In 2003, a 63-year-old patient bought a strange problem for Dr. Adam Zeeman, a neurologist. The patient, who was later called “MX,” could not conjure up images in his mind of his family, friends, and places he had visited. MX, a retired surveyor, was in good shape, living his life while happily reading novels and drifting to sleep with images of his loved ones in his mind. Everything was fine until he underwent a minor surgery that left him blind.
Since MX, Zeman and his team have had 16,000 people tell them they don’t have mental images. Scientists also claimed that this condition has tens of millions of people infected. The condition MX suffered is now called Aphantasia. The word is derived from the Greek term “Phantasia” which means “fantasy”.
The phenomenon of mental blindness was first mentioned in a study conducted by Francis Galton in 1880 entitled “Breakfast”. Francis, a British naturalist, asked 100 adult men to describe the table at which they had breakfast. Request information on color, sharpness and lighting. To his utter surprise, 12 of the 100 men could not answer much. Up until that point, they believed that the phrase mental imagining was not meant in the literal sense!
Since then, scientists have documented several cases of people having aphantasia.
In a 2009 survey conducted by Bill Fau, a student at Broughton-Parker College, about 2% of 2,500 people he interviewed lacked mental images.
However, research into the condition was insufficient until 2010. This was the year that Zeman’s study on MX was published. Discover magazine reported on the findings that many people have come forward and report similar symptoms.
Live a life with fantasy
People with aphantasia deal with a variety of problems every day. For example, they regularly have difficulty remembering faces or places. This can provoke anger over time, leading to functional and social difficulties.
However, Aphantasia has a broad spectrum. Not all people who come into contact with it lack the full capacity for mental visualization through the senses. Some people can imagine the tone of the music they heard. However, they may or may not be able to remember the images associated with them.
Read more: Mental health and music therapy
Article by Scientific Reports It indicates that some people with this condition may also be able to see some images during a dream. However, they may lack the clarity and liveliness that individuals without the condition experience.
The illustrations above illustrate the many unseen differences between people with and those without aphantasia. However, these individuals are quite capable of living both personal and professional lives. In fact, some of these are actively working in Creative and Scientific Industries.
Aphaantasia shows the number of human experiences that are not as universal as thought. There are, in fact, a number of interesting differences that exist.
Feeling dazed yet? Well, we are just getting started.
Aside from Aphantasia, there is a host of unusual mental disorders. To learn more about it, click over here.
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