Was Marilyn Monroe a Synesthete?

On p. 47 [in Marilyn Monroe: A Biography, Mike Lennon] found Mr. Mailer describing what can only be understood as Ms. Monroe’s synesthesia. In recounting her first husband, Jim Dougherty’s recollections of her, he said:

He recounted evenings when all Norma Jean served were peas and carrots. She liked the colors. She has that displacement of the senses which others take drugs to find. So she is like a lover of rock who sees vibrations when he hears sounds…It also provides her natural wit…she did not have a skin like others.

Read more of Maureen Seaberg’s essay on the Psychology Today web site.

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  • Maureen Seaberg

    Thank you sincerely for featuring the Marilyn Monroe essay and special thanks to Mike Lennon for his synesthesia detective work!

  • A.

    I don’t see why “it could ONLY be understood” (my emphasis) as synesthesia. 
    I have the same – whatever it is (and I don’t mean synesthesia, I know perfectly well what synesthesia is) – and yet no sense of mine seems to be displaced. I simply have an unusually strong eye and affinity for colours, shapes and sensory data in general; and I have, indeed, prepared food (for myself only)  based on its colour. I don’t see sounds as colours, or viceversa, nothing of the kind. I simply LOVE the impact and effect of colours and shapes. That’s all.

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