I didn't even know these were a thing. November 28, 2016 4:59 PM   Subscribe

Have you had an experience reading Ask Metafilter where you learn something about yourself that you didn't realize you needed to know? Just happened to me and it's SO COOL.

Apparently, I have mild dyshidrotic eczema, which I just read about because of this question. I didn't think much of it, because I've always thought they were just little clusters of warts and they didn't really bug me. I couldn't explain why they would suddenly peel off, and when they would go away, any possible desire I had to get someone to look at them would also go away. When I read more about it, my situation is close to exactly what a doctor would look at for a diagnosis. I've got a doctor's appointment already tomorrow, so I'll follow up, but how cool is that?

For whatever reason, it made me happy that this happened. Anyone else experience this on Ask?
posted by Stewriffic to MetaFilter-Related at 4:59 PM (131 comments total) 19 users marked this as a favorite

That thing where you get a sharp pain in your ribs that hurts really bad when you breathe in. It has a name, which I can't remember, and lots of other people here get it too. Which is comforting.
posted by mudpuppie at 6:07 PM on November 28, 2016 [13 favorites]


ASMR. Which has been great for my sleep.
posted by lalex at 6:09 PM on November 28, 2016 [8 favorites]


I've totally had this experience, many times even! But unsatisfyingly, I'm drawing a blank on the examples.

Intercostal costochondritis is the thing mudpuppie's talking about and is a great example.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 6:10 PM on November 28, 2016 [5 favorites]


A few times I have had a medical or body issue, googled it, and had an AskMe on the subject pop up that answered it perfectly. The last one that I can remember was when I injured my thumbnail, but it's happened other times, even when I haven't known the right search terms, but some magic combination of google and MF manages to answer it.
posted by Dip Flash at 6:16 PM on November 28, 2016 [2 favorites]


I, too, am pretty sure Metafilter was my introduction to ASMR. Game-changer.
posted by delight at 6:26 PM on November 28, 2016


Blepharitis, for me!
posted by bleep at 6:28 PM on November 28, 2016 [1 favorite]


AskMe taught me that the reason my throat gets itchy when I eat fresh cherries is due to oral allergy syndrome and that the sudden jerk when I'm falling asleep is called the Hypnic Jerk and it's very common.
posted by bondcliff at 6:38 PM on November 28, 2016 [4 favorites]


Finding out that voluntary control of your tensor tympani muscle isn't a thing that everyone can do was one for me.
posted by Jon Mitchell at 6:50 PM on November 28, 2016 [20 favorites]


Intercostal costochondritis is the thing mudpuppie's talking about and is a great example.

Thank you! My initial comment was an intentionally passive-aggressive way of saying 'someone please look this up for me so I don't have to.'
posted by mudpuppie at 7:01 PM on November 28, 2016 [4 favorites]


That thing where you get a sharp pain in your ribs that hurts really bad when you breathe in. It has a name, which I can't remember, and lots of other people here get it too. Which is comforting.

It's called a precordial catch and I used to get it all the time as an adolescent, then it went away for years, then it came back out of nowhere a few months ago and is once again a regular occurrence in my life UGH WHY. I complained about it on facebook at the time (when it came back) and got a handful of people doing the whole "I GET THAT TOO" thing.
posted by phunniemee at 7:02 PM on November 28, 2016 [4 favorites]


Sleep paralysis, I knew what it was but Mefi helped me learn to surf it.
posted by vrakatar at 7:05 PM on November 28, 2016 [1 favorite]


I had precordial catches when I was a kid! I was told it was growing pains and not to worry about it, but when it happened it scared me enough that I'd imagine my funeral sometimes when I was in class. Then it would stop and I would completely forget until next time.
posted by Countess Elena at 7:24 PM on November 28, 2016


Blepharitis

My sister has that. Sing that ailment to the tune of the macarena! Hey blepharitis!
posted by jessamyn (retired) at 8:29 PM on November 28, 2016 [10 favorites]


My dad and I both get this weird thing we call "the fast feeling" -- I still don't know if it has a proper name or what causes it. It used to happen more when I was younger, particularly in school. It just feels like suddenly everything is really "fast" and "loud." Not like it's sped up like a fast forwarded video, it's more a feeling like everything is suddenly rushing around you. I have occasionally Googled "the fast feeling" and found other people who have independently given it that name, but it still hasn't come up on AskMe yet. I hope for the day that whatever the hell it is, it gets its "ASMR" nomenclature or recognition.
posted by overeducated_alligator at 8:48 PM on November 28, 2016 [13 favorites]


Um, this is super meta (which is appropriate!) but I'm learning right now through this thread that maybe that "lung pain?" thing I've always had is a precordial catch. Oh my gosh. I started keeping a journal about it on a medical professional's recommendation (I was sufficiently worried to ask about it but didn't have sufficient descriptive words) and I generally seem to feel it in the ribby area below my left boob--location-wise, does that make it something else? Just like...you breathe in, you feel this hitch, you freeze up because it hurts, but it doesn't seem to go away until you take a deep breath through the hitch (shallow breathing doesn't seem to help)?

If what I have has a name, I'm floored--I've had it my whole life and always been kind of freaked out about it.
posted by spelunkingplato at 9:14 PM on November 28, 2016 [8 favorites]


The whole asexual spectrum thing. I was super stressed out for... uh, decades... because I thought something was Very Wrong With Me. Reading about it here initially and finding comments from the smart and funny people here who wrote candidly about it felt just like the heavens opening up, with a choir and everything.
posted by mochapickle at 9:41 PM on November 28, 2016 [22 favorites]


Yeah, Metafilter gave me a name for my terrible pregnancy pain symphysis pubis dysfunction and my weirdly shaped abdomen (diastasis recti).
posted by CrazyLemonade at 9:42 PM on November 28, 2016


I think I have dishidrotic eczema too. Thanks for the diagnosis! (Will check with my doctor next time I see him.)
posted by IndigoRain at 1:58 AM on November 29, 2016


Tonsoliths.
posted by sciencegeek at 2:36 AM on November 29, 2016 [15 favorites]


This is really bugging me, because I know there was a thing recently I was concerned about and I remember saying to my partner "Oh it's ok, I found it on MeFi and it's totally normal" and now I can't remember what it was. I must have been so reassured my brain instantly deleted all references to it. So, thanks?
posted by billiebee at 3:56 AM on November 29, 2016 [6 favorites]


For me it was the whole "cant see pictures in my head and apparently everyone else can" post. Amazing to learn a name for it.
posted by chasles at 4:14 AM on November 29, 2016 [13 favorites]


This is a little different, and maybe comes off as a bit humblebraggy, but when I read questions about marital strife, or looking for divorce lawyers, or child custody arrangements I am struck by how lucky I am to have a really strong marriage, and I am reminded to keep doing the work to keep it so, and to not take my wife for granted. Somehow seeing it on the Green brings it home so much more than the examples of troubled and broken relationships that I see in family and friends.

So thanks to all the MeFites that are brave enough to discuss their struggles on Ask MetaFilter - relationship and otherwise - because not only can they help people who are having the same struggle, but they can also inspire people like me to try and do what they can to avoid going down those same paths.

