Can A Person Who Is Blind See In Their Dreams?

And if they can, how is their dream experience different from those with sight?

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Many of you might have wondered whether or not a person who is born blind can see while dreaming? When most people think about dreams they recognize the intense visual imagery that creates the dreamscape. For many, dreaming is a lot like playing a movie in your head. It can be in either black and white or in color — either way, the visual experience plays a central role. Most dreams contain features that are both visual and kinesthetic (related to movement, such as falling). More than half of dreams contain an auditory element (related to sound).

It is rare for people to describe other sensory experiences, such as those related to smell (olfactory), taste (gustatory), and pain when describing a dream they had. It is estimated that these latter three elements (smell, taste, and pain) occur in less than 1 percent of dream reports. Interestingly, women more often experience smell and taste in their dreams while men more often report experiences of sound and pain.

That being said, blind people are more likely to report feelings of touch, taste, and smell in their dreams compared to sighted people. This likely corresponds to their waking experience which relies more on these senses. They do not have dramatic differences in dream content, except that they seem to have less aggression in their dreams.

In addition, it has been widely believed that blind people don’t dream visually. In other words, they don’t ‘see’ in their dreams if they had lost their sight before a certain age. However, more research would suggest that people who are blind, either from birth or otherwise, can still experience visual images while dreaming.

Can a person who is blind see in their dreams?

It’s a pretty common thought to wonder how differently people experience dreams, particularly those who are navigating life with a sensory impairment. Many people with sight have a tendency to have very visual dreams. That being said, it is a normal point of wonder as to whether or not those who are blind experience the same thing.

Blind people can (and do) dream, though their dreams can be somewhat different from those with sight. The type of imagery a blind person experiences in their dreams can also vary — this depending on at what point in their life they lost their sight.

Though theories on this vary, it is generally believed that both people born blind (congenital blindness) and people who become blind later in life have less visual imagery in their dreams than people who aren’t blind.

However, research suggests that blind people who lose their sight before the age of 5 usually don’t see images in their dreams. That being said, the later in life a person loses their sight, the more likely they are to continue having visual dreams.

Perhaps one of the most fascinating discoveries found in a 2014 study suggests that those with congenital blindness may also be more likely to experience dreams through their other senses — taste, smell, sound, and touch. Those who became blind later in life appeared to have more tactile or ‘touch’ sensations in their dreams.

So what does a person who is blind dream about?

Consider some of the most common types of dreams you, yourself, have. Chances are, they oftentimes include a variety of different things, some of which make very little sense, and could be perpetuated by certain events in your daily life or traumatic reflections.

Those who are blind dream of things with very little difference from a sighted person.

A study performed in 1999 took a look at the dreams of 15 blind adults over a period of two months, totaling 372 dreams. Through this study, researchers found evidence that suggests the dreams of blind people are wildly similar to those of sighted people, with only a few exceptions:

  • Blind people had fewer dreams about personal success or failure.
  • Blind people were less likely to dream about aggressive interactions.
  • Some blind people seemed to dream about animals, often their service dogs, more frequently.
  • Some blind people reported more frequent dreams about food or eating.

Furthermore, another discovery involved dreams that included some variance of misfortune. In this finding, the blind people who participated in the study dreamed about travel or movement-related misfortune nearly twice as often as sighted people.

These conclusions suggest that the dreams of blind people could reflect things happening in their waking lives, with just as much potential as a person with sight. Their dreams of mundane activity and stress were oftentimes consistent with their concerns related to getting from place to place and the difficulty found in doing so.

Do blind people have nightmares?

Yes, blind people have nightmares just like those with sight do. Surprisingly, those who are blind report having more nightmares than sighted people — this being especially true for those who are born blind.

Many experts believe that this can be attributed to the frequency of life-threatening experiences blind people come across on a regular basis, compared to those with sight. Consider the things you often dream about, particularly when you are facing difficulty and significant stress in your waking life.

Things to keep in mind

A few things to keep in mind — only a few scientific studies have explored how blind people dream and many of these studies come with limitations. For example, many of these studies only looked at small groups of people (no more than 50). Though dreams vary widely from one person to the next, these small studies can help offer a general guideline and perspective for how people with variance in their waking life dream.

In addition, it can also be very difficult for someone who is blind to accurately convey how they experience dreams, especially if they have been navigating their entire life (or a large portion of it) without their sight. The safest conclusion to draw from this article is that blind people dream very similar to sighted people, just with a different way of experiencing each.

Written by

Writer. Poet. Philomath. Dog Mom. Traveler. Creator. Wanderer. Teacher. Empath. Author of “Unapologetically Human” - available on Amazon

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