By Trina Otero
How many of you have synaesthesia? Synaesthesia [also spelled synesthesia], in simplest terms, is when the stimulation of one of your senses automatically stimulates one or more senses, which causes you to experience something with two or more of your senses. For example, have you ever tasted something and associated it with a color or a musical note? Have you ever associated numbers with colors? Or do you see numbers and dates like a 3D timeline, making it easy to recall past events and freaking people out with your impeccable memory?
I’m a word nerd, so I like to know the origins of a word to better understand it. So here is a break down of synaesthesia, which shows our modern interpretation to be pretty accurate. It is from Greek syn – “together” + stem aisthe – “to feel, perceive,” related to aisthesis – “feeling,” from PIE root *au – “to perceive.” So this word literally means to feel, to perceive together. [Source: Etymonline.com.]
Fun Fact: Synaesthesia is purported to be seven times more common in artists, poets and novelists than in the rest of the population. [Source: Live Science]
I always thought how I experienced the world was how everyone else did…until I began describing to people how things tasted, sounded, felt, etc. and they looked at me like I was crazy. Or they told me I have a “vivid imagination” [hey, I have that too!]. Lol… For the longest I thought I was very weird — until one day a documentary about synaesthesia happened to be on TV while a friend was flipping through channels. I asked him to leave it on so I could listen. That is the day I was able to put a “word,” a “label,” on what I experience every day. I experience four forms of synaesthesia that have clear titles: chromesthesia [sound-color], spatial-sequence, number form, and auditory-tactile.
I also experience two forms that I don’t know the name for: I experience emotional responses or feelings when I hear certain sounds/pitches/tones, and I experience a fusion of taste, smell, sound AND color. On Wikipedia it says the former [emotional responses] could be misophonia, but I am not quite sure about that because I do not have tourette syndrome, I don’t mimic, nor do I associate all sounds with negative emotions. I admit that some sounds irritate me, but this usually happens when I am trying to have a conversation and I easily pick up on background noises. I have a heightened sense of hearing sometimes. This makes it hard for me to concentrate or hear what the other person is saying. I am also sensitive to the tone a person uses when speaking – this allows me to associate it with a mood, energy, a feeling. I feel this has helped me to be a very good communicator, and I intuitively pick up on things the speaker may not be aware of. Some sounds cause me to feel very “high,” elated, and joyful [which is why I have gravitated towards electro and ambient music choices]. I am wondering if this is common among empaths? This is a random question floating in my mind..
How about you? What do you experience? I am curious to see if any of my readers, family, and/or friends experience any of this!
I find it amusing that synaesthesia is considered an “illness” or “disorder!” Ha! What primitive thinking! Synaesthesia is just proof that life is not black and white, there are no boxes or boundaries…. And that everything is truly connected! Why shouldn’t sound have a taste and color? Is not everything made of the same thing — energy? I have never had any hallucinogens, but I know that people who do consume hallucinogens experience what synaesthetes do. Research will show you that many progressive thinkers and researchers believed [and still do] that hallucinogens actually help people see true reality. My theory at this point is that ANY human being is capable of experiencing synaesthesia if they learn to develop their intuitive/psychic abilities [hint: reactivate your pineal gland].
This topic is truly fascinating, and this is my first time researching it in depth like this. Like I said, this is “normal” to me so I don’t give it much thought. But I was having a conversation with a new friend yesterday, and somehow synaesthesia was brought up, and can you believe at first I did not even recognize or know the definition of this word?! After finding the definition I said aloud to myself, “Ohhhhhhhhhhhh, yeah.” Lol… This conversation triggered my memory of watching the documentary five years ago. This conversation sparked my curiosity about the way I perceive the world. 🙂
I thought this website gave a really good list of ten disadvantages/stereotypes of synaesthesia — 10 Disadvantages to Synaesthesia.
But I’m biased, anyways. 🙂 Hope you found this informational and enjoyable!