Also Mitheral once fixed my fridge when I was asking about buying a new one and it was awesome.
posted by Rock Steady at 4:54 AM on November 29, 2016 [29 favorites]


I was very happy to find out that I wasn't totally mad (either that, or not alone in my madness) when other people mentioned that sometimes, at night in bed trying to get to sleep with eyes closed, they would hear horrifying screaming in their head. Open eyes, screaming stops. Close eyes, starts again. It hasn't happened to me for a while now, thank og.

On a more gynaecological note, jessamyn gave a name to something (which I now can't remember) that was happening internally in my most precious of areas for about 6 months or so after the birth of my second son which was such a relief because a. it wasn't all that uncommon and b. it usually wasn't permanent (it did go away altogether, thank ogness).
posted by h00py at 5:18 AM on November 29, 2016 [3 favorites]


h00py, is there a link to that thing?
I didn't know about that thing!

So I guess. This? This is what I found out was a thing.
posted by Just this guy, y'know at 5:37 AM on November 29, 2016 [2 favorites]


I don't think it has a name, but that AMSR-adjacent thing about things fitting perfectly into other things. I love this thing. A lot. And I thought I was the only one.

And as LM said, I know there are others that I can't recall at the moment.
posted by Room 641-A at 5:38 AM on November 29, 2016 [4 favorites]




Overeducated_Alligator, I had a similar experience as a child. Things wouldn't speed up, but would feel louder, more distinct, and more intense, the way a person shouting is more intense than a conversational tone.

I haven't experienced it for a long time but would be really interested to learn what was going on in my nervous system.
posted by toastedcheese at 5:46 AM on November 29, 2016 [4 favorites]


I am struck by how lucky I am to have a really strong marriage, and I am reminded to keep doing the work to keep it so, and to not take my wife for granted

posted by Rock Steady at 6:54 AM on November 29 [1 favorite +] [!]

(eponysterical)
posted by pianoblack at 5:53 AM on November 29, 2016 [7 favorites]


That thread... so enlightening.
I.. hmm.
Have to go and think on it.

Thanks h00py. I'm a little shocked to have so many of my strangest brain experiences being written about by other people.
posted by Just this guy, y'know at 5:58 AM on November 29, 2016 [2 favorites]


Not me but my reading about it led to my advice making my dad to get a sleep test and eventually a CPAC machine and getting a good night's sleep consistently for the first time in, he estimates, decades.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 6:19 AM on November 29, 2016 [6 favorites]


(And me personally, lots of emotional labor stuff that I realized I wasn't doing despite thinking of myself as already pretty woke on such things.)
posted by MCMikeNamara at 6:20 AM on November 29, 2016 [21 favorites]


Ah, yes, I think most of us were stunned at learning of the specific concept of EL, even though we've all been soaking in it our entire lives.
posted by Room 641-A at 6:26 AM on November 29, 2016 [11 favorites]


Tonsoliths.

Yeah, pretty sure I learned what those were on Metafilter, too. When I was little, I just thought that somehow having a sort throat made bits of my brain dissolve and come out when I was coughing. Glad that theory turned out to be wrong.
posted by Pater Aletheias at 7:33 AM on November 29, 2016 [4 favorites]


My abuse-o-meter is completely borked due to trauma, and through AskMe I've learned a lot about what is and isn't acceptable behavior in relationships. There are many times I read a question where the behavior seems within the normal range but the answers are universally DTMFA.
posted by AFABulous at 7:44 AM on November 29, 2016 [20 favorites]


Number form synesthesia!
posted by soelo at 7:45 AM on November 29, 2016 [4 favorites]


Invasive thoughts. Not a problem for me any more, but reading about them here when they were was reassuring.

(Also, you're welcome for the tonsillolith information. While I was not the first person to mention them on MeFi, I'm somewhat disturbed to see how often I bring them up. They are also not a problem for me any more. Tonsillectomies for everyone!)
posted by The corpse in the library at 7:47 AM on November 29, 2016 [3 favorites]


When I was little, I just thought that somehow having a sort throat made bits of my brain dissolve and come out when I was coughing.

One of my kids is now 12. When he was not quite a year old, he burned his hand quite badly on the metal enclosure of our gas fireplace. Sometime later, a laundry basket was accidentally pushed against the fireplace and orange plastic melted onto the glass. We stopped using the fireplace for obvious reasons (clearly we are people who can't be trusted with such a thing), and so didn't deal with the melted-on plastic until a couple of years ago when, during a long power outage, we needed the fireplace for heat.

Anyway, the other day he told us that when he was a kid, for years, he thought the melted plastic on the glass was the melted part of his hand from when he burned it. This didn't upset or disturb him; he'd just be like, "Oh, hey, there's my hand." He wouldn't tell us when he found out that wasn't it; it was apparently quite late in life and it took him very much by surprise.
posted by Orlop at 8:25 AM on November 29, 2016 [51 favorites]


Also, a few years ago I was struggling with a health problem and it was someone else's description of having a similar experience that helped me realize it was a medication side effect.
posted by Orlop at 8:26 AM on November 29, 2016 [1 favorite]


it's more a feeling like everything is suddenly rushing around you.

I used to get this when I was younger. I since have decided that it is anxiety related. But it is similar to that bit where you watch the stars as The Star Trek ships start to go into warp - a gentle increase in perception of the stuff around you then it goes faster and faster (in my case a little higher pitched as well) and sort of floods around you. Freaky. It's long over, for me, but from what I have heard of anxiety I suspect it is related.
posted by Brockles at 8:31 AM on November 29, 2016 [6 favorites]


Another vote for Tonsiliths. This was one of a large number of things that when I talked to my mom about them as a kid I was told I was crazy or imagining things. The same can be said for imaginary friends I could actually see and talk to as if they were there, needing to play a rhythym over and over or by tapping my tongue or toes, thinking I have a type of perfectionism even though I can be very messy, finding it almost impossible to picture things in my head as an actual picture - especially people's faces. All of these things and more were described on Ask by people who I consider not crazy. MeFi is a place where things that make me weird are just weird and not imagined or crazy anymore. Making things real means I can either live with them or possibly do something about them.

I've also gone to the doctor, dentist, and lawyer many times that I wouldn't have in the past because of answers on AskMe constantly telling people to do so. I had somehow thought that going to those people was bad and/or an imposition and waste of their time.
posted by Clinging to the Wreckage at 8:48 AM on November 29, 2016 [4 favorites]


I'm pretty sure Metafilter has addressed that thing where you feel like you are reeling back from, say, your hands, and seeing everything from a distance/above? It's a little out of body, but not really.

Anyway, that.
posted by maryr at 8:49 AM on November 29, 2016 [4 favorites]


Misophonia. Pretty sure you have to have it to be on MetaFilter.
posted by headnsouth at 8:56 AM on November 29, 2016 [12 favorites]


If I could have this happen and somehow cure/alleviate my breathing symptoms/problems that come and go that would be life-changing and amazing.

