Question about the Minds eye and mental images

I have dealt with aphantasia for a as long as I can remember and frankly it bothers me quite a bit. If I ask you to count sheep in your head I bet most of you can literally count them because you can see them, but I can not see any pictures in my mind. No matter how hard I try I do not visualize pictures when I close my eyes. I can’t even close my eyes and imagine what my mom looks like. I can describe it based off memory like I know she has blonde hair but I can’t see her. I am curious if anyone else has run into this problem, and if they got surgery did it get better? I am an acting major so a lot of exercises we do are about using mental pictures to fuel emotions/ objectives so they get you to a certain place but I can’t see or visualize anything when I close my eyes. It is quite frustrating and I’m curious if maybe part of the inability to see mental pictures is due to the styloid compression.

Interesting… Usually when I get problems with blood circulation in my brain, I start half-dreaming, and sometimes those mental images become significantly brighter than usual. I guess it’s kind of step towards hallucinating when the brain starts depriving of oxygen…

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I have the opposite problem, I can’t see any images in my head. They don’t get brighter or darker because I cant see anything when I close my eyes lol.

I have heard about aphantasia but not by name so it’s good to know the proper title for it. I just looked it up on Wikipedia: Aphantasia - Wikipedia - An interesting note there is that people w/ aphantasia usually still have dreams when they’re asleep, i.e. the subconscious mind generates images whereas the conscious mind can’t. Do you dream, hyperichard? Just curious.

If this is a problem you’ve had for your memorable history, it’s possibly genetic/inherited. If it’s something that started later in your life, there may be an organic cause. It will be interesting to see if anything changes for you once your vascular compression is taken care of.

I do dream! I am able to remember some pictures from dreams which is mind-boggling. But at this point in my training, I realize that acting is so much simpler when you can rely on strong images to fuel acting choices. For example; if you are in a scene where you are in a park it is useful to imagine what it feels like to be in a park by picturing it which I cannot do. However, I can describe it but its not the same. I know it is a far reach to think about the styloid compression somehow being the culprit of this as I have had this since I can remember. What is also interesting as well is when I was 6 I was diagnosed with Aspergers (now autism) which I now realize could actually of been the neurological symptoms of my Eds, Lyme and eagle(not sure if you can have eagle super young and not know it). But there is this article and other studies linking Aspergers/autism to aphantasia. Aphantasia can contribute to Aspergers
It may be due to my autism but if my autism is due to my eds/lyme/eagle than it just gets complicated LOL. I have struggled my whole life since kindergarten whether its been emotional trauma from bullying (went through 9 schools) or my horrible adhd/anxiety and I have somehow been able to stay kicking but with the pain, not being able to socialize and struggling with college I guess I am hoping that this surgery could fix a lot of things and one of those that bother me greatly is this aphantasia thing. Big mystery to me. And the last thing is I wonder if all the depression and trauma I went through since I was 6 to now is actually why my medical problems are as bad as they are, like a loop. I just wish there was a fix to all of it, but I doubt that will ever happen 100%.
Curious to see your thoughts about that article ^ and if my eds/lyme/eagle is what is causing my autism like symptoms and if they go away then does that mean the aphantasia would.

@hyperichard that’s the thing… I guess aphantasia isn’t directly related to the Eagle’s, but Eagle’s AND many other symptoms might be a consequence of something else.

If you don’t mind my asking, how is your thoracic spine and neck mobility? Do you feel that all your ribcage is kind of solid and firm, if you try to twist your body, and neck feels like tightly wrapped in a shawl?

The reason for this question… I have been developing one theory for a while… Maybe I’m wrong, but the elongated styloids in some cases might be the body’s response to protect the very sensitive, “weak”, and critical part of the spine - atlanto-occipital and atlantoaxial joints - from excessive mobility, so that the body wouldn’t literally break/tear/compress the spinal cord at that “weak” area (occip/c1/c2). Similarly to osteophites forming on vertebrae around affected spinal discs. When we lose neck and thoracic spine mobility (there are many causes of that), the body still wants to look up/down/left/right, and that let’s say 90 degree turn/bend is not distributed along let’s say 10 vertebrae* anymore, but less. Especially if you have ‘military neck’, which further limits motion at this spinal segment.

