The Creativity of Social Dreaming

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This broad range of papers covers different aspects of social dreaming.The book begins with a summary of the Social Dreaming Matrix conceptualised as a temporary system with its intakes, transformation processes and outputs. The remaining chapters cover social dreaming in different contexts including, amongst others, from the perspectives of art, architecture, theatre, working with immigrants, with pilots and lawyers and family mediators and hospitals.All the papers cover areas outside of the goal orientated activities of the institution, and examine what they may be saying about the organization of the participants.

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Chapter One: Working note on Social Dreaming and creativity

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Gordon Lawrence

This chapter is in the form of a working note, that is, a sketch of the reality of dreaming and the Social Dreaming Matrices as they have been experienced. Mostly it is a series of working hypotheses, that is, sketches of the truth, but knowing that absolute truth will never happen for it lies in the unconscious and is unknowable. Others, with their experiences of Social Dreaming, may arrive at different working hypotheses. A better sketch of the truth will be realized when one working hypothesis is made redundant by another which better captures the reality of the subject. In this fashion a better version of the reality of Social Dreaming will be attained that is more congruent with experience.

In a broad sense, artistic creativity involves making new arrangements, or connections, not randomly but picturing or expressing in some way the emotional state of the artist. In other words artistic creativity, exactly like dreaming, involves making new connections, or making connections broadly guided by the dominant emotions. The work of art, much like the dream, contextualizes the emotion or emotional concern of its creator. (Ernest Hartmann 2000: 73)

 

Chapter Two: Social Dreaming to creativity

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Francis Oeser

Social Dreaming encourages ‘associating’ to dreams rather than the easier option of interpretation, steering away from conscious thought towards feeling and intuition. The work of Social Dreaming is less comfortable from an everyday viewpoint because it involves the imprudence of risk and trust. Similar risks and trust are confronted when painting, sculpting, or writing. Dreaming puts us in touch with the unconscious to which associating reaches. The artist and the social dream participator engage in similar ways. This process is examined here.

The anarchy in the creative act—bringing forward new ideas through the courage to go beyond the existing and institutionalized domains of knowledge—seems much the same as that in dreams. The risks of engagement are threefold:

1.  Daring to allow the unbidden.

2.  Owning/accepting it.

3.  Risking telling it (sharing).

Creative work depends primarily on the feeling that everything is connected, is both right and wrong, obscene and ordinary, unnatural and natural, involving me, you, and them, a unity of the connected and separate. Gestation of the new is effectively supported by excluding interpretation and judgement until such time as it has a life of its own.

 

Chapter Three: Image to gesture: Social Dreaming with student theatre directors

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Laurie Slade

It is the privilege of the artist to combine the ambiguity of dreaming with the tensions of being fully awake.

(Anton Ehrenzweig, 1967. The Hidden Order of Art.)

Image to Gesture was an experimental project at Rose Bruford College, conducted in 2005–08. The project was developed jointly by Colin Ellwood and I. Colin heads the Directing Programme at Rose Bruford. The College gave us space to work in, and—when resources were available—occasional funding. We proceeded regardless when they were not.

Our progress depended on the voluntary participation of four successive year groups of students. Sessions were often held outside of college hours, and the students were otherwise engaged in a very demanding course. Despite this, they were enthusiastic and always ready to participate, a great incentive for us to keep going.

The project evolved during the four years of its existence, each step being informed by our experience of what had gone before. As it progressed, it became clearer what Colin and I were trying to do, and how we might do it better.

 

Chapter Four: A master plan experience with Social Dreaming

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Domenico Agresta and Eleonora Planera

Social Dreaming at School is a project which took place at the Pacifici e De Magistris High School in Sezze, an Italian small town near Rome. Students and teachers of the school, which provides different courses of studies—humanities, science, social sciences, and accounting—were invited. Our aim was to provide adolescents with aid to their psychophysical growth through a primary prevention agency that fosters peer cooperation. According to us, Social Dreaming supplies useful instruments to students and teachers to analyse both school and city context.

