What Color Is Your Alphabet?

Synesthesia fascinates me.

Anesthesia means ‘no sensation.’ Good for when you need dental surgery.

Synesthesia means ‘joined or multiple sensation.’ Good for making your world incredibly colorful and unique. (I’m jealous I’m not synesthetic. Can you tell?)

It’s involuntary. It simply IS … just like your senses. There are many ways it manifests itself … people taste words or they feel them or they see them, rather than just hearing them.

The most common form of synesthesia is seeing letters and numbers in color. Everyone’s alphabet is different — rarely do two synesthetes agree on the color of letter B, for example.

This is a representation of Juliet’s alphabet:

Here is Evelyne’s alphabet …

Here is Nadja’s …

Here is Channing’s …

And here is Corinna’s …

Researchers think about 1 in 200 people have some form of synesthesia. Many don’t realize the rest of the world doesn’t see colored words or taste shapes until they get to be adults. In researching for my novel, it seems folks fall into one of two camps. When they’re very young and learning their letters, they’ll say something like, “Q is my favorite letter because it’s the most beautiful green color.” Their friend will stare at them and say, “You’re weird.”

In the second group, it’s never come up before and as adults they’ll say something like, “Thanks for the perfume. It smells so purple.” And their friend will stare at them and say, “You’re weird.”

If they’re very lucky, their friend — young or old — will argue with them. “Nuh uh … it totally smells red” or “Q isn’t green … it’s brown with white dots!”

For the majority of synesthetes, especially when they’re young, if they mention their syn and get teased about it, they’ll never mention it again. I heard from both groups in my chats with synesthetes from around the world.

Some synesthetes have enhanced spacial awareness and move through their day as if moving around a huge gauzy clock. Some have colored days of the week, but some explain it like their weekly calendar is three dimensional as they move through it. This is how Josette describes her week:

In February 2001 Smithsonian Magazine had an article about synesthesia — “For Some, Pain Is Orange” by Susan Hornik and it knocked around my head for years until I figured out what to do with it. I had also been noodling over setting some mysteries in the wonderful world of marching band, and the two ideas finally collided to create my main character, Dash, who is 16 and plays the tuba. He sees colored music and tastes emotion.

You’ve listened to music that makes you feel happy or sad, or it brings to mind a gritty city or a day in the country, but when some synesthetes hear a tune, it has shape and color and movement, too. This is how Malcolm sees the Bach Toccata:

Cool, eh?

Do you think you’re synesthetic? Take The Synesthesia Battery.

If you ARE synesthetic, I want to hear all your syn stories. Every. Single. One.
If you’re NOT synesthetic, what do you want to know about it? Do you know anyone who is syn? What do you think about it? Are you jealous too?

57 thoughts on “What Color Is Your Alphabet?

  1. beckycc

    Already done, Pat …. you can see it under “Stuff to Learn” on my sidebar. It’s a great site with tons of fascinating info.

    Reply
  2. Luke

    Yes, MASSIVELY jealous. I might try hypnosis induced synesthesia just for the experience, but it’s not the same! It’s not fair :'(

    I want a superpower too.

    Reply
    1. beckycc

      I’m with you there, Luke. If I can’t be synesthetic, I’d like to be invisible so I can eavesdrop on people. So rude, yet so satisfying. And if I can’t be invisible, then I’d just like the ability to make perfect pico de gallo every time.

      Reply
  3. Bobito

    Well I’m not sure if I have synesthesia… In my mind the alphabet and numbers have colors, even personalities. It’s just that in books and articles all the letters and numbers are black. Iv’e heard that it’s easy for synesthetes to spell too, and I’m horrible at spelling so that’s another confusuion. Still not sure :

    Reply
    1. beckycc

      Bobito … I think the cool thing about syn is how many different ways it manifests in people. I wouldn’t rule yours out just because it doesn’t conform to other people. Have you taken the Synesthesia Battery?

      Reply
  4. Bobito

    Thanks, I’m not quiet sure I understand what your saying though. And no,I havn’t taken the Synesthesia Battery. How can I take it?

    Reply
    1. beckycc

      There are a zillion different ways people can be synesthetic. Check out my sidebar … there are two links you’ll be interested in. One says “Synesthesia” and one says “Synesthesia Resource Center.” One of those has the link to the Battery. Have fun!

