Category Archives: Aphantasia

The Brain of a Serial Killer (Infographic)

The Brain of a Serial Killer

What makes people kill?

Every day there are news reports of gruesome murders that cause most of us to cringe. We’re fascinated but repulsed. It seems these serial killers share the same fascination without the repulsion. According to today’s infographic, they might just be wired that way. An abnormal chromosome is all it takes to distinguish a serial murderer from a regular person. They find a kind of release in killing, instead of remorse.

Sociopaths are particularly interesting killers. They have no regard for others and have no actual feelings of empathy for people, yet they can come across as deceivingly charming, seductive, and charismatic.

And according to today’s infographic, many serial killers experience abuse as a child. They also feel that they’ve “never developed a sense of attachment and belonging to the world,” which brings up the subject of nature vs. nurture. These killers may be genetically disposed from birth to eventually become killers, but when coupled with abuse from an early age, the abuse could have been the tipping point that made them kill. If they hadn’t been abused, could this abnormal chromosome and it’s associated characteristics manifested itself in a different way?

Check out today’s infographic for a look inside the mind of a serial murderer.

Most likely the people who internally feel a “darkness” within them, but their family and peers keep them grounded through hard times.

A serial killer is defined as a person who murders three or more persons in at least three separate events with a “cooling off” period between kills.

Patterns of Serial Killers

– Serial killers generally have a cycle during which they kill
– They most often kill during periods of stress
– After killing, they feel temporarily relieved of the pressure to kill
– A study of a group of 50 serial killers shows that the majority experienced abuse as children
– Breakdown of the reported abuse
– Some type of maltreatment, regardless of type – 68%
– Physical abuse – 36%
– Sexual abuse – 26%
– Psychological abuse 50%
– Neglect – 18%
– No abuse – 32%
– Studies show that child abuse is more prevalent among serial killers than in society in general
– Motivation for killing is varied, but often fall into these categories
– – Obtaining money
– – Experiencing the thrill
– – A sense of power
– – A desire to rid the world of evil doers

The Makings of Serial Killer

Findings of Dr. Helen Morrison

– Dr. Helen Morrison has studied serial killers and has interviewed 135 in total
– Morrison says that, regardless of how different their lives may be, serial killers have shocking similarities
– Morrison’s research suggests that a chromosome abnormality is the most likely trigger
– Chromosome abnormality begins to express itself during puberty
– Serial killers (mostly men) begin to display their homicidal tendencies during puberty
– Studies show that serial killers never develop a sense of attachment and belonging to the world
– This lack of development means serial killers don’t empathize with their victims
– They do not develop emotional attachment to their victims which allows them to “experiment” on them

Findings of Jim Fallon

– Neuroscientist, Jim Fallon, has studied the brains of psychopaths for over 20 years
– Fallon recently discovered he has a whole lineage of murderers in his ancestry
– He set out to determine how the brain of a serial killer is different from other brains
– He scanned his own brain and compared it to brain scans of psychopaths
– He also compared his brain to his son’s, which showed normal orbital cortex activity
– Results showed that he had the same low orbital cortex activity as a serial killer

Fallon’s discoveries

– The orbital cortex is the area that is believed to be involved with ethical behavior, moral decision-making and impulse control
– People with low orbital cortex activity are either free-wheeling types or sociopaths (according to Fallon)
– The orbital cortex helps control the amygdala part of the brain, involved with aggression and appetites
– Low activity of the orbital cortex means less normal suppression of behaviors such as rage, violence, eating, sex and drinking
– Fallon’s research indicates that some people’s brains are predisposed toward violence
– Psychopathic tendencies may be passed down from one generation to another
– In addition to brain scans, Fallon also tested DNA of his family for genes associate with violence
– His research led to zeroing in on the MAO-A gene (monoamine oxidase A)
– – also known as the “warrior gene”
– – this gene regulates serotonin in the brain
– – Serotonin affects your mood (a bit like Prozac)
– – Many researches believe that a certain version of the “warrior gene” won’t respond to the calming effects of serotonin
– Scientists believe that the makings of a psychopath require three ingredients
– – Genetic makeup Brain patterns Abuse or violence in one’s childhood
– Fallon’s research has led him to change his thinking on nature vs. nurture
– He once believed that genes and brain function could determine everything
– He now thinks childhood experiences could be making all the difference

Fallon’s brain (on the right) has dark patches in the orbital cortex, the area just behind the eyes. This is the area that Fallon and other scientists say is involved with ethical behavior, moral decision-making and impulse control. The normal scan on the left is his son’s.