Our working hypothesis was that the Social Dreaming Matrix (SDM) could create a safe space to experiment with new ways to communicate and relate, since in the SDM roles and abilities of each participant are put aside; the dreamer role is the only one allowed. This kind of space is fundamental in order to share participants’ experiences which are very similar. They also help to discover new points of view and creative solutions for what deals with social reality, in our specific case, the school and the class.

 

Chapter Five: Low-shot on reality: Dreaming in a primary school

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Laura Selvaggi

This paper reports experiences of Social Dreaming with children six to ten years of age and underlines the special characteristics of both setting and aims. The cases examined show how Social Dreaming can be a pleasant and interesting activity for the young participants and how it represents, at the same time, a considerable contribution to foster creative thinking, communication, and tolerance.

My intention was to study how Social Dreaming can spread its beneficial educational and transformative potential in the early years. Furthermore, I had the hunch that the image of social reality emerging from the children could in some way be different from that of the adult. Particularly, I thought that through Social Dreaming we could explore the children's perception of those structural and cultural aspects of Western society that systematically violate children's rights. At the same time I expected that it might offer a concrete opening to cope with these indirect forms of violence and abuse. Starting from this hypothesis, I ‘imagined’ the special contribution Social Dreaming could offer to contemporary education.

 

Chapter Six: The slavery in the mind: Inhibition and exhibition

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Julian Manley

Social Dreaming is a means of understanding the inexplicable. Human existence is seemingly replete with events and happenings that defy the limits of our comprehension and the theme of this chapter is one of these impossible conundrums: the legally sanctioned slave trade between Britain and North America. For most of us today, the idea of shipping black people, chained together in ultra-inhuman conditions across the Atlantic to then be sold as property to other human beings (if, of course, they survived the appalling journey across the ocean in the first place), so that they could be subjected to a cruel existence of humiliation and degradation in the service of their masters, which included physical and psychological pain and torture, beggars belief. And yet it happened and still happens in many different guises and disguises today.

This chapter discusses the possibilities of a deeper and more meaningful understanding of these issues through the creative thinking that is engendered in Social Dreaming. The title ‘The S lavery in the Mind’ is a reference to the patterns of slavery which are patterned in our minds and which give us a propensity for enslavement.1 It also makes reference to how our minds are enslaved by limited conscious patterns of thought that Social Dreaming attempts to free through the sharing of dreams and associations. The ‘inhibition’ of the title is a reference to the reluctance of each of us to delve deeply into the pain and psychological truth of an awful fact such as the slave trade. The ‘exhibition’ refers to both the museum exhibition and the possibility of ‘exhibiting’ what was once ‘inhibited’ in the sense discussed above.

 

Chapter Seven: Migrant dreams: Integrating political refugees and immigrants in the local Italian community

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Donatella Ortona and Eleonora Planera

When our Social Dreaming pilot experience at the UN Shelter Home for women and their children in the ancient hill-town of Sezze Romano was concluded in December of 2003, Dr. Marie Therese Mukamitsindo's initial diffidence had turned into enthusiasm. And, as Rwandan director of the Karibù Cooperative which hosts African women applying for political refugee status, she decided to apply Social Dreaming as a regular activity for her guests.

As in all political-bureaucratic, Italian matters, almost three years went by before the project finally took shape. Meanwhile the town of Sezze Romano was surnamed Sezze Rumeno as Rumanians now constitute a rumoured 30% (only 3% are officially registered!) of its total population of some 23,000 in a nationwide atmosphere of an alarming rise of xenophobia.

Thanks to Dr. Mukamitsindo's keenness and the unrelenting determination of one of us, a Sezzenese herself, the Project Sognando & Sognando (Dreaming & Dreaming) was finally approved by the Town Council in early 2006. Its goal: the application of Social Dreaming as an instrument supporting the integration of foreigners (immigrants and political refugees) within the Italian community.

 

Chapter Eight: Selection of cadet pilots

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Tiziana Liccardo

The intervention of Social Dreaming, as described here, has been carried out with a specific group of young people who are finishing a concourse, by which pilots are selected for the first year of regular courses for cadets with the role of Military Academy Pilot.