      Reply
  5. Nini

    I have synesthesia, like with numbers and letters having colors, numbers have traits, music makes me see color, voices have colors, names have colors and textures, and sometimes when I’m in extreme pain, I see a flash of green. It makes going to dances at school unbearable, like I hate rap and hip-hop music, and that’s all they ever play. The bass beat in the background is overwhelming, and it makes huge dark brownish black triangles in my face, and gives me horrible headaches. I appreciate classical music more though, because each instrument has its own unique color for its voice, and when a song is played right, each voice is so fluid and beautiful, and melds together into one rainbow of sound. I also see colors for days of the week and months, which helps make remembering dates easy. The same goes for phone numbers. I love how everyone’s experience with synaesthesia is unique, and different. I took the Synaesthesia Battery, and it was actually fun. I liked it because it was like testing me, to see if I could prove myself. I think everyone has a bit of synesthesia in them , some of us just have it stronger. Like if you take that Kiki or Booba test, most people, even if they’re not confirmed synesthetes, choose the pointy one as Kiki and the round one as Booba. Also, to Bobito- for some people, synaesthesia can make spelling harder, but for others it makes it easy. It’s really an individual thing.

    Reply
    1. beckycc

      Nini … you are my dream come true. In an earlier draft of the novel I’m working on, my syn character went to a school dance and it was exactly as you describe. AND it involves music! You are now on my list of “go-to syns.” I want to hear your synesthetic stories and experiences!

      Thanks for finding BeckyLand!

      Reply
  6. Nini

    Wow thank you very much for making me so important! I would love to share my syn experiences with you, I’m just wondering WHERE I should leave those comments. Wow, you’re making a novel about someone with synesthesia? That’s great, I figure there aren’t enough interesting books out there about it currently! Thanks again, and just tell me where to leave my “syn stories” for you on this page, and I’ll be happy to tell you more.

    Reply
  7. A

    Hi there,

    I saved this blog because i found out i had Synesthesia and was told to do research. When i came upon this site i was excited to see what people had to say. Basically i have emotions to color and music to color. I was not born with synesthesia, it just happened! Ever since my one experience that made my brain explode in colors it has not stopped. Now it makes my music easier to understand and even my emotions make more sense. I also see the color blobs like transparencies before my eyes. Not in my head or my minds eye. I see it in my minds eye rarely but mostly its in front of me. For example, deep thought is one of my favorites because its an abundance of blobs that are almost clear, ( looks like water on glass if you will) and because they are so close and so many i can reach out and touch them. I don’t do this often because obviously people are wondering what in the world i’m doing. I took the battery for my musical notation to color and got like a .75 or something so i passed. haha. It is really neat. I don’t know how i understood the world with out it.

    Reply
  8. Lana

    I just found out a few days ago that I have synesthesia. I can taste intense emotions
    It seems SO odd to me that this isn’t totally normal, especially considering its a freaking’ LITERARY DEVICE. In books they always use ‘bitter disappointment’ or something like ‘victory was so sweet I could taste it’ to describe the emotion as really intense or overwhelming. Well, for me that’s how it is. Overwhelming happiness tastes like sour candy. ‘bitter’ disappointment tastes almost sweet…I never really bothered to find a specific flavour to describe them, since that’s already been done. For instance, disappointment isn’t bitter, but it has a flavour and bitter just sounds like it fits the bill for dissapointment, it sounds like a nice metaphor. I have to admit though, there is a downside. I guess the best way to describe this is that theres a difference between the kind of love that’s just thinking ‘man I like this person’ and the kind of love that makes your heart beat really quickly. What if you had just found out that the person who you like to a point where your heart starts fluttering every time you see them can not only never reciprocate, but nor can almost anyone else in the world? There’s a physical tie to emotions now that not only makes them stronger, but that I now no almost no one else feels. It’s like the top settings have been cut off of everyone elses emotions, and they don’t know what they’re missing…But I’m sure I’ll get over it. And I guess if you don’t know what you’re missing, you can’t miss it.

