Navigating the world with aphantasia


Have you ever thought about how you think? Not what you think, but how you think? I often do, ever since realizing that I have aphantasia. Having this condition means that I cannot produce any visual images in my “mind’s eye.” When I close my eyes, I literally see nothing.

I first came across a word for this condition when reading an article in a newspaper: aphantasia. To be truthful, I thought everybody was the same as me, as it is rare that we ask each other, “What happens in your brain when you think?”

It is not a usual conversation starter, though it is one I think we should ask more often, as it helps us understand each other in a way that is vital and necessary.

In my work as a narrative consultant and international performance storyteller, I often have people tell me that I create wonderful images for them with my words and that they can see the landscapes and characters that I conjure up during performances. Yet I see nothing.

The irony is not lost on me, yet I “know” the story, the characters, and the landscapes intimately. I can describe them to you but do so without visualizing them. Let me explain.

Imagine being taken on a walk blindfolded. Imagine that someone is next to you, narrating what is around you…

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