There are some human abilities that are truly extraordinary. Among these strange and rare abilities is synesthesia. This neurological phenomenon allows those who have it to hear colors, feel shapes or perceive the color of numbers and letters.
A neurological condition similar to a super power
The synesthesia is a non-pathological neurological condition in which information intended to stimulate one of your senses stimulates several of your senses. While this phenomenon can occur episodically – due to taking certain psychedelics, for example – a person is endowed with synesthesia only if it occurs over a long period of time. It is not known exactly how common synesthesia is, but according to a studyit is a fairly rare phenomenon that affects only 2% to 4% of the population.
Also, this condition is not fully understood, but is thought to be genetic and affects more women than men. Some scientists, however, believe that everyone has synesthesia abilities, but not everyone uses them. According to a report by LiveScience, the condition is also more prevalent among artists, writers, and musicians. In fact, between 20% to 25% of people with this condition work in these professions. Famous people with synesthesia include singer Lorde, writer Vladimir Nabokov and physicist Richard Feynman.
These people with synesthesia are also called synesthetes. In the most common cases of synesthesia, letters of the alphabet and numbers are associated with colors. This is in particular what is called grapheme-color synesthesia and this represents approximately 65% of cases of synesthesia. In another fairly common case of synesthesia, synesthetes can “see” music as colors when they hear it. In all, there are more than 60 types of synesthesia, reported Psychology Today.
Can synesthesia be “cured”?
Since it is not a pathology, there is no treatment for synesthesia. Moreover, many synesthetes even appreciate their very different way of perceiving. However, in fairly rare cases, some synesthetes feel that their condition isolates them from others. In particular, they find it difficult to explain their sensory experiences, because they are very different. As one cannot be cured for synesthesia, the best option is to adapt.
To do so, integrating into communities of other synesthetes can help to alleviate this feeling of isolation. Furthermore, just as there is no cure for synesthesia, there is no official diagnosis for this condition. Anyway, there are guidelines and many tests to be able to assess if a person is synesthete. As you might expect, those who think they are synesthetes take various tests relating to perception, sensations and emotions.