What It Feels Like to Have Aphantasia

Lucas Neppl // As told to Gwyneth Schmidt


Photo by Gw

Lucas Neppl – What It Feels Like

My mind is a void of darkness. No images that recollect a family vacation. No smells that remind me of summer days. No sounds of a barking dog. I lack the ability to imagine my senses. I’m unable to create pictures in my head. My mind’s eye is blank. It’s called Total Aphantasia. I didn’t realize that it wasn’t normal until I heard people talking about it, and after doing some research, I realized that my mind fit the description of this condition. YouTube told me that I had Aphantasia but at the time, I hadn’t a clue what it was. 

Aphantasia is defined as, “the inability to form mental images of objects that are not present.” The only difference for me is that I lack imagination of all my senses. I was born with it, but it is possible to develop after a brain injury. All you see is a black wall in your mind. Nothing comes up when you try to recall an image or sense. An empty wasteland of nothingness. No recollection of what french fries smell like. No memory of what my mom’s face looks like.

It makes my life different each day. My capabilities aren’t hindered, but I process things differently. I’ve figured out how my brain works and found a way to cope with what I was given. Putting my ideas down on paper visually helps me a lot more. I can easily do math in my head, but I just can’t create pictures. Looking at a diagram on paper makes it much easier to analyze, rather than just reading a description and trying to picture it in my mind. 

The discovery of others like me was helpful. At first, you feel shocked and then sad that you have a mental dysfunction. I just have to tell myself that I’m still me, I can still do things, it’s just a little different than others. I was really disappointed, but then I realized that I have been living life all these years, so I can still make it through. For those that find out they have, you just need to remember, you’re still you. Don’t let it be something that holds you back, live your life how to want to. Having your brain work differently isn’t something to be ashamed of, it’s something you need to learn to embrace and live with.