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I have Aphantasia, my 'Minds Eye' starts working--what in the Hell am i seeing and why *this*?

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posted on Sep, 10 2018 @ 08:59 PM
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I recently discovered that I have this 'condition' called Aphantasia. It means that when I close my eyes and attempt to visualize anything—my mother's face, childhood bedroom, my favorite vacation spot, an ex-lover—I see absolutely *NOTHING*. It’s complete blackness. The lights do not turn on and within the wiring of my mind there exists no cognitive toolset to model, visualize or abstract anything at all. No movies, pictures, text, letters, numbers, colors. Nothing.

Nothing, nothing, and nothing. Only the blackness of an empty movie theater, but with the screen, running lights and exit lights all shut off. For one with Aphantasia, this is a life-long condition. If I paint, I do not see what it is that I want to create. If I write (or spell) I do not see any words before I type them out. No smell, no taste, no feeling that can be abstracted or recalled.

Apparently ~1% of the world's population have this condition and nearly all of us are completely oblivious to this being a fundamental difference in how our brain works compared to the rest of the human race. As you are growing up, you constantly hear phrases like "imagine sheep jumping over a fence; count them to fall asleep" or "picture your dream house, what color is it, is there a fence" or "picture yourself on a beach" or "visualize yourself in where you want to be in 5 years’ time" and so on and so on...

Every time we hear this, as an Aphantasiac, we just assume that this is a *metaphorical* exercise. We have *no* idea that people can actually *do* this. Even now, I can’t really imagine what it would be like to be able to visualize at will--how could you ever even fall asleep at night if this were possible??? That when you read a book, you are actually playing-out for yourself a movie...wow, I can't even imagine (*literally*).

I’ve been in love with four women in my life, and I can’t even tell you the color of their eyes! Why? Not because I'm flippant or insensitive, but because such a significant part of a human beings’ memory function is intrinsically tied to visual-recall. Incidentally, this also means that Aphantasiacs are strongly correlated to experiencing SDAM (Severally Deficient Autobiographical Memory).

Basically, this means that if you have Aphantasia, you probably do not remember much about your childhood. For myself, this means that my first true grouping of ‘memories’ (database entries in my invisible spreadsheet) start clumping together around the age of 12-13 (about the time of puberty). Essentially, this means that I don’t remember *being* a child, and my existence just seems to occur around the time that I'm becoming a teenager.

As an aside, if you would like to read more about this condition (do we even call it a ‘condition’ haha?) I suggest you check out this post. Superbly written and a very enjoyable read for even those of you ‘normies’ with fully-functioning built-in movie production and editing software:

Aphantasia: How It Feels To Be Blind In Your Mind

Then how *does* my brain work? Well, it’s like having a excel spreadsheet or database that holds facts and data-chunks. These are associated with everything by being ‘tagged’ by category. If I don’t apply a ‘tag’ to something, then I won't have that recall ability (like the color of my lovers’ eyes). But, of course, this database is invisible—it’s just *there* and it is how my mind works.
I’ve found this to be a helpful image showing some differences in how people think using a red apple as the target:



So, because Aphantasia is so strongly connected to how people form, store and recall memories, it can affect your personality and development in a myriad of unusual ways. One of the most significant that I’ve identified for myself, was this complete void or lack of spirituality or any type of spiritual feeling. You can imagine (if you’re a 99%-er that is) that if you are unable to visualize and project in all your five senses, then listening to fantastical stories about god, gods, angels, miracles, magic, and other imaginative concepts would not hold any level of attractiveness to your psyche.

Think about being a child in church, temple or mosque, and you hear the story about a burning bush that speaks to humans from the Creator. This lesson is being shared with you from an accepted authority figure, with everyone you love sitting next to you and accepting it as truth and fact. While the authority figure is speaking, passing down this ancient oral tradition, you could then imagine the scenes playing out for you, and this may even be accompanied by other strange sensations and emotions. This will probably put its hooks into you and could be a formative milestone on your path to connecting to spirituality; to *feeling* and therefore *knowing* that there is more to this world and this life.

