While I wasn't in on the conversation between Peter Steele and his sister Pat, I do believe that Peter either didn't realize he was having this experience consciously, or he didn't realize it until having a conversation with Pat, and then he realized he was experiencing synesthesia. While I'm not sure if people who see chakras are the same people who experience color associations -- it was a good point to note. Was Peter having a synesthesia moment when he saw people as colors or was he really just reading their chakras? Also, while he was a left-handed person who was immensely creative, I'm not sure we can say that the correlation between left-handedness and synesthesia is the norm. Pat isn't left handed, yet she has experienced a couple of forms of this phenomenon and I'm not left-handed. But, I might add that neither she nor I play musical instruments - though as many of you know, we are related. So ... not sure what all these means,
but still ... pretty ... darn ... interesting.
I was feeling a little green today
Synesthetes often report that they were unaware their experiences were unusual until they realized other people did not have them, while others report on how they discovered synesthesia in their childhood. The automatic and ineffable nature of a synesthetic experience means that the neural pairing may not seem out of the ordinary, and the involuntary and consistent nature helps define synesthesia as a real experience. Most synesthetes report that their experiences are pleasant or neutral, although some report that their experiences can lead to a degree of sensory overload.
Though often stereotyped in the popular media as a medical condition or neurological aberration, many synesthetes report it as a gift—an additional "hidden" sense—something they would not want to miss. Some have learned how to apply this gift in daily life and work in memorizing names and telephone numbers, mental arithmetic, but also in more complex creative activities like producing visual art, music, and theater.
Synesthesia can occur between nearly any two senses or perceptual modes, and research has discovered one synesthete that linked all five senses. Given the large number of forms of synesthesia, researchers have adopted a convention of indicating the type of synesthesia by using the following notation x → y, where x is the "inducer" or trigger experience, and y is the "concurrent" or additional experience. For example, perceiving letters and numbers (collectively called graphemes) as colored would be indicated as grapheme → color synesthesia. Similarly, when synesthetes see colors and movement as a result of hearing musical tones, it would be indicated as tone → (color, movement) synesthesia.
While nearly every logically possible combination of experiences can occur, several types are more common than others.
Grapheme → color synesthesia
In one of the most common forms of synesthesia, grapheme → color synesthesia, individual letters of the alphabet and numbers (collectively referred to as graphemes), are "shaded" or "tinged" with a color. While different individuals usually do not report the same colors for all letters and numbers, studies with large numbers of synesthetes find some commonalities across letters.
As a child told her father, "I realized that to make an R all I had to do was first write a P and draw a line down from its loop. And I was so surprised that I could turn a yellow letter into an orange letter just by adding a line." Another grapheme synesthete says, "When I read, about five words around the exact one I'm reading are in color. It's also the only way I can spell. In elementary school I remember knowing how to spell the word 'priority' [with an "i" rather than an "e"] because ... an 'e' was out of place in that word because 'e's were yellow and didn't fit.”
Sound → Color Synesthesia
Sound → color synesthesia is "something like fireworks": voice, music, and assorted environmental sounds such as clattering dishes or dog barks trigger color and firework shapes that arise, move around, and then fade when the sound ends. For some, the stimulus type is limited; for others, a wide variety of sounds triggers synesthesia.
Sound often changes the perceived hue, brightness, scintillation, and directional movement. Some individuals see music on a "screen" in front of their face, while for some music produces waving line configurations moving in color, often metallic and with height, width and depth. Individuals rarely agree on what color a given sound is (composers Liszt and Rimsky-Korsakov famously disagreed on the colors of music keys); however, synesthetes show the same trends as non-synesthetes do, that loud tones are brighter than soft tones, and that lower tones are darker than higher tones.
A number form is a mental map of numbers that involuntarily appears whenever someone who experiences number-forms thinks of numbers. It has been suggested that number-forms are a result of "cross-activation" between regions of the parietal lobe that are involved in numerical cognition and spatial cognition.
Ordinal Linguistic Personification
OLP, or personification for short, is a form of synesthesia in which ordered sequences, such as ordinal numbers, days, months and letters are associated with personalities. Documented in the 1890s, only recent modern research has paid attention to this form. For some, in addition to numbers and ordinal sequences, objects are sometimes imbued with a sense of personality.
One synesthete says, "T’s are generally crabbed, ungenerous creatures. U is a soulless sort of thing. 4 is honest, but… 3 I cannot trust… 9 is dark, a gentleman, tall and graceful, but politic under his suavity." And, "I is a bit of a worrier at times, although easy-going; J is male; appearing jocular, but with strength of character; K is female; quiet, responsible...."
Lexical → Gustatory Synesthesia
In the rare lexical → gustatory synesthesia, individual words and the phonemes of spoken language evoke taste sensations in the mouth. Additionally, these food experiences are often paired with tastes based on the phonemes in the name of the word (e.g., I, n, and s trigger a taste of mince, f triggers serbert. Another source of tastes comes from semantic influences, so that food names tend to taste of the food they match, e.g., the word "blue" tastes "inky."
Note from Darcie: I'm glad that we can end the week with informative reading. Some of you have asked to know more about what Peter liked to read. These are exactly the books he would have read or the discussions he would have had with you when he had a chance to sit down and REALLY talk. Some of you have wondered (via email) if Peter's synesthesia only happened when he was using drugs. It may have. We don't know. We can only tell you that this conversation happened when he was sober and he noted it was something he experienced his entire life.
To us, Peter was one in a million. Now we know that he was at least 1 in 23.
If you haven't already shared this test link with your friends and family, I encourage you to do so. It would be interested what you find and what people's reaction is to this "gift."
Take the test, The Synesthesia
Battery … ://synesthete.org