Does Love Taste Like Pizza?

105182105411111CDPby Neva Bodin

Technicolor sin… I am helping a committee at work update nursing aide policies and procedures because of the upcoming nursing aide training program I am putting together. Halfway through the forms I found an amusing typo. Describing possible cyanosis, the instruction read, “Note if the sin is pale or bluish in color.”

I immediately recalled the book I had just read. One of the characters had synesthesia. I had never heard of it. I was curious and did some research, having trouble believing it wasn’t part of the fiction. The lady saw her pain as orange.

Synesthesia exists! And, brings a lot of ideas on how this could be used in crime novels, medical novels, etc.

Looking it up on google, it is defined as “the production of a sense impression relating to one sense or part of the body by stimulation of another sense or part of the body.” In its Greek origin, it means joined perception.

“Synesthesia can involve any of the senses. The most common form, colored letters and numbers, occurs when someone always sees a certain color in response to a certain letter of the alphabet or number. For example, a synesthete (a person with synesthesia) might see the word “plane” as mint green or the number “4” as dark brown. There are also synesthetes who hear sounds in response to smell, who smell in response to touch, or who feel something in response to sight. Just about any combination of the senses is possible. There are some people who possess synesthesia involving three or even more senses, but this is extremely rare.

Synesthetic perceptions are specific to each person. Different people with synesthesia almost always disagree on their perceptions. In other words, if one synesthete thinks that the letter “q” is colored blue, another synesthete might see “q” as orange.” https://faculty.washington.edu/chudler/syne.html

What an intriguing condition! In the US, three times as many women as men have it; in the UK, eight times as many women as men have it. No one knows why.

No one knows what causes it. But think of the possibilities of using it in a story. And it is not the same for each person. Some famous poets and artists were thought to be synesthetes.

“Marsha, I love the color of your hair, it is so vibrantly blue. Let me touch it.” John wove his fingers through her coal black waves.

“What? John! You must be blind! My hair is orange! Get your hands off my head!”

Perhaps, “seeing red” when angry was coined by a synesthete?

How colorful their world must be. I am envious. A most common form is seeing numbers in different colors. It may be easier to remember those numbers. One artistic lady in a You Tube video paints her colors in her art from music she listens to that is in color for her.

It is not just sight, but any sense can be affected. It is thought perhaps the sensory nerves cross over each other in the brain, producing more than one sense to react to stimuli.

Pain may be seen as a color. They might see a color as projected outside the body rather than in their “mind’s eye.” Certain music might produce the taste of a certain food.

synesthesia numbers JPEG

By Jason Brennan

 

 

 

 

By Jason Brennan – originally posted to Flickr as Fact #20, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=6981427

They may see numbers, or days of the week, or months suspended in space around them. These items will be in color.Synesthesia_days_of_the_week JPEG

By Kelly “this is a very rough sketch of how i view the days of the week via my spatial-sequence synesthesia. it’s a circle,”  originally posted to Flickr as synesthesia: days of the week, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=6981468

Synesthetes test as normal or above normal intelligence, are usually left-handed and probably inherit the condition.

“When Senses Collide – Synesthesia”  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KGYrBaK-JYI

In this you tube presentation, a gentleman has different tastes appear in his mouth when hearing certain words. A brother and sister compare their associations of letters and colors. Fascinating. One man sees colors corresponding to certain words even though he is blind. A brain scan showed areas connected to sight lit up in his brain (that should only be stimulated by vision) when those words were spoken.

Most synesthetes will not confide what happens to them, at least more than once. They are often ridiculed or accused of making things up. Or called crazy.

But studies in the US and London have proven it exists. The why is not so clear.

Someday, somehow, I plan to use this fascinating ability in a future story. Does anyone know a synesthete?

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19 Responses to Does Love Taste Like Pizza?

