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Author Topic: Synesthesia – Can sufferers write more expressively using colour?  (Read 3796 times)

Offline John Chapman

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Synesthesia is a that strange phenomenon that you have probably heard of but may not know the name of. It’s a neurologically based disorder in which stimulation of one sensory or cognitive pathway leads to automatic involuntary experiences in a second sensory or cognitive pathway. This is the one where people might hear in colour.

I once heard an interview with a person who perceived movement as shapes, although he could still see the actual shape of the moving object. In other words he might see a moving car as being car shaped but the movement itself was triangular. Weird. Without a common framework of reference I find it difficult to get my head round that one. Another person said that the written word ‘blue’ was, in fact, red although the three letters that spell it are themselves grey, light brown and dark brown, respectively.

I understand the most common form is the ‘hearing in colour’ thing. Apparently it is much more common than previously thought and I heard that one or other form of the disorder may affect 3% of the population. This forum has well over 9,000 members and there are 141 people on here right now. Probably a few of you have this condition, although I understand that many people never realise, assuming their perceptions are the same as everyone else’s.

Anyway, what I want to know is this: If there are that many people out there who could appreciate it, should we be using colour when writing to enhance the reading experience of synesthesic readers? For instance a period novel might star a disreputable bounder who says to the debutant

“of course you can trust me. My intentions are honourable”.

But the colours might be saying

“I am a cad who just wants to separate you from your money and roger you senseless over the pianoforte”

Any sythesthesiacs out there? If so am I on to a winner?
 
« Last Edit: 19/03/2009 18:36:48 by John Chapman »


 

Offline Karen W.

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well I kinda hear in color for instance certain music acid rock etc..... when I hear it I see  red...literally..not primary color red but a darker kinda blood red, in like large amounts..red like before the air makes it pretty red..lol.......It also makes me feel uneasy on walls..Darker blacker red..that is....
Love songs... love poetry... sweet beautiful songs I see and feel green, oranges, purple, vibrant reds and midnight blue....  especially emotional love songs.. and fresh, happy, jovial..up  etc...

Is this what you mean?
 

Offline rosy

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Various of my friends are, to differing degrees, synesthetic... one has colours associated with different pitches of musical notes, for example (and was therefore, as a child, much perplexed by a toy keyboard with the keys in the "wrong" colours)... I don't think she'd describe it as "suffering" from synesthesia though.

But I don't think synesthesia is particularly transferable between people, different colours/pitches/noises are differently linked in different individuals, so I wouldn't have thought it would work terribly well in literature..
 

Offline John Chapman

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That's absolutely fascinating. So it really is that common.

Karen. So what is the red linked to? How could you change the colour? Have you noticed any relationship with volume, tracks of different pitch, etc. I'm assuming the colour red isn't strictly associated with the genre of music, per se. Also, do you actually see the red with your eyes or is it a perceptual thing in your head? Would you, for instance, have trouble looking at a paint colour chart in a shop if they had acid rock playing in the background because you're peering through a red 'fog'? Tell me more. Make me understand.

Rosy. You have various friends with this condition? Wow. Do they know each other? Have they ever compared notes? Do they consider the condition to be a disability or does it give them an extra level of perception? Yesterday I read about a guy who spells in colour. He reckoned his spelling was good because he had an extra cue with words that have difficult spelling. He learned to recognise patterns of colour and would look at misspelled words and instantly know it was wrong because the blue was in the wrong place.
 
 

Offline rosy

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Well, two were among a group of my 6 closest friends as an undergrad they do indeed know each other... and one other with whom it came up in conversation once and who I don't think knows the other two. But I rather expect that I know more people who are synesthetes and just haven't happened to mention it...

The one I've discussed it with a bit appears not to regard it particularly as either a problem or an advantage, but just as how things are... I think she has trouble imagining it not being so, because it's so intrinsic to how she senses the world.

The radio discussions I've heard of synesthesia suggest that synesthesia is not at all the same effect in different people, and you do hear about people for whom it's a problem because their experiences of the world differ from other people's so much that what might be a nice relaxing paint colour on a waiting room wall might smell unpleasantly of fish (arbitrary example I made up, but that was the general idea..)
 

Offline Karen W.

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That's absolutely fascinating. So it really is that common.

Karen. So what is the red linked to? How could you change the colour? Have you noticed any relationship with volume, tracks of different pitch, etc. I'm assuming the colour red isn't strictly associated with the genre of music, per se. Also, do you actually see the red with your eyes or is it a perceptual thing in your head? Would you, for instance, have trouble looking at a paint colour chart in a shop if they had acid rock playing in the background because you're peering through a red 'fog'? Tell me more. Make me understand.

Rosy. You have various friends with this condition? Wow. Do they know each other? Have they ever compared notes? Do they consider the condition to be a disability or does it give them an extra level of perception? Yesterday I read about a guy who spells in colour. He reckoned his spelling was good because he had an extra cue with words that have difficult spelling. He learned to recognise patterns of colour and would look at misspelled words and instantly know it was wrong because the blue was in the wrong place.
 

I am not sure but..between that black and the dark red color. I would say I enter a shop to pick out like you say some color swatches.......If there happened to be acid rock being played quietly off in a corner..I would feel kinda black...and  Destracted and a bit annoyed..but not bad... now as the volume and pitch go up I would begin to be more and more aggitated with that color tone moving into a deep dark red not fire engine red......but more dark red untill I was so aggitated I could not stay or think...straight....I can close my eyes and feel the color so when I hear the same color..Its more of a perceptual color in my mind.. but flooded you know..I associate it with impatience and aggitation in myself  as if I feel the need to squirm out of my skin and be rid of the sound... not the color... I love colors of most all varieties...This is something my brain does when associating the musical tones with color.

Nope..not the genre but the wildly crazy beat and the volume like makes me think of utter mind confusion what would it be like to have all that noise I my head...I'd loose my marbles.... same thin happens to me in large loud crowds of people Confusion and I begin to be unable to function...become irritable grouch and red feeling..what can I say.. I guess that makes me a weirdo!

Its like my emotions hace color that I relate to music and how it makes me feel...

Poetry is the rythum and rhyme add colors of emotion which coincide with rhythum and word count or patterning.. you understand  when I am rhyming the rhthum is crucial to color and words I feel..and when I read it out loud it has to fithow I feel and what I write fits my emotion and the color I feel  when wrting..but more subjects...
 

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