    Reply
    1. beckycc

      Lana … what a great insight about syn as a literary device. So true! Thanks so much for commenting. I’m sorry I didn’t reply earlier, but I just now saw your marvelous comment.

      Reply
  9. Lindsay

    I have Synesthesia, I have for all my life as far as I can remember.
    The first time I can remember being aware of it acutely, rather than subconsciously, was when I was in first grade or kindergarten trying to explain to a friend that 5 is maroon and flat, 50 is darker and deeper in the middle, like a shallow well or wading pool filled with…umm, red; 500 is ripply, and 5,000 is like n undulating wavy ocean made of blood-red velvet–but 2 was gold-ish, 20 was like a yellow fuzzy hill, 200 was like a field, and so on(but not as eloquently, I was about 6 at the time). After a few minutes I gave up on it and dropped the subject.
    Then about 10 years later I read ‘A Mango Shaped Space’ and I was completely floored.
    I have ‘associative’ Synesthesia-as I’m reading I don’t see them in any different colors, but I’m aware in the back of my head what colors they are, the same way you know what an elephant is, for example-it’s big, it’s a mammal, it has a trunk, and it’s name is light green-blue.
    Numbers and letters also have personalities.
    They also have ‘group dynamics’-for example, 8 and 4 don’t work together well because then 3 will get jealous and 5 and 7 and 9 don’t get along well at all. The letters seem to form cliques based on colors-J, K, H, and L are friends-J/K/H are all shades of pink. L is yellow but it likes to hang out with pinks because the other ones closer to it’s shade-Y and 7 and F-are all kind of elitist. Z and X are also pink, but they’re snobs who would rather do their thing than hang out with those losers farther up in the alphabet. A’s overly friendly and likes to hang out with b, C, and G, but A’s kindof clingy and her friends would rather be left alone.

    I wish I had more spacial syn than I do-I know someone who sees concepts as, like. Little floating auras, that change color and shape depending on what she’s going to do, and grow smaller or larger depending.
    I only have time set up in a ring-like a floating belt about a foot from my waist, or a skirt. Whatever time it currently is is at about 11, if you’re standing in the center of the clock and facing 12. They’re in little bands, and every ‘measure’ of time, like an hour or a month, have the same length as all the others in it’s group, but distinct colors. They’re arranged in a band with seconds on top, then hours, days, weeks, months, and so on. Seconds are about a quarter inch thick and all of them are silver/blue, minutes are about an inch thick and turn darker and redder the farther they get from 6 AM, then hours all have tints and are about 3 inches thick, days are about a foot thick and colored distinctly, and years are about 4 inches and the color changes with the year but I only see 1 year at once. They tick like the second hand of a clock. They’re no always there but when I think about the time it’s always like that.

    Reply
    1. beckycc

      Lindsay … this is FAB! I simply love hearing about people’s synesthetic experiences. In fact, I’m going to use your comment as a new blog post in the next few weeks. I’m not syn myself, but I want to draw attention to this delightful phenomenon. I’m constantly amazed by how many adults stumble upon my blog and tell me “I didn’t know I was synesthetic till I read your blog!” I find it all quite fascinating. Thanks so much for your comment!

      Reply
    2. Abby

      lindsey….wow. i was surprised at how similar your synesthesia is to mine. my letters, numbers, days of the week, months of the year, names and really any word, all have colors and personalities and genders. and, like you, i only see them in my head, in my minds eye, not accually projected onto the page. i also have “number form” synesthesia, for example my days of the week are each in sqaures that are all connected to eachother in the shape of a semi circle, where sunday is in the top left corner and then monday comes right below it and then starts curving into tuesday, wednesday, ect., and then comes back up to saturday which ends up right next to sunday. this happens for all measures of time (like months of the year are in an oval) and another wierd thing is that i also found out about my synesthesia by reading the book “A Mango Shaped Space” just a couple months ago!

      Reply
  10. Renee

    Dear Becky, I’d just like to thank you for spreading the syn-awareness. I didn’t know I had synesthesia until a couple of weeks ago and it was such a huge eye-opener I often wonder how I could not have found this out many many years ago.

    Have you ever been to the Nexus? It’s a message board for synees (that’s what we call ourselves over there) on a site called Mixed Signals. It’s got a whole bunch of people who love to answer questions about their syn so if you have any questions for your book or something, please drop by and ask away.

