Dreams of the blind people...WTF?


Yeah, you might think that, but it is not really how it is. In fact when peoples memories of their dreams are collected fresh, just after they have woken up, they contain rather few reports of distinctly experienced sounds, scents, etc. (I do not say none, but few). [Sorry, I cannot at this moment recall a direct cite for this, but I have read quite a bit of the scientific literature on dreams and I am confident it is basically right.] If people talk in your dream, it is, more often than not, more a matter of knowing what they are saying rather than hearing a distinct voice with particular pitch, intonation, volume etc. It may not even be distinct words, you may just know (much as Super Kapowzler just sort of knew the people were Manchurians).

In fact, most dreams are probably not even as visual as they are usually thought to be. Although people can dream colors, a lot of the time when you actually ask people about the colors of things in their dreams they do not have a good answer. In the mid 20th century it was widely believed that most people dream in monochrome, but that probably is not right either. Rather, many things in dreams are of no particular color.

What we usually do have in a dream, though, is a sense of at least some aspects of the spatial layout of the environment we are in, and the positions of the objects or people around us. Because sighted people, when they are awake, rely heavily on sight for obtaining this sort of spatial information, we tend to think and talk about it in visual terms. However, blind people are also capable of getting quite a good sense of the spatial layout of their environment (through hearing, and smell, and touch, including things like tapping around with a cane) and when they dream they often, like sighted dreamers, they often have a distinct impression of where they are and where things are around them. Paradoxically, they will often use visual language to describe these dreamed spatial relations (“I saw the Manchurian over to my left”) even though they may have never actually seen anything in their life. Late blind people who still have memories of what it was like to see may well really still have genuinely visual elements in their dreams of course, but even the early blind will use this sort of language. However, in that case it seems to be because that is how most people (i.e., sighted people) talk about where things are. When the early blind dreamers are questioned more closely it soon becomes apparent that there is nothing truly visual to this “seeing”: what they mean is something more like “I became aware of the Manchurian over to my left.”

Spatial information does not always come in through the sense it feels like it is coming in from. For example, there is a phenomenon sometimes called “facial vision” through which blind people can sense when they are about to walk into things such as walls. It feels like a sort of increased air pressure on your face. (Sighted people who shut their eyes and put their face close to a wall can feel this too, although obviously it is much more important to the blind, and they get much more practiced in using it.) In fact, it has been shown that it really depends on hearing: apparently a change in the way sounds, particularly the sound of your own breathing, echo back to you when something gets close to your face. If you block someone’s ears, they lose their “facial vision” sense. So, it actually relies on hearing, it feels like a pressure (touch), and people call it “facial vision” (presumably because it provides spatial information, and we are used to thinking and talking about how we obtain information about where things are around us in visual terms).

… so, you’re saying that we don’t dream in strong visual imagery, but we do *recall *our dreams using strong visual imagery?

Well, that’s a slippery question, Dr. Fidelius. After all, what exactly is a dream?

A dream is much more like a memory, or something imagined. You can close your eyes and remember something that happened yesterday, like your visit to the coffee shop. You “see” the pastries, the counter, the patrons, the cups, the chairs and such. But it’s all kind of jumbled. It isn’t like looking at a picture of the coffee shop. And if you dream about a coffee shop it’s the same sort of thing. You aren’t looking around at the dream coffee shop and “seeing” it, the various parts of the coffee shop come in and out of your perception if they are relevant to your dream. But mostly it’s just that you “know” you’re in a coffee shop.

I suppose we are all safe as long as the Red King continues to sleep.

Thanks for all the opinions. They are interesting, helpful, and have given me a little more to work with. I haven’t read the info contained in the links, yet. Sorry.

As far as the Elephants, it took me a WHOLE DAY, but I get it now.
Facial vision…know it, have it, understand it.

I dream in color, because I can see colors, although when I have dreams of sex with chicks, lately, they are faces of women I have never seen in real life or on the TV, which is very wierd in itself. (It used to be, I dream of having sex with good-looking girls I DO know, but suddenly they turn into my sister, and there is a definite “flip” of the emotion involved. I know, I need help.)

I talk outloud in my dreams, and talk to people in my dreams, they talk to me, and sometimes they sing really stupid-made-up songs I’ve never heard, and I could sing one to you if you were here, so there is an audio channel.

I have to disagree with Chessic Sense, on the point that our daily emotional/visual input have little to do with dream scripts.

I understand the archetypes of emotion, as far as robot-monsters; usually when I dream of a Grizzly bear/cougar/wild animal attack, it is usually the precursor to the flu, or some sickness, so there is a physical element that I cannot deny.

So, I have established the following:

Audio is an element, because I can hear. All in English, because it is the first language I was taught. Music is an element, as far as people singing; I have had dreams where I have told people, “hey, I gotta go…I have to wake up now.” And I awake.