Facts: Worse at night. Cough up gross stuff in morning, moderately large amounts of it. Neti pot will help with nasal aspect but nothing helps with chest congestion part EXCEPT a few hits from an albuterol inhaler that passed through here a few weeks ago.

Ancillary notes: Docs have always handwaved it away as allergies or a sinus thing (both of which I have, but this is in addition to that). We keep a pretty clean house, thanks to Dyson and Roomba. New mattress and pillows and frequent bedding washing. OTC meds don't help, except with the symptoms of the aforementioned allergies and sinus woes. Drainage from sinus is not consciously a noticeable factor. Both my parents were smokers while I was young, if that matters... I figure it probably doesn't help and attribute it to my lower than average lung capacity (as tested by docs in past) which, by the way, doesn't really impact my abilities as long as I'm not suffering from the periodic crud that I'm discussing here.

Memail me if you want to talk more and have insights, professional or not... I should probably just make an askme but the whole 'Go to a doctor' thing is so tiring and offputting, as I've talked about a bit before in the past.

posted by RolandOfEld at 9:12 AM on November 29, 2016


Cold and Cholinergic Utcaria: I never knew that you could get hives from being too cold or too hot. I kept using moisturizer hoping it would go away.
posted by gladly at 9:29 AM on November 29, 2016 [4 favorites]


Parasomnias (specifically night terrors, which I suffer from badly) and dyspraxia (I have woeful right from left issues and a near complete inability to use buttons or zippers).
posted by librarylis at 9:36 AM on November 29, 2016 [2 favorites]


I've experienced sleep paralysis since I was a kid. Didn't have a name for it until I was in my 20s.

It was here that I learned that it's apparently much more common than I thought it to be. (Still haven't met anyone IRL who has experienced it.)
posted by she's not there at 9:37 AM on November 29, 2016


The one about compulsively blurting things out freaked me out, most specifically the "Love you, [long-forgotten ex boyfriend whom I seriously have zero residual feelings for]", because I do the exact same thing based on the exact same stimula, and it never in a million years would have occurred to me that anyone but me did that.

What the hell? (Note: I'm pretty sure I don't even want to know what the actual hell that is about.)
posted by ernielundquist at 10:02 AM on November 29, 2016 [5 favorites]


Well just the other day, after doing some gymnastics in front of the mirror to see WHAT THE HELL WAS GOING ON BACK THERE THAT HURT, I googled "crack on my buttcrack" and this ask was the first hit.

I'm very glad to know I'm not slowly breaking in half from the butt up.

A little Neosporin for a few days did the trick.
posted by Grandysaur at 10:40 AM on November 29, 2016 [8 favorites]


I've been asking random people about how much they can see when they try to picture something in their mind's eye for months now. Mine is basically useless, so I'm constantly blown away that it's a real thing for most people.
posted by Kreiger at 10:49 AM on November 29, 2016 [3 favorites]


Came here to second misophonia, headnsouth!

I always thought I was a total freak (and surely that's still within the realm of possibility even with a diagnosis), but it's so good to have a name for weird stuff like this.
posted by knownassociate at 11:16 AM on November 29, 2016 [1 favorite]


I don't generally keep up with AskMe, so now I wonder if anyone else experiences a couple of things I always forget to think about once I'm actually awake. Both of them occur, very occasionally, when I'm lying in bed either not quite fully asleep yet or I've half-woken during the night; and both are "audible" though they're not actual sound waves hitting my physical eardrum - I don't know how I tell the difference because it's kind of subtle, but it's there.

1. A voice close to my ear quietly states my name in a very matter-of-fact tone (i.e. not like it's "calling" to me). It usually startles me enough that I wake up completely, expecting someone to be leaning over me trying to get my attention.

2. On the ear that's against the pillow, I hear a sine wave-like tone that alternates unevenly between two notes (roughly ~800 and 1000 Hz) once or twice a second. I have tinnitus, which may be relevant, but slightly shifting my head/neck position makes the tone go away.

(I feel like I've just answered OKCupid's "most private thing you're willing to admit" profile question...)
posted by Greg_Ace at 12:06 PM on November 29, 2016 [4 favorites]


maryr: "I'm pretty sure Metafilter has addressed that thing where you feel like you are reeling back from, say, your hands, and seeing everything from a distance/above? It's a little out of body, but not really."

Sounds like Alice in Wonderland syndrome, which has come up quite a few times. And I was glad to learn I'm not the only one.
posted by zinon at 12:30 PM on November 29, 2016 [1 favorite]


Not on Askme but on the blue is where I learned there was a thing called non-binary or genderqueer and that I wasn't a complete freak or it was just my mental illness. That there were other people like me!
posted by kanata at 12:37 PM on November 29, 2016 [10 favorites]


1. A voice close to my ear quietly states my name in a very matter-of-fact tone

Yes! I often hear someone say my name just as I'm falling off to sleep. Sometimes "they" just say it as if they're next to my bed, sometimes it's shouted as if from the next room.
posted by bondcliff at 12:39 PM on November 29, 2016 [5 favorites]


Blurting inappropriate phrases (I'm going to fucking kill you, fuck this shit, kill me now, I love $ex). It was disturbing to my SO, and somehow I trained myself to mostly say 'i fucking love you'.

Where I lie in the visual imagination spectrum (takes a lot of effort to overlay a very faint flickering image on top of the real world, but give me paper and pencil and I can freehand sketch complex machines with ok perspective and proportions).

Emotional labor.

Ask vs guess.

Voices close to my ear saying my name.

Hypnic jerk.

Tons of unconscious biases.

My racial/ethnic identity (woot! I am not the only confused one!).

And going a little darker, reading a lot of askme I would find myself weirdly moved by stories of abuse survival. Also found myself unable to explain my own habits and behavior, askme was telling me they were the unhealthy behavior of an abuse survivor, and I found that insulting.

Finally listened, went to therapy, and confirmed that my childhood was not OK. I learned about myself that I went through a couple of years of sexual abuse at the hands of a relative and their friend, and reacting to that was the basis for most big decisions I made from the ages of 11 to about 35. Somehow I was convinced everything had Ben consensual and no big deal.
posted by Dr. Curare at 1:31 PM on November 29, 2016 [4 favorites]


> Yes! I often hear someone say my name just as I'm falling off to sleep

Me too! My name, not yours.
posted by The corpse in the library at 3:13 PM on November 29, 2016 [7 favorites]


The sit vs. stand thing. Never occurred to me someone might go about it another way. Found out the spouse does it the other way!

Tonsiliths. Helped me sooo much. I hardly get them anymore, and know how to deal with them if I do.
posted by annsunny at 4:20 PM on November 29, 2016


Whoa, that someone saying your name thing would scare the hell out of me. Showed my doctor the patch of blisters today, and she was like, "Huh! I hadn't heard about that before, but sure looks like you're right!" (to be fair, she's neither a GP nor a dermatologist.)
posted by Stewriffic at 5:29 PM on November 29, 2016 [1 favorite]


That thing where you get a sharp pain in your ribs that hurts really bad when you breathe in. It has a name, which I can't remember, and lots of other people here get it too. Which is comforting.