    About my own syn, I have grapheme-color (the common boring one), time unit-color, spatial sequence/number form, color-personality/gender and Ordinal Linguistic Personification. Basically this means that I use the British spelling of grey because it looks more grey than gray does, I love Wednesday because she’s so wonderfully bright pink and cheerful, I have a diagonal colored time line in my mental eye that I can zoom in on to see, for instance, how many days are left for me to figure out a way to pay my rent, I hate yellow because she’s so cunning and loud-mouthed and R is my favorite letter because she’s so rebellious and fair-minded. I’ve also had some pain-color, music-color and object-color/gender responses which is why my childhood stomach aches are pink, a G played on the violin is warm brown and I am happy when I see a spork because it means gentle green Spoon won spunky pink Fork instead of macho baby blue Knife. Nice guys, there is still hope for you!

    My strongest syn responses have to do with dates because I see numbers and months as being good/pretty or bad/ugly. Pretty months are May, June, October and September while ugly months are December, August and February. Good numbers are 3, 4, 6 and 8 and bad ones are 2 and 7. So a date like 17 February is ugly and wrong while June 8th is pretty. It’s not just that it’s pretty but it also has good colors, personalities and it looks balanced and whole. The number 17 is bad because it’s trapped between the classy and wonderful 18 and the somewhat less pretty and complete 16, so that makes the 17 look incomplete and wrong. I number I really can’t stand is 22, I don’t know why but it just makes my skin crawl. I also hate years like 1949, 1959 etc because the 9 is not 10 but almost and it’s just so unbalanced and incomplete, I can’t stand it. However, years like 1924, 1936, 1974, 1990 are so pretty it makes me happy just looking at them.
    These thoughts can get pretty annoying sometimes. For instance, when I am reading about someone famous who happens to have a bad birthday (like April 27th 1935 or December 29th 1961) it sticks in my head and becomes and unconscious negative association I have with that person. Right now a girl is missing in my neighborhood and all I can think about is how wrong her birthday (2nd September 1997) is. Writing, saying and seeing a date like that just makes me uncomfortable and it’s annoying, since the majority of dates are ugly or mediocre at best. However, it also has good moments. For instance, a date like May 21st 2012 will makes me feel at ease and content because the colors, balance and feel are all right.

    Reply
  11. Liz

    I have not seen this mentioned before so I am not sure if this is synesthesia or not but to me all music correlates to the seasons, but never spring. And the music of each season has a definite feel to it.
    Summer music is light and airy and happy.
    Fall music is dark and dreary and brooding.
    Winter music is heavy and thoughtful and deep. Except for at Christmas time then the music is lively, loving an peaceful.
    There is also Sunday music which cannot be listened to any other day of the week besides Sunday. It is anxious, depressing music and listening to it any other day but Sunday is like listening to Christmas music in July, just not right.
    Music also has a time for me, some songs will take me back to an experience and I can see it as if I were there. I can often date music, from my lifetime, to the year fairly accurately this way because when I hear the song I see the date and the experience all as one.
    Also and this is a bit TMI, orgasms have a shape and color and the shape I can “feel” as narrow and confining or large and expanding, they also sometimes have a taste(?)for lack of a better word, it’s tinny and makes my throat feel like I just swallowed an ice cube.
    I will say I never really thought of this as anything out of the ordinary I truly believed until tonight when I was reading about this that everyone experienced sex that way and that everyone “felt” and categorized music that way.

    Reply
  12. Renee

    I can’t objectively tell you if this is synesthesia or not because I have syn myself and I still find it hard to believe that not everyone experiences the world the way I do. The music thing sounds like very heavy associating to me but not real syn, since the associations make sense. I think anyone would call a happy and light song a summer or spring song and a dark and brooding song fall or winter. I generally see a color in my head when I think of a certain song (not when I hear it) but they usually fit the mood of the song (so dark colors for dark songs and light colors for light ones) so I don’t consider it syn. The orgasm thing sounds promising though. I would definitely look into that.

