Black Pouring Over Color
Much to my amazement, I discovered a few years ago that I have synesthesia. Oh, don't worry, it's not contagious. According to the University of Washington, synesthesia is described as a condition in which one sense (for example, hearing) is simultaneously perceived as if by one or more additional senses, such as sight. Another form of synesthesia joins objects such as letters, shapes, numbers or people's names with a sensory perception such as smell, color or flavor. The word synesthesia comes from two Greek words, syn (together) and aisthesis (perception). Therefore, synesthesia literally means "joined perception." In other words, I see numbers, letters of the alphabet, days of the week and months of the year as colors. For example, the letter "E" is royal blue, and the letter "Q" is a lovely powder blue. The number "7" is brown, and the number "8" is yellow. "Wednesday" is green, and "August" is a mellow orange. Each synesthete will experience a different color for different numbers and letters of the alphabet, but for some strange reason, most people with synesthesia will see the letter "A" as red. Yes, it is definitely red.
Russell once told me that he loved colored Christmas lights, but not the orange ones because they seemed out of place. I laughed, because I thought I was the only one who realized the orange lights don't fit. The blue, green, red, and yellow -- yes -- but not the orange ones. The orange Christmas lights have always seemed to not "fit" with the rest of the lights.
It is estimated that as many as 1 in 200 people have synesthesia, but the numbers may be higher, because many people have it and don't realize it. In addition, synesthetes tend to be:
● Left-handed: synesthetes are more likely to be left-handed than the general population.
● Neurologically normal: synesthetes are of normal (or possibly above average) intelligence, and standard neurological exams are normal.
● In the same family: synesthesia appears to be inherited in some fashion; it seems to be a dominant trait and it may be on the X-chromosome.
Some famous synesthetes are:
Eddie Van Halen
How about you? What color is the number "3"? The letter "W"?