Not everyone can actually create images in their head, whether they be imagination or recreated memories.

Most people who report having this problem still dream normally, seeing images as one would expect.

EDIT: Since this question gets lots of views (presumably from search engines) I figured I'd include some more information others may find useful. I'd also noticed @Dollar Bill's answer here only has one upvote from me, despite it being an amazing answer that I believe people are missing the value of.

On the topic of the question: Yes there is an explanation. More importantly, it is not just an 'ability' differing person to person, it's a skill we can develop in our existing categories, but even more importantly in methods we do not currently or may falsely believe we are unable to use. And perhaps even more importantly still, as we improve in visualization it also improves our ability to learn new information through the newly developed system.

The accepted answer to the question explains the fundamentals of this subject expertly, which you will need to understand if you want to begin learning how to 'visualize' using your different senses. [read his answer if you don't understand what anything italicized refers to] Your main representational system is the sense you are strongest at creating visualizations with. As explained below, usually one system leads. This becomes a problem when individuals do not purposefully expand their other 'systems'. When we neglect our skills, they will not improve.

To improve your ability to visualize in any category, simply exercise perceiving a scenario in your mind as if you were truly experiencing the stimulation triggering your senses. For those who visualize easily or naturally from a young age the concept not everyone can see vivid mental pictures the same way they can seems foreign. Similarly, for those who have different systems it can be difficult to understand how to begin working in that area.

I'd suggest starting with visual and touch, since I believe those are the two ends of the spectrum. For visual, start by picking basic shapes and trying to draw them in your head. I believe it is a different process drawing the image rather than starting with an already created image, the latter more strongly tied to our recall abilities and the former more strongly tied to our processing, problem solving, and creative activities. For absolute beginners I'd focus my attention much more on drawing first. After drawing an entire shape you should try to hold it steady for a moment, then manipulate it in some way, perhaps spinning or rotating it, then clear the empty space in your mind to start on a new shape. As you do this you want to try to keep "darkening" the image, not in 'color' but in opacity, meaning you make it less transparent. For absolute beginners you're likely to not get any results immediately, you have to practice and not all in one sitting, so you can rest and recuperate and absorb what you have learned just as if you were learning a new sport.

As you improve, increase the complexity of what you're visualizing, in visual examples you could start with circles and squares, move up to the suits of a deck of playing cards, move up further to objects of increasing complexity, further to rooms and larger scenes with activity and movement. It's important as you're doing this practice every day you not only work at the level you're currently at, but also try to reach a bit and do something you think might be out of your reach currently. Don't be upset when it doesn't work, or even if you have difficulty at the earlier steps. It's going to take time and practice and incorporating doing it into your normal routine so, in addition to when you actively practice for its own sake, you are also naturally practicing in your day to day life.

For those who can already visualize using images, it can sometimes be difficult to understand how to start in kinesthetic (touch, physical, or tactile sense). [From below] If you are sitting on a couch, relaxing, you might slowly run your fingers over he fabric, sense the textures, the temperature, your weight on the cushions, maybe you can remember the color, the patterns. . . . I'm not sure if it was intentional, but this explains an excellent way to begin working on your tactile visualization skills. You first experience a broad and simple sensation, like resting your hand on a counter or sitting down. You spend the moment experiencing every bit of the sense as it happens, trying to cause it to change slightly and observe the tiniest differences as you move, such as raising and lowering your hand on a surface which sinks in. Then you stop the sensation, try to optically visualize yourself in the same experience (you can do the next step even if you need to improve this step), and actually "draw" the senses you experienced across your real physical body.

Another step or stage to this training process is being able to bring your visualizations first outside of closed eyes, then outside of your mind and into your actual perception. What this means is you can actually visualize an image in the real world, in the nature of "Who Framed Roger Rabbit?" if you've seen the movie. You can fully create shapes you "see", floating around with your eyes open and in front of you, rather than 'internal' visualization which doesn't occur in front of you but instead "above" you or "behind you" or in your mind.

Not only is it very valuable to improve your ability to visualize for its own sake, and as well as for the sake of being able to learn any kind of new information at a faster pace if utilizing this particular sense, but it also serves yet another benefit: the very real world senses they correlate to will also improve.

Hope if anyone is reading this they find it useful. Good luck. And thanks for the answer DB, it was one of a few important answers on IQ which played critical roles in me beginning to realize I had areas I was lacking in I didn't even know existed, and the process of building things I had stopped developing in early childhood.

asked 05 Apr '12, 19:37

Snow's gravatar image


edited 24 Sep '13, 07:38


I can't create images in my head. I can imagine or sense things, but not pictures. In my dreams I see images.

(06 Apr '12, 09:21) Fairy Princess

Visualising is easy and almost natural when your in the vortex.remember feeling is more important than images.

(06 Apr '12, 21:19) Satori
showing 1 of 2 show 1 more comments

People are wired in representational systems

Visual Auditory Kinesthetic Olfactory Gustatory

Your main representational system may not be Visual. You may relate better to touch (Kinesthetic) more than, say Visual or Auditory. Fairy Princess says that she can "sense" but not easily create images. People who 'sense' are often operating by touch.

