Saturday, July 25, 2009

Synesthesia Links, or: Why I am a Weirdo, Pt II

If you're one of the three people who have been hanging around these parts for some time, you know that I have a thing called synesthesia. Specifically, grapheme-color synesthesia which means that when I see or think about numbers, I associate colors with them. You can read my original post about it here (scroll down to about halfway through the post.)

I've had this going on since I can remember. I only really told people about it a few years ago, because I didn't know it was something that other people had. I just thought it was something my brain did randomly. Let me tell you how I was in a total hurry to share with everyone I know what a freak I was... but I did find out that I'm not the only one, and now it's okay.

This is what my color spectrum looks like:

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0

One is white, and zero is clear. Hard to show those on a page. The difference between 4 and 8 is slight. 4 is purplish-brown, while 8 is just purple.

Weird, huh? No, it isn't from Sesame Street. Or refrigerator magnets. It just IS. Unfortunately, you can't choose which colors go with which numbers, or I would have done them in rainbow order. And there would have been an orange. Poor orange. No orange.

Anyway, in Yosemite, E's Aunt Chris was telling me that she just watched a show on PBS about synesthesia. Through the PBS website, I found this video, which describes a few of the different kinds of synesthesia, and how they think it happens. If you just want to see the explanation, skip to about 3:00 in to the video.

Here's the link
to the article on the PBS page that I found kind of interesting. Hope you do too.


  1. I can't even begin to imagine this. Curious, what happens with numbers larger than 9? Are their colors a combination of the individual digits? Like, what color is 2746?

  2. Depends. Numbers 0, 9, and 1 aren't as "strong"--gee, I feel like an idiot even writing that--so they are more like whatever they're paired with. But in general, each single digit is its own color.

    2746= yellow, purplish brown, blue


    30= green

    Kind of hard, explaining Crazy.

  3. I think it's kind of fascinating, I just didn't know if each individual digit would show its own color or if every possible number between 0 and infinity would have its own unique color. Fascinating. I would think it would be distracting.

    You want to know my weirdity? I've only ever met one person who shares this, and it was so nice not having to try to explain it. I don't picture things. Well, just barely, I can for an instant before it fades. But if you said "picture a tree" I don't see a tree. I imagine verbally, I think in words. For a flash of an instant I can see the tiniest glimpse, but not hold an image in my head. I close my eyes and see blackness, with vague colors, never an image. When the hypnotist at the fair says to picture a blue sky with a white cloud, I don't see anything, but I can describe it and could draw it. I cannot "see what my artwork is going to look like" but I can explain it in words. Can't picture people's faces, and I think this accounts for my obliviousness with those sorts of details. It's a strange sort of disconnect, and doesn't seem like the way an artist ought to function, but there ya have it. I'm weird too. ;-)

  4. Heather

    Strange thing. A couple of days ago Elijah and Cara were driving in the car and Elijah said "mom did you know that when I think of letters I see certain colors?" Cara googled this and ran across synesthesia. I remembered you wrote this post about it.
    It is crazy stuff. Really neat. Elijah was encouraged too that others have this way of looking at the world too.