Have you ever had a friend asking you what color is Monday? Or does “bright” taste like chocolate? What color is this sound? Well if your answer to these is “yes” your friend has a fascinating condition called “synesthesia”.
Some people are triggered by something like music, language, or even food. For instance, for some people music is a visual experience that is not just made of colors but also movement, shape, three-dimensional landscapes.
What is synesthesia
Synesthesia comes from a Greek word that means “ syn” (together) “esthesia” (perception).
People with this condition — often referred to as “synesthetes” — experience a combination of two senses or perceptions which make them see things quite differently — and surely experience life magically!
Some cases see a color every time they hear a sound or they see colored letters, numbers, dates, months. While others sense and even taste words.
This condition runs in families and more common among women than men. studies show that 4% of the population has it.
Also what is fascinating about this condition is that synesthetes tend to think differently from other people. They recall memories in vivid visual images, and other senses stronger than the average person. So, if they remember a childhood holiday they will be able to picture this vividly in their mind, drop the smells and the sounds of that particular holiday.
Mirror sensory synesthesia
it is a conflation of the senses; the things that a synesthete see are felt on their skin. When they see someone else’s injuries they feel it on their skin.
Every day they experience something that triggers waves of pain. It makes it hard for them to participate in a lot of contemporary entertainment.
Sometimes they can’t watch certain movies because they can’t endure some of the scenes or even watch dancing videos.
Types of synesthesia
These are the common types synesthetes experience:
- Smelling certain scents when hearing certain sounds.
- Seeing music as colors in the air.
- Tasting words.
- Feeling that certain textures cause certain emotions.
- Feeling that time has a physical characteristic.
- Seeing a certain color when feeling pain or happiness.
Though it is crazy to think one can taste words, or see colors every time one hears a song. Indeed, synesthetes are living our dream.
What is so special about synesthesia
People with this condition tend to be extra creative. Some synesthetes say they are blessed for having it. I don’t see this as a condition or a disorder because it doesn’t affect their mental health in any way but rather adds to them.
- They associate dates with colors which can help them memorize easily and rapidly ( when they forget dates they still remember colors).
- Since letters have colors too writers can see colored letters which are considered a pleasure for them because it’s almost like a painting.
- It helps them remember names, song lyrics, poems, titles.
- It helps them learn new languages especially by enriching their vocabulary, grammar, sentence structure.
- Believe it or not, synesthetes see the same colors with each word in the corresponding learning language. ( they learn new languages faster than the average person).
- Helps them in mathematics because they see different dimensions numbers which give them additional hints.
A synesthete might not just hear your voice but see it taste it, or feel it as physical touch. Proceeding the world in such a colorful way seems just like magic to me.
This fascinating condition made me realize that even though our eyes and ears constrain what we perceive, it’s our brain that ultimately creates our sense of reality.