Title: Electric Dreams Volume 2 Number 1

File: Electric Dreams 2(1)


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Electric Dreams

Volume 2 Issue #1

20 January 1995


---Back issue and the FAQ available via anonymous FTP at


--For mailing list info, subscriptions, dreams and comments

send to Cathy: cathy@cassandra.ucr.edu

--Send questions about dreams & dreaming to Matthew:


--General comments, articles and ideas to Richard:




Editor's Notes & Day Residue

Questions and Answers - by Matthew

Article: Dreams of the Blind by Richard C. Wilkerson

Dream: Dogs- by Jay

Comments: On _Dogs_ by Richard

Dream: Roman Ruins in the Cyclades - by Richard

Dream: An Exquisite Marble - by Corydon

Dream: The Valley, the Theatre and the Mistake - by Viking

Dream Resources


Tagesreste - Day Residue


We have a short but delightful issue this week. [Note

from Cathy: I think it's pretty long!] We received a

question from a teacher whose blind student said they had

seen him in a dream. Is this possible? Check out my short

article on dreams and the blind. Also, we are continuing

our dream resource section in hopes of getting you all to

respond with finds and discoveries on the net and

elsewhere. Matthew is still on vacation and we'll have to

wait for the second half of his Freud and Dreaming

article, but he did send us his collection of Questions

and Answers. And most importantly, we have dreams,

dreams dreams! -Richard


Questions and Answer


-Send your Questions and answers to

mettw@newt.phys.unsw.edu.au Please include a copy of the

question when you send in a reply

** In V.1 Iss.18 Richard asked:

Do you have [dream]symbols of vulnerability that occur

and re-occur during traumas or life transitions? (... A

range of them, from snake attacks, to airplanes crashing,

earthquakes ...) And if so, how does this repetition work

for you?

*Answer by Cathy

Tests as Dream Symbols of Vulnerability

I went to school for 23 years. Until I finally ending my

"career" as a student, I had re-occurring anxiety dreams

about taking tests. I would have these dreams whenever I

was worried about failing in any sort of situation--school

or personal life. Since I have stopped being a student, I

have been able to stop the cycle of dreams about tests that

I am never prepared for, don't even know what the subject

is, or show up for with only a crayon and scraps of really

small paper. After interrupting a few dreams, I seem to

have stopped having them. Interestingly, the test dreams

never corresponded to my actual academic life. Part of the

shock of the dreams was always that they tested the

completely unexpected.


** Question from Matthew-

When I interpret my dreams I basically use a Freudian

free association method to find what lies hidden below. I'd

like to hear what other methods people use on their dreams

and how effective it has been for you. Also, since dreams

contain a lot of non-verbal language and the philosophy and

perception of reality of the dreamer, how much do you

consider the philosophical implications of your dreams?

*Answer by Cathy

Interpreting One's Own Dreams

When I wake up, I typically do a dream

interpretation of my dreams. If the dream stirred up

little emotion in me, I tend to dismiss it as simply the

product of my previous day or week and look for images or

topics that echo the incidents and discussions of my last

few days. If a dream evokes strong feelings--depression,

excitement, wonder, curiosity--I tend to think more deeply.

I generally consider the dream environment--often my dreams

re-occur in houses or schools or towns in which I have

previously lived. Other dream environments are more

symbolic--light/dark, closed in/open, above ground/below

ground, misty/sharply defined. Since my methods always

tend to fit the dreams I have, it is difficult to be more

specific. I typically take my dreams to be very personal

and do not consider them in terms of the human condition or

good or evil.



Dreams of the Blind

By Richard Catlett Wilkerson


Though there has been little work done with dreams

and the visually impaired (Hunt, 1989, Rainville, 1994),

the general belief and little evidence seem to favor the

notion that people dream as they live in waking life and

represent situations to themselves and others in pretty

much the same way in both wake and sleep. What confuses

the issue is our habit or cognitive style of verbal

narratives that represent people and things in visual

metaphors. A quick look at the description of a dream by a

blind individual may reveal an elaborate array of visual

imagery, while a closer examination of the actual

sensations of that blind dreamer reveal little or no direct

visual imagery.

