Apparently some people do not.
I didn't realize that that was even a valid question until reading out about aphantasia and hyperphantasia this morning.
I was under the impression that everyone thinks in pictures. That may not be the case. Or perhaps the conception of what constitutes "imagery" needs to be updated.
The implications for psychedelics could be significant.
This phenomenon might explain some major subjective differences in reported experiences (among other things, like why some people just never liked reading fiction). It might explain a lot about your life in general (read the linked article for how). It might explain why some people are prone to difficult experiences, or why some people think tripping is the best thing ever and others can take it or leave it.
On the other hand, I'm still skeptical that people with aphantasia don't actually experience ANY internal visual imagery at all since it could be the case that they are interpreting what's going on in there as a tactile sensation (or olfactory, or aural) in addition to a visual one since anecdotes from people reporting aphantasia include comments like "feeling the shape of an apple in the dark" (when asked to imagine an apple) or like it was “thinking only in radio.” Well how did they know it was "dark?"
"Thinking in radio" is intriguing, though.
How would someone keep track of an audio "field" of memories in their "mind's ear" (I guess)? My real or imagined visual field in front of me is populated by objects located in real or imagined space and their relationships are partly a function of where they are located in that space. I'd be very curious to know how that might be accomplished without the use of any imagery.
Synesthesia comes to mind (so to speak) as a possible explanation for how that might work. Maybe some people experience synesthesia that's dominated by imagery and others experience it dominated by other senses? In that case there would still be a visual element, but it would be subtle and easily assumed to be missing. I suspect that most of our mental imagery is abstract and so doesn't "look" like a conventional picture, so either we all think in images at some level or else we need to reevaluate our assumptions about what a "thought" or a "memory" are, or are made of, or something.
Hyperphantasia seems like what someone like Alex Gray would have, and might explain why some people can "bring back" psychedelic/dream/visionary imagery from tripping or deep contemplation or just letting their imagination go wild to the degree that they can reproduce it in fine detail. I always wondered how some artists could do that; I can recognize psychedelic-inspired imagery but I can't draw it for shit.
I guess I'm somewhere in the middle of the mental imagery bell curve. I'd be curious to know where y'all fall on the spectrum; do you see vivid images in your mind's eye? Or do you perceive thoughts and memories some other way?
This NY Time article is fascinating (and is the source of the quotes above), and the comments are no less so so be sure to read those too: https://www.nytimes....mmentsContainer
Edited by TVCasualty, 08 June 2021 - 09:12 AM.