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Holograms – Smell to Vision and Vision to Smell Synaesthesia

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“Vision is the art of seeing things invisible.”
― Jonathan Swift

Synaesthetic vision is holographic like vision, according to Skye. Images are multidimensional which can be seen clearly, but are not touchable.

While Skye was learning aboriginal history, he always saw a synaesthetic boomerang going around him. It did distract him a bit as he was too busy looking at the boomerang rather than his classroom teacher.

On the weekends, children like coming to our bed after they wake up. The smell of our bed triggers off a lime green colour for Thomas. It makes Skye see fire on the bed like what is shown in the attached picture. He also randomly sees ashes dropping off one corner of the bed. The image gives him a warm feeling. He jumps on the bed with his arms fully extended as if he was touching the fire. He loves this sensation.

Skye’s smell to vision synaesthesia has weakened in recent months, but Thomas’ is as strong as before. The smell of donut is white, the smell of lavender is purple, whereas the aroma of Indian spice is blue, Thomas’ favorite colour.

I often take children to a fruit and vegetable shop at a close-by shopping centre. The shop has a large variety of fruits on display. Being fruit lovers, both kids like helping me pick fruits, and enjoy synaesthetic colours they see.

One of Thomas’ favourite kind of fruits is persimmon. The smell of persimmon gives rise to a very dark orange colour which sits on top of the reddish orange skin. Similarly, green is the colour floating above an avocado whereas pink is the colour he sees on a plum.

Last weekend, my dad and I took Skye, Thomas and their 8 year old cousin to the farm. Their cousin is also a synaesthete, but I didn’t know he had smell to colour synaesthesia prior to the trip.

“Oh Thomas, please keep the gas in! It gives me such an awful purplish yellow colour!” Their cousin complained.
“Oh fresh! I love the smell.” That’s a typical statement of Thomas’. “I see blueish yellow. Why don’t you like purplish yellow? I think it’s beautiful!”

At the end of their amusing conversation, I asked the boys where they usually see their synaesthetic colour triggered by a smell. Their answers were quite fascinating.

As projector synaesthetes whose synaesthetic vision gets projected into the space, both Skye and Thomas see colour on an object where the smell is originated.

“But Mum, if an object is invisible, the colour comes in front of me and straight into my eyes.” Skye offered more explanation.

Thomas visualises colour moving around him if he cannot see where a smell comes from.

As an associator synaesthete, their cousin sees colour in his mind. He was pointing to his forehead when he answered my question.

On Monday, Thomas and his cousin were watching a kids game show called “Steam Punks” on TV. The contester was asked to match a smell with a labelled container.

At the sight of the “Peanut Butter” label, both boys called out, “must be peanut butter, I can smell peanut butter”.

“Really?” I tried to smell peanut butter, but I could not.
“Do you guys really smell peanut butter?” I asked.
“Yes, I can smell it very well.”
“Me too!”

I asked my nephew if he wanted to know the term that describes his neurological trait. He declined my kind offer. But he added that he always suspected other people could not see colour or hear sound when they smell something. Sometimes, he was not sure if other people could smell an item such as the “Peanut Butter” label.

When my husband and I first discovered our children’s in-depth synaesthetic perceptions, we “blamed” each other for passing on the gene. It took us a while to accept and appreciate this incredible phenomenon. My children are now fully aware of their perception difference. My nephew is on a journey making his own discovery.

I often think synaesthesia is like the opposite to what described in a proverb:

Marriage is like a fortress besieged: those who are outside want to get in, and those who are inside want to get out.

The beauty of synaesthesia is those who are inside do not want to get out, but I am not sure if those who are outside want to get in either.

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