Synaesthetic Q&A.

I’ve recently been seeing a lot of synaesthete people in various places post asking people to give them some things like pieces of music, numbers, pictures, words, even names in name geeks communities, whatever their synaesthesia is about, and they’d tell them what are their synaesthetic associations with this thing. I myself have also had people ask me especially about their own names, what I associate them with, and some seemed quite flattered when I told them that they taste like something very yummy, as if it was something I actually had any control over and said it on purpose to give them a compliment. ๐Ÿ˜€ Good thing though that people don’t get offended when I tell them that I associate their name with something generally considered totally mundane and insignificant. So anyway, I thought perhaps I’d do it on here, for any of you that might be interested in this and how it works for me, of course I’m not going to be talking about other people’s synaesthesias because I’m not other people so I only know their experiences second-hand and feel competent to only talk about how it is for me. Everyone experiences it differently and has different associations with different stimuli. I have lexical-tactile (word-touch), lexical-gustatory (word-taste), and a bit less developed auditory-tactile (sound-touch) and auditory-gustatory (sound-taste) synaesthesia, but as you can see it mostly evolves around all things lexical, so if you’re curious what are my synaesthetic associations with any words, feel free to ask. Also if you have any other, more general questions about my specific synaesthesia, they’re welcome too.

I’ll just add for clarity’s sake that it seems like mine is a bit different to what I’ve heard of most people’s synaesthesias, so that I actually for a long time didn’t even call it synaesthesia despite it seeming very familiar and similar and despite I knew about the term, because I just wasn’t sure if it classifies. Even now I’m not exactly sure, but it has to be called somehow, and despite some differences, I guess they generally do count as synaesthesias. As a small kid (that is after I realised that, wow, other people don’t have it like that! which took me quite a long time to understand) I used to think that it’s something to do with my blindness. I still think that it possibly might somehow be related, some way of compensation or something, but that’s just my little theory which doesn’t have to be true at all. The differences for me vs most synaesthetes I’ve talked to/heard of are that there are things with which I have very strong, clear associations, and some that have either always felt kind of muffled, or have faded over time, so that sometimes I may feel for example some vague shape or texture of the word I’m hearing or reading or thinking about, but I’m unable to make out how it looks exactly. There are words, especially ones that I’ve acquired later on, that I don’t associate with anything at all, but it’s not like it’s a rule that I never have associations with such words, it just depends on a specific word I suppose. In languages other than Polish, especially ones with wild spelling vs pronunciation differences like English, I sometimes have separate associations for spelling and pronunciation. I generally don’t have to speak a language to have associations with its words but if something’s super exotic and unlike anything I know I probably won’t have any or clear ones. I’ll often have several things that I’ll associate with one stimulus, for example there might be a word with which I’ll have several tactile associations, or several gustatory ones, or both a tactile one and a gustatory one, or even several of both tactile and gustatory ones. On the other hand, there might be several words that I associate with the same or very similar tactile or gustatory thing. Often when I associate several words with the same thing, it’s because these words have something in common, especially in the way they sound, like, they may have the same prefix. A lot of my tactile associations tend to be things or fragments of things, sometimes a bit distorted I guess, of things that I experienced in very early childhood, but sometimes it’s quite difficult to figure out what the original object might have looked like. From what I’ve noticed, a lot of lexical-gustatory folks tend to have very weirdly specific and detailed, quite hilarious associations, which sometimes is the case with me and sometimes is not. With auditory synaesthesia, like I said it’s only like partial, it’s definitely not like every single sound has some synaesthetic association for me, but those that do tend to be very clear and powerful. Sometimes it takes a while for an association to form in connection to a sound, so it’s after I’ve repeatedly heard this sound, which I’m pretty sure is not a usual case with synaesthesia. Usually the kinds of auditory stimuli I’m likely to have/develop synaesthetic associations with are people’s voices, instruments, an overall sound of a language, pieces of music, some small, short-ish sounds, and when I was younger also space acoustics, I mean what the acoustics were in a specific room. I still remember what sort of synaesthetic associations I had with some space acoustics but I no longer feel it and it feels rather illogical for me nowadays the way it worked, it doesn’t make sense anymore at all, I would even have trouble explaining that in more detail to someone.

