December 29, 2019

What is Aphantasia?

In light of yesterday’s post about theater of the mind, today’s #wildcardWednesday post centers on a little-known condition called Aphantasia. Simply put, Aphantasia is the inability to produce images in your mind’s eye. Some calling it “imagination blindness,” Aphantasia prevents people from conjuring images of any type inside their mind.

If I were to say, “Close your eyes. You’re walking on a sandy beach at sunrise, the warm heat of the sun gently caressing your skin as your feet move in and out of the smooth sand” you might see the sun, the sand, your feet, the water…any/all of the above. Some might see those images clear as day while for others it might be hazy, as if in a dream.

But those with Aphantasia see only blackness in their mind rather than seeing those images. Instead, they concentrate on the concepts being described rather than seeing them. It’s quite difficult for folks in both camps to describe to one another their experiences without the 1st hand knowledge of what each other are experiencing.

While it’s a little-known condition that is currently bein g studied, it’s a fascinating example and reminder of the different approaches & perspectives GMs should keep in mind when designing stories for the specific players at their table.