What Is Synesthesia? Author and Synesthete Patricia Lynne Duffy Explains

Smithsonian Magazine

We first heard about synesthesia, a neurological condition in which information meant to stimulate one of your senses stimulates several of your senses, back in 2017. In an interview, Lorde, who has sound-to-color synesthesia, was describing how her ability to turn colors into music, and vice-versa, affects her creative process. It even helped her write Melodrama, she said — our favorite album of that year.

If that wasn’t enough to get our attention, we’ve since heard about the phenomenon over and over again. Billie Eilish is just another of many creative forces who credits synesthesia for some of their most celebrated work — her song “Bad Guy” is yellow, but also red, but also the number seven. And it smells like cookies.

We had a Zoom chat with Patricia Lynne Duffy, who wrote the first book by a synesthete about synesthesia, about what it’s like to live with the condition, how synesthetes’ brains are wired differently, and how learning about synesthesia teaches us about neurodiversity.

Find Patricia Lynne Duffy’s book, Blue Cats and Chartreuse Kittens: How Synesthetes Color Their Worlds, here.

Patricia Lynne Duffy

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *