Imaginal thinking is thinking in a multi-dimensional associative structure of “images” in time and space. Often, the structure has visual aspects, hence the term imaginal thinking.
The image can be connected to sounds, feelings or other sensory impressions. In that case imaginal thinking is an associative structure of experiences, perceptions or pieces of imagination. Imaginal thinking is the way of thinking that includes our intuition and our creativity.
Verbal thinking is thinking via a chain of words and notions, sequenced according to a logical structure. There is no obvious link to personal sensory impressions. It is the accepted form of scientific reasoning, and is associated with the left side of the brain.
Imaginal thinking can be connected to “visual-spatial learning”.
We have chosen to use the term “verbal thinking,” because that opposes relatively clearly with “imaginal thinking.” One may also rightly call it “thinking in notions,” “sequential thinking” or “concept thinking.”
Many XIPs can articulate their thoughts very well with words, thanks to a large vocabulary and a general proficiency in verbal thinking. It is one of the qualities that may give you an IQ score in the gifted range. But not all XIPs excel in verbal thinking.
We call someone an imaginal thinker who has a strong preference for imaginal thinking, and is relatively uneasy with verbal thinking.
XIPs and imaginal thinking
XIPs are able to think in images to a great extent, but they are not always aware of this. Alternatively they may consider it as a kind of private/ personal thinking, because they have experienced that it is rarely possible to explain it to others. This is because an XIP thinks sensorially in relatively more dimensions and with huge leaps in thinking, which makes it difficult to explain those complex associative thoughts in the sequential manner of a discourse. But thanks to their intuitive powers, XIPs can often follow each other’s cascading thoughts without having to use many words.
We have regularly noted that the higher the degree of their Xi, the more uncommon XIPs are in both verbal and imaginal thinking. While they all use the strongly associative and fast power of imaginal thinking in their creative processes, some are proficient in devising concise notions to describe their images, others are very able to express and explain their ideas and conclusions in words. Hearing themselves talk while explaining their ideas, can in fact stimulate their creativity too, leading to a new cycle of imaginal and verbal thinking.
Imaginal thinking can be accompanied by some form of dyslexia or dyscalculia. Because XIPs process information so quickly and may have built a massive library of (word) images in their memory, they are often able to mask this. But as a consequence they perform unremarkably in these areas.
Verbal thinking can be accompanied by an inclination to rationalize everything, and with not being able to connect to, or properly value, one’s feelings and emotions. This may impede one’s ability to make decisions, reducing personal effectiveness.
The inexplicable right answer
Imaginal thinking happens at high speed, usually with a frequency of some 32 images per second. This is so fast that our brain is unable to consciously observe each separate image. This does happen, however, on an unconscious level. Therefore, the result of the thinking process appears all of a sudden and as a surprise; you do not know how you got there. At the same time, you are almost certain that your answer is the right one, because you have unconsciously followed your train of thought. It can be a puzzling experience for the XIP too, and may invoke one of the earlier mentioned characteristic reproaches expressed by others: “Where do you find all these ideas?!”
The incomprehensible explanation
Imaginal thinkers “see” an idea or a solution to a problem in their mind. They can walk around it in their thoughts, sit in the middle of it, etc. Every way of looking at it provides another aspect of why it is a good idea or a good solution. But how do you explain something like that in words?
Imaginal thinkers will usually start the spoken explanation somewhere in their current spatial thinking structure. While they are choosing the right words for their story, and forming the right sentences, they are constantly being bombarded with images of other relevant aspects. This leads to sentences not being completed, the perspective of the explanation shifting unannounced, and finally to the audience giving up trying to follow it, to everyone’s great frustration.
The advantage of Ximension
Because imaginal thinking XIPs think in relatively more dimensions, this normally demands even more of their ability to explain clearly. In conversations with their peers in Ximension, however, both parties communicate in “imaginal thinking mode” and are able to associatively replicate the other’s thinking processes.