Invisible dreams


What do people who are blind from birth "see" when they are dreaming?

-- Troy Dante, La Mesa

Well, Troy, they don't see nuttin'. At least according to Cousin Wildomar Alice's neighbor's niece Loretta. She's never seen a newspaper or a sunset or a Big Mac, but, she says, that doesn't cramp her dreaming style. If she can't visualize the big, ooooogly monster that's chasing her, she can "see" the dreaming world the way she "sees" the waking world. Tactile sensations, smells, and sounds. While we might dream of a windy day by seeing tree branches move, the blind would know it by feeling the wind and hearing leaves rustle. But it all adds up to the same thing-- the idea of a windy day. Sighted people are so dominated by their visual sense, they sometimes forget how much information can be conveyed by the remaining four.

Blind and sighted people share the same slightly loony quality of dreaming. Ever dreamed of falling, then suddenly waking up just before you hit? So has Loretta. Dreamed of flying? Loretta has too, though she doesn't look down and see the ground as she sails along. And just as a sighted person might dream of doing something he can't do in the waking world, Loretta has had dreams in which she was driving a car. It didn't seem a remarkable thing to do in the context of the dream, she says. The dreams of people who have no store of visual images to draw on seem to be just as emotional, scary, silly, and illogical as anyone else's. They're just communicated in a different way.

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