The selection of pilots is particularly complex and thorny, both because it exposes candidates to considerable strain for a long period of time (about 45 days) and because it represents an important experience on an emotional level, since it's the experience on which their identity as military pilots is based. The time spent in the military airport is characterized by a double purpose: selection, but also training. The candidate has not only to demonstrate his ability for the role of military pilot (selection), but also to acquire, mission by mission, the steps required to reach his suitability to piloting.

The thirteenth mission represents an important developmental moment, as it is the first mission without an instructor, going solo as a pilot. At the end of it, the candidate who succeeds in the test attains his “baptism’ as a pilot. He's no more a candidate now, but a real cadet, and during a day in December he is thrown by his colleagues into a swimming pool.

 

Chapter Nine: The training of family mediators

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Francesco Tortono

The experience I will describe in this chapter concerns the use of Social Dreaming in a training course for family mediators, organized with the Neapolitan University (Università degli Studi di Napoli Federico II). This training activity, which lasts two years, is part of a course established 12 years ago and accepts people with different academic curricula and professional experiences (lawyers, psychologists, social workers, sociologists, and so forth). Since planning the course, we have privileged participants’ acquisition of a wider ability to get in touch and cope with emotional aspects and the complexity of relationship dynamics.

The difficulty of realizing this in a training setting, which is geared to provide competences and abilities based on cognitive-type aspects, has been increased by participants’ non- homogeneous working experiences and cultural backgrounds. The greatest problem was their different psychological knowledge level and, for many of them, the lack of a psychotherapeutic experience, which could have given them a better contact with their internal world. That was the reason why, from the beginning, the interventions have been aimed to privilege participants’ ability to get in a more direct touch with their own internal dynamics and with relationships and, at the same time, to understand the complexity of group dynamics in the here and now.

 

Chapter Ten: Social Dreaming with lawyers

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Mattia Tortono

The experience to be described here originates from a wish to explore the effects of Social Dreaming on people who, professionally, are inclined to use a pre-structured vision of the world, one which reduces the potential for creativity. The people who participated in this experience are mostly lawyers. Their profession normally leads them to put all information into specific legal knowledge, focusing their attention on judgements passed in similar previous cases, and leading to conformity to pre-structured thinking. The experience has been conducted only once, but a new session has already been programmed for the future with the same group of people, as a consequence of the interesting results achieved in the first tranche of work.

The first interesting peculiarity of this experience is represented by our interest in discovering what effects would be produced if we, the three hosts, slept in the same house the night before the experience of the Matrix. In particular, we were interested in evaluating the effects of the function of holding the Matrix, performed by the hosts, in order to allow participants to have a worthwhile experience of Social Dreaming. Our hypothesis was that sharing the dimensions of sleep and dreams, which represent the basis of Matrix functioning, would improve the holding function. The peculiarity of our testing was that the sharing was only between hosts before the creation of the formal setting.

 

Chapter Eleven: Totalitarian toddlers: Consulting in the mental health service

ePub

Franca Fubini

‘The work of the Matrix mirrors the functioning of the mind!’ says a participant at the end of a Social Dreaming program, with a great deal of satisfaction at his discovery; understanding that the Matrix mirrors in waking life the ‘Matrix of the undif-ferentiated unconscious’ that operates while we are asleep and dreaming. It is quite extraordinary when actually experienced in reality. Unconscious and conscious contents can be seen, multiple strands of dreams/thoughts/discourses coexisting simultaneously in the continuous waves that at times coalesce as particles.

One way of regarding consciousness in relation to the unconscious is to imagine the world as a psychic pond. This is the Matrix of the mind through which everyone is connected … the universe is pure mind. Thinking and thoughts can be likened to pebbles thrown into the psychic pond, setting off waves radiating from them. When two or more sets of waves of thinking coincide, going forward and backward in time, an event is likely to occur. The phrase ‘shadows of the future cast before’ takes on a new meaning. The shadows—subjective memories and dreams, cast before and backwards (for time is relative)—bring about events and happenings that exist in real time and that are objective. This is an example of reality being both ‘out there’ and ‘in here’ (objective and subjective) … Dream has an important place in determining what takes place in day-to-day life (Lawrence, 2005: 85).