So yeah, that’s a bit of an introduction as to how I feel my synaesthesia or perhaps some near-synaesthetic experience works so that you know the basics. I’ll be happy to answer any of your questions whether about some specific stimuli or the nature of my synaesthesia in general, and if you have some kind of synaesthesia, I’m very curious to hear about yours. ๐Ÿ™‚

Question of the day.

What do you miss the most about your childhood?

My answer:

As much as I never looked forward to being an adult and even now still don’t like it and find it kind of intimidating, I can’t say I miss my childhood very much either. Usually, I guess when people say they miss their childhood or being a child in general, they miss some carefree feeling that they remember from that time, or a sense of safety or something like that, perhaps less awareness about things going on around them. I don’t really remember any particular carefreeness that I’d feel as a child, I think I must have been born a professional ruminator ’cause I never felt very carefree for a longer period of time as a kid. ๐Ÿ˜€ There was always something I was stressed or worried about and while I often tried to distract myself from that, it only worked temporarily.

I think if I do miss something, it would be the very early childhood, below age 5. I remember that when I was a teenager I often missed being a very small child or a baby, which probably says something about my emotional maturity. ๐Ÿ˜€ Not that I have many memories from that time that I’d miss, I just suppose it must be the nicest part of one’s life, when one doesn’t have much of an idea about anything. And most of the memories that I do have from that time are indeed quite happy. Also I’m plain curious because I know from my own experience with myself, and from what my family tell me, that I was quite a lot different personality-wise as a young child. I was definitely a really really weird kid and had my own little, freaky world which was very difficult for complete outsiders to grasp, just as it was difficult for me to grasp that other people don’t necessarily think the way I do and often had no freakin’ clue what I was even talking about, yet when I was like four, or even six, I was a lot more outgoing and socially capable, or even as my Mum claims “happy”, than by the time I was eight, and then since about being 7-8 years old, perhaps earlier, I was gradually kind of withdrawing. As a small kid, I was certainly shy and might have struggled a lot especially with initiating contact with people, but I was quite sociable and when I felt safe with people I always felt very happy to have everyone’s full attention. Most people liked me and I liked people if they didn’t seem scary, I could bond with nice people really quickly. At that time I had more trouble relating to my peers though, which my Mum was initially rather worried about. Some people still can’t get over it that that little Bibiel is gone. And no, thankfully it’s not my Mum. And while I believe there might have been quite a few things that contributed to this gradual yet at the same time seemingly abrupt change, it could be quite interesting to go back to that time and figure out with my current brain how exactly did it happen that that little Bibiel had left the stage. Also it was when I was a small child that my synaesthesia was developing from all sorts of sensory experiences I had, and I sometimes think I’d like to go through that process yet again but with a bit more consciousness to observe it critically, it would be really cool. What I mean is that, for example, a lot of my tactile synaesthetic associations involve stuff that I think I touched or felt as a child, like some of my toys. With some of my synaesthetic associations, I can only feel the overall shape of something, or the texture, but not much detail. And, while I’m sure that some of my tactile associations my brain has just made up, I’d like to go back to those objects or other things that existed for real and see how they actually looked like in full and what they were, and find out why I synaesthetically associate with them what I do. Like, why do i associate my Dad’s name – Jacek – with something as random as a screw cover? I don’t even know if that’s what it’s called in English. ๐Ÿ˜€ The round, ring-like metal thing that you can put on a screw. I often liked to play in my Dad’s garage, where he always fixed all kinds of things, and I played with all sorts of weird things, and I’m pretty sure that that’s how a screw cover (and lots of other similar things) ended up among my tactile synaesthetic experiences, but why is it associated specifically with Jacek and not any other word or sound? Perhaps someone, like my Mum, came into the garage and said my Dad’s name while I held it? I really like the name Jacek, plus of course it’s myy Dad’s name, so I have a lot of emotional connection to it, but I have none to screw covers. When I once revealed this to one sister at nursery (the blind school I went to was led partly by nuns), she got quite indignant that I have such odd associatioons with my own Dad. Except obviously it’s not what I associate my Dad with, but the sound and sort of overall vibe of his name. This in no way affects what I think of either my Dad, or any other Jaceks, it’s just a separate thing.

