Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Synesthesia


I never heard of synesthesia till just a couple days ago, but I've always had it. I always just thought I was a little bit weird, but it turns out there's a name for the condition I have. The word "condition" suggests sickness and negativity, doesn't it? But synesthesia has never been anything but positive to me.

What is it? Well, in my case, certain days of the week, months of the year, and letters of the alphabet are associated with certain colors. I've been like this for as long as I can remember. For instance - Monday is red. So is January. So is the letter "J."
Tuesday is blue. So is the letter "C" and the month of March. Weird, huh?

I've discovered that this color association is one of the most common forms of synesthesia. There are other, more dramatic versions. For instance, a person could eat an orange, but taste cake. How they measure something like that is beyond me, but I find it incredibly fascinating.

I'm perfectly content with my watered-down condition. Even for grapheme-color synesthesia, I have a light version. Occasionally my color-associations change. "T" is generally yellow, but it occasionally shifts to orange. Stuff like that.

I love learning about these little quirks. Maybe one of these days I'll introduce a character with a very strong synesthesiatic streak!

Anybody else out there with this fun "condition?"

;-)
Check out this link for more information:

19 comments:

Pat said...

Yes, I have synesthesia too--and have written a book about this way of pereiving the world. It's called "Blue Cats and Chartreuse Kittens: How synesthetes Color their Worlds" (Henry Holt &Com.2001). If you go to the book's web site, you will find an exerpt--along with many articles and programs on synesthesia:
http://www.bluecats.info

Julie Hyzy said...

Hi Pat! Thanks for writing. I just checked for you book online - I'd love to pick up a new copy but at the moment, it's unavailable. I'm fascinated by the phenomenon and now that I know I'm not alone, I want to learn more about it.

Thanks for the website link!

Julie

Julie Hyzy said...

oops...
my first line should have read:
I just checked for your book online.

Rosemary Harris said...

Hi Julie,
I'm a DLer. As it happens, I met Pat Duffy, the author of Blue Cats, last November. It was in the course of working on a totally different project but I had a chance to learn about synesthesia from her and have considered using it as a secondary story line in one of my books...but I think I'd better leave that to you!

Ken Rand said...

Hyzy, I wonder if my youngest dotter Missy has this. She's very sensitive and observant--used to be a PI in Las Vegas (yes, there is a book).

Julia Buckley said...

Julie,

How did you find out about this? How very interesting? Did you know synesthesia is also a literary term? We teach it in World Literature, and one of the best examples is in Shakespeare's THE TEMPEST, in which Ariel laughs at the three robbers who follow his invisible song as if they "Smelt music."

Pat Duffy said...

Greetings everyone,

Just came upon this blog again after a long time--if it's still of interest, I have some new copies of the book, "Blue Cats and Chartreuse Kittens: How synesthetes Color their Worlds".If you'd like to get it direct from me (instead of from Amazon where a new copy is currently three times the price)--a portion of your proceeds will benefit literacy project I support. Just let me know. The 'Blue Cats" web site is
www.bluecats.info
Colorful new year wishes,
Pat

Anonymous said...

I have been searching for a blong on this type of thing for quite a while because I want so badly to share my story with someone. I am fourteen and I now know that I have had synesthesia all my life, but I only realized it a few years ago. the first time I noticed anything out of the ordinary was when my cousin was born when I was six. I heard my grandma telling my mom that her name was Gwen. it was light purple. I can remember seeing it floating in front of me, but at the time I didn't think anything of it and I put it out of my mind until I was twelve. in chorus we were singing a new song and I was standing in the back moving my lips and mouthing the words. I was only pretending because every time I tried to sing this song I felt sick. it made me feel like I had to cry and I couldn't figure out why. then I realized that I was surrounded by dark blue and I felt as though I was drowning. when the song ended I felt normal again. at first I thought I was going insane, but then I heard my parents discussing an article on synestisia that they had read in a science magazine they both like. I hit the room. "OMG, YOU GUYS I THINK I HAVE THAT, WHAT ELSE DID THE ARTICLE SAY???????????????"
my dad didn't believe me at first, but I was so insistent that ha gave me a CD and some crayons and paper and told me to draw all the songs. then he believed me.
as the years passed I discovered I had more types. I could taste music and sensations and see smell as color. if I had known someone long enough I could see their personality around them as an aura. I particularly like it when someone has a name that matches their personality.
I just started learning spanish and I can "see" whether a word is male or female and conjugate in a second. I love solving algabraic equations because it's like a fireworks display going off. I've started doing abstract watercolor paintings, which all my friends say are quite good but they aren't sure what sort of message I was trying to get across with them.
so anyway I am looking for someone else who has this condition. I want to actually be able to talk to someone face-to-face and discuss what they like about this and how they deal with the parts that they don't like.
an example of something I don't like would be when I am in a crowded room and everyone is talking and all I can see is brown. I can block about 75% of the colors which helps a great deal with concentration. unfortunately if I'm thristy, hungry, tired, or feeling strong emotions I pretty much lose my ability to block.
I never study for tests and yet I'm passing with a low B average. according to some of the research I did this is because I can remember things a teacher says in class so I don't need to review them later.
My spanish teacher is really impressed with how fast I picked up the accent and how I can hear her say a new word and be able to use it in a sentence weeks later without writing it down.
I'm in kind of a catch-22 here, though, because I want to talk to someone who is like me, but I've always been told not to leave my email address around places.
but anyway, I think I am going to make an exception in this case. if there is anyone out there who is like me PLEAE PLEASE PLEASE I cannot say please enough times email me!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
my email is AH3293@k12.sd.us
my highschool uses laptops and that is my school computer's email account and it does filter out some things so your message might not get through, but I'm really really hoping it does I really want to meet someone else!!!!!!!!!!!!

