Friday, May 20, 2016

Linking Sense to Sound and Sight....

Synesthesia: (noun)
1. a sensation produced in one modality when a stimulus is applied to another modality, as when the hearing of a certain sound induces the visualization of a certain color.
2. or, the feeling that you are losing your mind.

I suffer from synesthesia.  I can sometimes hear smells. I smell smoke when there is nothing there.  Blinking lights go 'tick-tock' in the front of my head.  Sounds can split into dozens of separate pieces that refuse to rejoin.  Soda bubbles dance on the roof of my mouth when there is nothing in it.  I can see green when everybody else is seeing orange.

Thankfully this weirdness is not a full-time occupation.  Migraine auras generally last only about 20 minutes, although I was stuck in smoke-land for about 48 continuous hours last week, which is incredibly distracting. 

Perception is an amazing thing.  I remember doing a study on taste and inheritance in college.  We were given paper strips impregnated with a chemical that only certain people can taste.  The ability to taste (or lack thereof) was inherited, and we were to test our families and see what sort of patterns emerged.  The 'taste' gene was apparently recessive, and no one in my family could taste this stuff, but I swear to you that it was FOUL.  Turns out that there are dozens of such things.  I tested a couple dozen, and among my classmates I was the only one unfortunate enough to be able to taste them ALL.  I remember that one was BHA, a common food preservative.  No one else could taste it.  (Perhaps I passed all this on to Citygirl, and that is why she can tell what country any given wine is from without seeing the label?)  The entire experiment made me understand why some people can eat liver (shudder) and other people think all meat smells like dog poo.

I wonder.  I've wondered since I was a small child if things would look the same if I could look out through someone else's eyeballs. There is no way to know for sure if the blue I see is the same as the blue you see, at all.  

What if autism is just a more-or-less permanent state of synesthesia?  What if one day pine trees smell like pine and the next they smell like a loud train coming straight at you and you can't predict which it's going to be?   I have a glimmer of how horrifying that might be to try to sort through.

What an incredible blessing it is when sound and sight are linked correctly to sense.

Be grateful if that's true for you.


1 comment:

  1. I do enjoy the moments I can taste something that no one else has picked up on. Last time that happened was with some alcohol in a baked bean recipe.