    Reply
  13. Sasha Brown

    I have always moved through the world with my senses completely entwined. I didn’t know it was called synesthesia until recently though.
    For me, each individual letter/number has a color, which blend into a new color in words, sentences, paragraphs, stories, and longer numbers. Whenever I hear or feel anything, there is a color and a shape and sometimes a flavor, with the colors sort of like the visuals on Windows Media Player.
    Classical music and other orchestral works are far more bearable than rap/hip hop. Beethoven never ceases to amaze me with the intricacy of the colors in his pieces, where “modern” music makes me nauseous, and school assemblies give me awful headaches from ugly colors and tastes.
    While I cannot imagine myself experiencing the world without synesthesia, I would caution those who wish they had it: yeah, music looks cool and so on, but unpleasant colors can absolutely ruin your day.

    Reply
  14. beckycc

    That’s fascinating to me, Sasha, because the main character in my syn novel is in the high school marching band and the music often renders him helpless. I understand what you’re saying about how it can ruin your day, but I’m still jealous. Besides, bad music can ruin my day too!

    Thanks for commenting!

    Reply
    1. Morgan

      If it renders him helpless, why is he in the band? I’m only rendered helpless if I can’t plug my ears against the sound of a train that’s blasting past me, and I doubt that’s because of my synesthesia. I can’t speak for everyone, of course, but it’s very rare for me to encounter something that renders me helpless. Oh, except for the song “The Color of Giggles”. Because that song makes me nauseous–it spins so fast, and the colors clash so badly. But I can’t think of any other songs that’d do it. And I go out of my way to avoid that song, so I don’t understand why a character would willingly subject himself to such a thing…

      That was rambly. Sorry.

      Reply
      1. beckycc

        Not rambly at all!

        Music doesn’t always render him helpless. Mostly he loves it, but there are certain times ….

        Reply
  15. Fransie

    I don’t have synesthesia either (jealous too) but I’m really interested in the subject. I was just wondering weather the e.g. colour you see when hearing certain music interferes with your normal sight. Like if you are looking at someone and then here a piece of music do you still see that person or just the colour?

    Reply
    1. dubby12

      Hi… me again. I only see the colors behind my eyes. When I close my eyes though I can see it really perfectly. It never interferes with my sight. The song Dancing Queen is a really nice light blue, but it’s such an icy white I can see the icicles. Sometimes I can’t think of the name title, just the colors.

      Reply
  16. Morgan

    Well, I just tried to color in my alphabet and numbers, but it’s just too limited! I can’t get the shade to look right at all, so I gave up. 8 is pumpkin orange; n and 2 are a mild, creamy purple that’s just off from white; A is a brilliant red; 3 is a sandy yellow; 4 is as green as well-watered grass; there’s no way to get those colors to come across on a computer screen. I did try, but it looked pathetic. Also, when arranged in a pattern, I notice the color of the pattern, rather than the individual letters or numbers in the pattern, so it’s even harder to convey. Ahhhh.

    I did try, though. Sorry.

    By the way, I’m an associative synesthete. So, to respond to Fransie’s question… Only when there is something unimaginably loud nearby. Like a train. Oh, I always try in vain to shut my eyes against the sound, and people don’t get it… But, barring that, it’s all in my mind’s eye. Sometimes I’m glad that I’m not a projective synesthete, but sometimes I wonder…

    And since when are we called “Synnies”? “Synesthesia” is a beautiful color–like various, pleasant shades of blue, purple, and green folded into something soft and white. “Synnies” looks yellowed and gross… Sad…

    Reply
  17. beckycc

    Morgan … I’ve heard the complaint many times that people can’t quite get their colors right when trying to show people. Putting it on a computer monitor wouldn’t help either, so I feel your pain there.

    As far as ‘synnies’ … I’ve had many synesthetes use that word over the years. But point well taken that some words look better than others. Probably not to the ones who call themselves that, however!

    thanks for commenting!

    Reply
  18. dubby12

    Hey…
    I’m synesthetic. I love it, too. I’m not like full out or anything, it’s just with music and some words are like thattoo. Beyonce’s song “Single Ladies” is sparkly purple and is really pretty…and some songs are kind of ugly. One of Chris Brown’s song is kind of annoying because there’s this yellow tear drop that keeps going up and down in front of my eyes and red on black stripes going horizontally. Sometimes I have a hard time describing what I see, and usually I just keep these things to myself because whenever I tell people, they go “OMG me too!!” because they’re jealous or whatever. And that annoys me a lot. Some people just don’t believe me, either. Well, their loss!!

