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Q & A: Do blind people dream?

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Q:
Do blind people dream? If they do, can they "see" in their dreams?
- Anjali Sharma (age 14)
Leaside High, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
A:
Anjali -

I considered answering your question myself, but decided that you might prefer an answer straight from the source. So I passed your question on to my friend, Laurie, who has been blind since she was fairly young. Here's what she had to say:

" Yes, blind people do dream. What they see in their dreams depends on how much they could ever see. If someone has been totally blind since birth, they only have auditory dreams. If someone such as I, has had a measure of sight, then that person dreams with that measure of sight. I still dream as though I can see, colors included. For people I've met since, their faces are just blurs or how I imagine they look. To me, someone like my mother looks forever 30. "

Thanks Laurie!

-Tamara

(republished on 07/18/06)

Follow-Up #1: blind dreaming

Q:
how sure are when you're saying"those who were born blind only have auditory dreams and those who were blind at an early age only have visual dreams",is it proven scientifically or it's just an theory?
- olwethu (age 18)
East London,Eastern Cape,South Africa
A:
Our volunteer who knew a bit more about this is no longer in town. We probably shouldn't add any more thoughts, since we'd just be looking for information on the web, the same as you.

Mike W

The answer in Question 765 came from a person who was blind at a very young age.
That seems to me a reliable source.  I quote:
" Yes, blind people do dream. What they see in their dreams depends on how much they could ever see. If someone has been totally blind since birth, they only have auditory dreams. If someone such as I, has had a measure of sight, then that person dreams with that measure of sight. I still dream as though I can see, colors included. For people I've met since, their faces are just blurs or how I imagine they look. To me, someone like my mother looks forever 30. "

LeeH

(published on 07/24/12)

Follow-Up #2: Auditory Dreams

Q:
When you said that blind people can only have auditory dreams what does that mean? They hear sounds and/or voices? Can you give some examples of kinds of dreams of blind people? So in order to dream in color one needs sight? Do we store light that the eyes take in during daylight to be transformed into images while asleep to make dreams or do we produce the light inside the brain through the brain’s own circuitry?
- Barbara
oakland park, florida
A:
Barbara -

An "auditory dream" is a dream with only sounds and no images. Basically, the dreams of someone who's been blind from birth are just like the dreams that you have - just without the pictures.

People's dreams are based on the things they experience in their lives. That is to say that in a way, our dreams are based on our memories. So a person who has never experienced "seeing" will not dream using sight. This is just like how you do not dream with sonar images, as humans can not use sonar. Perhaps animals like bats, if they do dream (I don't know if they do or not) dream in sonar. ;)

As for your last question, the images that we see in our dreams aren't real light - they're signals within our brains that we experience the same way we would experience light. So light is neither stored nor produced. You could say that our minds "play tricks on us" to make us think we're seeing light when it's not really there.

-Tamara

(republished on 07/18/06)

Follow-up on this answer.