Dr. W. Gordon Lawrence (1934-2013) is considered
the founder of the field of Social Dreaming.
When working as a social scientist at the Tavistock Institute in London in the early 1980s, Dr. Lawrence became convinced that there was a social and political context to people’s dreams. He was heavily influenced by reading The Third Reich of Dreams (1968) by the German journalist Charlotte Beradt. In her book, Beradt shows how the Nazis caused paranoia in the German population, particularly amongst Jews; their angst being pronounced in their dreams during the Nazis' rise in the 1930s. During this time, Beradt had medical friends collect the dreams of their patients, all of whom were Jewish. The patient's dreams dramatically foretold their horrendous future in Nazi Germany.
Dr. Lawrence saw the possibility of dreaming socially, not about "me" but about the human condition. In the spring of 1982, with psychoanalyst Patricia Daniels, a colleague, he began holding weekly "Social Dreaming Sessions" at the Tavistock, called A Project in Social Dreaming and Creativity and subsequently held Social Dreaming conferences in London, Birmingham and Ireland. Social Dreaming has flourished in Israel, Sweden, Germany, France, Italy, the USA, Ireland, Finland, Rwanda, South Africa, Holland, Denmark, Australia and India.
Social Dreaming is now the subject of substantial academic study. It has been used to surface creativity, tackle management issues, understand social issues in disparate groups, surface unconscious issues at conferences, and foster innovation in for-profit, nonprofit, government, education, political and other organizations. The Foundation continues Dr. Lawrence's work by sponsoring research, training, publications, conferences and events, and providing bursaries for young professionals to be introduced to and further the work of Social Dreaming.
W. Gordon Lawrence, MA, Dr rer oec was the honorary President of the Gordon Lawrence Foundation. He was a visiting professor at the University of Northumberland at Newcastle, the New Bulgarian University, Sofia, and Cranfield University. He was a fellow of the Australian Institute of Socio-Analysis; on the editorial board of Free Associations (UK), Freie Asssoziation (Germany) and Organizational and Social Dynamics (UK); and a distinguished member of the International Society for the Psychoanalytic Study of Organizations.
Dr. Lawrence was on the scientific staff of the Tavistock Institute of Human Relations (1971-1982); a consultant at Shell International (1982-1985); and President of the International Foundation of Social Innovation, Paris, (1985-1990). Since then, he worked as an organizational consultant and developed the praxis of Social Dreaming, which he discovered in 1981. Before the Tavistock Institute, he taught at Bede College, Durham University, was in commerce and held a short service commission in the British Army.
In 1981 he made the documentary Them and Us for BBC Panorama, in 1983 the film Who’s in Charge (Allan King, producer) for CBC, and he contributed to a series on Social Dreaming for BBC Channel Four (1998) and Radio Four (1999).
Dr. Lawrence worked in India, Australia, Canada, the United States, the Philippines, Burkina Faso, Rwanda as well as most European countries.