I never had that, but I what I did have was a feeling of being somewhat like an android or a robot. I could exercise a seemingly higher level of discipline over my behavior and personality to mold myself into who or what I thought I *should* be. But it’s always felt quite empty, like a soulless automaton. And because of this void, for years I carried with me a strong pull to make myself explore meditation. Meaning that it was forever at the top of one of my invisible “To Do” list spreadsheets; I needed to check off that box to confirm to myself that there, indeed, was nothing to that either, and then sort it into the column of other failed spiritual concepts that bounced off of me.

This void pulling on me, asking me to test and confirm that there is (or isn’t) more to life than living as an organic meat bag that eventually, one day, is buried in the dirt or spread, as ashes, to end as carbon dusted across a little patch of earth. So this is the *WHY* of why I had to get in and wrap my hands around the whole ‘Meditation’ thingy. But let’s return to this in a moment.

I’ve found from my recent interactions with Aphantasiacs (it appears to be a trait that is *strongly* genetically inherited) and from participating in the reddit subforum on Aphantasia that we will show a preference for being agnostic and are disproportionally weighted in the STEM and computer programming fields. Also, possibly sorting into a higher representation as INTJ in the Myers Briggs personality matrix (INTJ here, reporting for duty).

Note, if you think you have Aphantasia, go here to learn more and connect with others. Your reaction will probably mirror mine and the hundreds before me: you are stunned that your mind works so different and feel an overwhelming sadness for several days that you have been missing out on a large part of the human experience. I cried for three days straight. Don’t carry the sadness, there is beauty in the differences of how you experience life and consciousness: www.reddit.com...

edit on 10-9-2018 by Justshrug because: updated Blake Ross link

edit on 10-9-2018 by Justshrug because: trying to get first link to work




posted on Sep, 10 2018 @ 08:59 PM
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Let’s return back to Meditation. Now, as a concept or actual practice that one does, this can be an extremely easy activity to bounce off of and not connect to if you can't visualize in your minds eye. If you didn’t know about Aphantasia and didn’t know that you were different, then even just reading the comment sections under a meditation or binaural beats YouTube video could be devastatingly discouraging.

You read about people claiming to see colors and shapes, they claim to ‘hear’ and feel things that can be impossible to have actually happened to them (because I could not even Imagine what that experience would be like). Even worse than that, so much of a guided meditation session is an instructor telling you what to focus on visualizing in your mind’s eye. If you can't do that, then the whole thing is an extremely abstract and metaphorical exercise that alternates between states of being bored or frustrated or both.

And, of course, my first attempts at meditation were boring exercises of waiting for something to happen and then the frustration of feeling like I'm just not doing it correctly. And this would have been the end of it all for me, except for two things: The first (I) being that I had a Near Death Experience, which I write about extensively here on ATS in a post from 6 months ago. The post was an open sharing of all the changes that happened to me precipitated by that event:
www.abovetopsecret.com...

The second (II) item is that I learn about my Aphantasia and that it is a ‘thing’ that explains my lack of being able to visualize.
So, I go back into this, and its more-or-less structured as an ongoing experimental project with the theory that I can *learn to develop* and connect the wiring for having and controlling my mind’s eye.

Almost immediately after understanding my Aphantasia, I begin to notice some differences in those moments when I have closed my eyes, and I reach that familiar state of full relaxation. It's so familiar to me now, getting to that place with my eyes closed, usually taking less than a minute of breathing deeply. Almost always I'm laying on my back and the room must be dark.

Where, originally, there was an empty and lightless movie theater screen when I closed my eyes, what begins to happen is, at first very faintly, out of the black void, there begin to form these muffled stars. It looks very much like standing on the dark side of the moon and all your surrounding view consists of several dozen vague stars against a heaviness of black.

But the similarity ends there, because the stars are not a contrasting white burst of light against the vacuum backdrop—they are merely a lighter form of the blackness. And they are not tight clusters of defined pixels—they are strangely fuzzy in definition. And this interstellar view is unusual because all the stars are the same size, with no clusters or galaxies.

