by Dr. Lorin Bradbury
Question: Can you tell us about aphantasia? I think I may have this condition and what should I do about it?
Answer: Aphantasia is the inability to visualize. For example, if I say. “Think of a moose.” Does an image of a moose come to mind? What color is the moose? What is it doing? For most people, a lifelike image of a moose appears in their mind’s eye. For others, it may be a dim, vague, or incomplete picture and it takes time and effort to imagine it. At the other extreme some can picture a moose with exceptional clarity.
People with aphantasia are unable to create a mental image of a moose. They are unable to create images of familiar objects, people, or places. Aphantasia, which may affect as many as 1 in 50 people, happens when your brain’s visual cortex doesn’t work properly. Your visual cortex is the part of your brain that processes visual information from your eyes. Researchers aren’t sure what causes aphantasia. But most people who have the condition are born with it but are otherwise healthy. Others develop it after a brain injury.
The ability to create mental images exists on a continuum. On one end of the continuum are people with complete aphantasia, and on the other end are people who can create extremely vivid mental images. Most people are somewhere in between the two extremes.
Is there a cure for Aphantasia? Aphantasia isn’t a medical or mental health condition, so it doesn’t need treatment. Acquired aphantasia is due to some insult to the brain and isn’t curable or directly treatable.
There is a test online that you can take to test for aphantasia, and I have provided the link below:
Lorin L. Bradbury, Ph.D. is a licensed psychologist in private practice in Bethel. For appointments, he can be reached at 543-3266. If you have questions that you would like Dr. Bradbury to answer in the Delta Discovery, please send them to The Delta Discovery, P.O. Box 1028, Bethel, AK 99559, or e-mail them to [email protected].