My perspective on synaesthesia.

I mentioned before that I have synaesthesia. I’m more of a part time synaesthete?/synaesthetic? (*shrug*) than a full time one.

The One Show (Blue Peter for Slacker Adults) had a feature on it on Friday. Quite a good one. They outlined the condition as being something like sensory overload. Sometimes hearing gets processed as a taste or a sight has it’s own unique sound.

My synaesthesia doesn’t impact on my life. It’s not even really something I ever think about getting “fixed”. I  like it. My bit of sensory overload/misconnection is that I see sounds. I’m not a full time seer of sounds, you can’t walk up to me and demand to know what colour and shape your voice has. (I’d get very bored of it very quickly) Some people I know have their own unique impact on how I see their sounds, most don’t. People I’ve known longer are more likely than strangers to have a quality to their voice.

The early morning or late evening (when I’m tired?) is when I’m most likely to see sounds. It’s usually unexpected noises that have the strongest manifestation. When my Mum shouts unexpectedly at me- that has it’s own shape and colour compared to when a door slams (dark purple and jagged edges like an explosion) or a car alarm goes off (bottle green waves of colour). I tend to not talk about specific people as I think they might take it personally or try to interpret the colour as some secret way of knowing what I think about them. I once made a mistake of telling someone who their voice had a silvery quality to it like mercury. They took it as a compliment and thought I was trying to make gooey eyes at them. For me the silver-ness was more cold and aloof. (See, I’m trying to do what I said I wouldn’t let you do)

I think my synaesthesia impacts my taste in music, I tend towards plinky plonky, fol-der-rol folk/singer song writers and not thrash metal and rock. I guess there’d be too many sharp edges and unexpected booms to navigate.

I don’t think my voice has a colour but then I’m never surprised by my voice.

It’s not a condition that affects the quality of my life and you shouldn’t worry about it, I’m not going to suddenly start vomiting rainbows all over the floor. I agree with Editorialgirl who thinks that everyone probably has it but tunes it out over time. Actually, Emma writes far more eloquently about synaesthesia than I do.

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One Response to My perspective on synaesthesia.

  1. Oh, Ben! Only just had a proper look at my stats. I’d have replied earlier if I’d noticed your flattering comment before! ;o)

    Good to hear about the One Show’s take on syn; it’s been a while since I’ve seen any mention of it in the “normal” media (ie not science mags). It sounds like they addressed it quite sensibly rather than with the usual sensationalism (unlike the time I was interviewed for the Birmingham News, with a vague assurance that the article would appear in their health section, only to find a photo of my face surrounded by swirly colours on the front page the next week, with the opening words “it sounds like a drug-induced fantasy…”)

    Am very jealous of your colours for sounds. All my sounds are textural but pretty much devoid of colour. What I find interesting is that your friends’ voices are more likely to have a colour. I do remember as a child that my friends had their own colours – Richard was yellow; Steven was blue – but this seemed to be attached to their personality rather than something as specific as the sound of their voice. (This is where it starts to sound like a dippy aura thing rather than syn, though, so I’m never sure whether to include it in “my synaesthesia”, even though it definitely feels like part of the same thing.) Your comments about people having “their own impact” do seem to be along the same lines as my childhood friend colours, though, which is fascinating.

    Anyway I’m waffling in your comments and that’s a bit rude, so I’ll leave it there – perhaps we should actually properly talk about it some time instead :o)


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