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Social Dreaming: Philosophy, Research, Theory and Practice

The idea of social dreaming argues that dreams are relevant to the wider social sphere and have a collective resonance that goes beyond the personal narrative.

In this fascinating collection, the principles of social dreaming are explored to uncover shared anxieties and prejudices, suggest likely responses, enhance cultural surveys, inform managerial policies and embody community affiliation. Including, for the first time, a coherent epistemology to support the theoretical principles of the field, the book reflects upon and extends the theory and philosophy behind the method, as well as discussing new research in the area, and how social dreaming practice is conducted in a range of localities, situations and circumstances.

The book will appeal to anyone interested in the idea that social dreaming can help us to delve deeper into the question of what it means to be human, from psychoanalysts to sociologists and beyond.

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Social Dreaming, Associative Thinking and Intensities of Affect

This book describes a way of sharing dreams in a group, called ‘social dreaming’. It explores how the sharing of real, night time dreams, in a group, can offer information on and insight into ourselves and the worlds we live in and share. It investigates how we can turn dream images, and ideas and feelings that arise from these images, into conscious thought, before describing the ways in which these can be used. Using a background of the psychosocial combined with a philosophical lens influenced by the work of Gilles Deleuze, Julian Manley shows how social dreaming can be understood as a Deleuzian ‘rhizome of affects’, a web or a root design where things interconnect in a random and spontaneous fashion rather than in a sequential or linear way. He illustrates how social dreaming can link dreams together into a collage of images, and compares this to the rhizome, where clusters of emotional intensity – which emerge from the dream images – weave and interconnect with other clusters, forming a web of interlinked dream images and emotions. From the basis of this rhizome emerges an interpretation of social dreaming as a ‘body without organs’ and the social dreaming matrix as a ‘smooth space’ where meanings emerge from the way these images form connections, and come and go according to our emotions at any particular moment. 

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Social Dreaming in the 21st Century: The World We…

We are running out of ideas in Western society. Faced with global warming, Third World devastation, nuclear proliferation and the threat posed by religious conflict, we need new ways of thinking. After the loss and carnage of the Twentieth Century there is prevailing mood of uncertainty and paranoia, yet at the same time a denial of tragedy, a salvation fantasy, an illusion that we will be saved. The decline in social solidarity, the fragmentation of communal values and a growing sense of ‘I’ as opposed to ‘we’, are all signs of an inversion of moral certitudes, a disconnection from reality. This book asks what methods do we have at our disposal to understand and reverse this breakdown of communication within and between communities.

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O Sentido Social dos Sonhos

Nessa técnica revolucionária criada pelo autor, os sonhadores relatam sonhos uns aos outros; o significado do sonho é expandido e desenvolvido por intermédio da associação livre, da amplificação e do pensamento sistêmico. Ao identificar os padrões que conectam os vários sonhos, o sonho social revela a natureza subjacente da organização/sociedade e permite o nascimento de novas maneiras de pensar

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Introduzione al social dreaming. Trasformare il pensiero

I sogni sono personali o sociali? Si può sognare socialmente? Questo breve e denso testo fornisce un’esauriente descrizione del metodo del social dreaming, uno strumento di ricerca/intervento nelle istituzioni nato nei primi anni ’80 dalle ricerche di Gordon Lawrence al Tavistock Institute di Londra, collocandolo nel suo contesto di pensiero, cultura e conoscenze. Come il suo scopritore scrive, il social dreaming ha una storia piuttosto breve, ma una lunghissima preistoria. L’uso di narrare sogni in un collettivo è forse antico quanto i gruppi umani stessi. Il social dreaming si distingue dall’uso terapeutico convenzionale del sogno, in quanto l’attenzione si focalizza sul sogno e non sul sognatore. In quest’ottica, il sogno non è un possesso personale, giacché coglie gli aspetti sociali, politici, istituzionali e spirituali dell’ambiente sociale del sognatore, e il suo significato si rivela attraverso l’uso della libera associazione e dell’amplificazione. Tale lavoro permette di dare forma agli echi del pensare che abita lo spazio tra le menti degli individui nel loro ambiente sociale, e costituisce uno strumento prezioso in sistemi quali aziende, istituzioni e “gruppi omogenei”, gruppi di persone, cioè, che si costituiscono attorno ad un elemento di vita o di lavoro condiviso. Dal 1982, data di inizio del viaggio del social dreaming, il metodo è stato applicato al lavoro di consulenza e formazione in Israele, Svezia, Finlandia, Olanda, Danimarca, Germania, Francia, Italia, Regno Unito, Irlanda, India, Australia, Stati Uniti e Ruanda.Queste esperienze hanno confermato che il social dreaming aiuta a comprendere la vita delle istituzioni, delle imprese e delle aziende, poiché illumina la conoscenza infinita presente in questi sistemi.

