Are you a super visualizer?
This month's edition of Scientific American Mind deals with something which might be of interest to hypnotherapists. Recent research has shown that about 2% of the population are unable to visualize anything. When you ask them to recall say, what they had for breakfast this morning, they are incapable of picturing it in their mind's eye.
They are also unable to imagine the face of their children, or their kitchen, or the school they went to. Hypnotists have long known that some people do not respond well to hypnotic inductions that require them to visualise.
You don't have to be a super visualizer to go into trance
Hypnotists have also learned that you don't have to be able to visualise in order to be able to go into trance. Avoiding visualization words allows people to understand things in their own terms. You do not need to be able to see a picture of a staircase in order to imagine going deeper by going down one.
The new research has shown that people who cannot visualise are not handicapped. Many of these people have successful careers in design, programming and the arts. It appears that they have invented other ways of experiencing the world to make up for the fact that they cannot create a mental image.
In one test people were asked whether the grass was a darker or lighter green and a pine tree. Non-visualizes insisted that they were not seeing a pine tree grass, somehow they just knew that the pine tree was darker.
How to spot a Super Visualizer
The researchers developed a questionnaire which reliably classifies people who have aphantasia. MRI scans have shown that the brains of these people react differently when asked to visualize. The normal visual part of the brain shows almost no activity, but parts of the brain to do with decision-making and error prediction were busy.
It turns out that aphantasia has been known for more than 100 years but no one had ever bothered to look into it closely. Once it began to become widely known, hundreds of people came forward to say that they also could not visualise.
They had all assumed either that no one could, or that there were oddities. Most of them felt a great relief to know that there were actually thousands of people just like them.
Interestingly enough, at the other end of the scale there are people who are superbly good at visualising. This group has not been studied scientifically either.
Maybe this is something you should look out for in your clients?