The Dream Landscape of Touch -or- Singing the Body Electric

Leaves of Grass -or- Keeping in Touch in our Dreams

Poetry has been written about every sense of the body and body part. Walt Whitman in "Leaves of Grass" provides a poetic perspective of nature, the body and the material world. Whitman poetically praises nature and our senses. We can find many metaphors about the sensory modality of touch, for example; "keep in touch", a person is "out of touch", and "some people are touchy". 

This "Field Note" is about the sense of touch and haptic communication found in our dreams. 

Vivian, 16 

I woke up in the middle of the night because I heard a noise outside. I got up and looked out my window to see what was going on when all of a sudden a bolt of lightning struck through my window and across my room. Nothing went on fire, but bolts of lightning kept striking across the room. The lightning was blue and silver. I was scared if I accidentally touched it, I might be struck and die. I tried to walk around, over, or under the lightning to get out of my room and go to my mom. That's when I woke up from this dream. I had this dream quite a long time ago, and I'm very curious to find out what it means. 

Mr Hagen's Reply: Simply Electrifying -or- Don't Touch! 

When electricity became a household fixture, the risk to young children needed to be taken into consideration. The fact that you had this dream a long time ago, most likely psychologically points to the first time a parent (most likely your mom, who we find mentioned in your dream) explained the dangers of electrocution. Parents in their efforts to "childproof" their children, do not intentionally want to induce nightmares or the fear of dying. This nightmare is very real and electricity is very dangerous, in that as a child, it is not something to play with. Your mother taught you a good lesson about reality, even if it was a scary one. 

Ester, 35 

My mom has been battling cancer for the last 8 years. Last night I had a dream that my mom passed away. I remember crying in my dream almost every moment but what shocked me was that I could see her and she look so beautiful. She looked like I remembered her before cancer. She was smiling and laughing and seemed just so happy. In my dream I was the only one that could see her and I remember at one point I was driving with my dad down the street and looked over at him and she was there. I reached out to touch her face and told her she looked beautiful. My dad asked me what I was doing and I told him that mom was next to him. He looked but could not see her. It seemed like every time I was crying in my dream she would show up almost to make me feel better. 

Mr Hagen's Reply: Touched by an Angel -or- Anticipatory Grief 

Your dream illustrates that you're "in touch" with your mother. Unfortunately she will pass on at one point, and you are feeling what many children and family members of cancer patients begin to experience "anticipatory grief". Yet, as your dream also points out, we can all remember our loved ones despite the fact that they will at one point in time no longer be with us. This "touching" aspect is more sentimental in nature and is "conciliatory", in the sense of comfort at a time of distress. Your mother is happy, smiling and beautiful, she is affirming life. 

Nina, 25

I had a dream like it was in a scary movie. My family members were in it, at least I remember my mom and others I don't know. It's a little blurry to remember right now but I remember that it was like a disease or curse and who ever had it there faces turned into something scary looking and I was trying to run away from them and I saw my mom and that she would help but it turned out she was one of them and all I was thinking is that this has to be a dream and I was running away so they don't touch me, because that is when you turn into them or die. 

Reply: Don't Touch Me -or- The Media Invasion of the Hollywood Dream Factory 

For Marshall McLuhan all media is an extension of the human body. For McLuhan, TV is an extension of vision and touch. The Hollywood dream factory film that your dream resembles is "The Invasion". The fact that you believe "this has to be a dream" is similar to the storyline of The Invasion, in the film, people are taken over during "REM sleep". One of the main findings of the International Institute for Dream Research is the pervasive influence of mass media and the culture industry on our dreams.

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