Art Kavanagh

Follow @artkavanagh on

Aphantasia and ADHD (inattentive subtype)

I just posted the following to /r/ADHD, then I thought it might also be a suitable candidate for my first non-micro post here.

Only recently, more than 40 years after I left school, I’ve come to see that some aspects of my behaviour that have been always caused me problems — lack of focus, aimlessness, an inability to step back from the details of what I’m doing and “see the big picture”, failure to prioritize, and difficulties with complex tasks comprised of multiple parts — are characteristic of the inattentive subtype of ADHD. A few months before this struck me, I discovered that I have aphantasia and I concluded that my difficulties are down to the inability to visualize: I can’t mentally see a pathway from where I am to where I want to be. I can’t carry a road map or a project workflow in my head, or visualize what the completed task would look like (even if it’s something I’ve often done before). Aphantasia also adversely affects my ability to deal with anxiety, in that I can’t picture reassuring outcomes/scenarios.

I’ve never been diagnosed with ADHD and, at least for the moment, I’m not inclined to seek a diagnosis. It seems to me that the main examples of my ADHD-like behaviour can be adequately explained by the inability to visualize.

I’d like to know whether people who have ADHD (particularly the inattentive subtype) also have aphantasia. If you do, do you think that the lack of visuals is an important element in how the condition affects you? Thanks for any light you can throw on the subject.