I’ll See You In My Dreams: The Shared Dream Phenomenon
November 30, 2012 5 Comments
by Tony Harrington
In 2011, director Christopher Nolan introduced the concept of shared dreaming with his film “INCEPTION”. Within his world, it was possible for a group of hackers to consciously enter the subconscious mind of an individual, and either extract or implant information.
Prior to the film though, the concept of shared dreaming had been explored many times before. The “Nightmare on Elm Street” films tread these waters ad nauseam, and in the 1980’s adventure “Dreamscape” Dennis Quaid and Kate Capshaw entered the dream world to rescue a President whose mind was trapped there.
In the novel “Mirage” by F. Paul Wilson and Matthew Costello, a young scientist must enter the mind of her comatose sister to unlock the dark secrets buried there.
Is a concept that seems so at home in the world of movies and books even possible in the real world?
The question is hotly debated, mostly because no one really knows of what our minds are capable. Specifically, the brain can be tricked so easily. False memory, for example, is someone remembering an event that never happened. The brain can also be influenced by the movies we watch, the books we read, even the conversations we have.
Our brains are designed to make sense of chaos, and even in a sub-conscious state they can be manipulated. Noises or conversations happening in the physical world manifest themselves into our metaphysical world and become integrated into the very dreams we are experiencing.
I am getting ahead of myself though. Let’s start with a definition of what shared dreaming truly is.
Shared dreaming, also known as “Mutual Dreaming”, describes a phenomena in which two people experience the same dream simultaneously.
Within shared or mutual dreaming, people can experience two distinct stages.
Non-Lucid: These dream types are typically incoherent wherein each person sharing the dream is simply watching the events unfold. Though the people sharing the dream are aware of each others presence, they do not communicate within the dream, and may not even know at the time that they are experiencing a shared-dream.
Lucid: In this type of shared dream, both dreamers are cognizant of each other, can interact, and are aware they are in a dream state. In a lucid dream, dreamers maintain a logical and functional capacity, operating on a conscious level as opposed to a subconscious level.
Non-Lucid shared dreaming is more widely accepted as a possibility as opposed to the more sci-fi inspired lucid dreaming. In fact, scientists and doctors widely discount the existence of lucid dreaming altogether, claiming that the mind has to be in a subconscious state, in deep (REM) stage sleep to produce dreams.In the mind of these professionals, lucid dreaming is more akin to imagination and less like dreaming.
Despite claims to the contrary, some people are firm believers that shared dreaming is possible, and that it has happened to them.
A reader of the blog from Indonesia shared the following story with me:
Within my dreams I would often find those with whom I am familiar. A passing glance, a wave, or other form of acknowledgement would be made. Upon waking, it would later be revealed in random conversation that my acquaintance had dream’t of me. The dream they would describe would be near identical to the one I experienced. It leaves me with a sense of the supernatural, that we exist on different planes. What is your belief, my friend? Have you dream’t of others and awoke to find that they of you?
The question intrigued me enough to write this blog entry, because growing up there were occasions, looking back on it, that I had experienced such phenomenon.
However, in fair disclosure, the experiences I had were with my twin brother. I would often awake from a dream in which my brother played a prominent role. In the morning I would tell my mother about the dream and during my recanting my brother would chime in with details that I had left out.
I never thought this was strange or odd, I naturally assumed that everyone had these types dreams.
From a scientific standpoint, shared dreaming is possible, but with a very specific caveat. When two or more people share a room, if one of those people happen to be dreaming and talking in their sleep about the events in the dream, it is possible that those within the room (and earshot) can subconsciously interpret what is being said into a dream, thereby having a similar dream to the sleep talker.
For me, the jury is still out. I am skeptical of lucid shared dreams, but I am not as quick to write off the possibility of the non-lucid variety.
What experiences with shared dreaming have you had? Share your experiences, stories, etc with us by commenting on this article.