A Conversation for Synaesthesia

I heard...

Post 1

Honey³

Once I saw a documentary on TV about this phenomenon, the first time I heard about it. I went outside for a smoke, came back in and saw tiny little golden balls bumping up and down the TV screen while a Jazz band was playing... I punched myself a couple of times, then asked my sister to come in and look at the screen and check if I was going mad or not.
Fortunately she saw it as well, and afterwards I knew that it was some kind of simulation of what one of the synaesthesia-patients actually SAW during that kind of music. It was quite hallucinating, I can tell you that!

anyway, in this program, some quite heavy cases were interviewed, and it seemed to me that in a lot of cases, it can be a real handicap to live with. There was a woman going utterly nuts on a big city square because all the neon lights and signs were actually screaming at her and she couldn't stand the sound... For example...

I understood that everyone is actually synaesthetic during the first months/years of their lifes (helps a baby drink, for example, since they seem to already taste the milk when they see the bottle, making little sucking noises etc.), but that the 'connections' between our senses disappear when we grow up. Only some people do NOT break up all these connections.
Maybe this is just some phony explanation or a hypothesis of certain scientists, I don't know...


I heard...

Post 2

Cloviscat

I'd guess it was a hypothesis, but as you say, where does a Pavlovian reaction end and synaesthesia begin?

Yes it can be unpleasant, my case is mild compared to that poor woman, but I can begin to glimpse what it is like. It's an involuntary reation, and you can't get away from it. Soup (as one person has mentioned) or lemon candies is quite nice, but silver polish, ozone etc can be nasty, and you *can't*get*away*from*them! You keep washing your hands but it doesn't go away. And any smell that sticks around for too long can be nasty, no matter how inoffensive at the beginning - think of those nasty car air fresheners smiley - ill

Luckily the worst real effect I get is when my colleagues want to kill me for picking up on spelling mistakes! smiley - winkeye


I heard...

Post 3

Honey³

So, what exactly is the effect you have? You smell things when seeing other things? Must be difficult...
I don't 'suffer' (the '' because I don't know if suffering is the word...) from synaesthesis, but there's one thing I notice again and again : I keep attaching words (not always with a meaning) to music. I'm not really aware of it, not directly that is. But if I'm playing a specific melody on the guitar, and I'm really in to it, I always notice after some time that I was thinking words. As soon as I try to focus on it, it's gone... And different melodies are associated with different texts. I'm talking about classical music, so there are normally no 'lyrics'!
What do you think?..


I heard...

Post 4

Cloviscat

Sounds pretty synaesthetic to me, but asd I am so dreadfully unmusical, I find it hard to realise what it must be like.

I have colour/shape synaesthesia for numbers, letters and words. This gives me a fantastic visual-based memory, especially noticeable for the sort of information that other people find so hard to remember, eg strings of dates or other 'dry' information are neither dry nor difficult to me, they can actually be immensely satisfying.

The smell thing is less consistent, and personally I believe it links to migraines, but I get hardly any migraines at the mo, and the smell thing still lingers... I've not qwuite worked out how it works, I think it's to do with quality of light, definitely visual stimulus and the smell range is very weird...

When you say words, is it the same word over and over again, or a string of similar words, or actual sentences?


I heard...

Post 5

Honey³

I can't tell, really. I guess it's a string of words, over and over again. When I start focussing on it, it disappears almost completely, just to leave behind a faint idea of the words. It's weird...
It keeps escaping me!
I always hope one day I will be able to hear the exact words and use them to write lyrics to a classical melody, it would be very satisfying. But until now, it hasn't happened and lately I don't have enough time to play the guitar, in fact...

About the migraine : I have had a period (couple of years) when I had a lot of migraine and at these moments, I was actually very sensitive to smell as well. I could come in a room (or lay down in a room) and suddenly say : what the f**k is that smell? Smells like little gummy candy bears in here!
And everyone would go : huh? What are you talking about??


I heard...

Post 6

Dorothy Outta Kansas

Please 'scuse me for interrupting, but I've come here off the "90% of the Brain" thread, since I initiated the synaesthesia conversation there.

I was aware I had colour-number and colour-sound association, but I wasn't aware that the voices I hear as I'm going to sleep, and the smells that I sometimes smell, could be related to the syndrome as well! How fascinating!

Occasionally, the voices have woken me up (used to, when I tried to listen to what they were saying), but more recently I welcome them as friends and ignore the particulars, and they don't bother me. More as if I'm *not* listening to a radio play!

x x Fenny


I heard...

Post 7

Phryne- 'Best Suppurating Actress'

What's the link between synaesthesia and migraines? I haven't had one for years but it's not affected how I perceive things.
I have it with (descending order) colours/sounds/shapes/smells/tastes
and very occasionally textures. I used to have something which really disturbed me when I was little- I'm scared of the dark, and at night it would make a particular sound. It was similar to amplifier feedback and went (as far as I can remember) WHAUMMMM. It would go on repeating, getting louder each time, and it would end up at an incredible volume; still, I knew that it wasn't a real sound, that it was in my head. I hated it so much- it hurt, made my head vibrate- that I think I became good at blocking it out; haven't had it for years. That's the only time I can remember it being unpleasant.


I heard... or saw...

Post 8

Dorothy Outta Kansas

I heard something similar, which I think was my own pulse... On a similar but not synasthaesia-related topic - I remember draining my first drink from a "big-girl's cup" made of china rather than plastic. I got to the bottom and saw a face staring back at me! It was horrible, very pale and ghostly, and quite emotionless. It took my parents quite a while, first, to figure out what I was seeing, and then, to convince me that it was only my own reflection!

