General Question

BadPrices's avatar

If you're born blind, do you see in your dreams?

Asked by BadPrices (43points) May 30th, 2009

What would it look like?

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20 Answers

cyn's avatar

black and white
or just dark

Tink's avatar

I don’t know I ask my sister if when she’s asleep and she doesn’t have glasses on if she sees her dreams clearly and she gets offended and punches me

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YARNLADY's avatar

No there is no reference point for a blind person to see. Sighted people don’t “see” in their dreams either, they simply remember what sight is like.

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syz's avatar

[moderator says] Please avoid off-topic chatter.

BadPrices's avatar

@YARNLADY Would they hear or feel in their dreams instead? I generally remember the visuals over anything else in my dreams.

YARNLADY's avatar

My source says that it is mostly feelings and memories of sounds and smells that rule his dreams.

BadPrices's avatar

@augustlan Thank you I hadn’t seen that one!

Grisaille's avatar

Great question. I’m a bit busy, but I’ll share an experience with you all, might give you some insight.

Lucid Dreaming (this is the elementary explanation – stay with me, oneironauts!) is the act of fully controlling your dreams. There are many ways to achieve this, and with practice, you can pretty much turn full control on and off.

Well, one night I was experimenting with what I can do. Somewhat bored with flying around like Superman (yes, it’s what everyone does first – it’s quite difficult to reach the point where you can do this without losing control of your lucid state), I decided to try a bit of a test.

We perceive the world in three primary colors – red, blue and green. Every color in this world is some combination of the three. I wanted to see if I could have my subconscious create a fourth primary color. Our brains are written to know these “natural” colors; what happens when you force it to imagine another color?

Well, I did just that. I created the scenario where I was standing in a field alone (quite a common scene for me, I generally use this as my starting point when creating a world). I stared up at the sky, and saw it was a deep blue, with no moon, sun or stars. I shifted that to red, then to green. I started to mix colors and came up with yellow, browns, purples… any color combination I could think of. Eventually, I told myself, “Now, a fourth primary color.”

And I did so.

To this day, I still cannot describe the color, as the only way I can is by using other colors as examples (I sometimes try to describe it other items and still fail). As @YARNLADY has said, I know that my subconscious mind was creating the color based off of something, I just don’t know what. It’s a mystery to me, one I’ve been trying to solve.

So, to connect this to your question, maybe a blind person “sees” things we cannot, as their minds are using reference points that we can’t understand. They’re other senses are heightened and trained to make up for their failed vision. Therefore, I can only assume they “see” in a very different way, and imagine something like “primary colors” (something that can only be described to them, something they cannot witness) in the way I “saw” that fourth primary color.

A chair might look very different to them – they have felt it, know the outline, but cannot encompass it from afar. They know of their dog, yet cannot “visualize” it they way we do, and probably “see” it very differently in their mind’s eye.

Difficult, I hope someone can give us a better answer.

okay, gotta finish packing!

quasi's avatar

I would think that someone whom has never seen anything, or created visual memories, could not conjure these things up with their mind in dreamland. However, I am interested in what kind of “visuals” may actually exist in their mind, without referent to the real visual experience most people have. I wonder is the other senses allow them to create a mental picture without this visual reference. However this works while being awake would surely translate to dreaming as well.

tallin32's avatar

Actually, I’ve answered this one already—try this question: http://www.fluther.com/disc/37865/do-blind-people-dream/#quip472876
The previously linked question contained some factual errors. For a start, there is no physical difference between the sensory systems of blind or sighted people—although perhaps the visual cortex does get remapped (I can’t remember if the evidence is inconclusive for that or not). The misconception that blind people’s hearing is more “enhanced” probably stems from the fact that we pay more attention to it, as there is little or no (depending on the degree of blindness) input from sight. Now I’m off to find some other questions so that Fluther doesn’t think I specialize. =)

Grisaille's avatar

I KNEW this was gonna happen. Go on Fluther and get ensnared by a fantastic question, that is.

@tallin32 Okay, had written a few paragraphs, not realizing you answered my point I was gonna bring up. :P

tabbycat's avatar

When I was about twelve, I was watching a parade with a casual friend, age eight or nine, who was blind from birth. I remember being startled when an equestrian team came by and she asked me, “What color are the horses?” She had conjured up some notion of color.

I still don’t understand what she had in mind, but all people, especially children, have vivid imaginations, whether they are blind or not. I suspect the dreams of the blind are as vivid as the sighted, and that being so, I feel sure they include some notion of seeing.

mattbrowne's avatar

No. MRI scans reveal that.

fathippo's avatar

some blind woman said she dreams in other senses like taste and stuff, but not seeing…
i would have thought that maybe even if they had no idea what things ‘looked like’ they might be able to see hazy colours or something, but i guess they havent seen colours before either they might not even have that(?)

tallin32's avatar

@fathippo: It would make sense that, if the woman in question had no idea what colors were, she wouldn’t dream them—in the same way that, if you had no idea what French was, you wouldn’t dream in it. There’s just no data to go on, which is why I don’t dream in either color or Mandarin Chinese.

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