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Topic: My synesthesia (per request)
Message: Posted by: Herr Brian Tabor (Jul 10, 2013 04:01PM)
I mentioned in another thread that I had synesthesia, and was requested to discuss it, so here it is.

It's kinda of hard to explain, but synesthesia is when you experience senses/stimuli with other senses. I will try my best, but describing these sensations to someone who has never experienced them is challenging. Mine is in a few forms, but the biggest for me is auditory/color. Color synesthesia appears to the be most common, though whether it is through auditory or visual or taste varies. Sounds, such as voices and music, have colors, shapes, and textures to me. When I hear a voice it might sound yellow, or red, and so on. It also might be smooth or rough, and while I know this particular concept is known by all, for me I can literally see the rough or smoothness of the voice or sound in its color. A smooth voice, for example, might be reddish in color, and have a long oval shape.

Words also have shapes to me, and makes it easy for me to misunderstand what someone has said, though this doesn't occur often. It has also helped me with learning a second language, since every word has a distinct shape when I hear it, it becomes somewhat of an automatic memory association trick.

As far as music goes, it has greatly affected what music I like, and what music I played when I used to play. I learned to play the harmonica, guitar, mandolin, bass, and violin/fiddle all by ear. It just made sense to me. There is also a lot of music I like or don't like based simply on the colors and shapes and textures I perceive when I hear it. Eric Clapton's unplugged album, for example, sounds silver and grating to my ears, and I can't listen to it.

I know what blue sounds like, because I know what sounds make me see blue. (keep in mind that another person with synesthesia might have an entirely different perspective here). I can, occasionally, taste these stimuli as well.

Movies and theater have more of an affect on me too. Because directors use lighting and colors and so on as tools to convey the tone of the movie, I am more sensitive to movies that do this, and it has an impact on whether I like the movie.

There have been benefits too, of course. As I said before, learning a second language has been a breeze, because of the memory association. I have always done very little in the way of studying in school, and have still done better than most of my classmates because of this. It has also taught me to see patterns in behavior and such. I can understand people and their perceptions easier, and can modify my behavior automatically to fit in with a social group I no nothing about. I can listen to a person speak, or see their patterns in how they move, and make surprisingly accurate assumptions about their personality, such as if they are opinionated, introvert/extrovert, and so on.

Growing up I had no idea I had synesthesia, and I thought the way I perceived things was the way everyone else did. I started noticing that once in awhile people would look confused at some comment I would make, but I didn't realize it fully until around 4 years ago, when I heard a few classical pieces on NPR (radio) by Amy Beach and Franz Liszt, both of which had synesthesia, and the hosts spoke of this. Another composer wrote his music to convey these colors, though his name escapes me. Anyway, when I heard this I was stunned, because this meant I had a disease, and my whole life I didn't understand that other people didn't perceive these things. I don't, of course, really see this as a disease, just a mental perception phenomena.
Message: Posted by: Herr Brian Tabor (Jul 10, 2013 04:04PM)
I should mention that this has been a major factor in my love of magic, because I get to alter other's perceptions, and it helps me with understanding how to deal with crowds, and individuals that I perform for. Because I can understand what kind of personality they have, I can easily modify my behavior to "fit in" with them, and they are more quick to feel at ease and trust me, and have fun with the magic.
Message: Posted by: foreva.infiniti (Jul 10, 2013 04:25PM)
:rainbow:I wish I had it Eternity :rainbow:
Message: Posted by: Michael Baker (Jul 10, 2013 04:42PM)
Fascinating...
Message: Posted by: Herr Brian Tabor (Jul 10, 2013 05:09PM)
Foreva, it is fun overall, and while it is technically considered a disease, I don't mind one bit ;)

Michael, it really is, and my sociology professors are always having me give talks to their other classes, especially the ones involving perceptions, such as symbolic interactionism. (Symbolic interactionism is my main focus for my Sociology major because of this).

They want to work with me to write a book on the subject when I have my masters, and say it would make getting my P.H.D easy, not to mention it'd be good for my career, but it will be challenging simply because of the nature of it. Imagine trying to describe the color red to a man who has been blind since birth.

