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What Is Synesthesia? A Condition That Causes You To 'See Shapes When You Hear Music'

Synesthesia is when you hear music while seeing shapes. Or you hear a word or a name and immediately see a colour. When you experience one of your senses through another, you are said to be experiencing synesthesia.

Many successful and well-known individuals are affected by synesthesia. Examples include Kanye West, Pharrell Williams, Mary J. Blige, Tori Amos, Lorde, and Vladimir Nabokov. In addition, Vincent van Gogh and Joan Mitchell are suspected of having had synesthesia.

What Is Synesthesia?

Synesthesia is a neurological condition in which sensations intended to stimulate one of your senses, stimulate several of your senses. Those with synesthesia are known as synesthetes [1].

Researchers remain uncertain as to how common synesthesia is. However, according to one study published in 2006, it affects 2 to 4 per cent of the population [2]. In addition, synesthesia is more common in women than in men.

What Causes Synesthesia?

A person who experiences synesthesia is most likely born with it or develops it early in life. However, synesthesia can also develop later in life. According to research, synesthesia can be inherited.

Some substances can temporarily induce synesthesia. For example, with the use of psychedelic drugs, your sensory perception can be enhanced and connected. The ability of mescaline, psilocybin, and LSD to produce this effect has been studied. But other stimulants, such as cannabis, alcohol, and even caffeine, have also been shown to cause temporary synesthesia [3][4].

What Are The Types Of Synesthesia?

The following are the most reported types of synaesthesia [5]:

  • Grapheme-colour synesthesia
  • Chromesthesia
  • Spatial sequence synesthesia
  • Number form
  • Auditory-tactile synesthesia
  • Ordinal linguistic personification
  • Misophonia
  • Mirror-touch synesthesia
  • Lexical-gustatory synesthesia
  • Kinesthetic synesthesia

How To Identify Synesthesia?

Your senses may intertwine if you have synesthesia, which enhances your perception of the world to a greater degree. For example, every time you bite into a food item, you may feel its geometric shape: round, square, or pointed.

Suppose you are feeling emotional about a person you love. In that case, you may be able to close your eyes and see certain colours playing in your field of vision.

In your mind, you may be reading these words with a series of accompanying voices, characterizing each sentence with its own identity, just as you would if you were talking to someone on the street [6].

What Are The Symptoms Of Synesthesia?

The following symptoms are common among people with synesthesia of any type [7]:

  • Sensory triggers consistently and predictably produce an interplay between the senses (e.g., the letter A appears red when you see it).
  • Perceptions cross over between senses (tasting colours, hearing shapes, etc.).
  • The ability to describe to others their unusual perceptions.
  • Those with synesthesia are often left-handed and strongly interested in visual arts or music.

How Is Synesthesia Diagnosed?

You can take a free online assessment to determine if you have synesthesia but proceed cautiously.

How Is Synesthesia Treated?

There is no cure for synesthesia. However, according to anecdotal evidence, many people seem to enjoy perceiving the world in a way that is different from that of the general population.

However, some synesthetes believe that their condition isolates them from others. They may find it difficult to explain their sensory experiences due to the fact that they are very different. You may be able to ease this sense of isolation by discovering other synesthetes online. Speaking to a mental health expert can also help [8].

What are the most common types of synesthesia?

Synesthesia is commonly observed as grapheme-colour synesthesia, in which individual letters and numbers are associated with specific colours and sometimes colourful patterns. Chromesthesia, the association of sounds with colours, is also common.

Can you have multiple types of synesthesia?

Synesthetes often experience more than one type of synesthesia. Approximately four per cent of humans have some form of synesthesia. Still, the percentage who have multiple types is much smaller.

How do I know if I have synesthesia?

Keep in mind when you experience associations involving two or more senses. For example, you might see the letter "A" as a pink colour or the smell of gasoline as a brown fog. These are a couple of examples of synesthesia, which occurs when the senses cross-talk.

Read more about: synesthesia causes symptoms
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