|What Synaesthesia Can Tell Us About the Mind|
|There has been little research into synaesthesia beyond a very specialised field. What little there is known suggests that synaesthesia may hold the key to major questions regarding human consciousness as well as numerous questions in regards to psycholinguistics.
They heyday of synaesthesia research was in Austria during the late 1800s to early 1900s. At this time Freud was a major influence in both the arts and the sciences. Some famous synaesthetes include artist David Hockney, composer Ludwig van Beethoven (-or so I've heard, but I'm not sure) and the writer Vladimir Nabokov. Read about synaesthesia in art here.
Cytowic (author of The Man Who Tasted Shapes) believes that synaesthesia proves that the human mind is governed by emotion, yet another guy (an Australian whose name I've forgotten) thinks that it proves we are governed by reason. I strongly disagree with both. If I remember correctly these theories are based partially upon research supposedly indicating that we are born with synaesthesia, but quickly lose it as we grow and learn reason. The problem with these conclusions is that they are based upon findings that babies made connections between loudness and brightness (ie they identified a soft sound with dim light, a loud sound with bright light). This connection is based entirely upon METAPHOR, whereas true synaesthetic connections are completely ILLOGICAL, ARBITRARY and VARY from synaesthete to synaesthete. Another famous example Cytowic used was a description of the flavour of mint being being like a cool, cylindrical piece of glass. Again this was actually a poetic description rather than the actual neurological condition of synaesthesia.
Personally I find that learned associations and metaphors actually interfere with my synaesthesia (I think I already mentioned this somewhere above but hell I'm trying to push the point). For example I see anger as red and sadness as blue, sweetness as pink, the taste of cheese as yellow, my red-headed friend as orange. However things like this that DON'T have logical connections are all seen with my unique, personal synaesthetic responses.
Synaesthesia can also tell us a lot about psycholinguistics (what language allow the mind to do, and what the mind allows language to do, etc.....). To read about this click on the link below:
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