndrome that is monolithic. In online forums, individuals who think they have aphantasia referred to as aphants discuss whether it should be considered a disability.

Those who only found out about their problem in their 50s or 60s claim that they hadn’t felt hampered, although others think that they missed school courses because of it.

Aphantasia, however, affects not only the academic experiences of individuals; it also reaches into their private lives. Being not able to envision means never imagining family or close friends’ faces and recalling pictures as conceptual details.

According to Dr. Zeman, it is linked to having difficulty identifying faces (prosopagnosia), a weak understanding of direction, and poor procedural memory.

Until their teens and early twenties, many wouldn’t realize that their experience is any distinct from those of others. It may be when remembering the past and discovering that they have a different memory experience than their friends or relatives.

People who have recognized their aphantasia may still not be sure of the complete spectrum of what they’re lacking. Only recently did I understand that metaphors are intended to invoke pictures, says Ms.Xu. For example, when some individuals hear, “My job interview was a slam dunk,” they picture someone playing basketball. And who knew?

To substitute for their lack of mental visualization, Aphants use a variety of techniques, but because aphantasia differs from person to person, what tends to work for some can not work for others.

Some rely on other cognitive senses, including what could be called the ear of the mind. For example, I always recite my notes aloud to myself and depend on auditory recall on exams.

Aphantasia-conscious educators can assist with modifications to their lectures that can support the others in the class, just as adjustments for students with learning disabilities may help to improve other students’ lessons.

In the end, aphantasia is only one of the several ways in which the brains and style of learning of individuals are different. One student says that every word spoken in the classroom is visualized, whereas another friend who has attention deficit hyperactivity disorder has difficulty processing relevant noise to interpret lectures from background noise. Probably our difficulty in recognizing these discrepancies and adapting to them leads to a partial knowledge of the neurodiversity that encompasses us.

All I see is soft blue spots and darkness when I shut my eyes, and for 19 years, I thought that was what everybody else saw, too. What else we fail to appreciate, I wonder.

Coping with Aphantasia

Practice Memory Palace

The basic concept behind the Memory Palace Strategy is to connect pieces of knowledge with a place you are acquainted with, like your home.

And in order to imagine your home, it does not need you.

You can choose any location or venue you are acquainted with, having the complete spectrum of your magnetic modes in mind.

The Memory Palace technique’s efficacy is focused on the proven evidence that space is interpreted by your brain and spatial memory as a memory.


In this article, we explored Aphantasia, the causes, and ways to improve this condition.

FAQ: Aphantasia

Is Aphantasia a disability?

The inability to do so could indicate a learning disability if visualization were important to learning, but the truth is not that easy. Aphantasia is not a disorder that is monolithic. In internet communities, people who are saying they have aphantasia referred to as aphants, discuss whether it should be considered a disability.

Can you dream with Aphantasia?

People with Aphantasia do dream, but their dreams may vary from more visual dreamers and might vary within the group of Aphantasia. Some individuals visually dream, but once alive; they are unable to do so. Others dream of doing something about their experience or witnessing something, but without a visual aspect.

Does Aphantasia have a cure?

Scientists also do not know if the inability to see with the eye of the mind can be handled and whether you can treat aphantasia. However, with a lack of ability to visualize, being aware of the major mnemonic devices will enhance the condition. The time has come to find ways to cope with a bad memory.

Does Aphantasia affect reading?

“We understand that kids with aphantasia seem not to like descriptive texts, and this could well affect their interpretation of reading,” says the University of Exeter neurologist Adam Zeman, who assigned the disorder its name last year, along with his coworkers.


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