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. 😀 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. 🙂