Dreams are in Panavision, or really more like I-Max, because I have 20/20 (corrected.)

They occur in 3-D, because I fall, run uphill, ride in cars, while looking around. In color, like it was 100% real-life; What is left is the “plot”, which is emotions/stress carved in stone.
I believe the blind understand stress as we all do,(but maybe less if you minus the visual element, who knows.)

I died in a dream, once, and saw my own dead body.

I slipped off “50-mile-high mountain-cliff”, in a dream, recently, and made a grab for the ledge as I slid, but the mountain was made of formica, and there was nothing to grab onto to save my fall. I felt the falling, and knew/said to myself in my “mind” that “this was it/game over/I’m dead” I just closed my eyes; the dream continued as an accelerating-falling feeling/total blackness/and the sound of wind. While falling with my eyes closed, waiting for the impending “splat”, I heard a voice that said “It’s ok, dude, you can open your eyes.” No shit. Dudes in my dreams talk like I do. Weird.

When I woke up, I was a wreck, and later wondered if this was similar to a blind peron’s nightmare.

Sorry, the Edit timed-out, so I could not add the following:

I read things on paper, in my dreams, sometimes, always in English, and I don’t wear my glasses to bed.

So when Keeve says: “There just wouldn’t be any pictures.” how does a blind person tell you about the dream they had last night.

Do they say:
I had a dream last night about angry voices, and felt vulnerable.

I had a dream last night I was in a room I was unaquainted with, and the wall kept changing n the floor-plan shape. and I walked around in circles, and felt lost.

I was having sex with a big-nosed, good-smelling chick, and suddenly her nose turned into my mother’s.

Still workin’ on it. Thanks, and y’all have a “Happy Time at this time of Year”, to be politically correct.

Where did I say the latter?

For myself, I occasionally retain vivid (I guess that is what you mean by strong) visual images from dreams, but most of the visual memories are vague and indistinct. Even for the dreams that do leave me with a vivid image or two I generally have the sense that the dream as a whole was much longer, but the rest is much less vivid in my memory. Sometimes I recall strong emotions from dreams, but with only vague sensory context associated.

Lemur866 says: “A dream is much more like a memory…”
Of what? Robot-monsters ?or the sounds and the feeling of an abrasive texture like sandpaper? Do good sounds mean a “good dream” and does heavy metal mean a nightmare?
…Leems, we’re cool on this shit, it’ late.

“But what do persons, blind from birth, dreams look like?” is the OQ.

njtt says: Even for the dreams that do leave me with a vivid image or two I generally have the sense…
I love you, NJTT, but “vivid image” implies “X=vision” in this equation, and the blind do not take “X” as a given. My dreams are a good five-minutes long, despite people whom say they go like 10 seconds. No dis, dude.

Doc Fedielusness said: A blind person dreams with re-creations of the world as they sense it.
Back to the OQ Doc…As I said, I will read the links tomorrow. No disrespect.

Like I said, I am taking (tomorrow) Friday off, and will read the links.

Your question is not really about how blind people dream. It’s really about how they perceive life in general.

They wouldn’t call them angry voices, any more than you call them ugly faces. You call them monsters, and they call them monsters.

You don’t talk about floor plans, and they don’t talk about floor plans. You’d say that you are in a weird place, and so would they. You might talk about walking around in circles, and so might they. But feeling lost and getting lost is something everyone can relate to.

Once you’re already having sex with somebody, you have enough information about the size and shape of various body parts to talk in general terms such as “beautiful” or “ordinary”, and there is no need to focus on specifics like noses or smells.

It is very difficult for a sighted person to understand what things are like for the blind. Have you seen the movie “Ray”, about the life of Ray Charles? Besides being a simply great movie in its own right, I think it will also educate you very effectively.

I do not really understand what you are trying to say here, but I was not talking about blind people in the passage you quote. I was replying to DrFidelius, who appeared to be talking about people in general (most of whom are sighted). I intended what I said there to be a qualification of my main point in my earlier post, to the effect that much of what people take to be visual in dreams is really spatial rather than visual

Anyway, the word “vivid” can be, and is, applied to sense modes other than the visual (even if it is a little metaphorical). I don’t doubt that people (blind and sighted) sometimes have vivid auditory, olfactory, or whatever, experiences in their dreams.

The fact that your dreams seem to you to last a good five minutes (and some of mine seem to last a good deal longer than that) is very weak evidence that they actually last that long. Dreams are full of stuff that seems to be so but isn’t.

Love ya too, baby. :cool:

All these dreams are personally familiar to me except the robot monsters. Do a substantial number of people have robot monster dreams? Do they know that Old Liberty insurance protects against robot attacks?