  1. Joe Stephens says:

    I read a book recently, THE CURIOUS INCIDENT OF THE DOG IN THE NIGHT TIME, I think it was, where the narrator was a synesthete. I’d heard rumors of the condition, for lack of a better word, but mostly only knew of it from the literary term synesthetic, which means appealing to multiple senses.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Neva Bodin says:

      Interesting. One could even make an animal a synesthete, and perhaps some are! One examiner theorized that babies are syesthetes until the brain develops more fully and differentiates between the senses. There are multiple books on it, including “The Frog Who Croaked Blue,” which actually refers to what a little boy sees when a frog croaks. Thanks for the comment.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Reblogged this on L.LEANDER BOOKS and commented:
    There is a fascinating post up on Writing Wranglers and Warriors today by Author Neva Bodin. Be sure to take a look. I promise, you probably have never heard of this condition!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. This post is fascinating! I have never heard of the condition, but plan to do some further research. Thank you for sharing this Neva. I can see why it would lend itself to a great novel – most people don’t even know it exists!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Neva Bodin says:

      Exactly. And a nice way to introduce this subject and solicit acceptance and understanding from a greater audience. It makes me wonder if I know people who experience this yet have kept it a secret. I was amazed at the amount of information on the internet. Thanks for the comment.

      Like

  4. katewyland says:

    Fun post. I’ve heard of the condition before (people seeing music in colors) but not all the forms it can take. Could make for an interesting character. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Neva Bodin says:

      I am amazed I hadn’t heard of it, especially having worked in mental health for over 10 years. Let me know if you ever decide to use it in a character. Seems there would be many ways to do so. Thanks for the comment.

      Like

  5. Mike Staton says:

    I’ve heard of people with this condition, but not to extent you describe. Fascinating stuff. And I can see why they’d rarely talk about it. Indeed, a character in a novel with this condition could find himself or herself in some interesting situations. The main character in the Civil War novel I’m outlining sometimes sees vibrant halos — like tongues of fire — around people, on occasion, not all the time. Kind of like this condition in a roundabout way. When it happens, the person soon dies, usually within days. But there’s no rhyme or reason to it. Sometimes someone he knows dies and there wasn’t a halo. So it’s perplexing and frustrating to him. And obviously he won’t talk to anyone about it.

    Like

    • Neva Bodin says:

      Intriguing. Sounds like an aura? I’ve heard of people able to see those too. Or seeing them around special people. Actually talked to a lady who had seen one around Mother Theresa. Sounds like a very interesting novel coming up. Thanks for the comment.

      Like

  6. You find such fascinating information being a nurse! Never heard of it nor do I know anyone with this condition. I now wonder if my blind dog, Sage, might have experienced such a thing — I wonder if dogs can have the condition?

    Like

    • Neva Bodin says:

      I wonder too. Could make an interesting animal story. It’s definitely a fascinating condition to me and mysterious. The brain is definitely a marvelous creation. Thanks for the comment.

      Like

  7. Nancy Jardine says:

    Neva- That’s definitely fascinating. I taught kids who didn’t have the same colour perception as most but I don’t think they had synesthesia – though perhaps they did and went undiagnosed.

    Like

    • Neva Bodin says:

      That could be, about the perception. They may not have realized they had something different than usual either. I’m betting it’s not well known in the medical or counseling community since I never heard of it in all my years in mental health. And understandable if people don’t share about it. Thanks for the comment.

      Like

  8. Doris says:

    I’d heard of this condition, but not the name. A fascinating subject. Please keep us in the loop with your research. You are right, what a great story enhancer. Doris

    Like

    • Neva Bodin says:

      Let me know if you ever decide to use it in a story! I bet it’s more common than known as people wouldn’t be rushing to share that with too many probably. We have such a unique opportunity as writers to help illuminate the world about a lot of things! Thanks for the comment.

      Like

  9. I don’t know anyone with this condition, but it sounds interesting. I hope you can use it someday in your writing.

    Like

  10. Wranglers says:

    I don’t think I’ve ever heard of this. Fascinating. I’m going to experiment with this. Thanks. Cher’ley

    Like

  11. I’ve heard of this and always thought it was fascinating. It’s definitely a great launching point for a story. I don’t know if it’s at all the same (and certainly not as fun), but I know there are people (including myself) who have an “aura” when their migraine is about to come on. My aura is that I can’t see and everything turns bright like I’m staring up at the sun.

    Like

  12. S J Brown says:

    Interesting, I image there could be a variety of ways to work this condition into a piece of fiction, distorting the condition or tweeking it a bit could also give a story an unexpected twist. Thanks for sharing.

    Like

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