Serial Killer Frequency by Decade

(Decade of First Kill)
– Decade – US – International – Total
– 1900 – 27 – 11 – 38
– 1910 – 35 – 15 – 50
– 1920 – 29 – 28 – 57
– 1930 – 29 – 19 – 48
– 1940 – 27 – 37 – 64
– 1950 – 41 – 33 – 74
– 1960 – 146 – 56 – 202
– 1970 – 410 – 119 – 529
– 1980 – 549 – 160 – 709
– 1990 – 452 – 229 – 681
– 2000 – 245 – 167 – 412
– 2010 – 38 – 21 – 59

U.S. Serial Killers

Percentage by Race and Decade
– Decade – White – Black – Hispanic – Asian – Native American
– 1900 – 59.3 – 33.3 – 7.4 – 0.0 – 0.0
– 1910 – 45.7 – 54.3 – 0.0 – 0.0 – 0.0
– 1920 – 72.4 – 27.6 – 0.0 – 0.0 – 0.0
– 1930 – 55.2 – 44.8 – 0.0 – 0.0 – 0.0
– 1940 – 63.0 – 29.6 – 3.7 – 0.0 – 3.7
– 1950 – 80.5 – 19.5 – 0.0 – 0.0 – 0.0
– 1960 – 69.0 – 28.3 – 0.7 – 0.0 – 2.1
– 1970 – 62.6 – 33.0 – 3.4 – 0.5 – 0.5
– 1980 – 54.6 – 36.1 – 7.1 – 0.5 – 1.6
– 1990 – 43.5 – 49.7 – 5.5 – 1.3 – 0.0
– 2000 – 31.4 – 61.2 – 6.1 – 0.8 – 0.4
– 2010 – 34.2 – 57.9 – 7.9 – 0.0 – 0.0
– TOTAL- 52.4 – 41.2 – 4.9 – 0.6 – 0.8

Share your thoughts!

Share this infographic if you think it’s worth sharing. We’re always curious what you expect to find here on the AphantasiaMind platform. We would like to receive your vision, suggestions or comments on this article (or on anything at all, be it more tests on aphantasia/hyperphantasia, good books/movie recommendations… etc.).

Why infographics?

With these clear and interesting infographics, we want to help our visitors with aphantasia to digest these information more easily. So that there’s less to read, but more to learn. :)

Aphantasia: Our Memories of Love

Turn around the corner and you can’t remember what your girlfriend looks like. Get the picture?

Lose a loved one and you forget their face forever. This is what life is for me – a  person with aphantasia. I can’t remember clearly how my beloved great-grandmother looks like even though the last time I saw her was really not that long ago. Nor can I remember my mother’s face.

Aphantasia is a neurological condition that blocks the production of images and memories in the mind. To put it in simple terms, people with aphantasia are generally unable to picture people or places when they read a book. It’s a scientific condition which affects a small portion of people in the world, according to a study by the University of Exeter. According to Dr Adam Zeman, the long-ignored condition needs further study in order to improve the quality of life of the men and women with aphantasia, many of whom Dr Zeman has met in person, such as one who can’t even remember smells, tastes and moments spent with his girlfriend and friends.

Thankfully, in today’s tech-savvy world, while I’m unable to visualize my boyfriend’s face in my mind despite seeing him just a moment ago, there are many forms of external memory options such as photographs and videos. Sometimes, when I look at a photograph of my boyfriend, it takes me almost immediately to know that that’s him, but at the same time….that doesn’t seem to be what I remember him looking like.

My boyfriend is hyperphantasic

He can imagine me doing funny stuffs with his eyes closed or opened. Or that I’ve turned into a cat, with an eagle perched on my head.

I find that pretty amazing, especially when he can visualize clearly and describe to me how my mother looks like (despite the fact that he’s only met her a couple of times), and I can’t. Yes, I can’t describe to you how my mother looks like.

Yup, it’s sad.

I do envy him to a certain point but that being said, I can imagine sounds, tastes and sensations very clearly. In fact, I can be better than him in certain aspects such as remembering voices, tones, words and situations. (Hah!)

