If all synesthesia is idiosyncratic, then why doesn’t anyone like 9?

Since I was very little, each letter has had such a distinct personality and relationship between its nearest letters. As soon as I knew letters, I knew who they were, just as if I’d met someone.

There’s handsome G, stuck between sweet, gentle F who he pines for, and on the other side: H who he’s committed to. Will they break off the engagement?? H treats G horribly! And always snickers behind his back in her bitchy clique with I and J. KL are such snobs anyway, they don’t even seem to notice. They’re older and really can’t be bothered with all that nonsense…. etc!

I don’t think I understood the complexities when I was that little. But the story became embellished as I learned more and got older. My understanding deepened but the situation was the same.

I’ve asked others if they had dramatic stories behind the arrangement of letters in the alphabet. When I kept on getting weird reactions, I stopped asking. I assumed I’d taught myself this little tale to remember the order of the letters.  26 letters. And a tale I’ve never forgotten.

Now I see that I wasn’t alone in assuming I’d “learned” it.

“I figured that numbers must have been taught that way to me at a time when I was so young that I could no longer remember the teaching of it.” – Do you have Synesthesia?

I didn’t recall meeting anyone who had a similar experience. Until today, my friend MizzAdamz said that letters and numbers had personalities, complex back stories.

She’s a synesthete, and she said one of the rarest with Ordinal Linguistic Personification Synesthesia.

Apparently, the reason I have no trouble remembering this convoluted 26 character story because I can perceive the relationships.

I am also a synesthete.

Synesthesia comes in various forms

It turns out if you’ve got one kind of synesthesia, you may have another kind.

I was sitting here researching and I’ve just yelped out loud. “NO WAY. WHAT?! Doesn’t EVERYONE feel a touch on their body when they see someone else being touched?”

Turns out not everyone does feel it. This is Mirror-Touch Synesthesia! “I can feel other people’s pain.” I can feel if someone across a room touches their cheek gently. I feel if someone gets punched in a movie.

Turns out I also have other types of synesthesia, and I may have others.

  • Colour to sound synesthesia 
    • I hear pure tones from colours. Moving and flashing images are very “loud.” Sounds are apparent when they “switch” – it’s like hitting a tuning fork. It fades.
    • For example, I use an app that darkens my screen as the night goes on. And the screen changes “tone.” If I ALT+tab to another app where f.lux is disabled, the screen goes brighter and bluer. And the pitch goes higher.
  • Spatial sequence synesthesia
    • I “see” time and numbers. This is also how I see temperatures and conversions.
    • Times and dates advance to my right, and recede to my left. Past is left. “Now” is centre, where I am. Years, months, days, hours, all ticking along bands around this drum. The furthest right and left are darkened, in shadow, because I can’t see around the disk. The calendar and numbers work this way. And temperature works this way. EVERYTHING lines up at new years!! It’s so cool.

I wonder if other people with spatial sequence synesthesia also get this sensation of everything “clicking” when it lines up together. It sounds unlikely.

Turns out these idiosyncratic traits mean no two synesthetes see the same colours.

That question intrigues me. For me, F is a shy and kind girl. She’d never stick up for herself. And then I came across an article on synesthesia which said “F is shy, hesitant, some would say spineless.”

Are there patterns?

Why is 9 such a jerk?

MizzAdams told me about the number characters which go into the hundreds and even thousands. As soon as you say a number, she intuitively knows it. She said “9” for example was a total bitch.

I came home and started reading about it. I saw a video which said “For Gayle, 9 is an elitist girl.” (TedEd video below) There seems to be a pattern of negative associations with 9. Emily, a 13 year old, wrote Me and My Synesthesia. 9 is an annoying boy.  Another blogger write “Nine looks down on everyone. He thinks they’re a pack of idiots, and treats them all with barely disguised contempt.” in Do you have synesthesia?

They must just be coincidences?

As described in the video below, the first shock for synesthetes is to discover no one else who perceives your sensations. Then there’s a shock when you find someone else that does. The final shock is when you learn that they do not have the same exact associations.

So I’m curious: Do you have it? You can take this quiz to find out.