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“Sensation” synesthesia or mixed concurrents


Some synesthetes find it difficult to specify what their concurrent is, as it seems to be made up of multiple perceptions and sensations at the same time. The concurrent sometimes even just consists of a powerful “feeling” or “vibe”, which is automatic and consistent but practically impossible to describe.


Here are some descriptions written by people who have this kind of experience:

"My syn is a bit particular. Like, first, I have grapheme colour and personification, and also sound to colour and movement of shapes. But if I just kind of let go the sort of mental walls that I create, I start to feel that all my senses come together, it is like all my perceptions mix in one unique process, and every stimulus makes me perceive complex sights, and feel a wave of physical sensations that take the form of coloured shapes in movement inside me and on my skin (not exactly that, but kind of). It feels a bit like the fingers on a guitar string let go, and the string can finally vibrate completely."

(Source: This comment on Reddit/Synesthesia. 2022.)


“Half the colors I associate with numbers aren’t really colors. Their whole complicated mess just happens to share a vibe with a color.”

(Source: This comment on Reddit/Synesthesia. 2022.)


"For as long as I can remember, I can "smell" months, seasons, and weather patterns, as well as associate colors with them and get feelings from them. I do not have to currently be in a month/season/weather pattern to experience this sensation; even just thinking about them can cause it. As an example; April smells like green which is dirt to me, and feels open and unending to me.
I'm not sure how else to explain it; it makes so much sense to me but does not make sense to others."

(Source: This post on Reddit/Synesthesia. 2021.)


"Is there a term for when Audio, Visual, and Tactile are all combined?
I’m not exactly sure how to define mine, everything just kind of meshes together in various forms by associating in my mind, I guess the best way to put it is that everything gives off “vibes”, or certain patterns and tones when in my head, including more complex things like equations, and everything is kind of “manipulated” by mental hands, and a lot of things can be represented on different parts of my body, like how certain trains of thought are in the lower right part of my mouth."

(Source: This post on Reddit/Synesthesia. 2021.)


“I think a good example for me would be any song by Kimya Dawson? She has a kind of desaturated, pinkish plum coloured voice and I feel it on my nose and the bottom ridges of my eyes. Sometimes, when her songs get more ‘white’ I feel it on my sternum as well.”

(Source: This comment on Reddit/Synesthesia. 2019.)


“There is something sensory I detect with voices done by voice actors that I recognize. It isn't strictly a color or taste or shape but a "vapor" of all three. It's hard to explain. Voices always have a shape to them to me, but it's not a discernable shape. Like I couldn't tell you. It's some weird sense I see/taste/feel in a combined way. The color and taste are more vapor/indistinct but definitely still there. I am very good at identifying voice actors for this reason.”

(Source: This comment on Reddit/Synesthesia. 2022.)

 

What could this be called?

This highly personal and idiosyncratic expression of synesthesia has never been classified as a type in itself or been given a name, although there is no doubt that it belongs to the realm of synesthesia. Here are a few ideas and suggestions for naming it:

- Multiple concurrent or mixed concurrent synesthesia. Multi-perception, multi-sensation or multi-sensory synesthesia.

- Alternatively, the name of the most prevalent synesthetic experience could be used, bearing in mind that it is fairly normal for one predominant concurrent to also be enriched by others that form an indivisible part of it, as that is how synesthesia commonly manifests.

- Or we could say that the synesthete in question has several types: to give a very basic example, if smells make them perceive coloured shapes that are visual and tactile at the same time, this person could be said to have olfactory-visual and also olfactory-tactile synesthesia.


This page last updated: 06 December 2022

Post created: 13 March 2022


8 comments:

  1. I know that, if i have synesthesia, it is likely an associative type. I have described a back pain i had as “sharp in the way a brass bell sounds” but i also associated it with the color of brass. Similarly, if i can taste cologne on the air (a phenomenon that occurred frequently in high school) i found myself associating it with a steel color (about the color of the blade steel reaper miniature paint, but more shiny), as well as with the voice of my high-school principal (high-pitched and scratchy) speaking into a really bad mic like this one: https://youtu.be/jfbKJy_ZuIU. If i understand correctly, the type of synesthesia in this article covers multiple concurrent associated stimuli. Would I be correct to assume that I involuntarily associate unpleasant physical stimulus with both sound, shape and color?

