Posts Tagged ‘visualisation’


Updating the Site – Progress Report (Amended)

2011 February 8

Some time ago I announced that I was starting the process of updating this site. I also announced that I would like to start a support forum, specifically for those like me who were unable to visualize.

Here is a progress report.

I estimate I am about two-thirds of the way through reading what studies I have been able to find into visualization (the “mind’s eye” or “mental imagery”) online, including related items such as:-

  • Episodic memory (memory of life events),
  • VVIQ (“The Vividness of Visual Imagery Questionnaire”),
  • Dreams,
  • Theory of Mind.

Unfortunately, my efforts are being hampered by numerous time consuming problems with the benefits people at the moment, as my partner has also fallen ill following an accident. But we are both soldiering on and I hope to begin pulling the research together by June, all being well.

Take care.


The Memory Clinic: Outcome

2010 September 8

My partner and I went to the memory clinic yesterday. (If you’re unfamiliar with why, you can read this here:

Unfortunately, the results were pretty much what I had expected. Readers about visualisation and episodic memory problems may not know about the experience of others like myself who also have visual snow. Essentially, many co-sufferers have reported ignorance from medical practitioners – even being told that they are “imagining it”. I was fortunate to have found medical evidence to back up my concerns when I saw my GP and my pain consultant. This is why I have a diagnosis of “persistent aura” with my “complicated migraine”. But I had no such evidence to back up my concerns when I visited the clinic yesterday regarding my visualisation deficit and episodic memory recall problems; and the learning problems I have that appear to relate.

Before attending the clinic, my partner and I had been asked to complete a questionnaire and hand it to reception when we arrived, which we did. I then had a ten minute structured question and answer session, asking for things like: As many animals beginning with “p” that I could think of (timed); to write a sentence, any sentence; to identify pictures of items by name and by association with ideas like “nautical” (e.g., for an anchor) or “royal” (e.g., for a crown). The only one I struggled with was a made up name and address. This I was read, and had to repeat back, three times at the beginning, and then recall specific pieces of information from at the end. None of these tests were for visual recall either short-term or long-term.

I was then seen by a registrar, whose bedside manner was similar to House. From the offset, he was dismissive and, it seemed to my partner and I, negative towards our being there. He took a general medical history (which I recall from factual narrative, and note is not a test of detail or of visual recall), and then a general chat which was obviously testing factual recall of everday things like: What do you like to do to relax, or what films do you like? My partner is a staff nurse of fourteen years’ experience, and she said that I make extensive use of a notebook and a computer-organized list to cope with daily living. She also told him that she regularly shows me how to do new things (such as various things to do with cooking), and that I later not only forget what she has shown me, but that she has shown me. I said that I used to support Microsoft Office (before becoming too ill to work with migraine), but that I have had to abandon trying to learn the new version, because its interface is so different. And I said that we recently passed a ruined tower that interersted me, but that I genuinely thought (and still believe) I have not passed before – even though my partner tells me that we had and that I commented on it enthusiastically previously. Despite all of this, his conclusion was that for the most part I was simply choosing to ignore things that didn’t interest me, because I was “eccentric”, and that at my age (just past 40) I wouldn’t change. We were so gobsmacked that we left without pressing him further.

My impression was that he thought I was computer- and filmed-obsessed, that I was uninterested in anything else (such as cooking), that because of this I would never focus on these tasks and never learn them; and most of all, that I was rigid in using my computer to guide my chores and so on because I liked it that way, and not because that was what I had to do to remember to do things (like bathe if I cannot do so on the day I’d normally wash; otherwise forgetting that I hadn’t done so).

This, to my mind, echoes the treatment, as I said, that sufferers of visual snow often get. So my suggestion to anyone thinking of trying this route themselves is the same as to those with visual snow: Go prepared. For this specific situation, expect there to be no communication that your problems are with visualisation, visual recall and detailed episodic memory. You’ll need to prepare well in advance if, like me, you are affected badly with thinking on your feet and projecting yourself into the future. Don’t expect to be tested for visual related items at all: I’m not sure how you can stress that you should be.

On the plus side, he did at least suggest some medical or medically-related factors that affect memory: Such as any former incidents of depression, and in my case my persistent aura and migraine attacks and even the Epilim that I take as a preventative. But I cannot confidently take his conclusion that there was no medical problem on faith, given our overall negative impression.

I have however, done a quick bit of online research from the usual reliable sources, and note that there have been some updates since I wrote in 2008. So I plan to update the FAQs and series on visualisation as soon as possible, and in light of the many comments you have made since then.

The whole episode makes the joke of the statement that my learning difficulties are an invisible problem.

Take care.


Insight into “Cannot Visualise” during Migraine Dream?

2009 November 27

I may have had an insight into my own “persistent episodic visual amnesia” (PEVA). This is what I call the problem talked about in the Visualisation FAQs page. “PEVA” is my own name for the problem, which others have shared here too. None of us have found any facts about a known medical condition.

One of the things that I notice is that I have vivid, full-colour dreams. But these dreams are almost always set in the distant past. They almost never take place in the period after my early twenties when PEVA first started. But in the early hours I awoke with a migraine. The dreams I had after I fell asleep were in the present. The setting was not the usual stereotype of a past family home. The characters in my dream were my current partner and one of her boys.

I am diagnosed with persistent migraine aura, and frequent and severe migraine. About half those who have commented on this site have a migraine diagnosis. This is a high number, but it is a statistically small sample. One of the ideas my family doctor has is that PEVA is due to my persistent aura. This is a constant electrical disturbance in the brain. In me, one way it shows up is through visual snow. For more information, please see the PMA & Visual Snow FAQs page.

So, it is interesting that I should have rare dreams of the present during a migraine. The attack was still there when I awoke after the dreams. I don’t know how that may work, as the theory is it is permanent aura that disrupt my memory. Also, it is not scientific. One example is not statistically significant. And one person’s anecdotal report is also suspect. But without facts we can find, it could be a start.

If anyone else reading this has PEVA, please could you let me know:

  • If you have been diagnosed with migraine or not,
  • If you have persistent aura such as visual snow or not,
  • If you have vivid, full-colour dreams or not, and
  • If your dreams are usually set in the past?

Take care.


Student Doctors & My Neurologist (2nd Correction)

2009 June 2

This last eight days has seen a lot of changes for me. Last Tuesday I had my last appointment with my neurologist. He has now done as much as he can to control the pain symptoms of my migraine. These come from damage to my neck. My prescription of the anti-epileptic drug Epilim (sodium valproate) has helped the pain migraines. But I still suffer a lot of debilitating non-pain migraine with aura. At least things are going in the right direction. Though I seem to again be in a cluster of attacks.

On a much more positive note, today I sat in with some student doctors. Some months ago my GP (family doctor) asked if I would do so. They asked me a lot of questions about the “complicated migraine” I suffer. This gave me an opportunity to also talk about the fact I am unable to visualise (see things in my “mind’s eye”). And that I have no visual episodic memory (memory for life events). I talk about this further in the Visualisation FAQs page, and the series linked to there. My hope is that this may bring it to the attention of neurology researchers.

If you have any combination of these symptoms, I would like to hear from you. You can either comment – there is a discussion at the end of “Cannot Visualise (Part Three)“. Or you can, if you prefer, e-mail me privately at – just remove the “nospam” part!

(I’ve corrected the e-mail address above.)

(Oops! I forgot to add the combination of symptoms. If you have any combination of these symptoms…):-

  • Migraine, and/or,
  • Persistent aura, and/or,
  • Visual snow, and/or,
  • Inability or poor ability to visualise, and/or,
  • Poor visual episodic memory.