JJC PSY 324 - Synesthesia: When the Senses Collide

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1Running Head: SYNESTHESIA: WHEN THE SENSES COLLIDESynesthesia: When the Senses CollideReaction PaperProfessor: Grose-FiferMarch 23, 2014Abstract2SYNESTHESIA: WHEN THE SENSES COLLIDESynesthesia is a rare condition in which those individuals affected by it experience a rare interchange or overlap of the senses. Even though this condition is rare and it those not affect many individuals overall there are still people in the world who have it and experience it in manydifferent ways. The documentary “Synesthesia: When the Senses Overlap/Collide” demonstrates what this condition is what are the different myriads of the condition as well as other important dynamics in regards to synesthesia. In the following essay I will discuss what synesthesia is and how can synesthesia be either a negative or positive experience to those who are affected by it. Keywords: affect, collide, dynamics, experience, synesthesia, overlap3SYNESTHESIA: WHEN THE SENSES COLLIDESynesthesia in the past was a topic that did not attract serious consideration for it to be studied. However, recently many scholars such as psychologists, neuroscientists, and brain researchers have become fascinated by the topic and have tried to answer questions surrounding what exactly is synesthesia; why does it occurs? Whether is biological/hereditary condition or something that develops because of the environment an individual is exposed to? These are just some of the lingering questions that many scholars have tried to assess. Hence, the documentary Synesthesia: when the senses collide answers some of these interesting questions regarding synesthesia and how some people who are affected by it react to their synesthesia. According to the documentary synesthesia is the intermingling of the senses that can result in unusual sense perception. Moreover, another important aspect that the documentary exposes is that synesthesia occurs in an array of ways in which some see numbers and words in color meanwhile others’ heard words incite taste; therefore, synesthesia is to a certain extent unique to each individual that experiences it. For example, it has been proposed that synesthesia is a genetic predisposition as Professor: Colin Blakemore stated that synesthesia is as predisposed and runs in families much like other conditions such as dyslexia, schizophrenia, among others. This idea that synesthesia is a genetic predisposition was seen in the personal story of Dorthy Latham, her bother Petter and Petter’s son who all had synesthesia. However, even though they all had synesthesia in the case of Dorthy and her brother they did not always see letters or numbers in the same colors which can imply that synesthesia is not exclusively caused by a simple genetic mechanisms thus some have proposed that synesthesia is caused overall by 70% genetics and the rest 30% by nature/environment. Consequently, the documentary brings forth the notion that, if synesthesia is more than the result of genetics; something else other than genes causing it. Scientists will need to determine what environmental4SYNESTHESIA: WHEN THE SENSES COLLIDEfactors might shape each person’s specific connections. Thus, this different idea regarding synesthesia can bring new and innovative ways of looking at synesthesia that can suggest the different ways why synesthesia occurs.Synesthesia to some individuals can be an advantage meanwhile to others can be a burden they must carry on to the rest of their lives. Therefore, meanwhile scientists have become baffled by synesthesia and its arrays of experiences described by people with synesthesia, those who have synesthesia many times want to make sense and understand to what is happening to their senses. An advantage to having synesthesia was conveyed throughout the story of John Fullwood; a blind man with synesthesia, John would only see words in color when the words represented sequences such as numbers, days of the week, months of the year and any sequential words. According to John Fullwood his synesthesia is useful because even though he is blind thiscondition has allowed him to distinguish one thing from another because they are of different colors. As well, this synesthesia has helped John Fullwood to develop also a sense of direction/space; he was able to point out years that have passed as being behind him, the present as being laterally to him and the future as being in front, thus giving sense of space and a numberline. Another case in which synesthesia was seen favorably was the story of Hether Brit who had a number line floating in space in front of her which has made it easier for her to make transactions such as going to the market store in which her synesthesia has made it easier for her to check whether her change was given correctly due to that her number line works as her own personal calculator. When she was asked if she would change having synesthesia she without hesitation stated5SYNESTHESIA: WHEN THE SENSES COLLIDEHowever, synesthesia is not seen positively by everyone who experienced it. For example, the personal story of James Wannerton; James type of synesthesia is the kind in which an individual links words with taste. A major disadvantage according to James Wannerton and also according to the documentary is that this type of synesthesia triggers a battle between real flavors and the ones triggered by words which to him can be very problematic. For example, he stated that if someone is talking to him while making a meal he will start tasting the words meanwhile the smells of the meal he is cooking enters his nostril passages consequently causing a sensory overload and confusion. He also indicated that even driving can be problematic due to that mere driving signs which often contain an array of different words causes him to taste multiple things at once which can become very overwhelming and confusing. This can result in the mix-up of tastes overall and possibly in a decrease in pleasure from tasting things. Moreover, according to James Wannerton a major disadvantage besides the ones stated previously is that certain words incite certain tastes that a not very pleasing; for example for James the name of Derek tastes like earwax. Meanwhile some individuals negative experiences of synesthesia are due to directly because of the synesthesia itself others negative experience of synesthesia are linked more to social factors. An example of this was conveyed throughout the story of Dorthy Latham at

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JJC PSY 324 - Synesthesia: When the Senses Collide

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