|What it's Like|
|It's really hard to explain especially because I can't imagine being any other way. When I see a letter/hear music/taste something, etc I can sort of vividly feel the colour/texture/shape/pattern in me.
Synaesthesia is not something I can "turn off". The only way I can "see" a letter, number, etc as a different colour is to picture it being painted in my mind. My synaesthesia can get stronger or less noticable depending upon whether or not I'm focusing on it. If I'm reading/writing something really interesting I'll barely notice it but if I'm doing something boring/frustrating (eg in an exam) I'm easily distracted by the colours/textures etc. Imagine doing an exam
When a non-synaesthete tries to mentally picture a letter, they just see the lines/shape of the letter. I see the lines that make up the letter but I also see the colour and texture just as clearly. (Actually 'see' isn't the right word but it's the best I can think of.) There's a sense that the letter 'u' is pale purple. If it wasn't, it wouldn't be 'u'. To say that 'u' is not purple is like saying that a square is circular -it contradicts the whole concept of what it is, it's beyond the bounds of comprehension.
Here's another example: when a non-synaesthete thinks of the taste of banana they will probably think of the banana's yellowness, soft, moist texture and the long, curved shape in the back of their mind. A synaesthete, however, may associate a banana with flashing purplish-blue trapeziums.
Alternately, (as I recently explained to a guy who emailed me) imagine looking at a black and white photo of a familiar scene. With your eyes you can see only the shades of grey, but in your mind you *know* that the car is red, the grass is green and the girl is blonde, etc.
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