Is synesthesia and psychic ability linked?

6th February 2021. Reading Time: 8 minutes Paranormal Theories, General. 2236 page views. 1 comments.

Synesthesia is a neurological condition that causes a person to experience something on a multi-sensory level. While originally I thought it might offer an explanation to some claims of psychic ability, I began to wonder if it in some ways aids a person in unlocking psi abilities.

Psychic ability is something that a lot of people will tell you they are born with.  Many even say that one of their parents or grandparents also had 'the gift'.  It is one of those areas that researchers take a particular interest in as some have been able to display some incredible examples of psychic ability that benchmarks indicate are beyond chance.  Some people believe they have less advanced ability but feel they have heightened senses.  Often when people dive into the paranormal, they naturally become more aware of their senses.  Some suddenly start to see or hear things at a level they never did before.  What is interesting is that a lot of these experiences are also covered by a neurological condition called synesthesia.  

What is synesthesia? 

Synesthesia is a neurological condition where instead of just one of your senses picks up information through stimulus, several of your senses try to interpret this information.  For example, instead of just hearing music, some people say they can see the music with colour.  The word synesthesia has greek origins from synth (together) and ethesia (perception).  Essentially it means perceived together.  Healthline states that in 2006, a study indicated that 2-4 percent of the population had this condition.

If you have synesthesia, you might notice that your senses tend to intertwine, giving your perceptions of the world an additional dimension. Perhaps every time you bite into a food, you also feel its geometric shape: round, sharp, or square.

Maybe when you’re feeling emotional over a person you love, you can close your eyes and see certain colors playing at your field of vision.

You may be reading these words with a series of accompanying voices in your head, characterizing each sentence with an identity of its own as you would a person you were speaking to on the street.

All these experiences are examples of synesthesia.

While already I can draw a few comparisons to psychical ability, studies also indicate that the condition is genetically inherited and is something a person is born with.  They often start exhibiting symptoms at a young age, again another comparison with psychic ability.   In some cases, an undiagnosed person may misinterpret this cognitive quirk as a form of psychic ability itself.

The American psychological association states:

Studies have confirmed that the phenomenon is biological, automatic and apparently unlearned, distinct from both hallucination and metaphor. The condition runs in families and is more common among women than men, researchers now know. But until recently, researchers could only speculate about the causes of synesthesia.

A person who has synesthesia is often referred to as a synesthete.  It is usually not something that develops later in life, however, certain medical conditions, medications or even trauma can bring this on later in life. 

I know that the number four is yellow, but I have a friend who insists four is red.

She also says four has a motherly personality, but my four has no personality — none of my numbers do. But all of my numbers have colors, and so do my letters, days and months.

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Spontaneous accounts of synesthesia

While people with synesthesia are born with this condition, some research indicates that there are ways for this to be induced in a person.  In some ways it is a form of hallucination, so one way to do this is through sensory deprivation.  

Here we demonstrate that after ∼5 min of visual deprivation, sounds can evoke synesthesia-like percepts (vivid colors and Klüver form-constants) in ∼50% of non-synesthetes. These results challenge aspects of the cross-activation model and suggest that synesthesia exists as a latent feature in all individuals, manifesting when the balance of activity across the senses has been altered.

Inducing synesthesia in non-synesthetes: Short-term visual deprivation facilitates auditory-evoked visual percepts
Anupama Nair DavidBrang

Consciousness and Cognition
Volume 70, April 2019, Pages 70-79

After just 5 minutes of visual deprivation, hearing sounds can cause a person to see things that are not there.  Of course, I cannot help but make a comparison to a lot of paranormal investigations.  Either blindfolded or with the lights of sitting in the dark, it would be easy to cause this kind of response.  Let's look at the Ganzfeld experiment for example.  While it was originally used to test telepathy, it has been modified in a way for paranormal investigators to have some sort of paranormal experience as they believe it helps to open them up.  A person has two ping pong balls on their eyes with a red light shining on them (so as not to burn out their eyes as their eyes must stay open).  They sit or lie in a relaxed state while listening to white noise for a prolonged period (often around 20 minutes).  A few minutes in this state, people start feeling things and even seeing what they believe are shadow figures.  Is this enough to induce synesthesia?

What is interesting is that the research here indicates that it is something within all of us that potentially just has to be unlocked, again something that is true in comparisons with psychical abilities.  What if synesthesia however is not just the cause, it could be the key?

Synesthesia and PSI ability

When I first came across synesthesia, while originally I thought it offered a potential explanation for some experiences that people have.  I had to wonder though if maybe it was a component that makes up psychic ability?  In my search, I found some interesting research that indicated synesthesia was an important component when it came to remote viewing. Remote viewing is an activity where a person can psychically 'see' an item from a great distance without physically being present. 

Image Source: Pinterest

Dr. Edwin C. May, nuclear psychist was a scientist involved with the infamous 'Stargate' remote viewing project with the CIA from 1975 and then the program's director from 1985 to 1995.  Stargate Project was the code name used in 1991 for a secret U.S. Army unit to investigate psychic phenomena with an emphasis on remote viewing.  He claims that the top three remote viewers in the United States were all synesthetes. Dr May and his associate Dr. Sonali Marwaha believe that the way a 'hypersensitive' brian connects information also allows a person to access information that regular people cannot.

As we explored the literature, we found that synesthetes reported psi experiences. We thus looked deeper into synesthesia, particularly the causes—the underlying brain structure. Hyper-connectivity of brain regions was considered to be a possible underlying factor for synesthetic experiences, the type of experience depending on what areas had greater internal connections. This led us to hypothesize that a psi-adept person will also require similar underlying factors, such that a psi informational signal can be processed leading to a psi experience. Thus our interest in synesthetes for understanding the question of the mechanism of informational psi.

For centuries, scientists have been trying to understand our brain and how it really works.  While a lot of progress has been made, it has only been in the last few decades that psychic ability has been properly studied as a potential link from a neurological perspective.  In the same way that a lot of people are ridiculed or too scared to talk about their potential psychic ability, it seems the same is true of synesthetes.  When someone is different, human nature tends to kick in and we don't believe what someone else is experiencing because it is different from our own experience.  Whether it is just something on a neurological level or if it is a component that helps make up psychic ability, we need to listen to people and their experiences no matter how fantastic they may seem.  There could be a key component we are missing by dismissing their claim that can help move us forward. 

What is a possible explanation for paranormal experiences, could also be the key to understanding them.  What do all paranormal accounts have in common?  Us.  We are there to witness it, experience it, and perceive it.  While there are a large number of reasons why what we are perceiving is not necessarily paranormal, it could be the perception itself that is the key factor and maybe that is what we need to explore more.

I would be really interested to know from you, if you have synesthesia, do you also have psychic ability?  Tell me in the comments below! 

If you enjoy this article, this is the type of discussion featured in my book Stuff Paranormal Investigators Need to Know Volume 2: My brain is the key that sets me free Available Worldwide via Amazon or through the LLIFS Shop!


Inducing synesthesia in non-synesthetes: Short-term visual deprivation facilitates auditory-evoked visual percepts
Anupama Nair DavidBrang Consciousness and Cognition
Volume 70, April 2019, Pages 70-79

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  • Kd Foreman 3 years ago

    I've had a couple of rocks/stones/crystals insist that they'd prefer other locations (lol). My Apache Tear stone INSISTED that he be 'alone' in front of the group of other stones. ;)