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Valkyrae Got Honest About Her Extremely Rare Condition

Streamers on Twitch and YouTube spend a great deal of their lives in the public eye. Besides playing video games and chatting with fans about their current interests, some of the biggest stars in streaming have gotten very honest with their fans and fellow content creators. And when someone spends so much time talking about themselves for an audience of thousands (or even millions), odds are good that they may end up sharing unexpected details of their personal lives. Some streamers have gotten honest about their addictions to various vices, while others have openly discussed the medical conditions that affect their daily lives. Valkyrae has just joined the ranks of streamers who have opened up about a rare condition that many of their fans may never have heard about otherwise.


Rachel "Valkyrae" Hofstetter has made quite a name for herself over the last several years on YouTube. In her meteoric rise from GameStop employee to a queen of gaming, she has gained millions of followers, become one of the first female co-owners of an esports org, starred in multiple music videos, and so much more. And she's manifested all of that while living with a condition that makes it very difficult for her to picture things in her mind. As Valkyrae recently spoke about with OfflineTV's Yvonne "Yvonnie" Ng, she has aphantasia.

As explained by Aphantasia Network, "Aphantasia is the inability to visualize. Otherwise known as image-free imagination." People with aphantasia may be able to describe an object or person, but they would not have a clear mental picture of the subject. Fans may not be familiar with this particular condition, but Valkyrae explained to Yvonnie how it impacts her in everyday life.


Valkyrae reveals to Yvonnie that she has aphantasia

While walking around South Korea with Yvonnie, the duo talked about LASIK eye surgery, and subsequently their own ability to see clearly. Valkyrae remarked that one of her eyes was stronger than the other, but that her vision was still especially sharp. However, she argued that it didn't really do her much good, because she has a pretty lousy memory. Yvonnie pointed out that it could be worse, claiming to have both a bad memory and slightly worse vision. 


The pair laughed about this, but it opened up a broader conversation about Valkyrae's condition. She doesn't talk about this very often in public settings, but Valkyrae explained to Yvonne that she has what is known as aphantasia. "When I close my eyes, I can't visualize things. But I can see really well!"

Yvonnie asked Valkyrae how this effects her memory recall by providing an example of someone telling Valkyrae to picture a beach. Valkyrae responded, "I can imagine what it looks like, but I can't literally see it in my brain." She explained that this condition may impact some of her more artistic leanings, saying, "I think that's also why I am really bad at drawing, because I can't see it in my head before I draw it." 


Yvonnie quipped that she wasn't sure if she had ever seen Valkyrae draw anything before — outside of an occasional game of "Drawful," of course — seemingly proving the streamer's point. The pair agreed to practice drawing together, as Yvonnie joked that she was also pretty bad when it comes to drawing anything. 

Is aphantasia common?

Over the course of the conversation, Yvonne also noted that fellow OfflineTV member Sydeon apparently has aphantasia as well, which Valkyrae confirmed. Sydeon recently confirmed this as well on Twitter, remarking that she couldn't believe it when she found out how visual the thoughts of others could be. This part of the convo might make it sound like aphantasia is a bit of a common condition, but it is much more rare than you may realize. According to a 2017 study published by the American Psychological Association, diagonosed cases of aphantasia are quite uncommon, affecting only about 2-5% of the population.


Fans have noted on social media that Valkyrae has hinted towards her condition in the past, but she may not have known the terminology for it a few years ago. That makes sense, as congenital aphantasia was only just given a name in 2015, and there are some aspects to it that scientists are still figuring out. Although it may be a while before science fully understands this phenomenon, at least Valkyrae can finally put a name to her experience.

Since Valkyrae talked about aphantasia on Yvonnie's stream, some fans have come forward to say that they also have the condition, and it looks like Valkyrae's open discussion of aphantasia has been very welcome.