Thursday, October 12, 2006

Synesthesia

I’ve been writing some fiction where the narrator’s daughter is synesthetic. Never heard of it? It is rare, and I’ve talked extensively with someone with this condition.

Synesthesia is often describes as a continual LSD trip. It is a condition where senses cross over and present a strange sort-of sensory overload. Synesthetic people will taste sounds, feel smells and see music in the air. One telling symptom is seeing colored letters or words. A synesthetic person reading this will see each letter has its own color like the photo above, or each word will have their own color letters. Aside form the sensory overload causing difficulties in learning, imagine seeing the word “green” and the letters for this word are always pink. It would be confusing at best.

The synesthetic woman I spoke with told me that when she hears music she can see the air move the way the rest of the people see heat rising. Really loud music really distorts the air for her vision. She told me that she can physically feel a hoop when she smells bread baking. Not with her hands, just with her feelings, the way we remember things we have touched. She also hears what she tastes. She will taste things and hear certain tones.

Imagine being an undiagnosed child with this condition wondering why others so flatly describe the things they are describing.

My wife’s children are both red/green color deficient. She figured this out when they brought home pictures from school and all the evergreen trees they drew were all brown. Red, green and brown all look the same to them. They also favored the color yellow because it is a color they can see vividly.

Is it any wonder there are so many points of view to every topic. Some people see more or less than others. Yet we seem to co-exist in spite our senses or lack there of.

5 Comments:

Blogger denise said...

Very interesting. That would be hard to deal with, especially for a child who could not explain why there confused about learning.

8:57 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow. Wow wow wow. I'd never heard of that before.
I'm sort of half jealous, because to be able to hear and see music - ! I never even got to do that when I... never mind. But the rest of it must make life pretty complicated.

9:19 AM  
Blogger The Guy Who Writes This said...

It is a pretty cool thing. Most people with the condition are scary bright and they are totally, I mean TOTALLY aware of everything around them, to the point of distraction.

I don't know if it is related, but people with autistism may have something like that going on as well.

9:25 AM  
Blogger Amaya said...

Wow. That was eloquently written when it could have easily become a jumbled mess of descriptions. I love to think of the world as so many different and unique parts coming together and it's refreshing to discover instances where that is the case.
May I ask the story line of your book? And was it the woman you encountered that inspired you to do so?

9:35 AM  
Blogger The Guy Who Writes This said...

The woman's condition simply opened the door to character development. We spoke at great length and she helped me understand as best as she could and as best as I could.

The daughter is almost an ancillary character in the story of a man who had it all, lost it all by the lies and misdeeds of another, and regains those things that are really important. The daughter comes from my deep rooted “daughter envy.” I don’t have any children of my own, but somehow I’d love to have a daughter. I’ve met so many incredible young women over the years and I would love to have the pride that I was responsible for one of them. So since I will not be having a daughter, I can still imagine and write lovingly as though I had.

11:31 AM  

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