“Synesthesia is a neurological condition in which stimulation of one sensory or cognitive pathway (for example, hearing) leads to automatic, involuntary experiences in a second sensory or cognitive pathway (such as vision)” (“Synesthesia”, n.d.). In other words, synesthesia is experiencing a sense normally, in addition to experiencing it with another sense. Most people who have synesthesia are either born with it or develop it early in life. However, there is research that shows it is possible to develop synesthesia later in life (Watson, n.d.).
The following are examples of how synesthetes experience the world collected by Siri Carpenter:
Guitar music doesn’t just tickle Carol Crane’s fancy–it also brushes softly against her ankles. When she hears violins, she also feels them on her face. Trumpets make themselves known on the back of her neck. In addition to feeling the sounds of musical instruments on her body, Crane sees letters and numbers in brilliant hues. And for her, units of time each have their own shape: She sees the months of the year as the cars on a ferris wheel, with July at the top, December at the bottom.
Sean Day, PhD, tastes in technicolor. “The taste of beef, such as a steak, produces a rich blue,” says Day, a linguistics professor at National Central University in Taiwan. “Mango sherbet appears as a wall of lime green with thin wavy strips of cherry red. Steamed gingered squid produces a large glob of bright orange foam, about four feet away, directly in front of me.”
There are some famous people who have synesthesia or had it while they were alive. Here are a few you might recognize: Mary J Blige, Duke Ellington, Billy Joel, Marilyn Monroe, Pharrell Williams, Kanye West, Charli XCX, Vincent Van Gogh, Eddie Van Halen, and Stevie Wonder (“Famous People With Synesthesia That Everyone Should Know”, 2015) I find it very interesting that all of these people are artists.
Carpenter, S. (2001, March). Everyday fantasia: The world of synesthesia. Retrieved from https://www.apa.org/monitor/mar01/synesthesia
Famous People With Synesthesia That Everyone Should Know. (2015, January 6). Retrieved from https://historyplex.com/famous-people-with-synesthesia
Synesthesia. (n.d.). Retrieved February 25, 2020, from https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/basics/synesthesia
Watson, K. (n.d.). What Is Synesthesia? Retrieved from https://www.healthline.com/health/synesthesia