Advanced search

To not be able to picture things in my head?

(126 Posts)
FedoraTheExplora Mon 14-Mar-16 17:32:11

I know I'm not BU, but shamelessly posting here for traffic as I've wondered all my life if there was anyone else like me out there!

So, I can't form images in my head. It's kind of hard to explain, but my memory and thoughts are entirely words - I can't picture anything, not even my daughters face sad it doesn't cause me any problems really, but I have a horrible memory I.e. I don't know what colour car my dads been driving for 10 years, or what colour the walls are in my mums home, that I lived in for 10 years up until about a year ago. I've tried to google it, but I can't find anything, and I'm tempted to ask one of my psychology lecturers, but I'm a bit too shy and it's a bit too weird.

So MN, do any of you have this? Have you ever heard of it? Even a name for this condition (?) would be interesting to me..

Mari50 Mon 14-Mar-16 17:36:33


bakeoffcake Mon 14-Mar-16 17:37:56

I'm very similar to you, except I can picture my DDs' faces.
My shocking memory is the thing which really upsets me. I have very, very few childhood memories and my dh will tell me about going somewhere say 10 years ago and I don't have a clue what he's on about.

Like you I have very poor recall for details like wall colour, clothes etc.

I am dyslexic so I wonder if that is the issue?

TippyTappyLappyToppy Mon 14-Mar-16 17:38:35

No I haven't but I would not be at all surprised to find that it's a documented 'thing'.

I suppose it doesn't matter so long as you find other coping mechanisms that compensate for it.

ShowOfHands Mon 14-Mar-16 17:41:13

I have a very, very good memory but think mostly in words. I can picture things but it takes conscious effort. The words just pootle along constantly.

ridemesideways Mon 14-Mar-16 17:43:00

Some people just don't do visualisation, and are more auditory or kinaesthetic. It's unusual, but not a sign of abnormality.

Fractiousfractions Mon 14-Mar-16 17:43:01

This was covered by the BBC last year. Was really fascinated by it. Hope it shed some light OP.

bakeoffcake Mon 14-Mar-16 17:43:35

Mari I've googled what you suggested and it's very interesting. I don't think I have it as pronounced as you OP.
This is a good article and a test to see if you do have it.

AShiverofSharks Mon 14-Mar-16 17:43:40

How about if you close your eyes - can you 'see' the room you're sat in?

I've heard of face blindness, where people don't recognise anyone. They rely on context and other clues, voice etc, to work out who someone is. Do you have any trouble with that?

If it doesn't cause you any problems then you must have some sort of visual memory, or you'd be getting lost all the time. You're just not a very visual thinker. I hear people say that they paint all sorts of pictures in their mind when they read books and get a bit jealous, I only ever have very vague ghosty pictures in my mind. I never imagine what characters look like etc.

My friend was saying just the other day that she only ever thinks in pictures. I can't even begin to imagine how that works! How can you think without words?!

DigestiveBiscuit Mon 14-Mar-16 17:43:51

My DD can't visualise from language either. I know a speech therapist who has come across this in other children too!

bakeoffcake Mon 14-Mar-16 17:43:57

X posted!

WilLiAmHerschel Mon 14-Mar-16 17:45:29

I'm the same! I didn't realise it was that strange until I mentioned it to my dp recently. I can picture certain things but I have a make a concerted effort to do so. And I don't picture then freely, like say I wanted to see my dd in my head, I would be able to picture a specific photograph I have of her that I know well, not just randomly see her. (Not sure I've explained that well).

FedoraTheExplora Mon 14-Mar-16 17:45:47

Wow! Just googled and that's exactly it. So glad to hear it's not just me blush one article says up to 1 in 50 have it!

And yes, similarly to you guys, I can't remember anything from my childhood, or from secondary school etc. although I'm only 23, but my written memory is fantastic and I do really well at uni. Wonder if it's linked - as my brain spends no time remembering imagery, it has plenty of time and energy to use remembering facts/ written information. Interesting. Can't believe it only became a thing last year though!

wasonthelist Mon 14-Mar-16 17:46:10

I have no ability to visualise memories either op.

AShiverofSharks Mon 14-Mar-16 17:46:50

That's interesting about childhood memories, I'm the same.

Off to google aphantasia...

WilLiAmHerschel Mon 14-Mar-16 17:46:58

Oh and do I have a degree of face blindness, and I get lost all the time. I literally have got lost on my way to the corner shop.

FedoraTheExplora Mon 14-Mar-16 17:51:43

How about if you close your eyes - can you 'see' the room you're sat in?

No. I could describe it, as in I know where things are, colours of furniture etc. but I just can't even entertain the possibility of 'seeing' anything in my head, it's just never happened.

I've heard of face blindness, where people don't recognise anyone. They rely on context and other clues, voice etc, to work out who someone is. Do you have any trouble with that?

I do have to meet people quite a few times before I can remember them, but I definitely recognise the people close to me, before they speak and even without context etc. I don't know how? I'm really not sure.
If it doesn't cause you any problems then you must have some sort of visual memory, or you'd be getting lost all the time.*

I don't know. For example, I've just moved, and I know that my house comes directly after an alley. I guess I kind of remember how to get places in written form? I have been to my best friends house at least 50 times but have the door number saved in my phone otherwise I can't remember which house hers is blush

bakeoffcake Mon 14-Mar-16 17:54:45

I'm glad you know what it is nowgrin

Mumoftwoyoungkids Mon 14-Mar-16 17:57:32

I have this to a certain extent. And a certain level of face blindness.

I'm bloody brilliant at maths though. I have a vague theory that all mathmos are "defective" in some way or other and the maths ability is somehow connected with this.

AShiverofSharks Mon 14-Mar-16 17:57:34

That's really interesting! Sorry OP, not very helpful, but isn't it crazy how brains work?

I don't fit the criteria for aphantasia, but I took the test on the bbc website and found some of the things they were asking very hard to do - could picture people's faces, but not their mannerisms particularly, and definitely not their clothes - just realised why I have no interest in/am crap at fashion grin

WilLiAmHerschel Mon 14-Mar-16 17:57:38

Niel works in a bookshop and is an avid reader, but avoids books with vivid landscape descriptions as they bring nothing to mind for him. “I just find myself going through the motion of reading the words without any image coming to mind,” he said. “I usually have to go back and read a passage about a visual description several times – it’s almost meaningless.”

Wow that's just like me! Except for the working in a bookshop and being called Niel bits.

MadauntofA Mon 14-Mar-16 18:00:59

I have this, can't picture places/ people. Don't "see" dreams but just know what has happened. I'm shocking with directions, and peoples faces. I would be useless as a witness to a crime!!! It was a revelation when I saw the article from the bbc when it came out. I wonder if we compensate in another way?

SoThatHappened Mon 14-Mar-16 18:01:23

I wish I had that. I get exhausted by bad memories in my minds eye.

MadauntofA Mon 14-Mar-16 18:01:54

I hate buying clothes as I cannot tell if the colours/ styles go together

FedoraTheExplora Mon 14-Mar-16 18:02:00

Me too WilLiAm! I am finding it so interesting reading about other people who have been able to sum up the condition much more eloquently than I. I have even emailed the professor who named the condition to see if I can assist in his study.

Join the discussion

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now