Personally I don’t, but when I came across this article in I Fucking Love Science, it explained a lot.
Picture a sandy beach, waves lapping at the shore, and the Sun setting on the horizon. For most people this is an easy task, but for a small proportion, it’s impossible. Known as “aphantasia,” doctors have described for the first time a condition where people can’t form mental images in their “mind’s eye.”
It’s thought that as many as one in fifty people might have aphantasia.
“I can remember not understanding what ‘counting sheep’ entailed when I couldn’t sleep,” said Kenmuir in a statement. “I assumed they meant it in a figurative sense. When I tried it myself, I found myself turning my head to watch invisible sheep fly by. I’ve spent years looking online for information about my condition, and finding nothing. I’m very happy that it is now being researched and defined.”
A few probing questions later, and I realized that my boyfriend has aphantasia.
I used to get very frustrated with him, when asking him to recall certain things. “Just picture it”, I’d say to him, “Just close your eyes and remember what it looks like. Then describe it to me”. He wouldn’t even bother closing his eyes. “I can’t”, he’d reply. “But you’re not even trying! Just try to remember!”
It turns out, he cannot visualize images, whether recollections or imaginary. I thought he was just being lazy, and his very poor memory was in part a result of his not trying to push himself mentally. I was wrong. This also makes him an abysmal liar, though that is something I can’t really complain about.
The funny thing is, people with aphantasia can still dream, despite the fact that they cannot recall images in their “mind’s eye”.
This is a relatively new discovery, and more research is needed in order to figure out exactly how this all works, and how the neural pathways involved in dreaming differ from those necessary to voluntarily create mental pictures, but in the meantime I am still fascinated.
Do you, or does anyone you know, have aphantasia?