I have Synesthesia,a condition where one cognitive sensory pathway leads to another cognitive sensory pathway, for instance, numbers reveal colours to me. It’s
not extreme for me but it does play a significant part in my life. I tend to feel my way through things, definition is mutable and occasionally I am surprised that my understanding of things is not so obvious to others. Colour for me is not just understood as theoretic happening but is emotive and sometimes surprisingly placed, as with my number/colour, lexem/colour and emotion/textural/colour synesthesia.
Some of my perceptions about colours, sounds and emotions are apparently confused at times, for me this isn’t an issue it is normal and at times quite enjoyable. The experience is non theoretical because we are perceiving rather than conceiving (van Campen, 2008) my condition, I trust, helps me be more conscious and at times can support my level of connection with people. There have been studies that claim synesthetes to be sensitive to others’ emotion, when actively in session with people I would say this is true and is something I witnessed earlier in my life when working with people using Reiki. I could indeed ‘feel their pain’. Emotional interpretation of dreams and imaginings can help me connect on different levels often with some unanticipated results. Sensing what the other person may be experiencing emotionally and the imagery that goes with it, being experiential rather than an abstract concept. The two seem to work together as one. Synesthetes some being natural empaths spring to mind feeling the pain and relief of others due to the “mirror touch” neurones in the brain (Banissy 2007).
This seems to make sense to what I experience much of the time. Often I have a sense of what I like to call a persons emotional shape, this becomes stronger on touch. As a Reiki practitioner this engendered certain things to happen for the client, as emotions would be released and often they would realise something for themselves. I was just being a sensitive conduit for there energy to flow more freely.
As a practicing artist, I regularly venture into making. Making art is much about healing the self as concluding an artistic act. Many of my paintings are about realisations. They emerge, often figuratively and don’t necessarily start from one idea in mind. They also conclude through a nascent thought process through the emotions and when the sensation declines the piece of work is finished. Often I believe this is how many of us go through life moving from one surfacing experience, through a series of happenings and then we move on, never the same experience, sometimes similar or new. All these sensations overlapping in a sensory cocktail of colour and emotion, like many of Nabokov’s characters and the enjoyment of the metaphors of the senses (O’Malley, 1957).
O’Malley, Glenn (1957). “Literary Synesthesia.” The Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism, Vol. 15, No. 4. (Jun., 1957), pp. 391-411. Retrieved from http://links.jstor.org/sici?sici=00218529%28195706%2915%3A4%3C391%3ALS%3E2.0.CO%3B2-J Last accessed January 2013
Van Campen, C. (2008) “The Hidden Sense: Synesthesia in Art and Science” Leonardo Book Series, Massachusetts Institution of Technology