Life With Aphantasia



A little bit more than 90% of the world’s population is able to picture something in their “mind’s eye” as to where 1 to 5% of the population are unable to do that. This phenomenon is referred as “Aphantaisia”. Due to it not being very common or even acknowledged by very many people, not much is known about it. Scientists aren’t entirely sure what exactly causes Aphantasia, but most people with this condition are born with it and are otherwise healthy. As it doesn’t really affect the overall health of the person, some times Aphantasia can be caused by a traumatic brain injury. The visual cortex part of the brain is where your brain processes visual information from your eyes, so Aphantasia usually occurs when your brain’s visual cortex doesn’t work properly.

On the spectrum there is an ability to picture things in the mind, lots of people fall within that spectrum. Like many things that involve the mind, Aphantasia is on the spectrum because some people with the condition report a complete inability to create a mental image, while other people who have it have a slight ability to create mental images. There is no real way to determine or to clinically diagnose Aphantasia so often times it is usually a self-diagnosed . The first case of Aphantasia was described by Sir Francis Galton in 1880. It remained largely neglected until the 2000s when Dr. Adam Zeman, a cognitive neurologist at the University of Exeter in England began his work. While determining this disorder, he took the greek word “Phantasia” which means “Imagination” and the prefix “a” to describe the “without”. So in all the condition where the mind is unable/without the the ability to create mental images.

Ever since I was a child I have been apart of the small percentage of people with this condition. It has made a big impact in my life and has presented itself with challenges. One of my favorite hobbies is drawing but Aphantasia has made it a challenge. I am not able to picture anything while drawing, whereas some people with the condition are able to picture faintly in their heads. Many artists and writers use their imagination when they start to create their works, for me it creates obstacles when I try to write or even draw anything, and I love doing both of them. Drawing gave me an outlet to express myself and so did writing. Aphantasia creates a barrier in the mind which makes it hard when trying to come up with ideas or concepts in the head. 

Having to Live with Apantaisia my whole life, all I’ve ever known is a blank slate in my mind when I try to image and picture things. I find it impossible to remember faces or images of those i love so, the most I’m able to do is make descriptions of them. It is alot harder then it sounds when i am trying to remember or even trying to translate my thoughts into words . There are definitely times where it has helped, but for the most part it has made challenges. Writing and drawing are diffult to improve in, i am not able to imagine new concepts, I can only describe them.

The mind works in so many interesting and fascinating ways, at times it is hard to tell what is truly going on inside one’s head. Aphantasia is just one of many things that can go on inside the mind, that affect at least 1 in 50 people in the world. While living with Aphantasia and getting to learn more about the the disorder more in depth and getting to know how it affects me personally has been a wild experience.