Neuroscientist Dr. Tom Schweizer, here in Toronto, discuss synesthesia in a stroke patient with CBC’s Michael Serapio. It’s a cool story, but one that alerted me to the ways in which the neuroscientist and reported began to frame the phenomenon. Click here to listen. This is not the report I heard with Michael Serapio, but may give you an idea. In that report, the doctor stated he didn’t expect to meet anyone else with synesthesia in his lifetime. The report in the link is not entirely similar, but it’s what I could find for you to at least listen. The comment below reflects the language that was used in the report I heard to frame the phenomenon.
Here was my comment:
In this report, I was alerted by two ways in which this story was framed. The first was the purported rarity in which people experience synesthesia. I was wondering if the researchers paid any attention to autistic individuals who experience it (and report about it) fairly often – Tito Mukhopadyhay, Amanda Baggs…there are many more; the second point deals with the ways in which this report discussed synesthesia on the radio using the dominant discourse of medical pathologization – as something to recover from and a “cross wiring” in the brain. This is of course a metaphor to discuss something that falls outside of the normative margin – it’s not literally a “cross wiring” or a mistake or an aberration. As a critical disability scholar, I like to call attention to how we conceptualize the brain and how we persist – even post-Susan Sontag and Thomas Szasz – to use metaphors of illness and aberration. This shrinks the space we need to accept all different kinds of brains and bodies that exist in which we refer to as neurodiversity.