So, I’m pretty basically an X-Man

I recently discovered that I have a super power!
I always knew I was special…
Not really. What I recently discovered is that I have is a rare neurological condition. This is a weird story, so stay with me.

I was stuck in Wikipedia sink hole a couple of weeks ago during some down time at work when I stumbled upon the Matilda wiki page. Matilda was one of my favorite stories when I was a kid. I loved the book, and I loved the movie. It, ironically enough, is about a little girl who discovers she has super powers. The Matilda wiki page lead me to the page of Mara Wilson, the grown adult who once played my most favorite character in the movie version; which lead me to Ms. Wilson’s personal blog.

Her most recent post had been a tribute to her sister and was full of many random facts about her. One of these random facts was that she had a rare neurological condition called Synaesthesia. Image my surprise… she was describing symptoms that I have- that I have always had- that I never knew were actually symptoms at all.

Here’s a brief on what Synaesthesia actually is:

Synaesthesia “is a neurological condition in which stimulation of one sensory or cognitive pathway leads to automatic, involuntary experiences in a second sensory or cognitive pathway… In one common form of synesthesia, known as grapheme → color synesthesia or color-graphemic synesthesia, letters or numbers are perceived as inherently colored, while in ordinal linguistic personification, numbers, days of the week and months of the year evoke personalities. In spatial-sequence, or number form synesthesia, numbers, months of the year, and/or days of the week elicit precise locations in space (for example, 1980 may be “farther away” than 1990), or may have a (three-dimensional) view of a year as a map (clockwise or counterclockwise). Yet another recently identified type, visual motion → sound synesthesia, involves hearing sounds in response to visual motion and flicker.” (wikipedia)

I have the grapheme color synesthesia and the ordinal linguistic personification.
I couldn’t believe that this actually a thing. Seriously! I never knew that not everybody had colors for their alphabet. I didn’t know that people didn’t assign a sex to objects and ideas. I just assumed this was inherent in all people.

The first thing I did after spending hours reading up on the condition was call my older sister Katie. The only time I ever really discussed my “colors” before was with Katie when we were children. I remembered talking about her “colors” too. Surprise world! Katie also has super powers! According to my research this isn’t unusual. Synaesthesia is hereditary and usually pops up in women. My other sister, Emily, has the grapheme symptoms, but not the ordinal linguistic personification like me and Kate. My mother says she has never heard of such a thing before (actually, I kind of got the impression she thought I was making the whole thing up). I haven’t gotten a chance yet to ask my other siblings Ed, Maggie or Danny if they have it.

You might be wondering what in the heck I am even talking about- what is it like to have Synaesthesia? I’ll try to describe it as best I can.

When I hear, read or think of a letter or number (or person, place or thing) I also “see” a corresponding color and sometimes I perceive a sex and/or personality. I don’t actually see this with my eyes; rather I “know” a color. I would

equate it to recognition.

Your phone rings. You answer it. You hear your mother’s voice. You don’t see your mother, but you picture her. You know it’s her from the sound of her voice.

You walk into your grandma’s house. You smell something delicious baking. You don’t physically see apple pie, but you know it when you smell it.

That is what it like when I read a letter. I just know the color. The same holds true for sexes of things. I “know” that a land line phone is clearly male. I “know” that a cell phone is clearly female. I think that is why I had a hard time growing up learning that cats and dogs can be male OR female. To me cat is female and dog is male. A house is male, a road is male, but an outdoor shed is female.

I don’t really think there is any rhyme or reason for how I perceive things, but here is a list of my letters, numbers, and dates with their colors and sexes:

A: Green Male
B: Yellow Female
C: Orangish-yellow Female
D: Brown Male
E: Grey Male
F: Light brown Male
G: Green Male
H: Light blue Male
I: Very light blueish grey Male
J: Blue Male
K: no color (usually) Male
L: Light purple Male
M: Pink Female
N: no color Male
O: Yellow Male
P: Purple Male
Q: Dark red Male
R: Red Female
S: Light pinkish red Female
T: Tan Male
U: Yellow Male
V: Grey Male
W: Brown Male
X: Black Male
Y: Dark yellow Male
Z: Orange Female

0: White Male
1: No color Male
2: Yellowish brown Female
3: Blue Female
4: Green Male
5: Pink Female
6: Pinkish red Female
7: Purplish blue Male
8: Blue Male
9: Light brown Male

Monday: Pink Female
Tuesday: Yellow Female
Wednesday: Brown Female
Thursday: Tan Male
Friday: Brown Male
Saturday: Red Female
Sunday: Blue/grey Male

People, places, things and ideas also have colors and sexes and sometimes personality traits. Usually it has to do with what letter their spelling starts with though.

So there it is. I’m an enhanced human. You could call me mutant. Or a super hero, really.

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6 thoughts on “So, I’m pretty basically an X-Man

  1. Wow! This is pretty cool. But I think Monday would have been a guy, if I had to assign him a gender.

  2. I wonder if Elle is going to inherit this. Also, you defintely are a super hero. =)

  3. I related with some of the colors you named without looking at your response..Do you dream in vivid technicolor? I organize by colors.love colored markers..a whole new realm of the brain.
    .

  4. I’m a synesthete too! I also found out by accident–I’m a neuroscience researcher and found out while reading a book about it in undergrad. Have you seen the movie Ratatouille? I use that scene with the cheese and the strawberry to describe it to people. You’re lucky that you have some family to talk about it with–my whole family thinks I’m crazy! Sometimes it’s nice to just sit back and enjoy being special though. 🙂

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