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The Creativity of Social Dreaming

This book is a ‘working note’ stating the understanding of the Social Dreaming Matrix at this point in time. The Social Dreaming Matrix is a collaborative effort of participants to understand their dreams, and always has surprising insights.

In this book Gordon Lawrence conceptualises the Social Dreaming Matrix as a temporary system with its intakes, transformation processes and outputs. Francis Oeser details the creative processes that have emerged for him from Social Dreaming. Laurie Slade describes his work with student theatre directors at the Rose Bruford drama school, showing how the Social Dreaming Matrix transformed the students’ understanding of the theatre. Following are two chapters describing Social Dreaming Matrices held with Italian children.

Working with general members of the public who had visited the exhibition on slavery at the British Empire and Commonwealth museum in Bristol, Julian Manley, with his colleague, Jacqueline Sirota, recounts how they mounted a Social Dreaming Matrix as part of this exhibition experience. Immigrants pose problems for the host society, in this case Italy; Donatella Ortona describes her work on this issue, adapting the Social Dreaming Matrix technique for them. Three chapters show how the Social Dreaming Matrix can help cadet pilots, family mediators, and lawyers in Naples. Next Franca Fubini and Lilia Baglioni describe work with the Social Dreaming Matrix in hospitals.

The mood of the book changes with Wolf Verdigier’s account of working with black rappers in New York and young immigrants in Vienna. Of recent years the training of hosts for the Social Dreaming Matrix has become a priority in Italy and the UK. Angela Eden, who is responsible for training for Social Dreaming Ltd, sets out and discusses the issues. Halina Brunning is experienced in coaching and uses Social Dreaming in her practice. As ever, she provides a stimulating account of her work. The mood of the book changes once again with Thomas Michael’s consideration of dreamers being a priesthood. In the final chapter, Susan Long and Gordon Lawrence offer their thoughts on creativity.

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Infinite Possibilities of Social Dreaming

Social Dreaming was discovered in the early 1980s at the Tavistock Institute in London. Its focus is on the dream and not the dreamer. It is done with a set of people who come together to share their dreams. This goes against the accepted belief, even dogma, that the study of dreaming can only be pursued in a one-to-one relationship, where one of the participants is a trained psychoanalyst. The chapters in this book on Social Dreaming indicate the endless possibilities of free association and amplification in social dreaming. Although each writer has conveyed this, there still exist in their texts more detailed connotations and possible meanings of particular dreams. In a sense, their chapters are only beginnings for the reader to expand, as none, is in any sense a complete, final version of the potential meanings of dreams in a particular Social Dreaming Matrix.

Examining recalled dreams with many others in a Social Dreaming Matrix leads to the transformation of the thinking embedded in the dreams. There are infinite meanings to a dream by regarding the dream as an unconscious product of cultural knowledge, not as an expression of the psyche exclusively, opening new possibilities of thinking.

When the individual unconscious resonates, or reverberates, with others in the Matrix the infinite becomes accessible. Being in the infinite is the mental space where new thinking happens. It is the space in which the dream is regarded as an object by taking a global perspective, and giving one’s total attention to it, as if it had never existed before. All the finite knowledge of civilisation begins from having the experience of being in infinity, through the awareness of the unconscious with its time-less and place-less qualities, its symbolism, and its paradoxes.

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Introduction to Social Dreaming: Transforming Thinking

This preliminary text explores the phenomenon of social dreaming, a concept first introduced at the Tavistock Institute in 1982. The focus is on the dream and the social context of the dreamers rather than the individual dreamers. The dreams often reflect the social environment of the dreamer and prove to be a useful tool when examining the group dynamics. W. Gordon Lawrence offers many examples of dreams narrated and their applications in the social setting. His extensive experience and knowledge on the subject are combined with an easy to understand language in this important text on social dreaming.

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Experiences in Social Dreaming

Social Dreaming is the name given to a method of working with dreams that are shared and associated within a gathering of people, coming together for this purpose. In the first chapter, he outlines some ideas on this phenomenon. Here follows a wide-ranging collection of essays on the experiences of various practitioners, either personal or what they have found when taking this phenomenon into the wider social arena, such as the church, schools, consultancy and working with children.

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