synaesthesia

According to the UK Synaesthesia Association, synaesthesia is ‘best described as a “union of the senses” whereby two or more of the five senses that are normally experienced separately are involuntarily and automatically joined together. Some synaesthetes experience colour when they hear sounds or read words. Others experience tastes, smells, shapes or touches in almost any combination. These sensations are automatic and cannot be turned on or off. Synaesthesia isn’t a disease or illness and is not at all harmful. In fact, the vast majority of synaesthetes couldn’t imagine life without it.’

For me, words and numbers are colours, but emotions have colours too, as well as peoples’ personalities. Occasionally a word will have a texture or feeling (e.g. the name Zara is like the static on a television)

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26 Responses to synaesthesia

  1. Guillermo Ivan Diaz says:

    Hi. My name is Ivan Diaz. I am in the U.S. ARMY stationed in Kuwait. I know two languages, and i am learning Arabic, French, and Italian. I was studing with a fellow classmate, and I told her that I feel different when I speak in different languages. I also mentioned that I am starting to see letters in Arabic in different colors. I see the letter A in arabic as red. I also see the word we in purlpe. I also see the congegation of that word also in purple. I also told her that I can see and feel different when I speak Spanish than when I speak English. In English, I feel like I an in suit and tie and I am in an office. When I speak in Spanish, I feel like taking over the world. When someone from Puerto Rico speaks spanish to me, i feel like music is coming out and like we are going to dance. I was disapointed. I had thought everyone did the same thing that I did. I didn’t even know that I had this, if she wouldn’t have mention it. I would like to know more about this contition, if i have a condition. I want to know if there are like some side-affects, or if i have like less to live than other peolple.

    • Maggie says:

      Ivan, I’m not sure about side affects. Synesthesia does not have them. (if you mean like if you drink a bad soda and start to feel sick) You probaly don’t have any shorter of a life than people with out synesthesia. That’s for sicknesses. Synesthesia is an “extra sense”. That’s the way I think of it.

      • Dawn says:

        Ivan, I’m also like that. When I speak French, I feel like I’m going to a galla. When I speak Spanish, I feel like a small, greedy child on the street. When I speak English, since it’s my regular language, I feel proud, and tall. But I’m not sure if this is synaesthesia.

    • Radhika says:

      Hi,
      I am doing research concerning Arabic and word-color Synesthesia. I read your post, and it sounds relevant to the study that I am conducting. I would be interested in getting in touch with you to find out more about your experiences.

      Feel free to email me at rgosavi@ucsd.edu.

      Thanks!
      Radhika

    • Julia L. says:

      Ivan, I share similar experiences with language. when i speak Spanish I feel like I’m ridding a wave, English jumps up and down. I don’t know how to explain it.

  2. Daniel Van Gent says:

    I have experienced since in my teens bursts of color with certain types of music. I also “see” every word when people are talking within ear shot or to directly to me. It is like reading a script whne someone is talking. This also occurs whne I speak.

    I had wondered about this, but now I believe it is technically Synaesthesia since both hearing and “sight” are involved. Some times, I have difficulty “erasing” the text from a sentnence that “hangs” in the “air!”

    This must facilitate learning or memory since two senses (hearing and visual) are involved in speech communications.

    I might expect that a more persons have this particular variant of Synaesthesia, but are probably not aware of it.

    By-the-way, I was diagnosed as dyslexic in elementary school (4th grade).

    Daniel Van Gent

  3. Barbara Ryan says:

    hi Lauren – have only just stumbled onto your site – wasn’t sure if the blog was still running – last entries – as far as I can find them – are from last year. Anyway, I very much like the ‘synaesthesic friendly’ presentation of your site – very visually acceptable/ easy on the eye and therfore on the other senses that are triggered by colour/layout/font etc. I have polymodal synaesthesia and many sites on the subject are a real headache – loud colours – always in the wrong colours for letters etc, very grating – they are often ‘supercharged’ with flashing texts, bad background layout – supposedly these sites are aimed at non synnies to give some indication on synaesthesic experience? But for me there are a nightmare – anyone else find that? i would think so.
    Anyway, I am also living in the UK and so wanted to get in touch – I am an artist/writer/perfumier based in the south east. I was struck by your experience of the name ‘Zara’ – which amazingly matches my own – and do you know it has been bugging me for months, possibly years – i could never quite explain my dislike of it until I heard another synaesthete ‘speaking my language’. Not speaking ‘synaesthesically’ can be hard work and I sometimes feel that english is not my first language – despite being born here – rather, synaesthesia is my first language – it existed long before any more universally standardised language was introduced – with synaesthesia everything has its place and meaning – words, numbers, faces…in fact all objects/ experiences have their own synaesthesic ‘rationale’ and hang together ‘harmoniosly’ – languge – both spoken and written ‘rejigs’ things – they don’t match up. MMmm your description of ‘Zara’ is identical except a thin black line runs along the top of the word at the same time that the static is experienced and that line also presses against my skin – it totally explains my aversion to it.

