Publication Date


Document Type

Masters Thesis


School for Social Work


Synesthesia, Synesthete, Traumatic synesthesia


Synesthesia is a peculiar neurological phenomenon that occurs when two senses combine. For example, seeing the colors of words, letters, and music or feeling the shapes of tastes and smells are types of synesthesia. Persons who experience these sensations are called "synesthetes." I am one of a small percentage of the population who "see" language in color. Although writers, poets, and artists have historically intertwined color and language in a metaphoric way, letters and words literally appear in my mind in a color-coded sequence. While synesthesia is an involuntary, sometimes disruptive process for those who experience it, most synethetes cannot imagine living without the phenomena. My research was undertaken by means of a constructed survey of persons with synesthesia to examine how the condition has impacted each subject's life in terms of aversion to different colors related to traumatic incidents, physical and/or mental illness, psychotropic interventions (such as SSRI drugs), prevalence within gender, and color coded-memories. The paper discusses how medical and mental health professions can better understand the association between colors and the emotional effects pertaining to a particular color is it is associated with an unpleasant memory or traumatic event. Lastly, because Synesthesia is defined as a cross-firing in the nervous system, a small portion of the survey asked participants to disclose if he or she had any neurological conditions that were prevalent within synesthesia population.




iv, 52 p. Thesis (M.S.W.)-Smith College School for Social Work, Northampton, Mass., 2010. Includes bibliographical references (p. 45-46)