Immediately after finding the starscape and being able to consistently get to it, there is something about this field where I *know* it isn’t an actual starscape that I'm seeing. And I *know* it’s not some imaginative playful thing that I’ve created in my mind’s eye—it carries some weight or presence, like a heavy gravitas in the same physical places on my body that I’ve learned to associate with ‘spiritual’ experiences.

I *know* these things in the sense that you can have a gut instinct or intuition and *know* in complete absence of any of the usual methods for how a people living in a Western culture would collectively test and agree on ‘truth’ or ‘fact’.

It’s a form of knowing or accessing data that comes to me in these situations at times where my consciousness is receiving information. It’s a process that I’ve become quite familiar with over the last 6 months and it’s not a phenomenon that I am going to go into much detail about in this post. Needless to say, I have tested this as much as I can without being able to submit nearly any of it to the measurable, quantifiable, peer-reviewed material science approach that turns the gears and wheels of our societies. I can’t expect anyone else to accept this or believe it—I would not have as recent as one year ago, I understand that and it’s fine. I'm skipping through a lot of the other development, experiences and new phenomenon that become everyday occurrences to me during this transformational period after the NDE (I write about some of those in detail in the above linked ats post).

But let me tell you what it is that I started seeing and ‘feeling’ in terms of accompanying physical sensations.

The first time I saw the starscape was in October 2017, nearly one year ago. After initially discovering it, it becomes the default backdrop for my mind’s eye when I am relaxed and there is little or no ambient/environmental lighting. As if my brain's desktop background is now a starscape of fuzzy little dark-stars, all spaced-out and barely-there.

At this point, my mind’s eye has never fully turned on or even been briefly activated. I’ve never seen a color, shape, person, cartoon or anything. I dream, and like most people with Aphantasia my dreams are vivid and engaging (visualizing during a dream or REM state uses a different part of the brain than ‘mind’s eye’ visualizations) but still nothing showing up in my mind’s eye, even after experiencing NDEs.

Almost immediately I begin to interact with the ‘stars’ and I know that I *can* interact with them because this ‘place’ has a heaviness to it that gives me the impression that my consciousness is “somewhere” and the stars are “something.” The first time that I focus in on one of the stars, it immediately begins to move….holy sh1t, I’m shocked!


edit on 10-9-2018 by Justshrug because: spacing between paragraphs



posted on Sep, 10 2018 @ 08:59 PM
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Not only am I shocked, I'm also completely terrified. Haha! Sounds silly, doesn’t it, to see a little fuzzy dark-purple-black star move against the backdrop of your mind’s eye and your reaction is stark terror?

Well, imagine this happens and not only is it the first time that I’ve seen something with my eyes closed, but then it begins moving without my control. A *lot* has just happened. This is a lot to process.

But it’s not just that, it’s that when I ‘reach’ for the star—because when I say that I focused on a star, what I'm actually doing, mechanically speaking, is putting my full conscious awareness on the star-like object—that moment of connection to it gives me strong sensations at the three places in my body that I have recently learned to associate to a very specific form of metaphysical interaction.

And the feedback sensations I get are…well, off-putting. It doesn’t feel like ‘love’ or ‘euphoria’

Going back to the moment after I got terrified, the star that I reached out to ‘grab’ becomes brighter, appears to grow larger and move toward me slightly, and then takes off, shooting past and out of my field of view in an upward and right direction. Specifically, its motion starts out near the center of my field of view, and as it begins to move, it picks up speed under constant acceleration till it breaks-away from my reaching-out, always heading in the direction to the up and right of the center of my field of view.

As the star becomes active and starts moving, it actually increases in brightness and clarity to become a white dot of light. This is the first time in my life that I’ve ever seen anything not-black in my mind’s eye. Prior to this, the ‘stars’ that I see are basically less-black splotches contrasting against the deep-black background.