Other than that, I guess I could say I miss how, in retrospect, the world at large seemed kind of better when I was a child. Obviously it’s very subjective because I knew very little about it. But when I think about the world and various aspects of it as it was when I was a kid, vs now, it feels like those 15-20 years ago, life in this world in general was a lot better and more interesting. It feels like less crazy shit was happening in the world, and there were SO many cool things that are now a thing of the past. Think Polish Radio BIS, for example. I’ll never get over this loss, even though I’m sure there’s a lot of idealisation involved on my end. ๐Ÿ˜€

Also one thing not really related to my childhood as such, but that did happen during my childhood – I miss Sofi when she was very little. –
I miss the time when she was still a baby and a toddler, and all sorts of funny and cute things she did and said that she now doesn’t even remember, only from what we’ve told her.

You? ๐Ÿ™‚

Question of the day.

What is your favourite word in the English vocabulary?

My answer:

I honestly wouldn’t be able to pick just one, in any language that I like. There are too many words I like and I like them in different ways, so it’s kinda like asking a child who she loves more, mummy or daddy. But I did decide to pick one word, just for the sake of this post.

When talking about favourite words, people often focus on the really sophisticated, long ones, or the particularly weird or funny slang words that they like, or some swear words that they find particularly useful, expressive and/or versatile. But people rarely talk about the really mundane, common words that are used on a daily basis. Perhaps they’re less thought about because they’re so rare, or perhaps no one likes them? So I decided to talk about one really mundane, simple English word that I LOVE very much, and perhaps part of why I love it so much is this simplicity. This word is sleep. No language out of those I know has a better word for the thing! The word sleep just says it all and encompasses everything about what sleep is. And it sounds so insanely cute. I like saying it. It’s so calm, peaceful and fluffy, like a sleeping baby, better even, like a sleeping kitten. In a tactile way, it feels really nice too. It’s also round and… not quite fluffy, because it’s made of something hard, metal I think, but it’s small and cute. And gustatorily it tastes like walnuts. The Polish word for sleep – sen –
feels insanely bland and flat in comparison. Plus at the same time it also means dream, not like a daydream but specifically the dream you get while you’re asleep, so it’s also not very logical because they’re too different things even if they occur together. If I’m Polish and it’s illogical to me, I guess it must be all the more illogical for non-native speakers. ๐Ÿ˜€ So mostly when I see the word sen without any context, I think dream, not sleep. It’s also cheesy, because synaesthetically it feels and tastes like cheese, perhaps because cheese is ser so it’s just one letter’s difference. And it’s not even good quality cheese in this case, it tastes kind of artificial. The Polish verb for to sleep is spaฤ‡, and it’s also very boring, even more so actually, but I’m a big fan of some of its conjugations. Like the imperative form of this verb is ล›pij (SHPEEY) and that sounds so much better. Or you can ask someone “ลšpisz?” (SHPEESh) (Are you asleep?). I wish the infinitive form was ล›piฤ‡, not spaฤ‡, it would sound more like what it actually means. The Swedish sรถmn is way too heavy for a healthy kind of sleep, like you’re sleeping on particularly strong sleeping pills or something, or like you’re drunk and when you finally wake up, whenever that might be, you’ll be mightily hungover. Much like I always end up on Hydroxyzine. ๐Ÿ˜€ And the Welsh cwsg (COOSK) is really nice but too light in turn and just not enough personality (which is rare with Welsh words but here it’s just how it is), so like sleeping with no dreams and waking up at every smallest rustle. Sleep is just right. It’s the kind of healthy, peaceful sleep from which you wake up rested, happy and refreshed, and looking forward to when you can go to sleep again, but not because you’re sleepy or have nothing better to do, it’s just a nice state to be in.

What’s yours? ๐Ÿ™‚

Question of the day (11th June).

What is something you enjoy doing, but others don’t?

