Synaesthesia Discovery

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Temperature to Spatial Location Synaesthesia


On a very warm summer day after Christmas of 2011, kids and I were sitting on the back verandah at the farm playing games and reading books. The house was still under construction at the time. The hot weather made me very laid back.

I could feel that I was at Tara, the place in Margaret Mitchell’s novel ‘Gone with the Wind’. The image was so vivid that I wrote an email to one of my friends in America to tell her how I felt.

Winding back the clock to the time that I started secondary school. I was sitting in my old house on a summer day reading Gone with the Wind. It was one of the first big historical novels I read. It was a rite of passage for me. The discovery of passion and love between a man and a woman, and the strength drawn from both gentle and strong characters were mind blowing to a 13-year old.

I had not thought about the book for a long time, but all of a sudden, the feel of me sitting at Tara, Georgia, was so strong that I could see people working in the fields in my mind’s eyes.

Since then, coming to the farm on a hot day without too much wind always triggers this spatial sensation of me living in Tara. I had never given a thought that this was a form of synaesthesia. I thought everyone could experience this type of spatial feeling on a hot day or a cold day. However, my mind finally made the connection when I was experiencing the spatial sensation at Cafe Spring. I felt I was in Vienna.

I started to search my memory. It’s true that the feel of at a specific location was always triggered by the weather and the temperature on the day. I arrived at the farm yesterday evening. I didn’t feel anything as the weather was cool. This morning, there was a Saturday market on in the town. We went to buy some fresh produce and had a meal at the local pub before coming back. When we got off the car, it was really warm and this spatial sensation of me at Tara came immediately.

I finally could not hold my curiosity any more, and wanted to check if everyone else indeed had a similar feeling. I know there is always a risk of asking a family full of synaesthetes to validate whether an experience is common or unusual, especially I know both Skye and Thomas have strong temperature related synaesthesia. So I started with my husband. His answer was very plain. “No, I’ve never felt that way. I just feel hot.”

Children quickly joined the conversation. Both said they felt they were in Abu Dhabi. I asked them to describe exactly how they felt, but both found hard to describe. They said they knew they were not in Abu Dhabi, but at the same time, they could feel they were there and could feel how Abu Dhabi people felt. It’s almost half of them were here, and half of them were somewhere else. That’s very similar to how I felt about, now I believe is called, Temperature to Spatial Location Synaesthesia.

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