One of the delights of each week for me is to listen to the Quirks & Quarks podcast on CBC Radio. I always learn something and this week was no different.
I learned that there is something called aphantasia, which is an inability to produce mental images. Those with this condition have no mind’s eye and do not “see” things in their mind as most of us do. For example, if someone is talking to me about Paris, then an image of the Eiffel Tower may well pop up in my head. But for those with aphantasia this doesn’t happen.
Oddly, this doesn’t seem to affect imagination directly because one sufferer is the author Michele Sagara, well-known for her narrative depictions of fantasy worlds. Another is Blake Ross, founder of Firefox.
This is a recently discovered disorder because those who have it assumed everyone thought the way they do, and those without it had no idea that mental images could be done away with. The discovery was essentially accidental.
The podcast is worth listening to. It begins at 1:31.