*It might sound counterintuitive, but often not only the neck vertebrae move when we twist the neck or bend the neck when looking up/down. Thoracic spine slightly moves too, as the remaining of the spine, to compensate shifted centre of gravity. E.g. watch the movements in this video, towards the end:
Muscle testing | Neck flexors | Neck stretching - YouTube - btw, better don’t do these movements at home without consulting a physiotherapist, if you have neck problems. I am referring to this video just to show the movement of the spine.

Reasoning behind that… When surgeons remove herniated/damaged discs and fuse adjacent vertebrae in the spine, quite often new hernia starts forming above and below the fused point, because those vertebrae have to take more load after the fusion. So when we lose mobility in other spinal segments (e.g. in military neck case), it might be that occipital joint is exposed to more rotational forces when we turn the head left/right, and styloids grow longer to limit that movement.

Disclaimer: I am not a doctor, but suffer from various health problems including Eagle’s myself

Interesting questions! My rib cage actually moves up and down. Like I can move my right rib cage when I move my arms. My neck is extremely painful because the middle part between my collarbone and start of jaw level of neck I have extreme cracking there and it cracks whenever I move my head and hurts worse than anything I can describe. I also have horrible cracking at the top of my head where the top of the spine ends, those two little balls are also constantly painfully cracking.

I’ve never heard of it before but it must be very frustrating…you’ve done so well to manage your acting degree with this! I hope that it doesn’t hold you back at all…

Doesn’t that collarbone thing sound like thoracic outlet syndrome?..

Our bodies are much more interconnected than people realize. I continue to agree with your postulations, vdm. They are always seeking to strengthen that which they think is weak, & as I’ve said many times, sometimes the body’s efforts actually hinder more than help.

I’m finding as I age that calcium is leaving important places (like my spine & hips) & settling into places I don’t want it (meniscus & shoulder tendons). SHEESH! Not helpful. Who wants to be older (or any age) & in pain?! Not me! That’s for sure!! :rofl:


I think you’re amazing for pursuing what you love in spite of the huge challenge it has been for you. I’ve known several people w/ Aspergers & have been impressed by their intelligence & personal drive. I imagine it was tough for you when you were young. People can be so cruel!! I remember what my daughter’s good friend went through in middle school & high school because she was “different” (Aspergers) & didn’t fit in well socially. In her family, both of her parents & 2 of her siblings had Aspergers. Only one sister didn’t end up with it. All were high functioning & bright, just like you are.

It may be a few months after your styloidectomy before you can tell the results of surgery, & if you have bilateral ES, it will likely take two surgeries to produce the full picture. I expect good things from surgery though. You’ll just need to be very patient during the healing period as most big post op changes take time.

Sorry not my collarbone I meant like between the area behind it. here ill just send picture of the areas i meant. The places where I circled are where it’s excruciatingly painful and cracks a lot.

Roughly, that seems like atlantooccipital and atlantoaxial joints cracking. They might crack because therese is inceeased tension on them and they don’t glide easily as they are supposed to do. Or arthritis might also be a reason.

I can’t remember exactly but I think you mentioned you had military neck (loss of cervical lordosis)?

Have you talked with any sports medicine doctors or physiotherapy specialists about possible muscle imbalance between your chest muscles (esp. Pectoralis major and minor) and back muscles? They might be causing military neck, if the back muscles (including the ones responsible for holding your head straight) are too weak.

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vdm has made some good observations as usual. Below is another take on what could be happening.

More often people have pain at the skull base (where the curly Q is on the right) & often on each side as that’s kind of where the styloids attach. It’s possible you’re getting referred pain from that point to higher on your scalp. The pain at the back of your neck could also be coming from muscle tension caused by your brain trying to balance your neck muscles w/ the strain the styloids are putting on internal structures. Hopefully, all that will go away once your styloids are removed.