My answer:

I really like reading dictionaries, while it’s just flicking through them (with or without a specific purpose) or reading them as you would a novel. I find words extremely interesting and sensorily stimulating as I have several forms of lexical synaesthesia (lexical-tactile and lexical-gustatory). I don’t do it very often because accessibility of dictionaries isn’t very high as a general rule, I had a dictionary of foreign words/loanwords in Braille as a child but now no longer have it as it took up a lot of space that I could have used for other things, plus when I started to use technology more it became useless because if I’d really need to look up something in this dictionary it’s in public domain so I can very easily do it online. I also have some Swedish-Polish/Polish-Swedish dictionaries in normal print which I’ve also scanned so I can read them, but these scans are actually pretty bad and difficult to read so it’s often easier for me to go online and do research if I need to figure out some Swedish word and how it’s used. Then now that I have an iPhone I also have tons of English dictionaries on it, and a couple Welsh ones – one very detailed with all sorts of information you may need and quite confusing sometimes if you’re a learner, and the other a lot more concise. – But you can’t really go through a dictionary app on your phone as you can through an actual book, plus the Welsh ones are not overly friendly when you’re a screen reader user which is discouraging. Still, I do like reading/browsing through dictionaries when I can and I think I do it a lot more often than average, not just because I’m learning languages but out of plain curiosity.

You? ๐Ÿ™‚

Question of the day.

What are your thoughts on ASMR (autonomous sensory meridian response)? Have you heard of it/tried/experienced it?

My answer:

For those who don’t know at all what it is, ASMR (autonomous sensory meridian response) is a sort of tingly sensation you may feel, I believe especially on your upper body, when your brain is stimulated with sounds that trigger this response. It’s probably most known because of the popularity of YouTube videos with common ASMR trigger sounds, which help some people relax or fall asleep or just make them feel better, because this sensation is perceived as pleasant.

I think this is an interesting topic in itself, totally regardless of what I think of ASMR or whether it works for me. So interesting, in fact, that I already once wrote one HUGE blog post full of digressions on my old, Polish blog, all about ASMR – minus the multiple and long-winded digressions. – I actually just read that post, because my old Polish blog is still floating and drifting somewhere in the internet world all alone,even though I’m not doing anything with it anymore and am not going to. At the time when I decided I wanted to focus on my English blog and no longer wanted to continue the old one and felt the need to step away from the blind community, I decided to leave it be and not delete it because I thought I produced some quite interesting posts over the course of… I don’t know how long I was writing there, half a year I guess, so not long at all. And now, freshly after reading that post, I have to say that, despite I approached it with a lot of trepidation and despite (or maybe in part thanks to) all the digressions, I still find it a fun, enjoyable and thought-sparkling read. So I guess it was a good post, if I could read it without cringing after what feels like such a long time.

Anyway, I mentioned that old post because what made me write about ASMR there in the first place was that one of my UK penfriends at the time wrote me that I should check it out if I haven’t already, and she thought that this would be definitely something for me, because it’s a weird brain thing, plus I’m blind, and blind people, according to her, have “heightened sensory perception” so I’ll surely have ASMR. Later on she also said that she could picture me having a podcast or something like this and doing this myself. Which, in a way, isn’t a bad idea, and I liked the creativity of it, but I feel like something like this has to be high quality to work at all, in any way, for anyone who takes their brain seriously, and I’m pretty sure I don’t have the technical abilities for that, and talking isn’t really my thing. Still, on that other blog, I decided to write about ASMR as it being a potentially interesting field to work in.

I didn’t, however, write there in detail of what I think about the whole thing overall, so I’ll do it here.

I’m not sure what I think of the phenomenon itself, like, whether it exists or not, I’ve read that there’s been some scientific research on it but I don’t really know how much or how good, but there seems to be a lot of contradictions about it, or so it feels for me. Like, there’s this whole ASMR genre of YouTube videos which you have certainly heard of if you’ve heard of ASMR as a phenomenon. Considering that ASMR is rare as it’s said, why are these videos so popular? On the other hand there is frisson so perhaps ASMR is just a form of frisson? Or a tactile synaesthesia, but simply one that manifests in a different way than it otherwise does? Other than that, what’s the whole thing with meridians? I find their existence questionable in the first place, and what’s their role in ASMR, I just don’t understand and find it rather odd.

As for my own ASMR experience, my first time trying it was after that penfriend of mine mentioned it to me, and for quite some time I couldn’t quite figure out what’s the deal with those videos, why are all those people whispering, talking to themselves as if they were having a dialogue etc.? Until I started reading about it. It did sound like something I could strongly relate to indeed, but only in theory. In practice, common triggers hardly affect me. In fact, it made me discover that I may have some misophonia (which many people seem to think is like the opposite of ASMR) because I totally don’t understand how listening to a binaural, close-up recording of someone eating could give anyone any pleasant sensations! Aaaaaaarghhhhhh! I’ll never get it! I don’t have problems hearing people eat in real life, not usually, but binaurally it’s a bit of a different kettle of fish. But mostly, common triggers just don’t affect me. I don’t get the hype of whispering. Why is it even so necessary?