Since the first time that a star broke away and zipped up to the right, I would go back to that starscape in meditation and try to grab more of them nearly every single day. There are some initial observations I can make that repeat themselves out in testing after trying to grab several hundred stars over the course of months:
• The stars always become brighter, more defined in resolution and begin moving under constant acceleration. This starts in the same moment that I ‘reach’ for them
• The stars always move in the exact same trajectory and direction. Always from the center toward the up-right side of my field of view
• The stars do not ‘disappear’ after zooming to the up and right of my initial field of view. I can move my head to follow the trajectory of the star and I can keep it in view as it is increasing speed. This is exactly like what you would experience if you were seeing this while wearing a Virtual Reality headset. It's like I'm in a holodeck of these stars, and they can’t simply just disappear.
• If I turn my head to follow the moving star, it will eventually loop back and swing into my view, growing larger and becoming unfocused and cloud-like during the switchback
• If I think about a person I know, a new star will appear in the center of my field of view, and then immediately begin following the same action of increasing in speed and zipping off to the up and right.
• When I reach to connect to a star, there is a push-back sensation that I am trying to wrangle or catch something that does *NOT* want to be held.

Playing around with this starscape and these objects becomes a nightly ritual for months. In fact, I begin to develop some very unhealthy sleep hygiene protocols because I end up playing around with meditation every night when I'm supposed to be lying in bed to go to sleep. More often than not, I'm staying awake for hours, deep into the early morning, trying to create a breakthrough and capture one of these little guys.

Every time I get a little more to happen, my first reaction is fear! I'm constantly scaring myself with each new step in progress, and then immediately chiding myself for being such a fearful little experimenter. The only thing more powerful than my predilection for being afraid every time something new happens, is my childlike curiosity that drives me to answer the most fundamental existential questions of our kind: Who are we? What is the purpose of homo sapien? Is there a creator? Is there more than the physical world?

Over these months, I am having many breakthroughs outside of this Mind’s Eye project, my little ‘Operation Starscape’, and I'm getting some answers regarding these questions. These will all inevitably show the webs of a network of connected infrastructure that I believe provides some answers. The most important development that happens during this journey that directly supports my experimenting with the stars, is the ongoing familiarity and fluency I'm developing for the strange physical and electromagnetic sensations I begin to have, and how those are connected to repeatable processes or meditation experiments.

So, to mark my progress at this point, I have tried to grab thousands of stars. I’ve had a few moments where I could hold on to them longer than the other times, as difficult as holding on to a bucking bull that is thrashing to throw you off, and what happens is that they begin to grow larger in size accompanied by increased clarity/resolution and brightness.

If I can hold on to a star for a few seconds longer, then it doesn’t stop moving, but what it does do is adjust the trajectory of its movement so that its generally moving straight toward the middle of my head but still veering off to the up and right. Eventually, they break through my hold and will follow the same flight path out. But this leads me to believe that with enough practice I can bring one straight into my field of view and zoom in close enough to see something very detailed.

I have some theories as to what these stars actually are, and I have a very clear theory on what I expect to happen and ‘see’ once I can finally grab one of these and pull it straight into my view. It’s something I spent quite a lot of time thinking about: what would I see if I could bring one up close. I was certain that it would open up a cloud or box in the center of my view and then I would be shown proof that supported what I thought the stars actually were.

Then, one morning, while going through the usual process of getting to my default desktop background, selecting a star, and reaching out for it…. I caught one. It tried to escape, but I exerted more ‘force’ and remained in a calm state without letting myself get terrified—and I held it. I was floored by what I saw. Then I was immediately terrified.




edit on 10-9-2018 by Justshrug because: spacing between paragraphs



posted on Sep, 10 2018 @ 09:06 PM
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You are perfect.



posted on Sep, 10 2018 @ 09:07 PM
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a reply to: Justshrug

Wait..

People can actually see stuff when they close their eyes and think about it?

Damn that's impressive. I wish I could do that too!