    Reply
    1. beckycc

      Hey, Dubby (I love pretending that screen names are folks’ real names … it makes me giggle) … thanks for commenting!

      I love hearing about people who see music and I totally understand about having a hard time describing it. I feel the same way about describing a taste. Pepper tastes like … um … pepper, right?

      I absolutely agree that it’s your friends’ loss for not believing the marvel that is synesthesia. And while I am jealous, I don’t think I’d ever go so far as to pretend I see things the same way you do! That’s pretty funny. And, also agreed, a little annoying. (As is Chris Brown, but that’s another story.)

      I know you made another comment, but I don’t see it here. Maybe it will show up later.

      It must be great when a song you like also has colors and shapes you like. Double score!

      Reply
  19. Lizz

    Hi, I’m Lizz and synesthetic. I see colors for numbers and letters (they all have personalities) and see months and weekdays in certain locations in space and calenders and charts always look certain ways. every living thing with some sort of personality has a color (you could call it an aura) and sometimes shapes and bubbles too. I see colors for emotions and sometimes colors for music or birds singing. I’m so glad you thought of this blog! I love hearing about others syns and their experiences, it facinates me.

    Reply
    1. beckycc

      Lizz … the idea of numbers and letters having personalities makes me happy in a zillion different ways!

      Reply
  20. Izzy

    I have synesthesia, it’s not anying especially interesting , just grapheme-colours, grapheme personification, months, weekdays-colours, spacial sense, personalities-colours, and emotion-colours; it’s not as much as it sounds, almost everything is related- altough I’m not sure where the bright aquamarine colour of March came from though, none of it’s letters are even close to that colour. Still I think losing my syn would be like losing a part of me, I can’t imagine a world without it. I think if i lost it it would be like becoming blind or deaf. I really do love my alphabet. My favourite letters are I, Y, Z, H, &D. I like I because of it’s peaceful and calming turquise-aquamarine colour. It’s not anything dark, it’s very light, I guess another way to explain it would be those reflections at the bottom of a pool you see when light hits water, the bright line parts. Another reason I like I is because when you put it as the first letter of a word it makes the whole word glow. I is my fav favouriteY is special because it’s a vibrant colour halfway between a healthy grass green and an electric green, it make me feel excited and energetic. Z makes my list because it’s also a bright green except it’s just electric, kind-of like a very bright green highlighter, not one where the colours to light though; Z is very substantial. H is nice because it’s such a pretty shade of pale blue. One way to describe it would be like looking up on one of those slightly cloudy days where it’s still very bright (you know what I mean) and seeing a sky so bright it hurts your eyes. Finally (FINALLY, you know it’s very hard for me to describe these things) D is pretty because it’s such a nice shade of slightly sparkley pinky-purple (the word Diva is very colour appropriate.

    Reply
    1. beckycc

      Izzy … it seems that many of your favorite letters are in the green and blue family. Does that translate into the rest of your life? Like, do you wear a lot of green and blue clothes? Do green or blue cars catch your eye more often than other colors? Would you pick out the green and blue M&Ms, smacking away any wayward hand that comes near them?

      Don’t tell me your syn isn’t ‘anything especially interesting’ because it totally IS!

      Reply
  21. Izzy

    I’m sorry, I accidentally clicked post comment and then had to attend to something, anyway I know your thinking WHEN WILL THIS LADY STOP TALKING but the only reason I’m this talkative (yes, I’m reallynot this talkative) is because I love sharing this with other people. I’ve kept it a secret, mostly because, when I was little, my parents always told me it was my over-active imagination, I didn’t think it important after that. Inow my syn stories arn’t as interesting as others, they’re very generic: I don’t like crowded dances, especially because of the blaring music, I sometimes like being alone, and I don’t like being shown coloured grapheme not in my alphabet and made by someone who doesn’t see their own colours. Lastly I’d just like to say how grateful i am for this website because I have a chance to talk with other syns. I love it!