Later, I learned that everyone has their own triggers, and not everything will work for everyone, which makes sense because obviously our brains are different. Still, I have never managed to find a YouTube video that would give me proper tingles, the sort of tingles like I’m used to with stuff like intense frisson or braingasms that I can get with some sounds or words. I did occasionally get some small tingles for a moment, but, like I said, not what I’m used to. I know that my triggers are quite specific, but I thought that perhaps if there are more people with something similar, there would be some more overlap between my triggers and theirs and I could find more everyday sounds that would work for me too. Then again, if that was the case, I’d probably have discovered them a lot earlier on than that. Things that make me tingle, aside from music which is typical with frisson, are some fabulous-sounding words in my favourite languages, especially when I just learn a new word and feel how beautiful it is and then maybe a few more times when I hear it again, also people talking in my favourite languages, especially with an accent that turns my brain on particularly, or even just if I haven’t heard the language for a long time anyone will make me tingle I believe. My faza people make me tingle big time, and cat purr when I hear it from a very close distance like when I lean my head on Misha a little bit. The fun thing is that I often get tingles before falling asleep or waking up and am still a bit between the worlds. In such a state, even just a bit of one of my languages will do.

I don’t know if this is ASMR or if not what else it could be. I have auditory-tactile and lexical-tactile synaesthesia, and I know that some people (if not most people) with tactile synaesthesias experience such paresthesias and other such sensations. What I mean by auditory/lexical-tactile synaesthesia is something more concrete, because when I hear a sound or a word I can feel it as an object, or at least some more or less clear shape or texture, usually of something that actually exists. Also tingles come and go as they want, while my synaesthesias are relatively unchangeable, my associations may fade a bit over time but it has to be a really long time when somehow my perception of a sound or word or the thing I associate it with has changed. Also my tingles are not on-demand, I cannot will myself into that, ever. Meanwhile I can always clearly feel my synaesthetic associations whenever I think of a sound/word or hear it.

That makes me think, that, for me, the tingles thing is largely psychological rather than sensory. Just to be clear, I’m not making an assumption that ASMR is psychological rather than sensory, or any assumption at all, for that matter, because I don’t know. I’m talking about myself here. All the stuff that makes me tingle tends to be something I have a strong emotional connection to, and, after all, when I get this fab feeling, it’s always the emotional sensations that are key for me, not the tingles, goosebumps or whatever else there might be. This is only an addition enhancing the experience. I don’t know if it’s the same for ASMR people.

That all being said, I sometimes listen to a few ASMR YouTubers and podcasters whose content I like and come back to, when I’m in the mood for it (Sophie Michelle ASMR is my newest discovery). Not because of any sensory sensations, but simply because I like listening to cool sounding sounds even if they don’t have any spectacular fireworks effect on my nervous system. When it’s high quality ASMR that you can instantly hear and feel that someone put an effort into – not just some kid with painfully distorted audio whispering about everything and nothing, smacking, blowing and spitting into their poor, poor mic – it can be real fun, and a form of art, actually. I do find a lot of pleasure in a lot of daily life sounds. And I totally see how it can be relaxing or soothing for people, with or without tingles, or maybe even sleepifying.

What do you think? ๐Ÿ™‚

Question of the day (2nd December).

Time for some questions of the day catch-up finally! I’ve found some interesting would you rather questions, and I thought I’d use these.

Would you rather lose your sense of taste and smell or be red-green colour blind? (if either applies to you already, would you rather see all colours/have the lost senses or win 1/4 of a million dollars?)