I still remember that fear, which is related to the fear you get at seeing a shadow out of the corner of my eye... and I *still* absolutely never drink to the bottom of the cup, just in case 'it' is still in there, watching me!

x x Fenny (nervous)


I heard... or saw...

Post 9

Phryne- 'Best Suppurating Actress'

We have a window in our kitchen that looks onto another window. When it's dark, if you casually glance at it, you see both your reflections mixed up. One's bigger than the other and it looks like you've got huge deformed facial features.
Urrrgh.


I heard... or saw...

Post 10

Dorothy Outta Kansas

"Windows? Don't talk to me about windows!" (and I don't mean the sort you're reading this page through, either.)

On a dark December evening, I became aware of movement outside the back door, which has a window set into it. I was alone in the kitchen, reading, and a sudden sharp movement caught my eye, once, then again, often and repetitively. It appeared that one or several men were walking around in my garden, dressed in commando gear, and camouflaged so their faces were completely blackened. Through my terror rose the realisation that I was hearing nothing of their movements: they must be professional marksmen, capable of moving without noise. I didn't dare move, I just sat absolutely still, eyes frozen on the book, hoping that they'd believe I hadn't seen them, hoping that they'd finish their mission in my garden and return to their base.

Fifteen minutes I sat without moving, in a North London suburb, waiting for my first-hand experience of terrorism to end. My mum came downstairs, paused outside the kitchen, asked me why I was so rigid. I told her without moving, warned her to stay outside the kitchen. She considered the situation, puzzled, and then explained the situation to me.

The house backing on to ours has not diffused its very bright bedroom light with a lampshade. Anyone walking around the bedroom will be caught by the light and his shadow will be thrown across the gardens. If the closest platform for his shaded representation is the window in our back door, the shadow from such a bright light appears with clarity. In effect, my marksmen were two-dimensional representations of a bulb-sized sun being eclipsed by a neighbour!

As I said, windows are a subject which could leave me gibbering in embarrassment!

x x Fenny (flushing fierily)


I heard... or saw...

Post 11

Honey³

yuk! Creepy...

I also have some quite weird (and totally irrational) fears, like *always* still looking under the bed before going to sleep (some nightmare I had when I was a child, with demons under the bed, you know, the usual stuff!), and like never stepping on the last but one step (in my parent's house the stairs are open, only the last one isn't and not being able to see if there were little creepy bugs at the end of the step in the dark scared the hell out of me when I was a child...)!

smiley - monster


I heard... or saw...

Post 12

Phryne- 'Best Suppurating Actress'

I hate stairs with gaps in. I know I can't fall down them, and probably couldn't even when I was little, but the thought of slipping through the gap- wrenched limbs- and hanging suspended in great pain does not appeal to me. And they're always slippery metal or polished wood.
I am scared of the top of our stairs- we have a long landing from the stairs going past the three bedrooms, and mine's at the far end. If it's dark you can just see the faint outline of the door at the end; and even if it's not you can't see what's coming up the stairs. Nasty.
Is there a ghosts/scary tales thread anywhere on the site?


I heard... or saw...

Post 13

Honey³

I don't know! (still can't find my way very easily around here...)

... but if there isn't one yet, I suppose there will be one soon! (feel free to start one, let's just hope my collection of bizar phobia's will not grow very fast reading other people's scary tales)
smiley - winkeye


I heard... or saw...

Post 14

Honey³

I don't know! (still can't find my way very easily around here...)

... but if there isn't one yet, I suppose there will be one soon! (feel free to start one, let's just hope my collection of bizar phobia's will not grow very fast reading other people's scary tales)
smiley - winkeye


I heard... or saw...

Post 15

Honey³

I don't know! (still can't find my way very easily around here...)

... but if there isn't one yet, I suppose there will be one soon! (feel free to start one, let's just hope my collection of bizar phobia's will not grow very fast reading other people's scary tales)
smiley - winkeye


I heard... or saw...

Post 16

Phryne- 'Best Suppurating Actress'

I wouldn't want to add to your list of phobias, mine are pretty bizarre. Dolls, clowns, lifts and ironing boards are the worst.


I heard... or saw...

Post 17

Celebearel

I too have trouble with stairs with gaps in them, and I also have other unusual perceptual experiences, such as some sounds being painful and having very little feeling in my feet, but being hypersensitive to pain in my back. I certainly have trouble using stairs with gaps in them and will experience similar things with descending escalators, and the gaps in railings.

Just thought you might be interested to know that you are not alone.


I heard... or saw...

Post 18

Phryne- 'Best Suppurating Actress'

Good! (well, not good that you have those problems. Sympathy.)
I doubt you're troubled by ironing boards, though. How about synaesthesia generally?


I heard...

Post 19

MellyjcGO

Any chance you can point me to that? I thought hypnogogic/hypnapompic imagery/voices were typical of anyone and not related to synesthesia. But then there's a theory that synesthesia may be related to color in dreams, so who knows?


Musical text

Post 20

MellyjcGO

I don't have that exact experience, but I do realize how frustrating it is for it to go away when you're trying to hone in on the response. I get more synesthetic responses when I'm tired so if they're not ones I'm used to experiencing, I'll sit there puzzled and frustrated for a bit before finally realizing it. "What's that smell?"

In one case it was a sense of location in response to physical stimulus. I went from feeling like I was at a certain intersection in the city I worked in, and then the sensation changed and I was in a shopping center in the city I live in. I absolutely hated it.


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