Do you often use kinesthetic verbs? Do say, "Stay in touch" more often "See you"? Do you like textures more than colors? Or sounds more than pictures?

There are many permutations and this is a subject that could fill volumes, I will try to be less wordy than usual. :) You may be one of these people who operate Kinestheticly. We all operate with all five senses, and a few with the sixth!

But usually one system leads. I might suggest that you can segue into an image. If you are sitting on a couch, relaxing, you might slowly run your fingers over he fabric, sense the textures, the temperature, your weight on the cushions, maybe you can remember the color, the patterns. . . .

I visualize easily. I worked my way through college as a commercial photographer. Still very much enjoy photography. My memory processes in still images. Slices of time. These images lead me to feelings. I believe that the feeling I get from my images is what ties me to my Source.

I once thought that since sight is the highest vibration frequecy it is our closest to Source. Now, I believe that feeling is the closest. This 'feeling' goes so far beyond sense of touch, kinesthetics that it leads to the sixth sense.

If you can get a good feeling from Visual, or Auditory, or Gustatory, or Olfactory, this is your intro into the Vortex.

I also find that the deeper I go in connecting to the Vortex, the sharper my senses on this 3d plane, become. Colors are brighter and more vivid. Sounds are more enticing. I taste and smell more intensely. The veils become more transparent.


answered 06 Apr '12, 20:24

Dollar%20Bill's gravatar image

Dollar Bill

edited 07 Apr '12, 05:37

I also learn by talking. I think in words and sounds.

(06 Apr '12, 21:13) Fairy Princess

I cannot draw.

(06 Apr '12, 21:13) Fairy Princess

Oh wow. I don't know how I missed this answer.

Excellent answer.. Very informative. I do have naturally bad eyesight, extremely so. I'll even have dreams where I have my bad eyes.. huge pain.

I wonder if it is possible to engage/disengage the other ways of processing things. I'm always 'playing around' with my psyche, and emulating different methods of thought, maybe this isn't too far of a stretch beyond that..

(28 Oct '12, 13:57) Snow

If anyone was curious and didn't already know, you can absolutely train your mind's ability to think in the forms of your other senses than what you developed thus far in your experience. So @Fairy Princess and any others like myself who have ever struggled with 'visualizing' using vision rather than feeling, it is as simple to train as focusing in on the smallest sized picture you can of something simple with slight detail, practice on this and it starts to grow like any muscle or skill.

(25 Mar '13, 07:31) Snow

@Snow thanks for sharing! good to see you !

(25 Mar '13, 07:46) ursixx

Thank you Snow. I will try it if I find a need to visualize. As far as manifesting, it seems that the feeling of having it is the key and using visualization is a tool to help you feel the feeling of having it.

(25 Mar '13, 07:49) Fairy Princess

Thanks ursixx, it is great to be seen by people who I enjoy. ^.^ @FP, I can affirmatively say that any methods of thought work for manifesting, and my comment wasn't made with that thought in mind. Instead, I've always envied that variety of imagination and it can be fun to utilize, so if anyone shares the desire to explore it then know there are maps to guide along the way.

(25 Mar '13, 08:27) Snow

I would like to develop it for artistic purposes. Thanks

(25 Mar '13, 08:42) Fairy Princess
showing 2 of 8 show 6 more comments

It's not really a problem. Yes, most people see mental images and a small percentage of the population do not. But those who do not see an image can "sense" an image. If you were some place other than home and closed your eyes and thought of your living room, you would likely be able to point with your hand to where the sofa sits or the book case or the end table or the lamp or the door to the kitchen. You have a sense of these images which is why you recognize people and places or can find your way back to a place you've been before. And your ability to see an image may not be the same as other peoples but maybe one or more of your other senses like hearing, touch or smell are more acute than most peoples. But you are definitely not alone in this. Look here and note all the great comments below on this page... And here for that interesting survey at the top of the previous link...


answered 06 Apr '12, 08:54

Rindor's gravatar image


edited 06 Apr '12, 08:54

Think of yesterday, remember something. Do you see yourself doing this, that or even the other thing? You are using your visualizing skills to see this stuff, it is not something we need to try to do. It is something that happens almost automatically when we think of something.

The problem is in the trying to part, you don't need to try to to imagine something it is an easy process. Imagine being at the bottom of an ocean and next you start imagining fish swimming by, maybe some other animals it just happens when you think of something.


answered 06 Apr '12, 10:48

Wade%20Casaldi's gravatar image

Wade Casaldi

@Wade Casaldi when you do this, are seeing an image in your mind that is like looking at a picture, or is more like just sensing it?

(06 Apr '12, 10:53) Fairy Princess

No it is more vague like memories are. I can see these things but I suppose you could say more feeling not like if I turned on a television set of course. One way is seeing yourself and the other way is a sense that you are there and you are seeing from your eyes. The closest I could liken it to is when you used to play lets pretend as a kid. For me it was army with my friends. We'd imagine enemy troupes and bombs and all kinds of scenes that was part of the fun of playing.

