Dreaming Blind: A Study of How The Blind Dream
When the blind dream, what do they see? I was just introduced to a very interesting scientific study by a friend who looked into it and decided to share it with me. My friend, Justin, had an interesting dream the other night in which he couldn’t find his glasses. For the rest of the dream, his vision was profoundly affected. He said:
“I don’t think I’ve ever experienced vision loss in a dream before. It was a bit frightening because I had to get out of my car and walk. I was in an unfamiliar location and everything was blurry. Of course I awoke with a curiosity as to whether or not this is a common occurrence among people with vision impairment. I came across this article, which I thought you might find interesting and possibly even useful in your novel crafting.”
The New York Times article discusses research about how the blind dream – and whether or not the dreams are visual experiences. Apparently, it depends on when they lost their vision. For those who were born blind or lost their sight very early in life, dreams are experienced without imagery but with heightened senses of smell, touch and taste, which can be largely absent in the dreams of sighted people. Give it a read. Very cool stuff.
It may be a bit too late to incorporate the knowledge smoothly into my current novel, but I have already imagined how it may work into the following book. Imagine a sighted person visiting the dreams of a blind person, having to navigate the visionless dream without any experience in such things. Talk about a fish out of water. What a great insight to bring to bear in the next book. Thanks, Justin!
So that got me thinking further. In my own dreams, I have had experiences that enhanced or eliminated some of my senses. In one particularly bad nightmare from my past, I was effectively blind. I strained to see in pitch-black darkness as a circle of unknown voices called my name. Some harshly, some softly, some tempting me to draw nearer – as they all closed in around me. Horrifying. I could feel cool air on my skin – and felt their presences even though I could not see them. In a separate dream, I slowly lost each of my senses, one by one, after being struck in the head by a bullet. But that is a tale for another day (it would be a very long post to chronicle that dream).
What about you? How have your senses been altered for good or worse in a dream that helped or hindered you in some way? I’d love to hear your stories!