It's called a precordial catch and I used to get it all the time as an adolescent, then it went away for years, then it came back out of nowhere a few months ago and is once again a regular occurrence in my life UGH WHY. I complained about it on facebook at the time (when it came back) and got a handful of people doing the whole "I GET THAT TOO" thing.


OMG! My best friend and I used to get that and we called it "heart attacks" and I've been secretly worried forever that I'd drop dead some day. I never did share my worry with my parents.
posted by kitten magic at 5:42 PM on November 29, 2016 [5 favorites]


Also there was a video of a girl being beaten by her father and when I watched it I kept thinking 'jeez kid, stop arguing, the beating will be over faster if you just accept it'. And then I read all the metafilter comments and people were so outraged and yeah, some things fell into place for me.
posted by kitten magic at 5:48 PM on November 29, 2016 [10 favorites]


Me too! My name, not yours.
posted by The corpse in the library at 6:13 PM on November 29 [+] [!]


If I was falling asleep and I heard someone whisper "the corpse in the library" in my ear, it would send me shrieking into the streets.
posted by 4ster at 6:00 PM on November 29, 2016 [30 favorites]


I'd bolt upright in bed, shouting "I don't even have a library!!"
posted by Greg_Ace at 6:04 PM on November 29, 2016 [17 favorites]


Yes! I often hear someone say my name just as I'm falling off to sleep

Is this scary when it happens? Familiar? Comforting? It sounds terrifying but I'm intrigued by how matter-of-factly people are describing it.
posted by Room 641-A at 6:09 PM on November 29, 2016 [1 favorite]


It sometimes seems like I heard my mom's voice calling me from far away. As she is extremely not a ghost, I am forced to conclude I imagined it, but it is disconcerting for a second.
posted by Countess Elena at 6:46 PM on November 29, 2016 [3 favorites]


The auditory-hallucination-while-falling-asleep thing is a hypnogogic hallucination. I'm having trouble finding a decent link.
posted by lazuli at 6:57 PM on November 29, 2016 [5 favorites]


Is this scary when it happens? Familiar? Comforting?

It happens to be rarely and it's more like... you know that thing when you are falling asleep and do the Hypnic Jerk thing? It's like that except you have the real and true feeling that you just heard someone say your name. I think of it like a post-hoc rationalization after I've bolted awake for no reason. Like I would have done that if someone were saying my name, so I backform that that is what happened. Like at the time I feel like that is what happened and I've "heard" my name, but thinking about it afterwards, I clearly didn't so that is what i think my brain is doing to me. For me it's just mildly disorienting for a second.
posted by jessamyn (retired) at 7:02 PM on November 29, 2016 [6 favorites]


The auditory-hallucination-while-falling-asleep thing is a hypnogogic hallucination. I'm having trouble finding a decent link.

Still can't find a link that doesn't imply that everyone with hypnogogic hallucinations has schizophrenia (they don't!), so a story: One of my jobs is doing mental-health assessments on people with severe mental illness, so "Do you ever hear things that aren't there or see things that aren't there?" is a standard question of mine. I was interviewing a client who I had no reason to believe had any sort of thought disorder, so I asked kind of perfunctorily, and he said, "YES!" and launched into a story about how he sometimes hears scary voices yelling at him right when he's about to fall asleep. In an effort to be reassuring, I said, "You know, that's actually very common. About 1/3 of people experience those sorts of hallucinations right before they fall asleep. It's happened to me a couple of times, too." And the client GLARED at me as if I had just taken away his special toy by refusing to grant him a diagnosis of schizophrenia. Ah well.
posted by lazuli at 7:06 PM on November 29, 2016 [5 favorites]


> Is this scary when it happens? Familiar? Comforting?

More like "Ah, there is that voice calling my name that I hear when I'm falling asleep, good, I'll be asleep soon." Like when I listen to the radio or podcasts so I can take a nap, and I'm aware that the sound is gradually getting more and more tunnel-like. Once in a while it startles me awake, but it's usually just that thing that happens and it's not a big deal.
posted by The corpse in the library at 7:14 PM on November 29, 2016 [2 favorites]


I don't remember which thread it was in exactly but I'm pretty sure MetaFilter was where I first realized that I have vasovagal syncope. I'm glad I read about it here, or my tendency to faint when getting out of hot showers or in pain would have caused me a lot more stress. I even fainted on the T once - yes, I was one of those medical emergencies that caused all your trains to be delayed. Next time I feel like fainting, I'm supposed to ask for a seat, doctor's orders.
posted by peacheater at 7:42 PM on November 29, 2016 [2 favorites]


Oh, and MetaFilter was also where I figured out that my pattern of hyperpigmentation follows Blaschko's lines and that I have a mosaic genome!
posted by peacheater at 7:51 PM on November 29, 2016 [3 favorites]


Tonsilloliths, post-sneeze smells, and those silent explosions behind the eyes just before falling asleep happen to other people too.
posted by scruss at 8:04 PM on November 29, 2016


Is this scary when it happens? Familiar? Comforting?

Since it's never a specific voice of someone I know, to me it feels more or less equal to the receptionist interrupting my random bored wandering daydream to tell me the doctor will see me now - neither frightening nor comforting, just sort of mundane. The fact that I wake up in the dark realizing I'm not in the doctor's office adds a smidgen of disorientation, but almost immediately I'm also awake enough to realize what's happening, so overall no biggie other than bafflement at why my brain wants to mess with me like that.

For whatever reason, the hypnic jerk thing makes me snicker to myself - like I would at the cat when it's startled and leaps a bit, only this time I'm the butt of the joke.
posted by Greg_Ace at 8:24 PM on November 29, 2016 [2 favorites]


the hypnic jerk thing makes me snicker to myself

Also, the times it's happened when I've had a partner in bed with me, her startle at my startle made it twice as funny! I know, I'm a twit, but at least I can laugh at myself.
posted by Greg_Ace at 8:54 PM on November 29, 2016


When it's my partner falling asleep, the hypnic jerk is cute. Unless I get kicked.

I also get the sleepy voices calling my name, but it's a little less reassuring now that my dead stepdads and grandma and elementary school librarian and high school principal are in the mix. That's a touch creepy.
posted by blnkfrnk at 9:19 PM on November 29, 2016 [1 favorite]


For me, ASMR is right up there with fingernails on a chalkboard.
posted by aniola at 10:34 PM on November 29, 2016 [8 favorites]


This is just to say
I'm not the only one who
feels that way! hurray!!!
posted by aniola at 10:42 PM on November 29, 2016 [4 favorites]


Well, this thread has taught me that apparently pompholyx is called dyshidrotic eczema in the USA, but I don't think that counts as learning something about yourself :)
posted by Vortisaur at 2:30 AM on November 30, 2016


I was really sick for most of my twenties. By the time I turned 29, I was constantly exhausted, all of my joints hut, and I was spending most of my time huddled on my couch with a heating pad, hoping my belly would stop hurting. I kept losing weight no matter what I did, like I was falling down a water slide. Doctors weren't helpful; they just kept telling me to relax more and try yoga.