Yes, as aphantasiacs we may not be able to do many of those things, but thanks to that we don’t get stuck reliving traumatic memories in detail. We also tend to not focus on appearance as much as content. It is really just a neurological difference, with no inherent moral connotation to it, nor is it a personality trait.  It has its advantages and disadvantages. But it really isn’t such a bad thing.

How To Control Your Dreams (Infographic)

Although the majority of people dream every night, not all those dreams will be in colour, and not everyone remembers their dreams upon waking. A small minority again can be classed as lucid dreams. BedroomWorld gives you a little more information on this amazing subject.

The Daytime Benefits of Lucid Dreaming

Study finds cognitive benefits for those who realise they are in a dream while dreaming.

People who realise they are in a dream while they are dreaming — a lucid dream — have better problem-solving abilities, new research finds.

This may be because the ability to step outside a dream after noticing it doesn’t make sense reflects a higher level of insight.

Around 82% of people are thought to have experienced a lucid dream in their life, while the number experiencing a lucid dream at least once a month may be as high as 37%.

Flash of insight

The study, published in the journal Dreaming, recruited participants into three groups (Bourke & Shaw, 2014):

  • Frequent lucid dreamers: those who experienced a lucid dream more than once a month.
  • Occasional lucid dreamers: those who had had a lucid dream at least once in their lives.
  • Non-lucid dreamers: those who had never experienced a lucid dream.

All the participants were given a test of problem-solving which required a flash of insight.

Each problem was made up of three words which led to another word or phrase.

For example, one problem gives you the words ‘mile’, ‘sand’ and ‘age’.

What other single word can be combined with all three to create three new words or phrases?

Got it?

Give up?

The answer is ‘stone’, which can be combined with the three words to produce ‘milestone’, ‘sandstone’ and ‘Stone Age’.

The results showed that in comparison to those who had never had a lucid dream, the frequent lucid dreamers solved 25% more of these insight problems.

Dr Patrick Bourke, who led the study, said:

“It is believed that for dreamers to become lucid while asleep, they must see past the overwhelming reality of their dream state, and recognise that they are dreaming.

The same cognitive ability was found to be demonstrated while awake by a person’s ability to think in a different way when it comes to solving problems.”

Lucid dreaming and solving insight problems may tap into similar cognitive abilities, the authors suggest:

“‘Insight’ can be seen to be related to other demonstrated cognitive correlates of lucidity in dreaming.

The tendency towards ‘field independence’ for example allows people to ‘step back’ from perceived reality, reflect on it and evaluate the perceptual evidence.

For the insight that leads to lucidity, people also seem able to step-back from the obvious interpretation and consider a remote and at the time implausible option – that it is all a dream.” (Bourke & Shaw, 2014)

How to start lucid dreaming

If you’d like to increase the chances you’ll catch yourself dreaming while asleep, here are three tips:

  • During the day, repeatedly ask yourself if you’re dreaming.
  • When you’re asleep, try to identify any signs or events that would be weird in real life. As you know, dreams are usually chock full of them.
  • Keep a dream journal to help you focus on your dreams. Write down whatever you can remember when you wake up.

Sweet dreams!

How To Control Your Dreams

Share your thoughts!

Share this infographic if you think it’s worth sharing. We’re always curious what you expect to find here on the AphantasiaMind platform. We would like to receive your vision, suggestions or comments on this article (or on anything at all, be it more tests on aphantasia/hyperphantasia, good books/movie recommendations… etc.).

Why infographics?

With these clear and interesting infographics, we want to help our visitors with aphantasia to digest these information more easily. So that there’s less to read, but more to learn. :)

Want to motivate yourself to go on and on? Use the conscious compensation strategy

Being more easily affected by push factors doesn’t mean that pull factors are completely unable to influence us at all. What we need is something to ‘remind’ us to do it. A conscious compensation strategy for you to find a way to get around the lack of pull factors.

I go for pole gym classes at a studio, weekly. Each time after the one hour lesson, I feel so motivated to carry on. I can’t help to think that class is really fun and I am even willing train for the whole day despite how tired I may be. Sounds great, right? However, that’s probably just me being delusional. By the time when a week has passed after previous lesson, I don’t feel like going for the next class already. And here I am thinking: why do I lose interest in everything so fast?

