Eyeglasses, Eyewear and Eye Care Blog

The World Viewed by a Synesthete
by EO Executive Optical | June 30, 2015 at 01:10am

No eye checkup could ever fathom the mystery behind this phenomenon where someone perceives letters or words as colors. They do not recognize characters as letters but as colors. It is an extraordinary phenomenon that is baffling the entire scientific community for many centuries.

Does the word puppy tastes like a chocolate marshmallow? Does the word Sunday look like a dancing ballerina? Does listening to the song “Let it Go” make you see an auroraborealis? Then you’re one of the 4% of the entire Earth’s population with this bizarre condition. You, my friend, are a synesthete.

An essay from Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich says synesthesia was first discovered in 1812. As defined by Scientific American, it “is an anomalous blending of the senses in which the stimulation of one modality simultaneously produces sensation in a different modality”. It means two of the basic human senses combine or overlap. The most popular type of synesthesia is called grapheme-color synesthesia or photism where every word, letter, or signage has a corresponding or equivalent color.

Since it is a neurological condition, a trip to any optical shop in the Philippines or abroad to treat grapheme-color synesthesia is pointless. This includes other forms of synesthesia as well. There are no existing treatments as of date. Not even wearing high-tech “smart” glasses can correct it.

Synesthetes have a different view of our world. Based on earlier studies, this was mistaken as a mental illness, which is wrong. Some say it is a result of an overactive imagination or over sensitivity that leads to a delusional state or paranoia. Again, this is absolutely false.

Today, this neurological phenomenon is widely accepted all over the world and we should be supportive of them. When we think about it, they have higher emotional intelligence than us because they’re able to handle extremely stressful situations. To synesthetes, our world is not simply black-and-white. It is a fusion of colors, sounds, and flavors that makes their world more interesting than ours.