(06 Apr '12, 11:06) Wade Casaldi

sensory awareness is just that
of what is physical substance
others planes of existence
however are still there

it is those that we can be
conscious of though
yet physically unaware


answered 06 Apr '12, 06:30

fred's gravatar image


focus your awareness on something and follow it. it could be a conversation in your self or between people. try to follow the conversation and understand it. example if i tell you 2+2=4 can you see it in your mind(analytical, theoryse ,creative, imagination of the brain) and understand it? practice this and it will serve you. eventually you will be able to follow many conversation in your mind. example you are at a party and many group of people are talking then you can move your awareness from one group to the other. you will know this group is on subject a the other are on subject b the other group are on subject c. often when subject are not the same is because people see things differentely and shift to their personnal vision of it or they have shift their awareness to something else. to shift your awareness to multiple group is more easy when people are not engaging you directly. because when they engage you directly they want to know what you think about this or that. and you move your awareness from out side to inside and the person engaging you.

if you really are not able to see anny image in your mind try to do some puzzle or try to do some math not from memory but seing the number as object. example: can you see jack and jake coming in a room? can you see judy and julia coming in the room? do you see them sitting on the sofa? you that observe them in that room can you use your finger to count them how many person are on the sofa? how many are male? and how many are female? now that this party is finish and that they have help you to achive this ask them to get out of the room the party is finish and they need to go home.

those are simple example to exercise your awareness and your mind.

experience and enjoy.


answered 06 Apr '12, 20:16

white%20tiger's gravatar image

white tiger

What the common consensus seems to be is that people "visualize" with a sense other than sight, and fail to recognize it, or they have just not practiced enough. while I am not saying that those are by any means wrong, I do feel the need to point out that it is not true for everyone.

I have no idea what causes it, so I am not answering the original question, but I have never been able to "visualize" in any way at all, despite much practicing with many methods suggested on the internet. I cannot relive any part of the real world in any way, be it feel, smell, sight, sound or taste. I tend to think of my way of thinking as a computer with no monitor hooked up. All the information is there if you know how to get it, there is just no tangible representation.

I do not dream the way people describe dreams, but I do wake up sometimes with ideas of what has happened in my dreams. I cannot bring a picture of my daughters into my minds eye, but I could describe to you every detail on their faces. I cannot "smell" bacon when I think of it but I know how it will taste. I cannot "feel" my bed that I sleep in every night, but I could tell you exactly where the cold spots are and how much of it my husband hogs.

I have never had the ability to "visualize" and until I was 17 I had no idea that mental image was anything more than a turn of phrase. I do not believe it has negatively impacted my life. I have a heightened intellect that I make absolutely no use of. I dropped out of high school because of a severe anxiety disorder (have since completed out of a school setting). I got married young because I happened to meet the love of my life early, and we have two beautiful daughters that are very bright as well.

I cannot do mental arithmetic because it relies heavily on visualizing the numbers for complex or large equations, but I got an A with an overall score of 98% on my grade 11 math (with a paper and pencil of course). I have a hard time finding items that I have misplaced, while my husband just visualizes the room the way it normally is and looks for things that are out of place. I have a hard time committing things to long term memory unless i read them, and i scored in the lower 10% of people my age for short term memory on IQ tests, rendering my results unable to average out given the discrepancies (99.8th percentile for everything other than short term memory which was 7th percentile.

Basically, while rare, Non-Imagers do exist and seem to exist without explanation due to lack of exposure/research.


answered 31 Jan '14, 20:22

Katlyzt's gravatar image


A baby of six months age can recognize a spoon, a bottle or the breast, Mommy, Daddy, siblings, toys...All courtesy of the baby's mind being able to re-create mental images. I have never heard of ANYONE who could not remember such things, except for very advanced Alzheimer's victims and brain injured people.

What are you really saying here???? That some people cannot create a mental image of where they are driving, for example? MOST people do just fine with this.

I am confused by your question....



answered 05 Apr '12, 21:04

Jaianniah's gravatar image


It's not an issue that you don't have memories or don't have thoughts, but you are unable to visualize them.

If you google search "can't visualize things" you will get many results explaining this phenomenon, probably better than I can.

(06 Apr '12, 04:39) Snow

You can learn how to visualize. I did.

Like @Snow said -- It's like exercising a muscle. If you've not used it for many years then your mental visualization muscle will be very weak. But the good news is, like with any muscle, it can be strengthened.

If you follow a daily routine of a ten to twenty minute visualization workout then you will see improvements in about 3 weeks. Yes, this muscle grows very slowly but that's just natural and it can't be rushed.

What you can do is, for instance, you watch a candle's flame, close your eyes and then watch the after image in your mind.

You'll find a bunch of exercises here:

Now, it's just a matter of, "How much do you want to learn this?" For me it was very important for it felt like something essential is missing.

I recommend to anyone to at least try working on it for a month and then see if it works for you before stating you don't have this ability. Eli


answered 12 Oct '15, 12:32

EloiseC's gravatar image


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