Synesthesia Truth: Eating Words and Seeing Sounds
Understanding the neuropsychological phenomenon
What Is Synesthesia?
Simply put, synesthesia is a neuropsychological phenomenon of mixed sense, meaning stimulating one sense will stimulate other senses.
A synesthete might see a green wall and smells citrus.
A synesthete might hear music and tastes chocolate.
Or, a synesthete might see a word and hears piano music
How Does Someone Have Synesthesia?
But here is the question, how does one have synesthesia?
Synesthesia is most commonly passed down by genetics or appears at a very young age. However, there are some rare cases where brain injuries can activate synesthesia. There are also some temporary ways to experience synesthesia such as meditation.
Some Different Types of Synesthesia
Grapheme-Colour Synesthesia - The association between numbers and letters to color.
Ordinal Linguistic Personification - Connects numbers and letters with a human characteristic.
Auditory-Tactile Synesthesia - Links hearing to the sense of touch inside and outside of the body.
Mirror-Touch Synesthesia - Also known as mirror-pain synesthesia, where one experiences another’s sensation. For example, when one watches violent movies, mirror-pain synesthetes can feel the pain.
Lexical-Gustatory Synesthesia - The trigger of a certain taste in the mouth of the head when seeing or hearing a word.
Misophonia - An extremely rare and aggressive type of synesthesia that triggers unpleasant emotional reactions to sounds made by humans. Such as everyday chewing, breathing, and knuckle cracking sounds.
Chromesthesia - Associates sound to color. To get a sense of what this type of synesthesia looks like view this video.
How Do I Know If I Have Synesthesia?
There are no professional clinical tests to determine whether or not one has synesthesia with the current technology.
Most synesthetes actually discover that they have synesthesia themselves, by realizing that not everyone sees the world the way they do.
To be classified as a synesthesia connection, the association between the senses needs to be involuntary, meaning that the connection occurs automatically.
With that being said, there are many online tests that can be used to determine the ability of synesthesia.
Treatments of Synesthesia
Unfortunately, there are no direct treatments for synesthesia. However, associated depression and anxiety may be treated with therapy or medication depending on context.
Why? Isn’t synesthesia an illness? Synesthesia is proven not to be a mental illness nor a disorder that will greatly affect one’s life. Indeed there are actually benefits to having synesthesia.
Benefits of Synesthesia
Memory advantages: This is because Synesthetes can remember things in 2 ways, they can remember phone numbers, code numbers, and such easily by remembering the sequence of numbers as well as the colors that the numbers are associated with.
The other main benefit is creativity. Synesthetes have better creativity because they have a colorful vision.
Can One Learn Synesthesia?
Although synesthesia is a condition that cannot be learned, we can learn the characteristics of some types of synesthesia. Such as connecting a certain color to a certain letter, although the ability isn’t permanent, within half a year, the ability can disappear if no further training is performed. Synesthesia Meditation can also enhance or lead to synesthesia experiences.
Amy is a prospective psychology student with many experiences working directly or indirectly with people aspiring to improve their mental wellbeing. Using her passion to improve others’ mental health, Amy is an active listener at 7 Cups since September 2021. She is a proactive community leader and hosts support discussions in several group chatrooms. Amy is a Content Development and Marketing (CDM) Program graduate at the 7 Cups Academy and is keen on using her writing skills to spread mental health awareness and support. She has additionally graduated from the Group Leadership and Dynamics Development Program (GLDD) and continues to seek further opportunities for learning and leadership.