Saturday, February 17, 2007

I Have Synesthesia

...and I didn't even know it.

The colors are normal to me. I never thought I was different. But, apparently I have this thing called "Synesthesia." Here is the Wiki and a Google search if you'd like to read more.

The big idea of Synesthesia is that a person experiences one sense as another. Some people see letters as colors. Some people taste music. Some people smell words.

I have two distinct ways of thinking that apparently differ from what normal people experience. The first one I've talked about on my blog before, and I've always thought it's weird, but can't explain it correctly. I associate colors to people and emotions. I have one friend who is pink, another friend who is blue, and so on. People's colors don't often change. They are arbitrary, and I don't have a problem telling a person what color I see them as. Well, that's not to say that when I physically look at a person, their skin appears pink or blue, but in my head, when I think about that person, I see their color instead of their face (or with their face). I have always had a hard time remembering what faces look like, but I don't forget a person's color.

Associating colors to emotions has been hard. I see shapes and colors as thoughts. I might think of a great idea as purple ovals and stars and yellow and orange triangles. The shapes are both geometric and organic and sometimes in 3-D. When I get angry, I often see turquoise and lavender. When I'm happy, I see greens and reds and blues. When I'm sad, I get yellow and black. Orange is a pretty odd emotion to explain, and I've never understood my pink emotions very well. I experience these emotions and thoughts, but I'm unable to describe them to other people or put them into words, which then also appear in my head.

The second thing that's different is how I process words. When I am saying a word or hearing a word, the word flashes in my head like a ticker or like someone is writing it on a chalkboard. When I say "cat," I see the word "cat" in my head. So when I'm saying a full sentence, each word flashes in my head separately. The word colors change, but I haven't payed enough attention to notice if the colors are consistent across word repetition.

I never thought any of this was weird. I thought everyone had these same things happening in their heads. Apparently that's not true.

I have Synesthesia, and I like it.


Uninformed Decision-Making said...

I had wondered about this [your sense mixing] last summer and fall when it was discussed via email as to what color I was currently. Having read a then-recent paper on such condition research, it came to mind. This was back in July.

The Guy Who Writes This said...

Jaggy, I did an article on this last October. I'm surprised you didn't put 2 and 2 together back then.

Jaggy said...

UDM: I've always known I was weird, but never had a name for that particular weirdness. I, too, recently discovered this by web-surfing.

Mr. Guy: I don't think I was reading your blog routinely then, or else I may have just missed that post. Apologies, and thanks for the link. I did read it this time. My experiences are quite typical, and they don't generally include colored letters.

Fascinating stuff, this mixed-sensing. Now if only I could cure my Pavlovian response to the word "chocolate." ;)

Uninformed Decision-Making said...