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victoria said...

Julie,

My name is Maddie and I'm a middle school student. I'm doing a research project on synesthesia and was hoping you would answer a few questions about synesthesia.

1. What is it like having synesthesia?

2. How does it effect you daily life?

3. Does it make it hard for you to read?

4. If you could choose to get rid of your synesthesia, would you?

5. Have you tried to learn a foreign language? If so, was it difficult.

6. What color is my name? (sorry just curious)

Thank you so much! It would be very helpful if you would email me back at seahorse651@gmail.com!

-Maddie

funk-md said...

Hi Julie,

I'm a psych student and I've become very interested in synesthesia and I wanted to ask you a question about something you mentioned, that the letter "T" sometimes changes from yellow to orange... That's very interesting, does it happen in certain situations? For example, does T appear orange in certain words? And do entire words have certain colors or is it just the individual letters? And if so, is there a difference between capital letters and lowercase letters? Like, for example, does "Cajun" look any different than "CAJUN" ?

I apologize for asking so many questions, I realize how rude I am being. But this is a topic I am very interested in and I would love to talk to you about it more. :)

Thank you very much,
Funk, M.D.

Amme said...

Hey Julie!
I am thirteen and also have synesthesia. (Maddie and Funk MD, please feel free to ask me questions too!) my blog link- colorgirlamme.blogspot.com. Julie, I am going to follow your blog now.

Julie Hyzy said...

I didn't realize there were more comments here...
Sorry to have missed talking with all of you.

Laurie said...

Have you checked out Tasting the Universe? It's a new book on Synesthesia.

Julie Hyzy said...

If anyone is trying to get in touch with me here, I have to admit I don't check comments all that often from past posts...

My website is www.juliehyzy.com and there's contact information there.

Sorry to have missed you!

Jenette Stanley said...

Oh my lord! Hi everybody! Ok I think I have synesthesia. Can anyone tell me? Whenever a I hear a song come on (anywhere) I see colors. They are everywhere, them seem so real but I know that no oone else sees them. Someone pls tell me!

sarahgtucker said...

hi. my name is Sarah-Grace and i have synesthesia. i am 12 years old and in 7th grade. i hav had it as long as i could remember and my fav book is a mango shaped space by wendy mass. i didnt link my synesthesia to Mia's until a few days ago. name a random number and i can tell u a colr, personality, and gender. same with letters, colors and names. i dont see the colors in front of me but they are in my head. also, if i see a black and white photo i get it to color in my head and i sometimes can see it on the photo too. and jenette, u do hav synesthesia, i wish i could do that! ur not a freak. other people can do that too. read a mango shaped space and you will have no trouble relating. hope that helps!

Travis said...

My girlfriend was actually just telling me about a book in which the main character drew similar associations between colors and days of the week. The funny thing is that, if I recall correctly, Tuesday was actually associated with the color blue (in the book). Weird, haha. I did a little more research on the types of synesthesia and found that the letter-color association is actually quite common. Pretty cool stuff.

Julie Hyzy said...

This post about synesthesia is the most-visited post of my blog. I had no idea it would be attracting comments four years after I wrote it, but wow. Thank you, everyone. I may revisit this topic on the blog, soon. Stay tuned!