Abstract for our paper presented at the 5th Dreams, Phantasms and Memories conference, 25th-26th November 2021
Dream-sharing, Surrealism and Human Self-Domestication
Since 2016 we have conducted live performances, in venues or online, in which Mark Blagrove and our audience use the Ullman (1996) method to explore a dream of an attendee, while Julia Lockheart paints the dream during the 90-minute discussion. Examples of artworks and dreams from our public performances can be seen at DreamsID.com and in Lockheart and Blagrove (2019, 2020). Such sharing of dreams increases empathy towards the dreamer (Blagrove et al., 2021). We propose this empathy effect would have occurred in history and pre-history and, as it would have enhanced the cohesiveness and mutual understanding of group members, dream-sharing and features of dream content may have been selected for during human social evolution, alongside story-telling, utilising common neural mechanisms (Blagrove et al., 2019). Dream-sharing hence would have contributed to Human Self-Domestication (Blagrove & Lockheart, 2021), the primary driver of the evolution of human prosociality and reduced intragroup emotional reactivity (Hare, 2017). Artworks based on dreams can cue future discussions of the dream. In our work each painting is made onto two pages taken (with publisher’s permission) from Freud’s (1900) book The Interpretation of Dreams. Pages are chosen on the basis of shapes of the text matching the overall structure of the dream, and words found on the pages/palimpsest are incorporated into the artwork as surrealist found objects. The importance of valuing dreams and the need to find artistic representations for them, as non-linear responses to human and world situations, has been emphasised in surrealism from 1919 onwards (Breton, 1924/1972, 1924/1978, 1924/1996; Jiménez, 2013). The theory and art practice of surrealism are the peak of human playfulness. Domestication in humans and other species requires playfulness of the individual and between individuals. This paper addresses the playfulness of dreams and of dream-sharing, and their relationship to surrealism and human self-domestication.
Blagrove, M., Hale, S., Lockheart, J., Carr, M., Jones, A., & Valli, K. (2019). Testing the empathy theory of dreaming: The relationships between dream sharing and trait and state empathy. Frontiers in Psychology, 10, 1351. doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2019.01351
Blagrove, M., & Lockheart, J. (2021, September 9). Dream-Sharing and Human Self-Domestication. Preprint at https://doi.org/10.31234/osf.io/7ytn5
Blagrove, M., Lockheart, J., Carr, M., Basra, S., Graham, H., Lewis, H., Murphy, E., Sakalauskaite, A., Trotman, C., & Valli, K. (2021). Dream sharing and the enhancement of empathy: Theoretical and applied implications. Dreaming, 31, 128–139. doi:10.1037/drm0000165
Breton, A. (1924/1972). Manifestoes of Surrealism. Translation by Richard Seaver & Helen R.Lane. Ann Arbor Paperbacks, University of Michigan Press.
Breton, A. (1924/1996). The Mediums Enter, in The Lost Steps (pp.89-95). Translation by Mark Polizzotti. University of Nebraska Press.
Freud, S. (1900/1997). The Interpretation of Dreams. Translation by A.A.Brill. Ware, Hertfordshire: Wordsworth Classics.
Jiménez, J. (ed.) (2013). Surrealism and the dream. Madrid: Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza.
Hare, B. (2017). Survival of the friendliest: Homo sapiens evolved via selection for prosociality. Annual Review of Psychology, 68, 24.1–24.32. https://doi.org/annurev-psych-010416-044201
Lockheart, J. & Blagrove, M. (2019). Dream sharing. Sublime Magazine, 2nd November 2019. https://sublimemagazine.com/dream-sharing
Lockheart, J. & Blagrove, M. (2020). Exploring lockdown dreams. Sublime Magazine, 17th July 2020. https://sublimemagazine.com/exploring-lockdown-dreams
Ullman, M. (1996). Appreciating dreams: A group approach. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.