    Reply
    1. beckycc

      Nope, I don’t think you’re too talkative … I LOVE hearing about everyone’s syn experiences. Yak it up, Lady, any time you want!

      Reply
  22. Kirsten

    i was undertaking my phd and there was a particular passage in my philosophy reading that i couldn’t quite grasp. as my husband is a philosophy prof i asked him to take a look at the passage and talk to me about it. i handed him the text and asked him to take a look at the purple section, right below the green terms. yes, it was the first time i’d said something like that- i’d always thought everyone experienced words the way i do. apparently not. people’s names have colours (and when people find out i’m synasthetic, they *always8 ask the colour of their names!), days of the week also do. certain words give me a visceral, physical reaction that i absolutely cannot control. particular words actually make me vomit. when i’m extremely tired and trying to read, the colours of the words all start ‘bleeding’ into each other until i can’t separate them.

    Reply
    1. beckycc

      I love that story, Kirsten! When my critique group read the first draft of my ‘syn story’ they told me it didn’t make sense that a kid could be in high school and not know that others didn’t see things the way he did. I tried to explain to them that I’ve heard from so many people who were well into adulthood before they realized not everyone saw their colored alphabet. I think I got so worked up I spilled my coffee. That’s how they knew I was serious … I NEVER waste coffee! I’m glad to have another story to share with any naysayers. Thanks! And I love the idea of the ‘bleeding colors.’ That might make its way into a novel!

      Reply
  23. Atiya

    I’m synesthetic, but instead of having a colored alphabet, I associate colors with personalities. White is spoiled but nice, midnight blue is secretive, and aqua is friendly and creative.

    Reply
  24. twizzlercat

    omigosh i am so interested too!! i’m not syn but i really wanna be regardless of what everyone else says…. a mango shaped space is SUCH A GOOD BOOK!!!! i’ve read it over and over and really want to be tested as synthetic…. thanks beckycc

    Reply
  25. Ashley Whting

    So glad I stumbled upon this. I have synesthesia, but I hate not being able to tell anyone about it. My alphabet and numbers have colors, and some have personalities. My music has texture and “Fantasia-like” colors. I find it weird that people don’t have synesthesia. However, mine is only in my mind’s eye. Synesthesia gives me a unique aesthetic perspective, and it has never bothered me. But, I did have trouble remembering the difference between Kant and Descartes in my philosophy class, because to me their names are very similar shades of green.

    Reply
    1. beckycc

      Hi, Ashley … I have trouble remembering my philosophers too, but it’s for an entirely different reason!

      I absolutely agree that synethesia gives you a unique perspective, and I love the description of your syn. Can I ask why you don’t feel you can tell anyone about it? If you want to email me, I’d love to hear from you … ampersand press (at) aol (dot) com.

      Thanks for your comment!

      Reply
  26. Ashley W

    Well I can somewhat talk to my little brother about it, since he has it as well, but he’s so young that he doesn’t necessarily understand what synesthesia is. I’ve met one other girl in my class with it, which was rather interesting. Basically, if I try to explain it to my family members and friends, they just don’t understand what it is. I’ve even received the comment before, “Maybe you’re just crazy”. If I was to talk about it, I would have to pretend I’m just being artsy or metaphorical, because if I attach the word ‘synesthesia’ to my thoughts, others will think of it as a mental disorder.

    Reply
    1. beckycc

      I hear that quite often from people with synesthesia. It’s really a shame, though, because it’s a fascinating phenomenon. One thing you could do is forward this blog to a couple of non-syns and see what they think. I’m sure they just think it’s “crazy” because they don’t know anything about it, much like when it became common knowledge that the world wasn’t, in fact, flat like everyone thought.

