Updated: Feb 19
The absence of a mind's eye.
Someone experiencing aphantasia will not be able to visually imagine. To someone experiencing aphantasia, to think of an item or a loved one may be experienced as simply a list of words that come to mind. As this topic gets discovered by a wider audience, one question that comes up often is this: "Does aphantasia have a cure?"
Enter AphantasiaMeow, the brand name for this mind's eye coaching and research practice. For the past year-and-a-half I've been working with self-prescribed aphantasic individuals (as well as people who just wanted a stronger mind's eye), and have had the privilege of seeing many of them obtain a breakthrough in experiencing the mind's eye for themselves.
Not only have I worked with people and helped them achieve a measure of breakthrough for themselves, but I've also met those whom I did not work with, who came across different online resources (mine, or otherwise) and were able to make progress on their own. This is extremely important, as it demonstrates that I am not the magic component to someone making progress in the development of their mind's eye.
Now, I've seen breakthrough with people who could not recognize a functioning mind's eye prior to working with them, and even those who have made progress on their own. Even so, do I consider that aphantasia has a "cure"? No. No I do not. Allow me to explain...
A quick search for "can you cure aphantasia" on google leads you to a mix of results in favor of the idea and against. There are some who say "it definitely cannot be cured", and some who say "it definitely can! And I've done it!". So with a rise of those who have experienced being able to "cure" their aphantasia, why do I still stand by what I said in that there is no cure?
The answer to the question of a cure is not so black and white.
The more I worked with people experiencing aphantasia, the more I realized something profound about the nature of the visual imagination...
The visual imagination seems to be like any other skill; it can be honed, developed, practiced, grown...
This also lined up directly with my own mind's eye progression (more on that another time). Truly, I began to realize that the mind's eye is more of a skill than a state.
It can be likened to an instrument. Just as one would expect there to be no "cure" for not playing piano well, such is true with inability to visually imagine. And with diligence, and correct practice, the ability can be grown and recognized for oneself.
At least, based on all my work so far this is my current conclusion (as well as the people I've met along the way whom I did not even work with who made progress on their own, of course).
There does exist, however, a difference of brain activity in someone experiencing aphantasia when compared to an average mind's eye visualizer. I wonder if there's a difference in brain activity between a naturally gifted piano player and a novice?
So, in short, I would not say there's a cure for aphantasia, just as I would not say there's a cure for the inability of playing piano.
This may be encouraging to you! Or maybe not.
If you are one searching for a magic pill or someway to zap the brain to "cure" aphantasia, we simply haven't found that yet.
Though, employing the age old remedy of dedication and practice seems to do the trick.