Synesthesia: The Secret Life of the Senses


what is synesthesia?

Being startled tastes like rusty metal and grapefruit juice with the shock of a tongue on a 9-volt battery. Alicia Keys’ voice sounds deep red dipped lightly in brown. A baby’s cry flutters in light blue; I can feel it behind my right eye.

This is synesthesia — a blending of the senses where the stimulation of one sensory or cognitive pathway simultaneously produces an involuntary, automatic experience of a second sensory or cognitive pathway. From the Greek, syn means “together” and aisthesis means “sensation.”


what do you experience with synesthesia?

There are over 100 Synesthesia types. I have 8, and most of them are color-related.Various everyday sounds, like honking cars and someone typing on a keyboard, are associated with both colors and shapes. Emotions and physical pain are sensed with feeling and also seen with color and texture. But the most unconventional, yet wonderful “cross-wirings” of all is seeing the music I hear. As my passion, music is presented in a visual arrangement of rhythms, voices and instrument outlines. These beautiful sensory collisions can sometimes be (so) overwhelming. 

Synesthesia is a colorful first-responder to my experiences; a vital messenger that brings even more life to my world.

what are benefits of being a synesthete?

I am able to give emotions and sounds and pain a face. With Synesthetes, the world is no longer limited to only knowing an emotion by name- by words. Having Synesthesia gives me the opportunity to create the music I perform. As you hear layered harmonies, I see color-filled sheet music being written as the song develops. Numbers have colors, voices have visible patterns, and personalities are clearly discernible. I am able to experience the world layers beneath the surface- it's incredible. 


how do i know if i have synesthesia? 

You can start here. This site will introduce you to the most common types of Synesthesia that have been discovered to date. Check out some documented experiences and take a small test.  The American Synesthesia Association is also a great resource for staying up to date with the most current research and upcoming conferences highlighting Synesthesia. Thankfully, there is a lot of information available to those who are curious to learn more about this superability.