    Cheers for the website! and very much hope to hear from you,

    Barbara

  4. Nathaniel Schanzle says:

    I see diagrams when I here music never did drugs. I thought you had to see a specific color to a note. Pain also tastes like tin or metal.

  5. Nathaniel Schanzle says:

    they are always fractals and many colors some I can’t that are not in my minds eye.
    They are always neon. John coltrane looks like blue couds with silver or white sparkles. Miles Davis is orangey gold with red waves. Nails on a chalkboard are electric white lines. they move in different directions normally slow but sometimes speed up depending on what i hear. If i am really attracted to a woman i see purple blobs. everyone has an aura.

  6. Nathaniel Schanzle says:

    I meant to say some of the colors in my minds eye other people do not see and i can’t explain them.

  7. Maggie says:

    I’m not sure if this counts, but when I see printed letters and numbers, they have a blob around them. 2 has a bigger blob then 5 so I can tell them appart easily. But not when they are in a different color, like red. That ticks me off. It’s like the numbers and letters have an aura, even though I know that’s not possible. Only living things have an aura!

  8. Maggie says:

    I meant to say that when something moves, I can still see where it was before, and see it move faster than it really is. Like move your arm, I would see that where is was before it moved.

  9. Maggie says:

    Ivan, I’m not sure about side affects. Synesthesia does not have them. (if you mean like if you drink a bad soda and start to feel sick) You probaly don’t have any shorter of a life than people with out synesthesia. That’s for sicknesses. Synesthesia is an “extra sense”. That’s the way I think of it.
    For me, I just found out that not everybody sees like I do. Colors have been part of my life, and will always be. But I only have synesthesia slightly. When I hear my math teacher speak, I see Blue dots, sometimes they look like this ; When I hear my favorite song to play on my flute, I see purple horizontal lines. They stay for awhile, and float around, then disappear. When I hear running water, I see green circles.

  10. Jenny says:

    I have music-color synesthesia and sound-color synesthesia. But only a little. Also, when I listen to certin songs for classical music, Pictures at an Exbidition and Coldwater Crossing, I will see pictures of people I don’t even know. For Pictures at an Exbidition, I will see pictures of people getting married. For Coldwater Crossing, I see pictures of people going to war. This is all invalentary. But I see them in my head.

  11. Kate says:

    Jenny, I’m JUST like you! Music-color and sound-color synesthesia! I also have a friend like me to! We are best buds!

  12. Kate says:

    You know how some people get scared infront of many people? Well, what if they are scared of pictures that have faces? I’m like that. Is it a synesthesia?

  13. Tess says:

    Hey, I have just discovered your website! I already knew about synesthesia as I have the word-colour and number-colour kind of type. But i had no idea that seeing actual people or hearing voices in colour was also a type! I HAVE THAT TOO! So i feel pretty amazing right now, i thought that it was something that everybody did! Also, does anybody else with synesthesia go through small patches where you feel like time is speeding up/ slowing down, im not quite sure how to explain it… but i get it sometimes and it is kind of disconcerting :/ But I really love being a synesthesiac, i don’t know anybody else who is!

  14. Ashton Black says:

    i am ashton and i see pictures when i hear sounds. my name looks to me like feral, snarling cat. my best friend evelyns name looks like a marble tree with no leaves. sounds also have this. The sound of typing on a computer looks like hard bottom boots walking on a glass floor. also just regular words do it, such as the word sane (as in not crazy) looks like a crippled man leaning against a stone wall in an old city. but if i think the word i will only see the picture for some certian words that have special meaning to me, like a guy i might have had a crush on, but when i stop liking him i will have to hear the name out loud to see the picture again.

  15. Jessica says:

    when i meet someone, they have a certain colour.. this colour is their personality. eg. dark green is protective, light blue is playful and sensitive, dark blue is calm yet strict etc. when i tell them, they say its so exact. i can also feel what i see. so if i watch a program on tv where someone is doing surgery, i can feel it

  16. Jessica says:

    is it synaethesia ??

  17. Mei says:

    I have always wondered, if someone is color-blind, but they have synesthesia, are the shapes colored? You can’t see color in the real world, but when the synesthesic reaction happens, can you see color?

  18. Julia says:

    Jessica, I believe that is because its just like me>

  19. Julia says:

    I am musically and artistically inclined. (mostly music). I see music with colors. peoples names have colors, i see the alphabet, numbers, and i always have and i thought everyone did. I have played piano for 9 years now since i was four, and its found to be common that synesthetes (didnt spell that right) are usually artistic or musically talented.

  20. Sarah says:

    Hi! I’m Sarah. I’m thirteen years old, and found out I have synesthesia just a couple weeks ago, although I’ve always been able to see colors. I’ve always been musically inclined. I see colors while listening to music, but it’s any sound, too. Clocks, voices, computers starting up; everything that makes sound has a certain color. Is anyone else this way? I also see colors with names. Every name and word, along with numbers, are a certain color. This is why I struggle with math, because with all the colors, it just gets overwhelming. Does anyone else have this problem? I’m incredibly good with theatre, singing, and writing. Does that have anything to do with my synesthesia?

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