About synesthesia awareness day

stephen melton profile synesthesia awareness day
My name is Stephen, and I have synesthesia…

Every reason for why I started Synesthesia Awareness Day can be found in this seemingly simple introduction.

First and foremost, the vast majority of people are completely unfamiliar with the term synesthesia; this is something that must change. Had I introduced myself as epileptic, bipolar, obsessive-compulsive or even schizophrenic, most people would understand immediately what I mean. After all, each of these disorders is backed by substantial clinical research and the public awareness to match. Yet, despite being present in 4% of the general population*, I might as well introduce myself as being born on Saturn or having eight legs.

Second, I don’t “have” anything. Synesthesia is not a disease, it’s not a disorder, and it is certainly not an illness. Like being blue-eyed, left-handed or colorblind, synesthesia is simply a genetic trait to which I am predisposed. Synesthesia is simply a term for the unique way myself, and many others, perceive the world around me.

Further, synesthesia is something to proud of and cause for celebration. Some of the most prolific authors, artists, entertainers and even Nobel Laureate quantum physicists in history experienced synesthesia. Had van Gogh not perceived the world this way, we might have been deprived of The Starry Night. Franz Liszt might not have blessed us with Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2. Perhaps Frank Lloyd Wright’s architectural designs would have been far less magical.

Like so many fellow synesthetes, the fact that I might perceive the world differently than others did not even occur to me until well into my adult life. I had the sudden realization that the rest of the world had been watching an old black-and-white silent film that I had been enjoying in full color and sound the entire time. Yet, to my great disappointment, relatively very little research, information and support seemed to exist for my experiences.

Meanwhile, the world has designated dates to celebrate virtually everything, from national crouton day on May 13 to international talk like a pirate day on September 19 (both of which are nationally recognized “days”).

Synesthesia is a beautiful and admirable but terribly under-researched and misunderstood phenomenon of the human mind and deserves a day to be celebrated. Please, join me in bringing synesthesia to the world’s attention by celebrating…


*The exact prevalence of synesthesia remains unknown, but it is commonly believed that it is found in roughly 2%-4% of the world population.



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