5 years ago, I read an answer on AskMe with a list of the symptoms you get when you've got an untreated gluten-intolerance. I had every one. I decided to try going gluten-free for two weeks, and after 3 days my belly stopped hurting. I've never been more grateful to an anonymous internet stranger in my life. I wish I'd favorited their comment at the time, so I could thank them personally.
posted by colfax at 6:12 AM on November 30, 2016 [22 favorites]


Pee shivers.
posted by kimdog at 6:59 AM on November 30, 2016 [5 favorites]


I am embarrassed to say this given my age but it wasn't until I started reading AskMe that I really began to believe that being introverted doesn't equate to being a freak or a loser or a weirdo. I am the only bookish nature-loving solitude-craving introvert in my family of origin (another term I learned here) and my freakishly weird loser status was ingrained on my psyche from an early age. I mean, what kind of 10-year-old doesn't want a birthday party? This kind, and we are legion. All of us happy to chill out in relatively close proximity to each other. With earbuds in to deter smalltalk.
posted by headnsouth at 7:21 AM on November 30, 2016 [7 favorites]


Is this scary when it happens? Familiar? Comforting? It sounds terrifying but I'm intrigued by how matter-of-factly people are describing it.

It usually wakes me up and I almost always think it's my son or wife calling me, so it's not really scary. I just kind of go "huh? What?" and then realize it was in my head and go back to sleep.

But I also get occasional sleep paralysis and/or the feeling that someone or something (usually spiders!) is standing over my bed and that is scary as fuck. I also start screaming "help me!" in my sleep a few times a year, which I guess was initially scary for my wife but she's gotten used to it. I once did that on a hiking trip and woke up a whole cabin full of people. Good times.

I have... um... sleep issues.
posted by bondcliff at 7:44 AM on November 30, 2016 [2 favorites]

2. On the ear that's against the pillow, I hear a sine wave-like tone that alternates unevenly between two notes (roughly ~800 and 1000 Hz) once or twice a second. I have tinnitus, which may be relevant, but slightly shifting my head/neck position makes the tone go away.
Ah! I get this too and I too have tinnitus. Only it sounds like it's coming from inside my head.

I don't think I've had the opportunity yet to talk about this phenomenon on Metafilter: some people hear the words in their mind when they silently read to themselves and some people do not.
posted by INFJ at 9:27 AM on November 30, 2016 [2 favorites]


So many things. We are part of a miraculously diverse and interesting universe! on preview: whaaaat, INFJ, how does that work? fascinating.
posted by mimi at 9:48 AM on November 30, 2016 [1 favorite]


But I also get occasional sleep paralysis and/or the feeling that someone or something (usually spiders!) is standing over my bed and that is scary as fuck

It hasn't happened in quite a while, but I've dealt with sleep paralysis my whole adult life and it really is terrifying, which is why hearing your name sounded so scary. (It still sounds scary even though it's not!)
posted by Room 641-A at 10:52 AM on November 30, 2016


It's weird! It's called Subvocalization. I learned about it via CGP Grey on Hello Internet.

Pretty much if you do it, you know you do it and can't read any way else. Those who don't do it aren't sure if they do it or not and can switch between subvocalizing (when thinking about it, sort of like manual breathing) and non-subvocalizing.
posted by INFJ at 10:53 AM on November 30, 2016 [4 favorites]


numbers do have personalities

I knew that my doing this was a form of synesthesia, but now I know it has a name. Yay!
posted by lazuli at 11:00 AM on November 30, 2016 [2 favorites]


Yes! I often hear someone say my name just as I'm falling off to sleep

—Is this scary when it happens? Familiar? Comforting? It sounds terrifying but I'm intrigued by how matter-of-factly people are describing it.

——It usually wakes me up and I almost always think it's my son or wife calling me, so it's not really scary


That's good to hear, because I was imagining it sounding like the disembodied voice from the hospital nightmare sequence from the movie Jacob's Ladder (you know the one) and that would certainly be... unpleasant.
posted by Atom Eyes at 11:13 AM on November 30, 2016 [1 favorite]


I do subvocalization! I wasn't aware some people didn't. I also do it with manuscript music and simple chord charts.
posted by Gygesringtone at 11:14 AM on November 30, 2016 [1 favorite]


Although I should add most of the time pitches are just relative to each other, I'm usually hearing it transposed to either Bb, D, or A depending on a few things that basically boil down to "is this Jazz or not?" and "where does it fall on the staff?". Oh, and usually I'm hearing a piano. It's sort of like how in my head everyone's writing generally sounds like how I hear myself.
posted by Gygesringtone at 11:27 AM on November 30, 2016 [2 favorites]


Whoa, subvocalization, huh? That is the only way I read unless someone near me is talking too loudly and then I have hard time concentrating on the words and have to reread. I am even subvocalizing the words I am typing right now. Is this at all related to a song playing in your head whenever someone says even a small part of the lyrics in conversation? I have that and so does a friend. Her coworkers don't and they find it a bit odd.
posted by soelo at 12:06 PM on November 30, 2016 [3 favorites]


That's good to hear, because I was imagining it sounding like the disembodied voice from the hospital nightmare sequence from the movie Jacob's Ladder (you know the one) and that would certainly be... unpleasant.

It generally scares the ever living shit out of me. To me it sounds like the person saying it is about an inch from my ear. It's not as bad when there's someone else in the house, but when you're home alone, and the house is dark... shiver...
posted by The Shoodoonoof at 1:40 PM on November 30, 2016 [1 favorite]


As a kid and a young adult I used to have a couple of things that my body did. Haven't experienced either of them since my early 20s to my recollection, though. Never thought to AskMe them, but this seems like a good medium to throw them out there.

• Sometimes my sensual (encompassing visual & proprioception) imagination would go haywire in a very specific way, and I would mentally conceive of things growing wildly out of scale. It was weird and vaguely unpleasant. Mostly this related to bodies, heads growing too big for a room, or hands becoming massive. This was when I was conscious and it was not a hallucination, but simply in my imagination, but it was very definite and difficult to stop.

• When I would run hard in a sprint, I would frequently loose fine motor control of my hands and face, generally plastering an open mouthed rictus across my face and my wrists curling in as well as my fingers. Never had anything other than that re: neurological symptoms, though and when I've seen a neurologist for other things, I never had any sort of problem or diagnosis.
posted by ursus_comiter at 1:59 PM on November 30, 2016 [1 favorite]


I love how many of us are like "I wondered if I has having a heart attack/going dangerously insane/dying, but since I didn't drop dead right then I figured it was too much trouble to call the doctor."

Because ME TOO!
posted by Eyebrows McGee (staff) at 3:33 PM on November 30, 2016 [20 favorites]


"Sometimes my sensual (encompassing visual & proprioception) imagination would go haywire in a very specific way, and I would mentally conceive of things growing wildly out of scale."