Then when I drag myself over for class and train, I find it fun again, and I want more that I wouldn’t mind training for a whole day. And this (vicious) cycle goes on and on. And I’m so sick and tired of me being my lazy self:/

Sometimes, to figure out what’s best for yourself, you need to take a step back and reflect on what could be the reason of why you may be so lazy. There’s more to ‘personality’ than you think.

After knowing about aphantasia and through many reflections, I realized that it could be due to the fact that I’m unable to use my brain to ‘see’ how fun lesson will be. Whereas some people are able to visualize and imagine what they want to see, which motivates them effectively.

Yep, it’s aphantasia, bruh.

I’m not trying to use it as an excuse, but this can be one of the reasons to why I lose interest in everything so fast. I finally see how aphantasy is affecting me so much and I figured out how to compensate for my own blind spot: by watching pole dancing videos the day before to motivate myself to go back weekly.

And I must say, it works AMAZING.

This is basically called a conscious compensation strategy, whereby you find a way to get around the lack of “pull factor”. Be it picking up a new hobby, going for dance lessons, having a productive day at work or going to a party to meet interesting people…etc. If you think that you’ve lost interest in anything, watch a few videos about it and see if it spikes your interest again. The best thing about this simple compensation strategy is that it can apply to each and everyone of us, whether we are aphantasmic or not.

So when you go home and next time you don’t feel like going for class, you watch videos of others or yourself, and you will go, because something visual such as a video might trigger the feeling of “fun” that you had during class, which will bring you back to the place.

The best thing about this coping strategy? You can apply this to all aspects of life.

After knowing that my laziness and lack of motivation could be due to this instead of solely on ‘personality’, I definitely feel more willing to do stuff instead of procrastinating all the time.

If you would like to check out the Pole Studio I go to, it’s SLAP Dance Studio located at 155A/157A Telok Ayer Street, Singapore. My instructor is Jas and trust me, her classes are really, incredibly fun and enjoyable that I just can’t get enough. She’s a professional pole and exotic dancer and choreographer for over 8 years, was the founding member of Bobbi’s Pole Dance Studio Singapore, the world’s foremost Pole Dance studio from Australia and the creator of the annual Miss Pole Dance Australia competition. Not only that, Jas has also performed with independent dance companies and choreographers in Asia, and her performances include the inaugural Youth Olympics Games Opening 2010, the W!LD RICE annual fundraising gala 2009 and the Asian Pole Summit 2008. What more could you ask for from such an amazing instructor? She’s definitely one of the “pull factors” which motivates me to go back for more. :)

Think You’re Lazy? You May Have Aphantasia

Do others call you lazy? Are you sick and tired of always losing interest in everything so fast? You may have aphantasia.

Push and Pull Factors

Push factors are circumstances or conditions which motivates a person to do something, especially in one’s country, region, organization, religion, etc. An example can be a situation whereby one suffers discrimination at work and is desperate to change to a new work environment. That negative influence is a push factor.

On the other hand, pull factors can be the lure of something which is attractive. For example, the economy of another country, increase in income of another organization, or even something simple such as advertising, sales, discounts, promotional events and referral and loyalty-reward programs. Basically, the more compelling the pull factor, the more likely the recipient of the message will respond.

More often than not, people without aphantasia can be more easily influenced by pull factors and can be more easily motivated to do something. This is because they are able to ‘visualize’ and better ‘foresee’ the benefits of what is attractive and be ‘pulled’ to do something. Whereas certain people with aphantasia, such as me and some others who are unable to visualize no matter how hard we try, pull factors may only affect us for a limited amount of time and once our memory of it or the feeling it gives us is gone, we are no longer tempted by the initial pull factor.

Yes, people with aphantasia are more likely to be influenced by push factors because we lack effective pull factors that affects us.

That said, it does not mean that pull factors are completely unable to influence us at all. What we need is something to ‘remind’ us to do it. A conscious compensation strategy for you to find a way to get around the lack of pull factors.

My life without mental images

On the 31st of August, my boyfriend suddenly sent me a link from Wikipedia. It was a link about Aphantasia – it had 4 simple sentences in it – and 3 references.

“Aphantasia is a hypothesized neurological condition where a person does not possess a functioning mind’s eye. The term was first suggested in a 2015 study for a specific kind of visual agnosia. Further studies are being planned. The term was coined by the team led by Prof. Adam Zeman of the University of Exeter Medical School.

