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What Is Sex Like for Someone with Synesthesia?

The researchers found that the people with synesthesia seem to go into more of a trance during sex than those without

smithsonian.com

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People with synesthesia experience the world in a way that is hard to describe to non-synesthetes. Words can have color, sounds can have smells, and numbers can have tastes. Researchers often ask people with synesthesia what it’s like to do things like read books or eat food—and now they’ve ventured with a synesthete into the bedroom to find out what sex is like.

This study looked at 19 people with synesthesia who have reported experiencing their symptoms during sex. Researchers asked the participants about the colors and smells and tastes they experienced and tried to compare those with the experiences of non-synesthetes describe sex.

Descriptions of sex are impossible to verify and difficult to compare, since everybody—synesthetic or not—experiences sex differently. Plus, people have all sorts of creative and colorful ways of describing sex without necessarily being synesthetes. But some of the accounts of the synesthetes did seem connected to their condition. Christian Jarrett at Research Digest, explains:

The sexual synaesthetes described different perceptual sensations for different stages of sexual activity from arousal to climax. Initial fantasy and desire triggered the colour orange for one woman. As excitement built for another participant, this went together with colours of increasing intensity. With excitement plateauing, one person described fog transformed into a wall. Orgasm was then described as the wall bursting, “ringlike structures … in bluish-violet tones.” The final so-called resolution phase was accompanied for another participant with pink and yellow.

The researchers also found that the people with synesthesia seem to go into more of a trance during sex than those without. They write “synaesthetes with sexual forms of synaesthesia seem to experience a deeper state of sexual trance without, however, enhanced satisfaction during sexual intercourse.” What does mean for regular old people who have sex? Can’t be long before Cosmo figures that out and adds it to a list of sex tips.

More from Smithsonian.com:

Teach Yourself to Be Synesthetic: Hear Colors, See Sounds
What Does Sweetness Sound Like?

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About Rose Eveleth
Rose Eveleth

Rose Eveleth is a writer for Smart News and a producer/designer/ science writer/ animator based in Brooklyn. Her work has appeared in the New York Times, Scientific American, Story Collider, TED-Ed and OnEarth.

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