My answer:

This is a funny and interesting question from my perspective because I actually do not have the sense of smell, I don’t even really know why, or in any case it’s very, veeeery bad and I can only smell very strong things which are usually things like perfumes and the like and even then it’s more like I can feel them at the back of my throat while they’re being sprayed or shortly after rather than actually feeling the smell because I wouldn’t even really be able to distinguish between them and say what they smell like or not precisely. I used to think for a long time that perhaps I just don’t know how to interpret the olfactory stimuli or something, but is that even a thing? Can someone have a perfectly functional sense but not know how to interpret the stimuli? Sounds totally absurd whenn you think of it, and my Mum says that she doesn’t think so. I don’t think so either but that doesn’t mean it can’t be so. There is something that feels creepy to me about the idea though, don’t know why… I am also totally blind so that includes colours, naturally. ๐Ÿ˜€ So, hmmm, assuming I have any sense of smell left, I could happily give it up ’cause it’s not really useful for me at all, but since the question says smell AND taste, that’s out because I would never give up my sense of taste. I love my food and I think I have quite a good sense of taste and life without it would be super bland (and just think of it… living with two senses?! that sounds miserable ๐Ÿ˜€ well I know we actually have much more than just the five senses but still…) but more importantly I am a synaesthete with multiple different types of synaesthesias, as you may already know, and one of them is auditory-gustatory and lexical-gustatory (it sounds oh so fancy! But I like it and I like the way lexical-gustatory tastes) so when I hear something, especially a word, it has a taste for me. And I love experimenting with my synaesthesias and finding sensorily satisfactory sounds, words, tastes or tactile textures, and all my synaesthetic experiences can often bring me a lot of pleasure. So it would suck if the whole gustatory element was suddenly excluded.

Since I can’t see colours, the colour blindness or lack thereof wouldn’t change much in my life at all, especially that I also have no actual, physical experience of seeing colours, even if I have some idea about them which apparently makes sense from the sighted point of view. Also because I am blind since birth and there is a limitation to at what age your brain can learn to see, even if I was to somehow technically be able to see colours now, I still wouldn’t be able to recognise/interpret all the input because my brain hasn’t learnt how to do it. But I’d much more happily lose whatever in my eyes should technically be responsible for seeing colours since it ain’t working anyway to keep my sense of taste.

Considering the other part of the question, which is probably more applicable in my case, hmmm, I’d like to be able to experience all the different smells people feel but mostly just out of sheer curiosity. I haven’t ever found that my lack of sense of smell has ever been disabling or limiting to me in any way, so I don’t really miss it or really wish I had it. Seeing is too abstractive to me to actually want it, and if I were to suddenly start to see it would turn my life upside down and I have no clue how I’d handle the change, I suppose it’d be quite shocking. So, yeah, definitely 1/4 of a million dollars for me, yay! You can always make use of that, or if you have no ideas or needs, you cann share with people or something. That appears the most useful option to me. ๐Ÿ˜€

What do you choose? ๐Ÿ™‚

Question of the day.

What was your favourite toy growing up?

My answer:

I guess I’ve written about my favourite toy sometime earlier on my blog, but since I don’t even remember myself where it was, I guess it could be very recently. OK, so my most favourite toy ever was a teddybear called Pimpuล›. Apparently it wasn’t really a teddy bear, but a mouse, but at the time I was when I got him, I was crazy about bears so it could be anything and I would call it a bear. Besides it looked so that it was easy to confuse with a bear. His name was Pimpuล›. He was just an average, medium sized stuffed animal, with a rather long and funny-looking tail, with which I liked to fidget. I got him from my grandma’s friend who really liked me for some reason. Pimpuล› was a great comforter for me and I liked to sleep with him, I slept with him all the time. I rarely played with him though, he was just a cuddly toy for me. When I went to school, or to nursery actually, I didn’t take him with me because I didn’t want him to “stink” like it, so I had to live without him for weeks in a row at the boarding school, but when I was home I was sleeping with him every night. Even as a teen I still had him sitting on my bed and keeping me company, until Misha replaced him. No one can vie with Misha, haha. So now Pimpuล› is on his well deserved retirement, and it is visible that he has been through a lot. He has undergone over three surgeries, and is now living peacefully on one of my shelves, watching over my room from high above. I must say that I never really played like an average kid, unless I had to. I remember it being a bit of a concern for some reason for my grandma, who therefore used to buy me lots of dolls and accessories for them, hopeful that it will encourage me to play “the right way”. I was always very interested in them whenever I was getting them but only for a short while, and then they were gathering dust, unless they were sort of figurines, then I played with them a lot. I much preferred playing with balls – glass balls or metal balls, like from wheel bearings, – small porcelain figurines, things that I thought looked interesting, or my Dad’s garrage accessories, as well as things like shells or stones or such. I still have a huge collections of all sizes of glass and metal balls, and a huge box with other things I used to play with. I liked to make up stories, and I used my synaesthesia to base them on. For those of you who don’t know or don’t remember, my synaesthesia is auditory-tactile, so that when I hear a word, or sometimes even a single sound, I associate it with some tactile stimulus, or even a few sometimes, and vice versa, when I hold something in my hand or feel something, I can easily match it with word(s) that I associate with it. So while I was playing with all those things, I could easily think of all different sorts of words that I could associate with them, and made up very intricate stories with them, in which even I myself often got lost. While I created a story, I either just fidgeted with those things in my hands (I guess it was some sort of a sensorism), or illustrated the story with them – like imagined that those things are people, or other characters/objects I needed in the plot. Sometimes I played with them in a more conventional way, like my Dad made a little sort of toy stage for me and I played that my figurines or balls were acting or singing or whatever, or I played normal stuff like hospital or school but just with these things, but that was quite rarely.

