[Note: This was the title I had originally planned for this post, but as I was posting I decided it was too plain and changed it. The new one just didn’t sit right, so I’ve changed it back. Sincere apologies for any confusion![
I think it’s kind of interesting that after more than two years of blindness, I still see in my dreams.
Even when I know I’m blind in the dream, I still experience it visually. Once, I watched myself navigate a winding, rocky trail in some desert landscape, complete with white cane. It was almost as if my brain knew I couldn’t see, so I couldn’t see through my dream body’s eyes, but it had to have a way of showing me what was going on.
Another time, I dreamed that I was in a high-end jewelry store, admiring exquisite pieces showcased on velvet stands. And In the dream, I thought, “I shouldn’t be able to see any of this.” And then I thought, “Well, no, but I might as well enjoy it while I can.” And I kept on walking through the store, admiring.
I dream about books a lot. In some dreams, I’m acquiring them. Someone is lending them to me, or I’m shopping at a rummage sale and picking them out. Other times, my husband and I are sorting or rearranging our collection.
In my dreams, I can see the covers and titles, sometimes even read the summary on the back. But the words fade and blur if I try to read them too closely or reread them, and I can never look inside.
All the colors are there in my dreams, bold reds and vivid blues, brilliant oranges and subtle pinks, browns and greens and tans. I’ve always dreamed in color, though I’ve heard that not everyone does. A friend once told me that seeing in dreams, and the fact that I dream in color, prove that my visual cortex is still in working order. Interesting idea, though I don’t know if it’s true.
So far as I can recall, I’ve never had a dream that didn’t contain visual imagery. I guess that makes sense.
Various sources I’ve seen estimate that we humans get 80-85% of our information about the world through our vision. If that’s the case, and I see no reason to disbelieve it, then it makes sense that a brain accustomed to visual processing would continue to try to interpret the world in a visual way.
In fact, the brain is so hardwired to interpret the world visually that vision loss can lead to a phenomenon called Charles Bonnet Syndrome, in which the brain, suddenly without visual information to process, literally creates that information in an attempt to fill the void.
In light of all that, I doubt I’ll ever have a dream that isn’t primarily visual. I mean, I suppose it’s possible, I just think it’s highly improbable. Why, when it has such an efficient means of transmitting information, would the brain disregard it in favor of a more cumbersome method?
I do wonder about the dreams of people who’ve been blind since birth or from a very early age. Unlike those of us who lost our sight later in life, they wouldn’t have had much, if any, opportunity to build up that repository of images.
Tommy Edison, who’s been blind since birth, tackles the question in a short YouTube video. (Incidentally, Tommy’s videos are a hoot, and if you have a chance, you should definitely watch more of them.)
I had some forty-three years of vision, which gave me time to build up an extensive visual library of images to draw on. I may not be able to see any more , but I can still visualize, and I still dream in pictures.