Synaesthesia

As I’m in a writing mode, I think I’ll tell you about something I’ve been thinking about recently. I am starting with this as my first topic as then you might better understand me.

I have a “neurological phenomenon” called synaesthesia (American spelling: synesthesia). This is where an input in one sense automatically, simultaneously invokes an input in another sense.  I’ve told maybe 10% of the people I know of this, and am going to write about this because I get asked so often about the exact nature of it and recently I’ve been asked questions about synaesthesia about which I’ve never thought, as as far as I was concerned until I was 13 and a bit, the whole rest of the world perceived everything in pretty much the same way. For what reason would anyone have to think otherwise? I think I’m just as intrigued by the concept of how non-synaesthetes perceive things as they are about how I do.

FAQs re: synaesthesia and me

How does synaesthesia affect me?

Firstly, I have grapheme-colour synaesthesia, which means that as I look at what I am typing, although I am fully aware that it is “black”, is coloured – colour is projected onto each letter, an arbitrarily small space above the letters. Each individual letter/number/pretty much any symbol/set of random lines has a colour. The colour of a word is a mixture of the colours of all the letters in it (likewise for long streams of numbers), but it is most heavily influenced by the colour of the first letter, and by letters with “stronger” colours.

As a rough guide, these are the colours I see: (these descriptions won’t be very good as it they are very exact shades in a given state of appearance but I even in a infinite amount of time I would struggle to describe the colours/texture exactly)

a – neutral red, a bit light, male, a capital A is a bolder shade of red, as if the A is physically closer to me than an a

b – neutral blue, male

c – bright, rounded yellow, female, defined edges to the colour

d – darkish royal blue, D is darker than d, and more noticeable, male

e – an orangey-pink (not very pink) colour, quite dull and faded, female (the other letters all have gender but I’m a bit bored of writing them by now so I’ll leave them off the rest and add them later, this is called ordinal linguistic personification I think)

f – a proper orange colour, not that bright/fluorescent

g – a dull grass green

h – a dark, royal green (if such a colour existed)

i – mainly white, a bit creamy/yellowy depending on context (i.e. what letters surround it). Capital I is yellowier than i

j – light-fuschia-pinky-orange (not really but I never know how to describe j)

k – light green, not a bright shade, solemn, well defined edges to the colour

l – yellow, not as rounded/goldy as c. neutral

m – rounded green colour, like an oak tree leaf

n – dark greeny-black

o – brown, fairly light, appears as dark brown when surrounded by dark letters

p – paleish blue, not bright

q -white-turquoise-greeny colour, (green as in really diltured apple juice – but I mean the whiteish apple juice as opposed to the reddish-green apple juice)

r – a firey red, more orangey than a, and much brighter/stronger than a

s – red, less orangey than a, but darker/stronger than a, a bit wispy in shade

t – lightish yellowy-green

u – light purply-blue

v – darkish bluey-blackish-purple (not at all plum coloured by the way)

w – very dark, slightly bluish, black

x – dark grey, can be a bit bluish in some contexts

y – goldy-yellowy-tan colour

z – dark blackish grey, darker than w

Numbers:

1 – bright, goldy, strong, well-led, yellow

2 – darkish blue, quite royal in colour

3 – orange, not that bright but not really pinkish or reddish in any noticeable way, like an orange that is starting to go off

4 – bluey-greeny-slightly orangy (but very very slightly)-black (so hard to describe!)

5 – a royal red, like crimson but brighter (I love looking at this number)

6 – a pathetic blue, not light or dark particularly, a bit smudged looking

7 – flourescent light green, but a bit paler – I absolutely HATE the number 7 because it looks horrid and gives the impression it’s going to grow fangs and eat me (I’m not mad, I just really dislike the number 7, apparently it’s called septaphobia, but I’m not afraid of 7, I’m perfectly rationally aware that it’s just a line bent in two, I just dislike the number 7 very much just how some people don’t like sprouts, which I, incidentally, love)

8 – dark blue-black

9 – green, like peas but a bit darker/more rounded, wears a hat

0 – faded orange-light brown.

I also have sound-colour synaesthesia, so I see pretty much all forms of sound as if on a screen projected at about arm’s length away from me. This includes music, voices, and generally random everyday sound, but it’s pitch that specifically has colour. The exact nature of the colour and its texture depends on what’s making  the sound, its timbre, where it’s coming from, its octave.

I can fairly reliably tell what note something is from its colour, since I can remember what colour each pitch (referring to those used in western music) is.

Off the top of my head (I mean without going and getting my violin and playing each note and spending hours trying to decide how to describe each colour), these are them:

A – bright red, rounded, strong

A sharp/B flat

B – pale light blue, slightly lilac-coloured

C – yellow, can very from dark mustard to really clear light yellow depending on octave

C sharp/D flat – dark blueish mustard colour (not in any way green!)

D – royal blue, rich, sky coloured (on a clear day) at higher octaves)

D sharp/E flat – dark reddish-pinky-orangey-black

E – murky orange

F – bright orange

F sharp/G flat – dark, bright orange, very slightly very very dark green tinge

G – piercing, sickly green, like grass but less bright and less full in shade

G sharp/A flat – medium darkness greeny red (mainly green)

I also see pain as colour, generally green/red/blue/black.

Days of the week are also coloured, and I perceive them, along with numbers, and time in general, implanted in 3D space around me (spatial sequence synaethesia).

People are coloured, but I think it’s their voices (i.e. the colour of the sound of their voice) and maybe some subconscious link with the colour of their name.

To be continued

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