ES EN

Calendar synesthesia

Also called time-space synesthesia

A type of spatial sequence synesthesia


(Image: The months, by Caffeindingon the online debate platform Reddit/Sinestesia“I typically see it facing from the left (autumn). The blue rectangle at the top is January and the months go clockwise from there.”)

In this type of synesthesia, the synesthete has a visual perception of time units such as days, months, hours, years, decades or centuries, seen in the space surrounding or in front of them. Projector synesthetes – a minority – see their time sequences literally in external space, while associator synesthetes perceive them in the mind’s eye but not physically.


(Image: The calendar, by Gingerale947 in this post on the online debate platform Reddit/Synesthesia. 2017.)

The spatial positioning of the elements is highly consistent and tends not to vary throughout the synesthete’s lifetime, and the only change tending to occur with this kind of maps is that the years and decades can sometimes be extended to “add” time units that were originally considered to be in the distant future and were not yet clearly seen. The time units often also have their own shape, texture and/or colour. The days, months, etc. are habitually seen from the perspective of the time unit in question, so in January, for example, the synesthete may feel as if they are standing in front of January and that February is behind, below or beside it, but on the 1st of February the perspective changes so that January shifts over to a neighbouring position or to the “back of the queue”.


(Image: The time of day, by Stacy in the Gallery in Sensequence.de)

Synesthetic calendars are totally idiosyncratic and take multiple forms: there seem to be as many of them as there are people with this type of synesthesia. Some of the most common arrangements are rings, spirals, ladders, lines with curves or sharp bends, endless loops… although the exact forms are probably all unique


(Images: Left: Years, by Brad Pettengill, in his blog. Right: Decades and centuries, by Kerry in the Gallery in Sensequence.de.)

Having this kind of synesthesia often helps the synesthete recall dates and times and some say they have no need for planners or agendas.


(Image: The days of the week, by Barbara in the Gallery in Sensequence.de)

It has been estimated (N. Sagiv et al, 2005that 20% of synesthetes could have time-space synesthesia, and it is therefore a relatively common type.


(Image: Historical eras, by Geo Morganposted in the Facebook group Synesthesia. 2020.)

Image: The decades, by Rebecca Schulz Kluchnyk, posted to the Facebook group Synesthesia. 2020.)

Here is a description written by someone with this type of synesthesia:


“I can see timelines dating back to the 1500s. Things get muddled in between, but the basic "pattern" or "track" is there. It's always there. And it's not in a straight line. It never is. There are so many curves that there's no way for me to actually map it out and make it make sense to anyone who looks at it. If I were to go into detail on how I view individual months and days within the months, I'd have to have a large poster board to do it, as it gets very detailed. Same goes for hours of the day. Days of the week are an oval, but each day has their own hours detailed. The only day that has a slightly different pattern with the hours is Sunday. It's strange how I see time on a scale, on a map. They're not just numbers. They're alive.”

(Source: This post on the online debate platform Reddit/Synesthesia. 2020.)


Go to the page on spatial sequence synesthesia in general


7 comments:

  1. This is a great resource! It is striking how similar my internal calendar is to the "decades" one above, a landscape that begins at the lower left and extends up to the upper right. I read in a book called "The Number Sense" by Stanislas Dehaene that a number of people (both synesthetes and non-synesthetes report such internal number lines (though in the case of some "projector-synesthetes", such "time landscapes" may be external). Thanks for this terrific tool!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for commenting Pat and I'm glad you find it interesting! I'll have to check that book out because I've also read about calendar and number apatial sequence being quite common in the general population and not just synesthetes and I need to do some updating about that. I wonder if the difference is that only synesthetes see them in colour or with the great amount of detail/perspective, and as you mention the projector synesthetes actually seeing them in space are a clear case. It's something I want to read about and get more figures for... I don't have this type! I have... an agenda :D

      Delete
  2. I'm 62yr old artist, learning about calendar synaesthesis today for the very first time! I recall trying to explain this to people and had no idea there were "others" like this. I'm very visual and find this fascinating. There is also new studies in brain as a holo-deck (Star Trek NG) where the mind sees possibilities as projections or 3D models of time/space---amazing! thanks for this great site!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Same here! I make abstract art and play instruments, and just learned about calendar synesthesia yesterday. I just thought that maybe I had a more visual way of doing things but had no idea is was somewhat unusual. I see the months upright, in a counterclockwise direction, and in an oval shape.
      Also, my daughter tells me she sees days and months in exact colors..and her friends think shes weird. Lol. Would love to know more about this! How interesting!

      Delete
    2. I thought everyone had a calendar wrapped around them and never thought anything of it til Reed on criminal minds mentioned synesthesia and I looked it up

      Delete
  3. Is it common for someone who has calendar synesthesia to get “zoomed in” on a specific point instead of seeing the entire thing at once?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, it is. Especially when they think about "today" or the present time, they feel as if they are zoomed in or perhaps standing in front of a particular part of their calendar. I think this could also happen if they choose to think about a particular time in the past. Then if they focus on the whole of time in general, they would perhaps be able to look at the whole thing at once, or at least in larger groups of days, months or years. I don't have this type myself so I can't speak from experience, but I know the "zooming in" effect is very typical.

      Delete