How about your favourite toy? ๐Ÿ™‚

(Syn)Aesthete, or a brief explanation of some top secrets of my freaky brain.

While I’m blind, so visual value of things around me isn’t always of great importance to me, I still consider myself an aesthete.

A language aesthete. It particularly applies to my mother language, but also in all the other languages I know it is important to me to write and speak possibly aesthetically – which doesn’t always mean very seriously, politely or flamboyantly, but above all just so that it is nice to read or listen and doesn’t make other innocent individuals cringe too much. I also like when other people speak or write aesthetically, and when someone messes up with spelling a lot or uses words like they don’t know what they mean, it often drives me crazy, or close to it.

I am a total language geek and besides being an aesthete as long as I can remember, I am also a synaesthete.

Since my very early childhood, I’ve had some weird connections in my brain between sounds/words and touch, or taste, or something else sometimes. For many years I was convinced that this is just how our brains work, not just my own quirk, and that everyone perceives things the same way as me. That led to many weird, and often funny nowadays, misunderstandings, for example when I tried to describe things to people.

It was not until I was like 6 that I started to see others don’t necessarily think in shapes, textures and tastes and other things like this.

Many years after I got to this conclusion I realised it has to be some form of synaesthesia, although as far as I know this form isn’t very common, that your brain transfers sound stimuli into touch related associations. I know only one person who has it similar to me in some way, and he is also blind, so I guess it has to do with my blindness, and maybe also a little that I still am somewhere on the autism spectrum apparently.

If you don’t know or don’t understand how synaesthesia works, it’s like there is a correlation between two (or more) of your senses. Most people of those who have synaesthesia seem to have auditory-visual corelations, for example they hear a sound, and see it in colour, or see numbers in colours, or even people may have their own colours apparently, or words, or colours may have particular textures/temperatures for them, etc. etc.

For me it is so that if I hear or think about a word, at the same time I sort of feel what I associate with this word. It’s not like a delusion, I know I don’t feel it, I’d rather say it’s like when you hear a song in your head. You know it isn’t playing, but you still hear it in your head.

For me it’s not only words that I associate with shapes/objects/textures/tastes, but also many separate sounds, like sounds of particular instruments, people’s voices etc. And these aren’t always sound to touch or sound to taste associations. Sometimes it’s much more complex and not always on just sensual level. Sometimes, hearing a particular word or phrase makes me feel in a very particular way, or I may even sometimes associate words or phrases with whole scenes or lots of different, unrelated things, etc. Some words I associate with objects that I can’t recall ever seeing, so I guess they have to be made up by my brain or something. I associate many words with edible things, which is quite fun, or with things that have to do with nature. I often can associate many words that aren’t objectively similar to each other with the same thing.

it’s very complicated.