It does drive my wife nuts, because when we are shopping she likes to walk in front of me, and speaks too low sometimes and I constantly mis-hear her lol.
Message: Posted by: balducci (Jul 10, 2013 05:15PM)
[quote]
On 2013-07-10 17:01, Herr Brian Tabor wrote:

Words also have shapes to me, and makes it easy for me to misunderstand what someone has said, though this doesn't occur often. It has also helped me with learning a second language, since every word has a distinct shape when I hear it, it becomes somewhat of an automatic memory association trick.

It has also taught me to see patterns in behavior and such. I can understand people and their perceptions easier, and can modify my behavior automatically to fit in with a social group I no nothing about. I can listen to a person speak, or see their patterns in how they move, and make surprisingly accurate assumptions about their personality, such as if they are opinionated, introvert/extrovert, and so on.
[/quote]
Does this apply when you read, or just to when you listen?
Message: Posted by: balducci (Jul 10, 2013 05:16PM)
[quote]
On 2013-07-10 18:09, Herr Brian Tabor wrote:

They want to work with me to write a book on the subject when I have my masters, and say it would make getting my P.H.D easy, not to mention it'd be good for my career, but it will be challenging simply because of the nature of it. Imagine trying to describe the color red to a man who has been blind since birth.
[/quote]
Have you read 'Tasting the Universe: People Who See Colors in Words and Rainbows in Symphonies'?
Message: Posted by: gdw (Jul 10, 2013 06:05PM)
I've been curious about this, but never really looked into it much, which is weird as I'll usually get very absorbed in things which fascinate me, and usually result in loosing myself in reading about it.

So you actually perceive the colours and textures, like a hallucination, or is it more of an association type of thing? Or something else in between, or altogether different?
Message: Posted by: landmark (Jul 10, 2013 06:16PM)
Brain, thanks for starting this thread! I guess the question I have is this: when you experience say sounds as colors, where does that experience seem to take place? Is it "out there," or "inside" somewhere?
Message: Posted by: foreva.infiniti (Jul 10, 2013 06:37PM)
[quote]
On 2013-07-10 18:16, balducci wrote:
[quote]
On 2013-07-10 18:09, Herr Brian Tabor wrote:

They want to work with me to write a book on the subject when I have my masters, and say it would make getting my P.H.D easy, not to mention it'd be good for my career, but it will be challenging simply because of the nature of it. Imagine trying to describe the color red to a man who has been blind since birth.
[/quote]
Have you read 'Tasting the Universe: People Who See Colors in Words and Rainbows in Symphonies'?
[/quote]

I have that book!
Message: Posted by: LobowolfXXX (Jul 10, 2013 07:15PM)
Does the color thing apply to every sound you hear, or are there "neutral" sounds?
Message: Posted by: Herr Brian Tabor (Jul 10, 2013 07:20PM)
Haha, questions. I'll try to answer them.

balducci, it's strongest when I hear them, though it do feel the shapes when I read as well. And no, I haven't read that book, but I'll have to look into it now, thanks!

gdw, it's not really a hallucination, I don't physically see the colors and shapes and such when I hear them...It's very hard to explain. It's like I understand them. In my head. Similar to how you would understand a smell. You don't see the smell, either in your imagination or physically, but you understand the smell. lol, this is very hard to describe. It's almost like an entirely different sensory stimulus than the normal five. When I hear a sound, I just understand its color/shape/etc.

Landmark, you're welcome, lol. And it really takes place in my head, if you read my answer to gdw.
Message: Posted by: Scott Cram (Jul 10, 2013 09:16PM)
Perhaps these videos can help people understand synathesia.

TED-Ed:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rkRbebvoYqI

numberphile:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dNy23tJMTzQ
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u17MdWjGA5I
Message: Posted by: Herr Brian Tabor (Jul 11, 2013 12:42AM)
Scott I love that first video.
Message: Posted by: gdw (Jul 11, 2013 08:17AM)
Cool. Thanks for answering Herr Brian Tabor

Scott, I'll definitely have to watch those videos. Book marking them now.
Message: Posted by: mastermindreader (Jul 11, 2013 09:47AM)
Sounds like you could devise some very effective mentalism presentations around your synesthesia. It actually seems to be a kind of sixth sense- or at least a kind of Gestalt of the other five.

Fascinating ability.
Message: Posted by: critter (Jul 11, 2013 01:13PM)
This is interesting because I'm studying Daniel Tammet for a class and he has this with numbers.
Message: Posted by: Herr Brian Tabor (Jul 11, 2013 02:02PM)
Heh, I do this with numbers too, both gender and color.