Disability Studies -or- Social and Medical Models of Disabilities

Do you know about any studies about the blind?

Mr Hagen's Reply: The World I Live In -or- The Dreams of the Blind

Disabilities can cause stigmatization and disenfranchisement from surrounding society for those that are disabled. In the last 50 years great strides have been achieved in Western society, by integrating the visually and the hearing impaired and those with learning, physical and other disabilities. While disability studies are being undertaken, few studies have "synoptically focused" on understanding the dreams of the disabled. Insight into their dreams would provide a more accurate understanding and a social and medical model of the world they live and how to improve that world for them.  

Jill Sardegna (et.al.) Living with Vision Problems: The Sourcebook for Blindness and Vision Impairment cites numerous studies beginning in the 19th century that show that the dreams of the blind differ significantly from the dreams of the sighted. Those blind from birth or those blinded before five years of age reported no visual dreams as adults. Those blinded between five and seven years of age would retain visual imagery, however this optical imagery would begin to fade over time. Findings suggest the differences in the blind and sighted are caused by the physical limitations of blindness. Studies of the dreams of the blind appear to show that their dreams are an attempt to adapt to the social environment and the limitations caused by their handicap. The increased levels of aggression in the content of the dreams of the blind can be explained by increased frustration which can lead to aggression. A 1994 study of the dreams of the blind, concluded that dreams played an extremely important role for rehabilitation.

One of the most famous cases, is that of the deafblind Helen Keller who related her dreams in her book "The World I Live In". The film "The Miracle Worker" dramatizes Helen's story. It was Mark Twain who describes Helen Keller's teacher Anne Sullivan, as the "miracle worker". From a music perspective, Thomas "Blind Tom" Wiggins an autistic savant reportedly was the first African American to entertain a President of the United States at the White House. Mark Twain took a liking to his musical abilities and attended many of his performances. Blindness has found few satisfying roles in Hollywood film, few exceptions include "Wait until Dark" staring Audrey Hepburn (who was not really blind). Both Ray Charles and Stevie Wonder did not let blindness get in the way of their music careers. The deaf have faired somewhat better in film with Marlee Matlin who won an Oscar as best actress in "Children of a Lesser God".

All material Copyright 2006 International Institute for Dream Research. All rights reserved.