Coming In Colors

A recent study investigated the connection between sexual feelings and synesthesia, a condition in which the perception of one sensory experience (e.g. hearing) simultaneously triggers another sensory perception (e.g. color). What the study found:

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 survey results showed that the sexual synaesthetes scored higher than control participants for sexual desire and for altered states of consciousness during sex, including “oceanic boundlessness” (feelings of derealisation and ecstasy) and “visionary restructuaralisation” (hallucinations). Surprisingly perhaps, the synaesthetes also reported less sexual satisfaction than the controls. Their interview answers suggested this is because their synaesthetic experiences enrich their own sexual sensations but leave them feeling disconnected from their partner. It’s all very well if sex triggers your own personal light show, but if you can’t share it, well … it must be kind of isolating.