Dream Muse

Posted on September 30, 2012

Dr Deirdre Leigh Barrett explores the potential our mind has to learn, solve and achieve while asleep.

In recent years, I’ve focused on dreams and creative problem solving. Clearly, the major concerns of dreaming are our personal issues — childhood slights, current moods and how we relate to significant others. But these aspects of dreaming have been extensively examined by other dream researchers. I find it fascinating that dreams can sometimes suggest solutions to practical problems. August Kekulé dreamed the structure of benzene, Dmitri Mendeleev dreamed his final form of the periodic table of the elements and Otto Loewi won the Nobel Prize in Medicine for an experiment he saw in a dream. Thousands of painters, sculptors and filmmakers have depicted images born in dreams. Mary Shelley dreamed the two main scenes that became Frankenstein and Robert Lewis Stevenson did the same with Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Musicians from Beethoven to Paul McCartney and Billy Joel dreamed tunes. Gandhi’s call for a non-violent protest of British rule of India was inspired by a dream.

Read more of Dr Deirdre Leigh Barrett’s investigations into the potential of dreams in Overcoat Issue Three: Dreams.

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