When I was in elementary school I used to have screaming fits at my mother if she would cover my books with the “wrong” color paper. What you say? Well it goes like this. In NY State, elementary school students in the 1970s were required to cover text books in paper. This way they could be handed down for a few years to the new students without them becoming all shabby. Normally one would use brown or newspaper to do the job but ma was a hippie so she liked to get colored paper from CVS. So why was I screaming my head off? Well to me Math is the color red, Science is the color green, Social Studies is yellow, English is blue. I could not understand why she was covering the books in the wrong colors! I have synesthesia.
Not only do I associate school subjects with colors but also days of the week, numbers, letters and you guessed it: sounds. The number 2 is yellow. Alpha Juno-2 mentasm sounds are purple, 808 snares are white, flutes are yellow, the word brother is blue, etc… It’s said a lot of musicians have synesthesia and that makes sense.
While cross-sensory metaphors (e.g., “loud shirt”, “bitter wind” or “prickly laugh”) are sometimes described as “synesthetic”, true neurological synesthesia is involuntary. It is estimated that synesthesia could possibly be as prevalent as 1 in 23 persons across its range of variants. Synesthesia runs strongly in families, but the precise mode of inheritance has yet to be ascertained. – Wikipedia.org
A few years ago I exchanged emails with a writer doing a report on synesthesia for the NY Times. He asked me to test myself by writing down some color associations, wait a few months, write them down again and compare. I picked the same colors for the same numbers and words 100% accurately.
The reason I wrote this today is Tara Busch on her nice blog Analog Suicide posted an article titled, “Are You a Synaesthesist?“. If your interested in more info about synesthesia head to her story where she has posted some videos on the subject. Head on over: click here
photo credit: studiotamar