Communicator (communicator) wrote,


I 'see' time as a shape which curls around me. When I was a child I thought everyone oriented themselves in time like that, but I later found it was unusual, and recently it has been identified as a form of synaesthesia. Here is a bbc report on 'my' type of synaesthesia. The image in that report - here's a direct link - is a very good rendering of how I see time, though mine is not coloured, and it winds out and around in a sort of elongated spiral that stretches back to billions of years ago (that looks very far away). The thing about synaesthesia is that maintaining the correspondence (in this case between time and shape) is not effortful, and it lasts all your life. The time-curl has been with me for as long as I can remember, and I would describe it now as I would have 40 years ago.

The bbc report describes two other forms of synaesthesia which are familiar to me:

Synaesthesia is a strange condition that has attracted a great deal of research. But its variety and complexity mean that the time-space variant is one of three types that has only been properly described within the last few years. Two others are much rarer and perhaps even more bizarre.
Dr Simner explains: "There is one called ordinal-linguistic personification. So letters or numbers trigger, not colour, but the impression of a personality or gender. "So, you don't know that number seven is green, but you know that it's a maniacal husband who comes home from work and shouts at his wife.
"You might not have a colour for Thursday, but you know that it's a young girl who has spent too long kept in the house and wants to break out into the world."
Another variant recently come to light is called mirror touch synaesthesia. This causes people to experience sensations of touch when they see other people being touched.
"So if I sat in front of you and scratched my nose, you would feel a scratch on your nose," explains Dr Simner. Psychologists have linked this to a greater sense of empathy.

Funnily enough I have both of these, though to a fairly mild extent. What they say about 7 being a tyrannical husband is nonsense - 7 is an older unmarried woman, sister to 4, very peaceful and softly-spoken. The mirror-touch one, I think everyone has that a bit. I bet your nose itches now, right?

This is a very me-me-me post isn't it? Still, who can fail to be interested to read an article about one's normal way of thinking, identified as a peculiar neural phenomenon. I think it is part of my extremely right-brain way of thinking, which means that details of the world like numbers and dates are blurry unless I concentrate hard. I think it's almost the opposite of autism, it's the other end of the neural scale. And I suppose that like autism, it has its strengths and weaknesses. But no name yet, thank goodness.
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