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Do I have synesthesia?

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If you experience something you think might be synesthesia but you’re not sure, tell us about it in the comments on this page. You can write anonymously if you prefer. I’ll reply as soon as I get the message.

Do I have synaesthesia?





5 comments:

  1. Hello. I was hoping you could tell me whether any of the things I mention below are synaesthesia.

    I moved to an English-speaking country when I was 4 years old, and had to learn English as a second language through immersion. I distinctly remember associating specific English words with images, such as "June" with a specific image of fish fingers being cooked or "weird" with a cartoon dog with black, fluffy fur. I can't remember whether these associations were consistent, and they didn't stick as I don't make these associations anymore, but I wanted to put this in there anyway.

    The next thing I think could be synaesthesia is that it is very easy for me to associate songs with colours, however I'm not sure about this as it's something I have to prompt myself to do. When I remember to make associations, however, I can say confidently that Splendora's "Shirt On" is an orange and yellow song, or that another song is a lilac song. Other times I'll initially say, for example, "it's a navy blue song", then immediately disagree with myself and decide that a dark, warm red fits the song much better, with no reason connected to the mood or the typical connotations of these colours, I just know if it doesn't fit. Is it possible that I just didn't notice I made associations between colour and music so easily until I learned about the existence of chromaesthesia? Does it still count as synaesthesia even though it has to be prompted?

    For what it's worth, I also make associations with songs to people I know, based on different factors.Sometimes it's because of the person's voice having some kind of connection to the sound of the instrument used, for example, an old teacher of mine was associated with a particular violin song, and I was just trying to explain the reason there and I couldn't, I don't know why they're related other than their voice has something to do with it. Most of the time I can't even tell if it's related to the voice or another characteristic of the person, it's just involuntary and frankly a bit annoying as it makes me cringe and tends to stop me from enjoying the song when it's someone I don't want to be thinking about.

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    1. Hi! Thanks for writing about your case!

      From what you say I would be inclined to think that you don’t have synaesthesia, or that these are not examples of it at least, but you could certainly “test” yourself if you wanted to check.

      The most interesting one is your song-to-colour associations. People with song-to-colour synaesthesia have a very strong conviction about what colour each song is, they usually have it with all or most songs, the idea of any other colour being associated with a particular song is “wrong” and unpleasant, and the colours are very consistent, they wouldn’t change. It is automatic, but while most would get their colour perception straight away, I’ve heard of others who it comes to gradually and not necessarily on the first listen of the song. I think it sounds like you don’t have it, but you could do this if you wanted to test it out: make a playlist of songs (the more the better). Make sure you use a system where you won’t be able to see the album art or other colour influences before, or as, you listen. Listen to all or part of each song and note down the colour it suggests. Then save that list of colour correspondences, don’t look at it again in a few weeks, or months, or however long it takes to be sure you’ll have forgotten what you wrote, and repeat the process, to see if your colours are consistent. If you have this type of synaesthesia you would have very high consistency, about 90% or over. You could even repeat the test several times if you're not sure.

      I wonder if in the case of Splendora’s “Shirt On” you were actually influenced by the album art, as I’ve noticed it’s predominantly yellow and orange. Does your lilac song have lilac coloured album art by any chance? The album colours can be a problem though, and can actually cause confusion to synaesthetes too, if they have milder associations!

      The word-image associations from your childhood (I love June being fish fingers by the way) would probably have stuck if they were synaesthesia, and there would have been a lot of them. The song-person associations are quite fascinating. They don’t really tie in with any type of synaesthesia though.

      Hope this is helpful!

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  2. I think I have olfactory-visual synesthesia, but I'm not sure. I have always sort of applied shape to smell instantaneously. But I only sometimes get color immediately and sometimes it comes after shape and sometimes it never comes at all. Like my friend's house is a green triangle and vanilla extract is red bubbles in a glass, but my hand soap is just colorless thin shapes leaning up against each other. As in the previous example, the visuals also range in complexity from simple geometric shapes to three dimensional objects, sometimes even with backgrounds. Also, I have severe anxiety, and when my anxiety gets bad, I don't experience the visuals clearly or even at all. I know this is a lot, but any guidance you can give is greatly appreciated.

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    1. Hello, and thanks for telling me about your case!
      Yes, everything you say here fits in with olfactory-visual synesthesia. I can strongly identify with what you say about how you perceive the shapes and colours, as I have this type too. And yes, it tends to vary, with a stronger or weaker experience depending on a lot of factors like the strength or type of smell, how you’re feeling, how focused you are on what you’re smelling/seeing, hormonal issues, how your sense of smell is performing at that particular time, how relaxed you are... Anxiety is known to affect synesthesia too: many people report that it’s dulled or even disappears entirely when they're going through a time of anxiety (same thing with depression, and medications for this kind of thing too). It comes back afterwards though, when things get back to normal, as has always been the case for you from what you say. But I hope you’re enjoying your smell visuals now. For me they’re one of the best kinds of syn!

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    2. Thank you very much for your response! There's so little about olfactory-visual on the internet, your site has been super helpful. And yes, I am in a time where visuals are occurring! I smelled some peaches and cream oatmeal this morning- royal blue pyramids in an icy sea :)

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