Jastrow's early but major study of dreams of the

blind (1900- Jastrow himself was blind) is well worth

reading and includes other studies of the time. His

research indicates that a majority of those who go blind

before 5 to 7 years old will *not* have visual dreams. But

though he attributes this to brain development, it is not

clear from his study if a lack of verbal development of

visual metaphors was considered.

In a special letter form Helen Keller, she relates what

dreaming was like before her teacher:

"My dreams have strangely changed during the past twelve

years. Before and after my teacher first came to me, they

were devoid of sound, of thought or emotion of

any kind, except fear, and only came in the form of

sensations. I would often dream that I ran into a still,

dark room, and that, while I stood there, I felt

something fall heavily without any noise, causing the floor

to shake up and down violently; and each time I woke up

with a jump. As I learned more and more about the objects

around me, this strange dream ceased to haunt me; but I was

in a high state of excitement and received impressions very

easily. It is not strange then that I dreamed at the time

of a wolf, which seemed to rush towards me and put his

cruel teeth deep into my body! I could not speak (the fact

was, I could only spell with my fingers), and I tried to

scream; but no sound escaped from my lips. It is very

likely that I had heard the story of Red Riding Hood, and

was deeply impressed by it.

This dream, however, passed away in time, and I

began to dream of objects outside myself" (p. 353).

Later she relates, "I obtain information in a very

curious manner, which it is difficult to describe. My mind

acts as a sort of mirror, in which faces and landscapes are

reflected, and thoughts, which throng unbidden in my brain,

describe the conversation and the events going on around

me. I remember a beautiful and striking illustration of

the peculiar mode of communication I have just mentioned.

One night I dreamed that I was in a lovely mansion, all

built of leaves and flowers, My thoughts declared the floor

was of green twigs, and the ceiling of pink and white

roses, The wall were of roses, pinks, hyacinths, and many

other flowers, loosely arranged so as to make the whole

structure wavy and graceful. Here and there I saw an

opening between the leaves, which admitted the purest air,

I learned that the flowers were imperishable, and with such

a wonderful discovery

thrilling my spirit I awoke." (p. 354).

And yet, after such a imagistic account, she goes on to

say, "I do not think I have seen or heard more than once in

my sleep. Then the sunlight flashed suddenly on my eyes,

and I was so dazzled I could not think or distinguish

anything, When I looked up some one spelled hastily to me,

'Why, you are looking back upon your babyhood!' ." (p.


As Jastrow notices, "The dreams of seeing and hearing

probably reflect far more of conceptual interpretation and

imaginative inference than of true

sensation; yet they are in part built up upon a sensory

basis." (p. 359). Notice the phrases " my thoughts

declared," "my mind acts as a sort of mirror," and "I was


This notion that the narrative elaboration in dreams of

the sighted and blind remains constant even though specific

visual imagery may vary has been tested more recently in a

study (Kerr, 1982) designed to control for other cognitive

abilities. The congenitally blind subjects without a

history of form vision were able to represent spatial

relationships in dream experience without either visual

imagery or compensatory imagery in other modalities. The

congenitally blind subjects with minimal form vision saw in

their dreams only to the extent that they had been able to

see in waking life. In neither group did lack of visual

imagery adversely affect the richness or narrative

continuity of dreaming. I'm including here a sample

dream (about a cancer clinic) taken from a congenitally

blind subject in the Kerr study who has light perception

but no form detection abilities:

Subject(S): I was in a room that looked similar to my

instant banker at work, but it

was a big machine with lots of buttons, like a car machine.

Experimenter(E): Like an instant banker machine?

S: Right, at {the bank}. And I don't know why I was there,

but I guess there was a screen and there were other buttons

you could push, you could look in and see how different

cancer patients are doing.

E: Was this visual, could you see anything?

S: I couldn't, but I stood by the screen and I knew that

*others* could see what was going on through all the little

panels...I guess I imagined the board with the buttons.

Maybe because I imagined in my mind, it was not that I

could really see them with my eyes, but I know what that

board looks like, and the only reason I know what it looks

like is by touch, and I could remember where the buttons

were without touching them on the boards...

E: O.K. Where did the events in this experience seems to be

taking place? What were the settings?

S: It seemed to be a large room that was oblong in shape,

and there seemed to be an x-ray machine's work. I felt like

it was in an office building where I worked.

E: And you mentioned something before about the bank?