      Maybe your family and friends will surprise you! I hope so …

      Reply
  27. Pamela McKenna

    Hi, it’s great to hear about others with synesthesia. I have General Sounds > Visual/Spacial ( a old telephone ringing is a black and white checkerboard skewing down into a spiral on the right and the sound of waves crashing on a beach is bright green coming from the left and getting smaller into the middle of my vision). Music > Visual/Spacial ( some songs are like standing in a dark cathedral with light coming in through high windows and others are like mutiple Catherine wheels throwing off fireworks). Flavors > Visual ( salt is bright green and lime is a soft blue). Odors>Visual (Rose perfume is green and blue in the upper right quadrant). Pain > Visual (pain is bright green, sometimes with inclusions of red and violet). Interoception > Visual/Spacial ( hunger is red and acid green). Proprioception>Visual/Spacial ( Arm movement is a green 6-lobed shape with blue in the middle in different shapes) Temperature>Visual (extreme heat changes the background of my photisms to white, instead of dark grey or black). Touch > Visual (rainbow bars and spirals and dots). Kinetics > Visual ( I see colored bands around objects that move or appear to move). Balance> Color ( balancing on one leg gives me the colors red and violet and it pushes the arm movement photism into the upper right quadrant.) I have Kinetics > Sound, but that is very faint and soft. I should mention that I am a projector. I see the photisms in front of me with my eyes open or closed.

    Reply
    1. beckycc

      Pamela … that is so cool! Your descriptions are delightfully vivid …. I LOVE that! Thanks so much for sharing! [Look at all the exclamation marks … you know I like it *struggling not to add one here but losing the battle* !!!]

      Reply
  28. ashley einspahr

    hi all,

    i’m a graphic design student at the kansas city art institute. i’m in an experimental typography class and the direction i’m taking has to do with my recent fascination with synesthesia. i myself have always acquainted letters and numbers with genders and sort of personalities, but not near as descriptive as some that i’ve found in my research. i’m not sure if that means i have semi-synesthesia or if i’m just artsy like that.

    anyways, i’m out to find more information from specific people with this condition in order to further direct where i’m heading with this project. i’m looking for certain subjects that i can base the alphabet i’m developing on. if anybody on here has or knows anybody with synesthesia that would be interested in answering some questions to help me out, i would be so grateful! the sooner the better – the research portion of this project is primarily this week, but if somebody doesn’t read this until a few weeks later still feel free to contact me! my email address is aeinspahr@kcai.edu.

    thanks so much!

    Reply
  29. Aish

    I have a few different types of synesthesia. Numbers and months have colours, although I only see those in my mind’s eye. I see the months around me too. Recently I’ve noticed that when I look at big typed black capital letters on a white background, some of them are in colour. Not associative, but actually see them. I’m still discovering that one! When I smell something I get a taste too, and sometimes the tastes are really weird and they are entirely different from what t actually tastes like. I don’t know if that counts or not, because people say that smell and taste are linked, but some of the tastes are just so weird. And I can taste some sounds weakly – people talking is sort of sour, but piano is sweet and some music tastes sort of spicy. Different pitch means I feel it on different parts of my tongue and when I’m typing, each tap feels like a little prick on my tongue. That’s the weakest sense, although it’s definitely the coolest!

    Reply
    1. beckycc

      Hi Aish! That is simply too cool! You feel typing on your tongue?! Amazing! And I love that you’re still discovering stuff.

      Reply
  30. Aish

    ^^—Hey, it’s me again. Is is weird that my projected coloured letters have just suddenly popped up? All my other types of syn I’ve had my whole life but this one just suddenly appeared. It keeps getting stronger too – yesterday it was just big letters and i, j,l and some capitals, but today suddenly I see the colours on almost all letters if it’s black writing on a white background. I don’t know how I just got it (although I’m definitely not complaining!). Has it happened to anyone else before? And just randomly, I like listening to classical music but I have to clamp my tongue between my teeth because the violins taste so salty XD

    Reply
  31. rosie

    My colored music notes are In octave one and two are black music notes From C1-B2 then notes C3-B3 are dark and light green and notes C4-B4 are dark blue octave 5 is a mix F5 is dark pink G5 is Dark green A5 is bright yellow and B5 is dark pink C6 is dark pink D6 and E6 are light violent and F6 is dark pink G6 and A6 are light – Medium Violent and B6 is Dark pink and C7 is orange D7 and E7 Dark violent and F7 is orange G7 and A7 are dark Violent and B7 is Orange and C8 is light Blue I don’t believe this test tests for Music keys to color Synesthesia i also see singer tones as colors for example Billy joel has violent and black tone BoB Dylan has a green-yellow and brown tone micheal ball has a red tone and colm w has a green tone . do i have synesthesia or not?

    Reply

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