Oh look, there’s a name for this oddity I have.

In all kinds of books throughout the years I’ve read of people picturing things in their mind. I’ve never really been able to do that. I can know exactly what something looks like, and I can see the “idea” of it, but not actually picture the thing itself. Now I have a word for it: aphantasia.

Like counting sheep. If I ever tried to do it, it would require intense concentration and definitely would not help me go to sleep! I can build up a broad picture of a landscape with sheep in it, in a sort of impressionist style, but not treat them as individual sheep, see them up close or make them move.

With landscapes I can at least get some kind of vague picture. It’s especially impossible with people and faces. It can actually be easier for me to picture a photo of a person than the person him- or herself, probably because I have a dash of prosopagnosia or face blindness. I have a hard time recognizing people whom I sort of know but not very well. Like Ingrid’s classmates’ parents, or even some of our neighbours whom I don’t see so often. Hopeless! It’s OK if I see them at school or in our neighbourhood, but whenever I run into them in an unrelated setting – on the train, dressed for work – it can easily happen that I know that I know them, but I don’t have a clue who they actually are.

Or celebrities! I hear people say, “I saw so-and-so in the restaurant today”. And they recognize movie stars whom they have seen in other movies. To me this is a near impossible feat. I could only recognize someone if I’ve seen the face literally hundreds of times, ideally over many years. So I am pretty sure that I would recognize the king of Sweden, or Tom Cruise. But no current Swedish government minister for example.