I was wondering if that would come up. I experienced that fairly often, usually with regard to my extremities and with my eyes closed, when I was younger -- I couldn't really say when it started or when it stopped, but it seems like the peak was during adolescence. For me, it was unpleasant but also fascinating. It's seems most likely it's proprioception going awry in some way, doesn't it? When I first learned of proprioception -- which, like most people, I'd just taken for granted and not thought of as part of my sensorium, which it is -- that experience made a whole lot more sense to me.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 1:01 AM on December 1, 2016 [4 favorites]


For me it was the whole "cant see pictures in my head and apparently everyone else can" post. Amazing to learn a name for it.


Me too! For me it was the "hey how do you guys visualize calendars when you're thinking about time" thread. I thought I was reading responses from aliens, and then I realized I have no pictures in my head at all.

Also apparently there is a thing called a "duvet cover".
posted by mmoncur at 3:41 AM on December 1, 2016 [6 favorites]


I read that thread at the time, but I'm still not entirely sure what everyone means.
I mean, I can sort of envisage intellectually a 3d shape and spin it and plan it and build a thing in my thoughts, but it's not like I really "see" it.
At no point can I close my eyes and "see" in anything like the same way as seeing through eyes. But I don't know if people are claiming that's what they can do (and thus I can't) or if people are saying they can imagine images and shapes and manipulate them, (which I can) but there's no "seeing" involved.
I'm just not really clear on what happens behind other people's eyes.
posted by Just this guy, y'know at 4:28 AM on December 1, 2016 [3 favorites]


I'd bolt upright in bed, shouting "I don't even have a library!!"

Who's the real monster in this story?
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 4:54 AM on December 1, 2016 [3 favorites]


When my baby was two weeks old, I was reading old Metafilter posts when I came across a comment that described "arching back" as a sign of acid reflux in infants. My baby never spit up, but he'd been arching his back while eating since he was three days old and every night he would cluster-feed until all of a sudden he was screaming and screaming. I was totally at a loss for what was going on, first baby and all, I kinda thought I was just overdramatizing how bad it was at the time. When I read that comment, everything clicked and I immediately made a doctor appointment. When my baby got the right medication, life got a lot easier. All of a sudden, he could fall asleep while eating! Wow!
posted by aabbbiee at 8:11 AM on December 1, 2016 [8 favorites]


... or if people are saying they can imagine images and shapes and manipulate them, (which I can) but there's no "seeing" involved.

That one is my own experience, FWIW.
posted by Greg_Ace at 8:46 AM on December 1, 2016


I'd bolt upright in bed, shouting "I don't even have a library!!"

Who's the real monster in this story?


The people who built my apartment building, obviously, for not including libraries in the floor plans.
posted by Greg_Ace at 8:47 AM on December 1, 2016 [4 favorites]


It's called Subvocalization.

I know I have something to say about this but first I have to wrap my head around the fact that some people don't do it.

Who's the real monster in this story?

Grover!
posted by Room 641-A at 12:11 PM on December 1, 2016 [5 favorites]


"I know I have something to say about this but first I have to wrap my head around the fact that some people don't do it.

Heh. I wrote and erased about three times a couple of different paragraphs about that in my comment. That's kind of exactly my reaction -- surprise that for some people it's voluntary, and then the implications of this (vis-à-vis things like the fact that I don't read quite as quickly as many other heavy readers, but I do have notably better than average retention).

For me, what we're talking about in this thread exemplifies both something critically important about the world and something peculiar about MetaFilter. Before I came here, I'd spent decades of my life working against my own and other peoples' tendency toward value-laden universalizing from individual experience. That was already an organizing principle of my worldview: that different people are different.

But it's been here on MetaFilter that I've had the most specific and yet wide-reaching occasions of being forcefully taught this lesson anew, repeatedly. I tend to think that "stand or sit" is our canonical example, but there are so many others. And I was just absolutely floored -- dumbfounded -- to discover that everyone doesn't have a visual imagination. That was just this year! It deeply challenged many of my assumptions about other people's experience of themselves and the world. I'd already learned this lesson, but not about something that seems, to me, to be so, well, essential to my subjective cognitive experience of self. And this was glorious, really. I absolutely loved to be taught this lesson, yet again, in such a forceful and unexpected way.

Some of this stuff seems ultimately just trivial cultural differences, even if many people get all worked up and agitated about them. But, well, this is at the core of the more serious stuff we've been working out within our community, such as what it means to be inclusive. Different people are different and we should work to open our eyes to see, as best we can, that other people do, in fact, experience the world differently than we each, as an individual, does. If you'll excuse the metaphor in this context, you have to open up a cognitive space to see, I think it's something one works at, it doesn't come easily. So, yeah, there's something fundamentally similar about the revelations of the emotional labor thread and the revelations of the "sit or stand" thread.

And what's really, really interesting to me is why it's the case that MetaFilter -- in my experience, so maybe it's just idiosyncratic to me -- is a place where this happens much more often than most elsewhere. Why are we having this thread? Trivially, it's partly because of the simple existence of AskMe. But it's not just that. I think that if you look elsewhere, what you often will see is that people will attest to their particular experience in ways that contradict someone else's universalization, but it just doesn't matter. No one listens. There's not many social spaces in which the "sit or stand" discussion could ever take place, so clearly that's important. But it's striking to me that elsewhere even when such discussions are possible, often people just don't listen to each other, they don't learn anything about other people from the conversation.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 3:47 PM on December 1, 2016 [16 favorites]


As I child I experienced "the fast feeling" described by overeducated_alligator. Adult me has always assumed it was related to anxiety.

Child me also experienced the feeling of parts of my body growing wildly out of scale, like ursus_comiter described. The only times that has happened to adult me has been when I've ingested certain substances that are intended to change perception and sensory input. *wink wink*

I'd still love to know if these experiences have a name and cause other than blanket "anxiety/panic." I remember kind of enjoying the fast feeling a little bit although it was disconcerting.

When I first read about Alice in Wonderland Syndrome, I kind of connected these things in my head as related to each other and I wonder if they still are.

With regard to important things I learned about myself from Metafilter: kinks and "asking versus guessing" are the two big ones.
posted by dchrssyr at 4:04 PM on December 1, 2016 [2 favorites]


Not quite what you're talking about, but fairly recently I wanted to make a dessert but couldn't find my recipe. No problem, thought I: just Google a few versions of it to jog your memory and then improvise a route to tastiness! One of the first results seemed especially promising, based on the preview, so I clicked on it... and landed on a post of mine providing the recipe in response to someone's AskMe. I took my advice, followed my recipe, and it was delicious!
posted by carmicha at 4:59 PM on December 1, 2016 [21 favorites]


Anxiety-blurting "I love you."* I thought I was nuts. It has morphed into "fuck you" this year. Thanks, 2016.

Random embarrassment cringing.

Related: years of reading AskMe with people's various everyday quirks, preferences, and weirdnesses. I feel a lot more comfortable in my own little weirdnesses, now.

Recently: silent reflux. I've been able to mostly get rid of a years-long chronic cough.

Sometimes I wish I'd never read the misogyny and EL threads.