I think it’s also synaesthesia that helps me understand the colours in some way, anyway I don’t know what else it could be. I am blind since birth so have no practical idea about colours, but I’ve always had some imaginary idea about colours, and even many distinct shades. It’s often very hard for me to describe them, it’s hard to put it into adequate words, but when I was in integration school years ago, I learned that my understanding of colours isn’t that far from how they really are as I could think. My classmates were doing something with one of Picasso’s paintings during art class, and since I of course wasn’t able to do the same, the teacher asked me questions about all the colours, just out of curiosity, like very speciffic questions about colours – whether they’re calm or vivid, dark or bright, warm or cold, etc. And both her and me were incredibly surprised when I said all of them right. ๐Ÿ˜€ Of course I’d already got some basic understanding of colours, like that the sun is yellow or the sky is blue, but no one had taught me about how to actually define colours nor described them for me since it’s rather impossible.

I don’t know any other person who would be congenitally blind and have it like that, people usually don’t care about colours, or have to learn about them from others, like have to memorise what colours fit together when they choose their clothes, but I am lucky and I just somehow get it, despite that I see literally nothing (and no, it isn’t black! It’s just nothing). It’s just so so weird, but I like it. It often helps me with writing for example short stories, and describing people, one of my blind friends told me that “Wow! you write as if you were sighted!” hahaha whatever that means, I guess it was just it, that I can create people and nature that looks naturally and is colourful, some blind people tend to understandably forget about visual details or sometimes make them feel not matched or not very precise.

And yet another thing that my synaesthesia helps me with are languages. So many language learning experts and teachers say it’s good if you associate every word you learn with something. I don’t have to think about the associations. They just come to me on their own. That makes things easier to remember, I guess. And more fun, and interesting. And if you have it like this it’s just normal and obvious that you’re fascinated with words. Some of my associations may be scary or something, but most of them are very positive, creative and quirky. If I’m learning a language that is a bit out there for me (like Welsh was for quite a while, despite my love for it), forming associations may take some time, you need to listen to the language a lot and immerse in it, familiarise your brain with it, and then it comes naturally. Though there still are words – even in Polish – that I don’t have clear associations with, sometimes the shapes I see in relation to them are sort of blurred, or hard to describe, or like a few unrelated things strangely and not very harmoniously stucked together. It is not a perfect strategy for learning a language, because as I said there are many words that I associate with the same things, and I may confuse them. Normal people may confuse words that are similar in sound or meaning or something and it happens to me too, but usually I confuse words because I associate them with the same/similar things and then my statements can seem a bit enigmatic for an uninitiatedย  person, if the words aren’t objectively too similar. ๐Ÿ˜€ I’ve had lots of awkward situations in Swedish like that, and my poor teacher couldn’t figure out what I am talking about sometimes. ๐Ÿ˜€

 

I’m thinking about what example to give you to show you how my synaesthesia works. OK< let it be my Mum.

My Mum’s voice sounds like a piano to me. She has a rather dark voice, and when she speaks quieter/lower it reminds me of black, melted chocolate, the shade of her voice then is just similar, it just feels similar to black chocolate and I guess it is my dominant association with her as a whole. Also when I hear my Mum’s voice I feel as if I was touching the black keys of a piano. The word Mum – in all the languages I know so far, makes me think about a little plastic hat that my favourite and oly doll that I ever played with – named Eliza – had when I was a kid. ๐Ÿ˜€ That’s very weird. The word Mum as it is written in English, I associate with a little baby sleeping soundly with a dummy, and this characteristic smell of a sleeping baby. The same smell always surrounds Misha when he sleeps or is freshly awake. My Mum’s name is Anna, and the name Anna I associate with a horse – its hair, the sound of a horse galloping, the smell of horses, etc. As I mentioned in a few of my previous posts I also have other types of special associations with names, and looking this way Anna is a pure essence of femininity to me, but I won’t go into details about how I imagine a typical ANna – her appearance, personality etc. that would be way too long, I might write name characteristics some time in the future on my blog maybe. Other things I associate with my Mum are the colour black and the sound of the French language, but these aren’t only about synaesthesia, because my Mum loves black, and was learning French at school, though she doesn’t speak it now.

any other synaesthetes of any kind out there? How does your synaesthesia manifest? ๐Ÿ™‚

Or maybe anyone would like to know what things I associate with something? Some people seem to find it quite entertaining for some reason. ๐Ÿ˜€ Feel free to ask if you’re curious about anything, be it any word/sound or any questions you have as for this thing in general, I know it’s pretty rare and I realise how weird it is, so I’m open to your questions if you have any. ๐Ÿ˜€