A couple of years ago, I was made aware of Aphantasia, the inability to make images in the mind. Leesa Austin, who follows my drawing videos, contacted me to say how they had helped her get a handle on drawing.
I “just” have an image in my head and draw what I see to the best of my practical abilities. Leesa has no image.
With a bit more research, I discovered that Aphantasia is a thing! I couldn’t imagine not being able to make images in my head. For me, that sounds like a disability.
But it turns out to be a blessing too. Those with Aphantasia are suited to different career paths, notably maths and science.
I woke this morning thinking, “mind imagery must, like most things, be a spectrum.”
Sure enough, it turns out the other end of the spectrum is called Hyperphantasia.
As I lay in bed musing, the cat nudging me for attention, I realised that I don’t just see images, I have a widescreen movie theatre inside my head!
I can see actors – people I know or have imagined – carrying out alternate lives. I can see situations and play out different endings.
This might sound like a huge benefit, but it has it’s negative sides. It’s perfect for creating conspiracy theories! I have learned to fight against this aspect, but can still fall down a rabbit hole of my own construction. Over time, I have learned to recognise the signs and claw my way back or avoid the gaping hole in the first place.
Sometimes a scenario is so enticing, I “just have to know what happens!” I have to research the thought in real life to see where it goes, eventually running out of steam when I either find the answer or conclude that there isn’t one to be found.
Mrs Rayner will roll her eyes. I think she thinks I’m trying to prove myself right. It’s not that. I just need to know – right or wrong.
Hyperphantasia might have made me a fortune several times over, but…
I can get a brilliant idea, visualise it as a brilliant business idea, buy the office furniture, hire staff, sack them, create marketing strategies and manufacturing plants and build a multi million pound business in my mind all in under an hour!
I used to get really excited doing this, and drain myself with an adrenaline overdose.
The images were so powerful that I felt I had actually done it. So when it came to actually putting the idea into practice, I couldn’t be bothered. I’d been there and done it already.
Then, a couple of years later I’d see someone doing what I’d imagined, making a fortune. I didn’t mind, I knew I wouldn’t have done it. They hadn’t stolen the idea. The idea had found me, used me to work itself out and then gone on to find someone more practical to put it into action.
To achieve what I have done in my life, I’ve had to learn to quieten down the wilder aspect of my future imaginings , to learn to start a job and follow through to the end – sometimes, even when I’m bored with the job and it’s going nowhere, I really try to finish it.
I realise now that there must be others out there like me. I can’t be the only one. They are the one’s who never finish things. Maybe their imaginings were so wonderful, they know they are never going to achieve the perfect manifestation of their visions, so why bother?
I think I learned one thing along the way. The vision stays, but you may have to iterate to finally manifest it. You are not going to create a masterpiece first time. It takes practice, dedication, and iteration – and maybe a lifetime!