I came in to ask if anybody else ever got/gets that everything-is-balloons feeling. The things-growing-out-of-scale thing sounds like that might be it. This mostly happened to me as a child, but I had it happen again just this year.


* I think I did this once during meaningless drunk sex in my 20s. I still cringe about it.
posted by moira at 6:30 PM on December 1, 2016 [1 favorite]


Moira, do you just do this randomly? I did that when my ex was trying to get custody which isn't terribly puzzling. Through most of my twenties I'd say "What happened up there?" I never did figure that one out. It would just come out of my mouth while I was driving. I could never associate it with an event. Baffling.
posted by Mr. Yuck at 6:48 PM on December 1, 2016


oh my God y'all
I talk to myself that way too
I thought it was part of one of my brain problem situations and I was super embarrassed about it. It's self-soothing, I guess -
posted by Countess Elena at 6:58 PM on December 1, 2016


Mr. Yuck, pretty much. It happens more when I am stressed or feeling embarrassed, but doesn't generally come out in other people's hearing.
posted by moira at 7:56 PM on December 1, 2016


Same here.

My housemate talks in her sleep. My office is right across the hall and she's going on about pie. Which happens often.
posted by Mr. Yuck at 10:21 PM on December 1, 2016 [1 favorite]


Delayed sleep phase syndrome. Years of self-loathing for being a lazy slothful prick just blew away like little fluffy clouds.
posted by flabdablet at 1:43 AM on December 2, 2016 [8 favorites]


Not metafilter, but when I was in university and visited home one weekend, my mother had saved me a newspaper article about left-right confusion because she realised while reading it that it perfectly described me. Until then, I had just assumed that EVERYONE had problems distinguishing left from right and east from west. What. It's quite common, too, which makes it even weirder that nobody had talked to me about it before. I think it said that about 10% of people have this?

For me, to figure out where "west" is, I have to think of a 1980s-era map of Europe, mentally look at East and West Germany, and then decide "Oh, West is on this side". To distinguish left and right I use my hands: I know I'm right-handed and that's THIS hand, so that side must be "right". And I have to do this EVERY time I think about west/east or left/right, which is apparently not what most people need to do.

(If you think you have this as well, and you still need to take driving lessons or a driving test, tell your instructor/examiner! I missed a few turns in lessons until I explained that I needed more time to process what "turn left" actually meant. It's only a matter of one second to go quickly through the "this is my dominant hand and that's right so left is the non-dominant one which is this one so this side is left" mental sequence, but that can make a difference in busy traffic.)
posted by easternblot at 4:57 AM on December 2, 2016 [7 favorites]


I don't have general left/right problems, but I have to say "lefty loosey, righty tighty" every single time I turn a screw, open a valve, etc.
posted by AFABulous at 7:41 AM on December 2, 2016 [4 favorites]


I know I have something to say about this but first I have to wrap my head around the fact that some people don't do it.

This is exactly why I wanted to bring it up!
posted by INFJ at 8:58 AM on December 2, 2016 [1 favorite]


I think I was ten when my little sister showed me that the forefinger and thumb on my left hand make an L. I still think she's brilliant.
posted by Mr. Yuck at 9:37 AM on December 2, 2016 [2 favorites]


They both make Ls depending on how you hold your hand. I have this same issue and remembering which arm I broke in fifth grade is usually how I tell right from left. To do E/W I have to picture the US and remember which is the West Coast.
posted by jessamyn (retired) at 9:51 AM on December 2, 2016 [8 favorites]


I've mentioned here on MeFi before that I also have left/right trouble, and if you ask me "my left or your left?" my brain just shuts down. I do the "L fingers" thing as well, and my daughter, who also has trouble with left and right also looks at her hands, but she does it because she has a birthmark on her right hand and uses that as a landmark.
posted by Rock Steady at 9:53 AM on December 2, 2016 [1 favorite]


From this very metatalk post:

Right / Left Confusion (I wiggle the fingers on my dominant hand which I know is my right to prompt myself. Your left vs my left always throws me off)
Sub-vocalisation (I didn't know people didn't do this - it is involuntary for me and I do it while writing and while reading)
Brain Thunder (Never thought about my ability to do this as being unique)
posted by Julnyes at 3:15 PM on December 2, 2016


To do E/W I have to picture the US and remember which is the West Coast.

You are my people! I have to imagine myself facing north, and then I know the west coast is on my left and the east coast is way over the mountains to the right. I do the same thing in other countries, at first using the US map but when I've lived somewhere long enough then I start using that country for my mental map to figure out the cardinal directions.

I have of course picked a career where I use maps and plans constantly, often laid on in quirky ways, like with north on top on some sheets, diagonally to the left on others, and facing down on some others. The fun is constant.
posted by Dip Flash at 4:59 PM on December 2, 2016 [3 favorites]


Indeed, you are my people, and this is my country.
posted by BlueHorse at 9:06 AM on December 3, 2016 [3 favorites]


Aphantasia!! Learning this was a real thing was life changing.
posted by greermahoney at 10:26 PM on December 3, 2016


I mean, I can sort of envisage intellectually a 3d shape and spin it and plan it and build a thing in my thoughts, but it's not like I really "see" it.

For what it's worth -- and this is one of the difficulties of understanding aphantasia / mental imagery, it's impossible to really know how it works for another person --

I can't do what you describe. At all. I can't "sort of envisage intellectually" anything. I can't rotate objects in my head. When I describe my condition, many people respond like you, by saying "Well, nobody can literally see things in their head." Others, like my wife, really do seem to see high-def images. I don't see anything.

Curiously I'm pretty good at those "Which one of these is a rotated version of Picture A" type quizzes. But I do them by counting sides and angles and facets and comparing them, not by rotating the image in my head.

Here's one of the tests that seems to help illuminate things. If I say, "Imagine a purple tiger", what appears in your head?

Some people would say "A tiger, but purple. I can count its whiskers and read the emotion in its face. It's in the jungle and there are trees and grass." You can ask them questions like "exactly which shade of purple is it?" and they have answers.

Some say "a blurry, vague picture of a purple cat-like thing."

I say "Nothing." I can understand the concept of a purple tiger, and I could draw you one, poorly, but no picture in my head.

Now what if I say "Imagine a blue square" or "Imagine Mickey Mouse" or "Imagine your mother's face"?

Some people who couldn't see the tiger have different answers here. My answer is still "Nothing." I could draw you a blue square but I can't see one in my head. I could draw Mickey Mouse but that's because I memorized the steps for drawing Mickey Mouse when I was 11. I can't draw Goofy or Pluto or Donald Duck. I can recognize my mother's face -- barely, but that's another story -- but I need a picture to remember it. I can't just imagine it.

The latest research I've read suggests that there's a spectrum ranging from "No images" to "HD images".

...That reminds me: prosopagnosia / face blindness is another thing I have that I discovered on MeFi. This place truly is wonderful!
posted by mmoncur at 12:15 AM on December 4, 2016 [5 favorites]


Based just on the responses to this thread, someday I'm going to Ask about my ticklish neck thing that's been going on since my 20s.
posted by TrishaLynn at 11:12 AM on December 4, 2016


Intercostal costochondritis is the thing mudpuppie's talking about and is a great example.