S: Un huh, it looked like the bank where I do my instant

banking (E: O.K.), except it was larger and more oblong.

E: And is that more like where you worked?

S: No, where I do work, the room is smaller, just large

enough for that little instant banker machine.

Kerr notes :

"This description of a novel setting illustrates that

visual imagery is not the only means by which spatial

knowledge can be represented in dreams. In fact, such

knowledge need not depend on imaginal representation in

*any* sensory-specific modality. The subject was aware of

the size and shape of the room she was in, although she did

not describe touching it or waling around in it. She was

aware of the observations panels and the buttons on the

machine without having to touch them. More generally, this

subject could create dream environments made up of elements

from settings familiar to her in waking life, but she was

able to do so without representation of specific sensations

of either vision or touch." (p. 292).

Rather than saying that visually impaired

individuals have limited dream imagery, it would be a more

useful and sophisticated position to say that imagery is

inspired and carried by visual components, but is not

particularly dependent upon visual elements. Rather,

imagery is a cognitive conveyance, a way of seeing rather

than something seen. When H. Robert Blank, in his article

( Dream analysis in the treatment of the blind, 1959)

states that the blind have no visual dreams and "This will

surprise only those who believe in a racial unconscious or

the hereditary transmission of memories..." (p. 190) he

misses the point that imagery is not a visual perception,

but an psychological apperception.

The post-Jungian , James Hillman, in _The Dream and

the Underworld_ (1973/1979) further unfolds how extensive

this visual bias is in what he feels is our societies

greatest cause of psychological illness, our inability to

be imaginal and metaphorical, our continual insistence on

literalness (for example, suicide is seen as the persons

confusing the imaginal need for drastic rebirth with the

literal act of self destruction.

Jung is now famous for his saying the same thing

about drinking - that the person mistakes the metaphorical

need for spiritual contact with 'the spirit in the

bottle'). It is interesting that one of the great

interpreters of dreams, the ancient Greek Tiresias, was

blind. Perhaps in our listening to the dreams of the

visually impaired, we may, like the those who encountered

Tiresias, come to see our own blindness.

Annotated Bibliography

Adelson, Edward T.(Ed.). (1963). Dream analysis in

the treatment of the blind. In _Dreams in Contemporary

Psychoanalysis_. ( pp. 188-211) New York: The Society of

Medical Psychoanalysts. (Symposium on

dreams, NY 1959). [Some important considerations for

clinical work and psychodynamic insights about the issues

that will arise around blindness as castration and the

identifications of the victim with the castrating father

and social majority that may lead to self persecution.]

Hillman, James (1979). _Dreams and the Underworld_.

New York: Harper and Row, Publishers, Inc.

--------. (1973). The dream and the underworld._

Eranos_, 42: 237-31. [Two versions of the same writing.

Many feel put off by the references, the obscurity, the

digressions, the hard questions put to dream

interpretation, psychology and society in general. It's my

favorite dream book.]

Hunt, Harry. (1989). _The Multiplicity of Dreams:

Memory, Imagination and Consciousness_. New Haven: Yale

University Press. [Simply the finest readable summary of

research into cognitive studies on dreaming.]

Kerr, Nancy H., Foulkes, D., & Schmidt, M. (1982).

The structure of laboratory dream reports in blind and

sighted subjects. _The Journal of Nervous and Mental

Disease_, 170:(5?), 286-294. [ A good cognitive dream

research study. A quote from the abstract " Overall, the

results are consistent with the view that the dream is a

constructive cognitive process, rather than a reproductive

perceptual one, and with the view that the integrative

cognitive systems responsible for both the momentary and

the sequential organization of the dream do not depend on

the presence either of contemporaneous visual-perceptual

experience or of well developed visual cognitive codes." p.


Jastrow, J. (1900). The dreams of the blind. In _

Fact and Fable in Psychology_. (pp. 337-370). Boston:

Houghton Mifflin Co. [Worth reading just for Helen

Keller's report, but also good summary of research at the

time. Jastrow was himself blind.]

Rainville, Raymond E. (1994). The role of dreams in

the rehabilitation of the adventitiously blind.

_Dreaming_, 4:(3), 155-164. [Very interesting and useful

information for clinical work and the vital role that

dreams play in the life adjustment of the newly blind. Also

a great bibliography on dreams and the blind and an

interesting notation of which of

the listed authors were themselves blind.]