Begs the question though, if people could do this, why buy movies, or art, or ahem..pornography?????????????????????????????????????????????????





edit on 10-9-2018 by NarcolepticBuddha because: (no reason given)



posted on Sep, 10 2018 @ 09:24 PM
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a reply to: NarcolepticBuddha

Hello! If you suspect you have Aphantasia I would strongly suggest that you read this well-written post by Blake Ross. After reading it you will know for sure, or even if you are on the spectrum for it:

Aphantasia: How It Feels To Be Blind In Your Mind By Blake Ross

And yes, ahem [coughs and looks away] masturbation is one of the many, many things that is a different experience for an Aphantasiac. It must have been difficult to even pull off prior to the internet




posted on Sep, 10 2018 @ 09:25 PM
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originally posted by: HAARPO
You are perfect.


very sweet - you are too!



posted on Sep, 10 2018 @ 09:30 PM
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a reply to: Justshrug

I never let my condition stop me from 'pulling off.'

Really my first instinct is that this post is a joke. Doing some more research and waiting for others to chime in before I decide..



posted on Sep, 10 2018 @ 09:31 PM
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I hope to write more tomorrow to continue the post. I have some sketches i drew that i want to share (well, at least one of them I will share) and i have some pictures to link to show the closest approximation of what i started seeing when i could corral one of these slippery suckers and freeze it into a hold. It wasnt anything i ever recall seeing before and *certainly* was not what i was expecting would have happened! Soon enough, i begin to see some colors associated with some of the stars.

I would really love to hear from anyone that has seen this similar starscape and what you think its purpose is.

Thanks for letting me share this with you and thanks for reading and posting here.



posted on Sep, 10 2018 @ 09:48 PM
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originally posted by: Justshrug
I hope to write more tomorrow to continue the post. I have some sketches i drew that i want to share (well, at least one of them I will share) and i have some pictures to link to show the closest approximation of what i started seeing when i could corral one of these slippery suckers and freeze it into a hold. It wasnt anything i ever recall seeing before and *certainly* was not what i was expecting would have happened! Soon enough, i begin to see some colors associated with some of the stars.

I would really love to hear from anyone that has seen this similar starscape and what you think its purpose is.

Thanks for letting me share this with you and thanks for reading and posting here.


It has no purpose at all...something is wired different.

Perhaps you should experiment with some...ahem triggers...and we will send some purple elephants your way...they may surprise you or themselves.



posted on Sep, 10 2018 @ 09:56 PM
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looking forward to hearing what you saw....



posted on Sep, 10 2018 @ 10:03 PM
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a reply to: Justshrug

Great thread. I have never heard of this condition before. Thanks for taking the time to write so much about it and also your personal experiences with it, and how it has shaped you.

I can’t even fathom what that experience must be like, but i can see that it could have a huge impact on how you interact with everyone. It seems important to talk about it with people who may not get it. Do you find that you need to explain this to people around you so that they are aware? And to talk and be around others who have the same or similar experiences.

Do you find that you run into any reoccurring issues in conversations or other social situations like relationships/friendships?

The best part of our lives is that we get to choose what to do with it.

Some people seem to think that they need to find their appointed path or purpose. As if it is written down somewhere for them to stumble upon. They spend their entire life wishing the world or some god would just reveal what it wants them to do.

The search for meaning is always fruitless unless you are willing to create meaning for yourself. I think belief in gods and saviors and spirituality steals this away from people. It creates an “all father” that people “rely on” to look over them, get them out of situations, keep them honest. (This is why religious people are scared of atheists. They don’t know how we can be honest, and not murder people if we are not afraid of the eye in the sky that they think is watching them.)



I find my peace in understanding that there is nothing that the universe wants from me. There is no creator god. No judgeing eyes except for the people around me. Just a series of chemical reactions that have been transforming the universe since they have existed as such.