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    1. Hi! Your description of your reactions is very "synesthetic", i.e. the colours are very specific, and if you have more concurrents of this type and not just these few then personally I would definitely say you have synesthesia, yes. If you find you only get these concurrents with unpleasant stimuli, then emotion might come into it, so what you perceive synesthetically is caused by the particular emotion you feel, regardless of whether it's a taste-on-the-air, sound or something else that has caused you to feel that emotion. So you would be right with what you say. That would mean you probably have more concurrents of this type with other emotions... but perhaps you only notice it when it's something you feel very strongly, and your concurrents for other milder types of emotions go unnoticed, or you'd need to focus on them to really notice. On the other hand, if different types of physical pain cause you to perceive different colours, shapes or sounds, then you would have pain-colour, pain-shape and pain-sound synesthesia. But probably the multi-concurrent type that is described on this page fits in well with your case!

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  2. I'm wondering if I have this type. When I think of a concept like months, days, colors, and etc., or even just look at an object, a pattern, or a landscape, I experience a certain 'feeling'. For example, Monday is dark blue. When I think about it, I feel two walls on either side of me (like a wide alley) and I know it extends forward a short distance but I can't see it because there're mist-like clouds blocking the 'alley'. For some reason, it also gets a little harder for me to breathe. I don't physically see an alley or any clouds, but I somehow know they're there. It's strange...

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    1. Hi! Yes, I think so. If they are in response to an item in a learned sequence of concepts like time units, as you mention with the days and months, and particularly if a strong feeling of a colour or colours is involved, and if the responses are consistent each time and don’t change. For some synesthetes the colours perceived can also be accompanied by other consistent feelings, or perhaps textures, shapes, or sensations of images, movements or certain atmospheres that could resemble something like a fictitious but consistent place.

      On the page on Images as a synesthetic concurrent:
      https://www.thesynesthesiatree.com/2021/03/figurative-images-as-synesthetic.html
      you can see some examples of something similar to your sensations of a place and objects for Monday, which you might like to read about.

      I don’t think I have any other examples of this with time units yet on the Tree, actually I would quite like to include your example on one of the pages, is that OK by you?

      What about the other days or months? It would be interesting to hear about some more of your perceptions!

      Months, days and colours are typical synesthetic inducers, but objects, patterns and landscapes are not usually considered to induce synesthesia. Perhaps these things are suggesting something else to you that might be an inducer – colours or shapes maybe? – or perhaps you’ve just made an association with some things along the way. It would be interesting to hear more about them!

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    2. Yes, you may use my example if you want. =)

      Some more of my perceptions:
      Wednesday is red and feels like agitation and nervousness. It's a fuzzy carpet a few feet in front of me. I can just barely reach it with my fingers.
      Sunday is white and smooth like marble. It's just a solid 'wall' with a slight curve. The 'feeling' is cold and there's something else I can't quite describe . . .
      May is teal/aquamarine and has a texture like water. It's like I'm looking into a pool but I can only see the surface. This one's strange because nothing 'watery' actually happens in May (I don't go to the pool or the beach or anything in May).
      August is warm and a really bold red-orange color. The consistensy is slightly less viscuous than honey and it feels like there are 'waves' rippling through the air toward me.

      As for the objects, patterns, and landscapes, maybe the vibes do have something to do with colors or shapes. I'll have to monitor it more, haha. Thanks for your help!

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    3. I've added your interesting example to the page on Time units-colour.
      https://www.thesynesthesiatree.com/2021/02/time-units-colour.html

      I think it makes a great addition. Thank you!

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  3. Hi... I wonder if my experience counts as a kind of synaesthesia or if it's just that I'm plain strange. Certain words or phrases, or concepts, make me feel funny. The one I've known for longest is the "fairy/bull thing". If I think about a delicate fairy next to a big heavy bull, I feel weird. Physically it sort of makes my teeth itch and my mouth feels small, and I can feel it in my back. It's the same feeling as if someone is staring at you. Or close to the icky feeling I get from trypophobia. If I imagine the tiny fairy talking in a bull voice, it gets worse. I don't really see colours for days or anything like that, it's just a few words or mental images that provoke this sensation.

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    1. Hi! Very interesting what you describe, but your experience doesn't fit the description of any type of synesthesia.

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