Dogs by Jay


I'm wandering back and forth among several

neighbor's back yards. One yard has a small metal tube in

the bushes under the back steps. I debate whether it could

be used to fire a bullet. But it is empty. later, my kids

school principal, Mrs. Gill, is there. She shows me a

similar thing which is just a supporting rod from a

previous structure.

Then I am climbing over a chain link fence. There

is a blind man with his seeing eye dog near by. Then

another dog tries to jump over the fence, chasing me. He

cuts himself quite badly trying to get over. At first I

don't want to do anything about it because of the expected

trouble and expense, but the blind guy convinces me and/or

he does. We have the dog treated by a vet. Only $600. He

is telling me how the dog belongs to someone in Washington

state and just came from western Virginia, either on it's

own or with the man to where we are (Washington DC).

Then I am examining this old beat up approximately

4 by 4 post with this strange door knob and latch in it.

Then we are watching this tiny 5 inch skeleton of a

dog which is alive. We give it old shells or skulls or

carcasses with little bits of meat on them. The skeleton

dog eats the remaining meat off of them so fast it just

becomes a blur.


Comments on Jay's Dream _Dogs_ by Richard


If this were my dream I would first try to get a sense

of backyardness. The Backyard. The space behind which we

live. What happens when this dream is about the space

behind where I live? When I wander around in the

boundaries of my neighbor's back yards I imagine a space

that is collective and a not observed from in front. When I

used to have a back yard, it was a place to be more casual,

to hang out and play. There were boundaries, but they were

less formal. Here there is a chance to find and debate the

meaning of the abandoned tube.

If this were my dream I would take it as good sign

that I had the ability to contemplate the uses and

functions of an abandoned (hidden?) tube. Man the tool

maker! There is a hint that this tube was, at one time

(Kids school, principally) part of a larger structure that

was supportive. If this were my dream I might try an affect

bridge to that time in my life and see if I felt

about something then the same way I now feel about the tube.

Perhaps a discarded support structure that I abandoned at

the time, but now might be able to use as an adult. Or

perhaps the tube is the connection, since the debate is

resolved by the appearance of the principal and she suggests

the association to the past structure.

What happens when the associated to structure is

now the following scene? A dog tries to get at the dreamer,

a dog whose boundaries are not fences. The fence may be a

link, a chain of significations that circulate around

the social sphere, but the dog senses a different set of

territories that the dreamer has unknowingly trespassed.

What are dream dogs? I've been fascinated by this question

for several years and have tried several symbolic

formulations, but the dogs always seem to elude my

conscious representations of them.

Usually I just take the dog as the one who gets the

shaft, the part of myself that leads the dog's life and

gets treated like an animal. Most say that animals

represent our instincts, our animal sexual parts If so, I

guess that dogs would be our more tameable instincts. But

others have been unhappy with this kind of conscious


Consider this quote from the Archetypal

psychotherapist James Hillman (1979_The Dream and the

Underworld_): "Since I prefer not to consider animal images

as instincts inside us, I do not use the hermeneutics of

vitality corresponding to their appearance in dreams. Here,

I am trying to move away from the view that animals bring us

life or show our power, ambition, sexual energy, endurance,

or any of the other _rajas_, the hungry demands and

compulsive sins and vices that have been put off upon

animals in our culture and continue to be projected there

in our dream interpretations, to look at them from an

underworld (psychological -editor) perspective means to

regard them as carriers of soul, perhaps totem carriers of

our own free-soul or death-soul, there to help us see in the

dark." (p. 148).

What Hillman seems to be getting at is that animals

can be our guide going down into psyche and indicators of

our relationship to that journey. We may be chased down or

barred from entering, we may ride down or flee up. His point

is that animals are not representations but the way we

represent, "...they are not images _of_ animals, but images

_as_ animals." (p. 150). And so, dogs are, in a way, all

seeing-eye dogs in dreams in that they lead us, they are our

guides in matters of psyche and image. This dog seems to be

leading us to its own wound from crossing backyard

boundaries. It takes a blind man to see the dog has to be

healed. The dog has made a long journey, all the way across

the country. The dream ends in with some image of a tiny,

hungry dog. Whoops, I'm running out of time. If this were

my dream I might watch the dog like way I image things, the

style of poetically dwelling that might correspond to the

dogs in this dream. When do I imagine like a seeing-eye

dog, like a guard dog, like a hungry little totem like

dog? Are these the supportive structures I once had that

now just hang out in the backyard, carriers of blindness,

wounded anger and hunger, or are they calling me to the

unknown, to watch them more carefully before turning them

into daytime concepts and carriers? Great dream.