OH MY GOD I have been wondering about this my entire freaking life and every time this happens to me I wonder if I am on the verge of a heart attack

I FEEL SO !@#$%^&* ENLIGHTENED
posted by andrewesque at 3:38 PM on December 6, 2016 [4 favorites]


OMG THINGS FITTING INTO THINGS!!!!

so sooooooothing.
posted by Deoridhe at 7:40 PM on December 6, 2016 [2 favorites]


Wait, the not-being-able-to-visualize-things is a real thing? I have spent my entire career as a designer and art director thinking clients who say that, were just fucking with me deliberately and on some kind of a power trip. I wish that even one of them had explained they genuinely cannot visualize.
posted by culfinglin at 10:30 PM on December 8, 2016 [1 favorite]


Culfinglin, what did they say/what did you want them to say? If they said "I can't visualize that," I'm not sure why you would automatically think that meant "and I'm pretending just to screw with you." If that's their experience, what further explanation does it need? I don't think I'm one of these people (I visualize), but I have this Thing about people not believing me/giving my experiences credit/listening to the words coming out of my mouth and this general situation is one of my big fears. Help me understand your side, and how to better express myself if need be!
posted by spelunkingplato at 11:31 PM on December 8, 2016 [2 favorites]


spelunkingplato — Sure, here's how these exchanges usually go:

Me: So here's the ad that will run on the bus exteriors, on the back tail panels. *shows client the ad on the computer monitor/printed on presentation board* (Note: this point is usually enough for most people to grasp the visual concept and make the mental extrapolation of what the finished product will look like.)

Client: But I have to see it.

Me: Okay, here is the ad… *points to ad* and it's going to be run on the back of the buses. *shows photo of a bus in question, from the rear, with a different ad on it*

Client: So what will that look like?

Me: Well, instead of this other ad, our ad will be on the bus in the same place.

Client: I dunno, I'm not sure.

Me: *quickly slaps the ad onto the photo of the bus in Photoshop* Okay, does this give you a better idea of what the ad will look like on the bus? (Note: this is the point where 99% of clients will be able to understand what the finished product will look like.)

Client: I dunno, I'm just going to have to see it on the bus, I guess, before I know if I like it.

Me: Unfortunately, we can't run a proof on the bus before we buy the ad space, so I can't give you an actual printed ad on one bus for you to look at in person, before you approve this part of the campaign. So I need you to use your imagination, and try to picture what this ad will look like on the bus, and either approve it, or tell me what you'd like changed about the ad, so we can send it to the printer, and get this piece of the campaign finished.

Client: But what will that look like?

Me: *trying very hard to keep from sounding like I'm talking to a five-year-old* Okay, it will look like this photo of the bus… that I put a copy of our ad onto, just now, in Photoshop, right here. See?

Client: I dunno, I don't like it. I'm just going to have to see it before I know if I like it.

Me: *pictures a gin & tonic, longingly*

Usually it's a convergence of a client who is both a control freak, and who apparently cannot visualize anything. But instead of just saying, 'Hey, I have problems picturing anything in my head; what do you think looks best?', this kind of client seems to just dig their heels in and insist they cannot possibly be expected to approve anything short of the final, live version. Sometimes it's possible to accommodate them; e.g., if you want a polo shirt embroidered with the company logo, Land's End is great at sending a physical shirt with the company logo embroidered on it for you to sign off on. But that's not always possible for me to do, depending on the project.

It's frustrating, because to people who can visualize, this is just a sense that you have, like being able to taste flavors and extrapolate what different flavors will taste like together, and make an educated guess about if you'll like how something tastes. So these kinds of clients are the visual equivalent of someone walking into a deli, ordering a sandwich, and then insisting they can't possibly be expected to know what they want on the sandwich, unless they both taste it at every step of the process, and taste every possible option. Or, to use another taste analogy— rather than ordering something off the restaurant menu, and trusting the chef knows enough about combining flavors in ways that work, these clients go into the kitchen and insist on tasting the ingredients before the chef begins cooking. Whereas most of us, if we're not sure what a new dish we've never tried before will taste like, assume the chef knows what they're doing, and take a chance when we order.

And what makes these kinds of clients particularly frustrating, is that they insist the problem lies somehow with everyone else. The only way I've ever solved this problem is to slowly gain their trust in my skills, to reduce their control-freak tendencies. I can deal with a control freak. I can deal with a client who isn't visually or spatially astute. But a control freak who won't admit they're not visually astute, and then insists the fault lies outside them… well, that's what keeps my local liquor store in business.
posted by culfinglin at 2:01 AM on December 9, 2016 [4 favorites]


culfinglin: Speaking as someone with absolutely no visualization ability whatsoever, if I were your client I would have said "I know it's silly, but can you photoshop it onto a picture of the bus for me?" and that would be sufficient.

So if it's not sufficient for them you may be dealing with something other than aphantasia.

But yes, it's a real thing.

I wish that even one of them had explained they genuinely cannot visualize.

I was over 30 years old before I found out I couldn't visualize. Or rather, found out other people could. So it's maybe not quite so simple as that.

spelunkingplato: I have this Thing about people not believing me

I've never met a single person outside of my wife and Metafilter who believes me when I tell them I can't visualize. They either say "Of course you can, everyone can" or "Well, nobody really SEES things in their head." They're wrong either way of course.
posted by mmoncur at 5:03 AM on December 9, 2016 [3 favorites]


I still don't really know if I can or not based on all this.
Ironically I cannot picture what it's like to be on either end of the reported spectrum.
posted by Just this guy, y'know at 5:46 AM on December 9, 2016 [3 favorites]


Oh, just saw mmoncur's post which I had missed.

Hmm.
Imagine a purple tiger.. so I think of a tiger, but purple.
There isn't any visual component. If I close my eyes I see blackness. I can think about pictures of tigers I've seen. I remember broadly speaking what they look like.
If you ask me what shade of purple I would probably assign it one based on purples I've seen. But It didn't have a specific shade until it was asked.

re: Prosopognasia, yes, that is a thing I have. Every few months I'm summoned to a nearby university where they give me money in exchange for me not recognising faces in a variety of different ways.
I do however have an extremely strong sense of place and location and can remember a route perfectly from travelling it once. If there is a place I've been to only once or twice and I go back there I will remember conversations of podcasts or whatever I was listening to when I was there last.
I once went on a long walk (like 10 hours or so) with some friends in Yorkshire which I tracked with GPS. When I went back to tidy up the GPS trace a few months later so I could publish it I could remember the specific conversation we had at each point of the map I looked at. I have lost my keys. I don't remember where I put them last night.
posted by Just this guy, y'know at 5:59 AM on December 9, 2016 [10 favorites]


Chiming in late, but learning about dyscalculia through various mentions on Ask has been a freaking life-changer - especially the component that involves proprioception and navigation. As someone who's turning 50 soon, this is a huge change in how I view myself and my abilities or lack thereof.
posted by catlet at 12:08 PM on December 20, 2016 [2 favorites]


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