– Wikipedia

“Have you heard of this condition before?” He asks. Unsure of what condition it might be, I quickly googled and managed to come across a test (an abridged version of the Vividness of Visual Imagery Questionnaire used by psychologists) on BBC News which was developed by the University of Exeter.

Me: I think I have aphantasia.

Kelvin: Really??? Can you see my face now? In your mind, can you remember my face?

He seemed really anxious.

After closing my eyes, I tried to visualize his face in my mind. C’mon, you just saw him 6 hours ago and you see him every, single day.

I replied, “No.”

He was surprised. It turns out that two of his friends have this condition too and he didn’t even know that is exists. Well, neither do we, since we had always thought that everyone thinks the same way. And so I never find the need to explain to people that I do not think visually, that I’m unable to conjure a mental image of a person. It’s weird and hard to explain, because being unable to visualize hasn’t really affected me in any way that I know of. My memory doesn’t seem to be affected, and my facial recognition ability way surpasses my hyperaphantastic boyfriend.

“I know that it’s you when I see you, but I can’t visualize your face very accurately the moment you’re out of my sight. Can you?”

“Yes, I can. I can see your face in my mind, all the details.”

Researches like this is extremely irresistible to me. It coaxes me to think about ways to experience life that are radically different from my own, and it offers clues to how the mind works. Why does my boyfriend think so differently? Why doesn’t he feel how I feel? Why do some people love to read books?

“Can you count sheep when you’re trying to sleep?”

“No, I can’t count sheep. When I count sheep, I can only ‘count’. I don’t see any ‘sheep’ in my mind, and that’s why I’m wondering who even came up with that idea of counting sheep.”

“It’s a genetic condition.”

“You know what? I….can’t seem to visualize my mother’s face or my brother’s face either.”

“Wow”

“This could be a reason why I hate to read books, particularly fiction. Even when it comes to short paragraphs which are describing the look of the character or what he/she is wearing, I can never ‘see’ it. And I never understand why people always say, ‘Oh, the books are always better than the movie adaptation.’ I guess that explains.”

Despite this being something which I can relate to, I didn’t know about this condition until he asked me to try to recall how he looks like.

“Because Roland told me he just found out he has this problem. He thought that everyone is the same.”

That’s pretty true. I’ve always thought that the reason of why I hate to read is as simple as myself being born lazy. Turns out, I’m sort of ‘compromised’ on what books have to offer.

“Don’t forget me.” He quickly sent me a photo of himself.

“Doesn’t look like the mental image in my head.”

“Omg.”

“Ok, you must keep photo of me with you, so you don’t walk away with the wrong guy.”

My test result:

Aphantasia

He did the test as well and got the result of Hyperphantasia.

Hyperphantasia

To be honest, I think that aphantasia could be more prominent in the Chinese race. Just like the genetic trait which, about half of all people of Asian descent share, causes a prompt reddening of the face in response to drinking alcohol. While the red-faced alcohol response can be annoying, it may also be beneficial to populations on the whole, as it appears to be associated with lower rates of alcoholism. In fact, the drug disulfiram, which is used to prevent relapse in recovering alcoholics, has some of the same biochemical effects as the flushing gene does when it is expressed. People with aphantasia may have, in fact, acquired other forms of compensation to their thought and memory processes which allows them to function normally.

“Is everything vivid to you?”

“Yes. I can imagine you in your exact form now sitting next to me.”

“Well, if I try to visualize that same image I see my legs tangled, somehow.”

“Now I am stroking your hair, and Seiji barking next to me.” Seiji is his dog.

“Ok, I can visualize actions but it’s hard for me to visualize faces. BUT I can hear Seiji bright and clear. In fact, I can imagine my mom’s voice very clearly.”

“Next question: when you read the text on messages, do you ‘hear’ the words?”

“Yes, I can visualize and remember voices and tones very well. Very, very clearly, almost as if that person is talking to me.”

“You have compensated talent, haha.”

Images aside, I realized that I’m way better at remembering names than him, perhaps because he remember names by imagining how the person looks like, whereas I remember their faces and associate their names with their faces.

“If I don’t consciously merge the name with the image of the face, I can’t remember their name. And that is not passive. Takes effort. And when I forget to do it, I will forget the person’s name.”

This could be a way of how my brain compensates with the lack of the ability to visualize in my mind, that’s why the moment I see someone, I know their names from my way of linking and association.

In my world, mental images don’t exist. But this has never affected me greatly. Other than the fact that I hate reading books.