Roman Ruins in the Cyclades - by Richard


I'm on a ship in the Cyclades. Its some kind of

tour boat that goes through the islands. We go through a

series of locks and have to wait for the water to be

equalized. It's very exciting, and the boat is at

vertiginous heights, hundreds of yards above each of the

next sections. My wife and I exchange looks. I feel she

wants to be in on the excitement but may be too afraid of

the heights. I feel in the look we exchanged that I

acknowledged how hard this might be for her.

Soon everyone on the boat is oohing and aahhing at

some ancient ruins on an island hill beside the ship. I

think they are nice, but I say "These are *Roman* not

*Greek.*" I feel immediately uncomfortable and unsure of

myself. I wait tensely for a moment, but someone else

confirms what I say and I feel vindicated, as if I had

exposed some kind of hoax.

We leave the ship and go up to the ruins. There is

an old Art Deco plaster white building. It's a tourist shop

at the top of the hill. I go in with a group but wander off

on my own. There are several scenes in the shop (forgotten

now--tourist issues) and eventually we go outside and down

to a terrace to look at the ruins.


"The Valley, the Theatre and the Mistake" by Viking


The dream started with me and someone (I am not

sure who) driving into a beautiful mountain valley with a

large lake. I thought this is the most beautiful place I

have seen and it is where I want to live. As I drove on

through the valley, there was a lot of industry, but I

still thought it was where I want to live.

The dream then jumps to me in some sort of high

school, in the control booth of the theatre, and [I felt]

that I belonged there. Then the dream jumped again, and I

was on the floor of the theatre thinking that although it

was sort of beat up and the seating was simply concrete

levels, the space was workable and could be made to

function quite well.

Along with this was a dreamline about a young woman

who just happened to be Christina Applegate (the daughter

on the t.v.show "Married with Children"). She was being

accused of stealing a boom box, and I was trying to explain

to whoever was accusing her that it was all a mistake.

Whether the dreams were intertwined or separate I

don't know, but they seem to be one dream.


Dream Resources


About Dream Resources: I've had several personal requests

for information on the wider world of dreaming and so we

have three projects we are adding this issue to the D-R

section. The first is a joint effort with the _Dream

Network Journal_ to add subscribers to both and increase

cross awareness. The second project includes the posting

of national and international resources, conferences and

meetings.(see issue 1-19) Lets hold off for now on local and

regional meeting announcements - though reviews

of these are fine.

I do hope that there will be an internet site for local

meetings soon. And finally the addition of (coming soon)

bibliographic resources and book reviews on dreams and

dreaming. If you have something to post or run across

something related to dreaming on the net, send that to my

address. RCWilk@aol.com



WWW Dream Site:

Jay Vinton found this URL site and Chris Beattie has sent

us some info from there. If you have access to the

World-Wide Web (Mosaic, Netscape, Lynx, etc.), lots of

dream related material can be found at



Here is a sample from the page (cut and paste from


Science: Psychology: Dreams

* bianca's Dream Book

* dreamMosaic - a forum for dreamsharing and

cataloging, a place todiscover worldwide group dreaming.

* Dreams

* DreamX: Dream Audio - DreamX is a dream-audio

exchange project.

Trades only. Spout your dreams, hear other people's

dreams. Face the undermind.

* On Dreams - by Aristotle

* Sunshine Inc. - a team of international experts in

the fields of psychology, neuro-anatomy, and the spiritual

sciences dedicated in helping you with dream guidance,

counseling, and spiritual growth.

* FAQ - Dreams

* Usenet - alt.dreams - What do they mean?

* Usenet - alt.dreams.lucid - What do they _really_


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Copyright c 1994, 1995 David Filo and Jerry Yang



Electric Dreams is an independent electronic

publication not affiliated with any other organization.

The views of our commentators are personal views and not

intended a professional advise or psychotherapy.