I have never experienced anything super natural or what i would consider spiritual. However, I do have a deep and awesome respect for the universe and the infinitely intricate series of events and reactions that have gotten us to this point here.



posted on Sep, 10 2018 @ 10:13 PM
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Holy crap. I think I have it to. I can’t “visualize” anything when I close my eyes and try to imagine images. I just know what they are supposed to look like

edit on 10-9-2018 by Guiltyguitarist because: (no reason given)



posted on Sep, 10 2018 @ 10:18 PM
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a reply to: Justshrug


I wonder if people born blind (like Stevie Wonder) see nothing when they meditate, or do they see things beyond our realm. I can't imagine visualizing nothing but emptiness.



posted on Sep, 10 2018 @ 10:24 PM
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a reply to: Woodcarver
Thanks and great questions!

After i discovered i had this, i explained it to my parents and immediate family. There are so many things about my personality and characteristics that are explained by having Aphantasia. The way that im not nostalgic about holidays (because of lacking memory-recall tied to emotional states). The way that i can seemingly get over heart break or not miss people that i no longer see. The way that I wont notice if you change the color of the walls on the inside of my house, because i never put enough import on them to 'tag' them. The way that i can't identify with children, because essentially i was *never* actually one myself. The way that i can shrug off a huge fight or argument with someone, and it wont carry over to the next day--because, sadly, having aphantasia is a bit like being a gold fish with a 7 second memory (unless you tag it in your system for future reference). Meanwhile the other party is still fuming about the unresolved issues of the disagreement.

The way that i can get over extremely severe emotional or traumatic experiences that would have otherwise potentially caused even slight PTSD in others.

So many things about me are explained and defined by this. And then, to find that my sister and at least two of my cousins have Aphantasia as well. Then they explain it to their partners and their partners exclaim "Omg, this explains why you are the way you are. Why you cant answer any questions about growing up"



posted on Sep, 10 2018 @ 10:26 PM
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originally posted by: carewemust
a reply to: Justshrug


I wonder if people born blind (like Stevie Wonder) see nothing when they meditate, or do they see things beyond our realm. I can't imagine visualizing nothing but emptiness.


Great question. I would theorize that they have an overcompensating Mind's Eye (called Hyperphantasia) but it would be so interesting to study and collect data on this. Again though, any field trying to objectively study/measure states of human consciousness will quickly hit a barrier of quantifiable experiences that we can actually measure and compare.

I can't imagine what it would be like to visualize anything



posted on Sep, 10 2018 @ 10:26 PM
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Fascinating!

Do you have a thread where you shared your near death experience? I would also love to hear about that!



posted on Sep, 10 2018 @ 10:40 PM
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a reply to: Justshrug

This is the most amazing thing I have ever heard of.

My imagination is so clear I can write stories based on stuff I just make up. And I do.

I even have a problem with my minds eye showing me such detailed images that I can get lost in them.

Your condition would make being strategic very difficult. Have you ever tried to play chess? I would be curious to know if you even can.

I find you fascinating. I don't wont to make jokes but I can't help but realize that your a guy that has never engaged in "self pleasure" without an outside stimulus.



posted on Sep, 10 2018 @ 10:43 PM
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originally posted by: KansasGirl
Fascinating!

Do you have a thread where you shared your near death experience? I would also love to hear about that!


I do, here it is, it gets quite long as i begin using it as a daily journal to track the new and strange things that begin happening to me:
www.abovetopsecret.com...



posted on Sep, 10 2018 @ 10:46 PM
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originally posted by: scraedtosleep
a reply to: Justshrug

This is the most amazing thing I have ever heard of.

My imagination is so clear I can write stories based on stuff I just make up. And I do.

I even have a problem with my minds eye showing me such detailed images that I can get lost in them.

Your condition would make being strategic very difficult. Have you ever tried to play chess? I would be curious to know if you even can.

I find you fascinating. I don't wont to make jokes but I can't help but realize that your a guy that has never engaged in "self pleasure" without an outside stimulus.


You may have what they call "Hyperphantasia" or a bit of an overactive Mind's Eye. I had no idea what the term "daydreaming" literally meant till i knew that people could essentially play movies, memories or fantasies in full animated HD color inside their own head. I cant even imagine what that would be like and how you could ever fall asleep if you had the ability or compulsion to do that as an internal process of your mind.




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