 

Chapter Twelve: Dreaming to emergence in a general hospital

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Lilia Baglioni

This experience took place in Rome, Italy, in a medium-sized general hospital designated by the Ministry of Health as a centre for the reception, assessment, and second level treatment of victims in case of macro catastrophes that would generate a large flux of intakes. In accordance with the Ministry's guidelines, the management had to develop and file a detailed plan covering both the technical and the administrative changes to go into effect in case of what was called ‘Maxi Emergency’.

The process of finalizing the emergency plan was neither short nor painless, and brought about much turmoil and anxiety as the General Manager and the Heads of Departments negotiated the required changes to the routine of their wards and services and to the chain of command. The need to reorganize the hospital was because of the extraordinary dysfunctional problems faced by all role holders. These had conveniently slipped out of every formal discussion, or had been addressed, but with the solutions repeatedly and ritually being postponed.

 

Chapter Thirteen: Social Dreaming with black rappers in New York

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Wolf Werdigier

As a painter and conceptual artist the Social Dreaming Matrix is, for me, a wonderful access to the unconscious of target groups and a rich source of metaphors to be represented in paintings.

In my projects I very often start by organizing groups for Social Dreaming Sessions. While people are sharing their dreams and free associations I make notes, writing them down afterwards. Then I start reading all the notes and recordings made. During the following months I crystallize the most important dreams, themes, metaphors, and images to be transformed into paintings.

During 2005 I was invited to Castillo Theatre, a centre for performing and fine arts in Manhattan, to present my Israeli-Palestinian paintings project, parallel with paintings on African-Americans and Whites in New York.

There were no further explanations as to why these two themes were chosen to be shown together in one exhibition. It was clear that the riots following the Crown Heights incident (Orthodox Jews vis a vis African-Americans) and the theatre play based on this had anticipated this exhibition.

 

Chapter Fourteen: Learning to host a Social Dreaming Matrix

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Angela Eden

This chapter traces the development and implementation of a training programme to host Social Dreaming events. It will cover the development of the programme, the role and function of a ‘host’, the learning experience, as well as some practice development ideas for people who host a Social Dreaming Matrix.

Gordon Lawrence has worked with SD since 1982 and has hosted innumerable Social Dreaming matrices all over the world. As he experienced the richness of Social Dreaming, he also established some principles and practice for holding the Matrix in mind. The function of ‘host’ became clearer as an important role to contain the Matrix during Social Dreaming.

Now in 2008 there is the phenomenon of a third-generation of people who contribute to Social Dreaming, with hosts and participants who have had no direct contact with the origins of Social Dreaming, and may not know its original aims and values. This means that there is an expanding group of individuals who participate in SD, and who run matrices in a variety of contexts.

 

Chapter Fifteen: Creative role synthesis

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Halina Brunning

When the invitation to contribute a chapter to this book arrived I eagerly agreed to write something about Creative Role Synthesis, or CRS for short. My positive reaction to this invitation was based on past experiences of seeing and applying CRS in action. Yet, as weeks changed into months and the deadline for producing the promised chapter approached, and then passed, I found I was not able to put pen to paper or fingertip to keyboard, my discomfort and sense of ‘stuckness’ only growing. Then, one night I had a dream which seemed to have sorted both my resistance and doubts about writing the chapter as well as bringing to my conscious mind, upon waking, a well-ordered structure for the chapter. The next morning I was able to complete the work without delays.

There is no doubt that I had been thinking and planning this chapter both in my conscious and unconscious mind if there was no visible activity to show for it, but the final push towards completion of the task came entirely from within my unconscious mind.

 

Chapter Sixteen: The priesthood of dreamers

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Thomas A. Michael

But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a dedicated nation, a people claimed by God for his own.

I Peter 2:9 REB

In 1520 Martin Luther cited this scripture to claim that the medieval belief that Christians were divided into two classes, spiritual and temporal, was a false teaching. Since ancient times people had believed that an order of priests was required to mediate between the faithful and God. Following Luther, Protestants hold that the only mediator is Jesus, and that they constitute a priesthood of all believers. They maintain that all people can have direct access to the Almighty.

Gordon Lawrence has performed a similar, if more modest accomplishment, in his approach to dreaming. He suggested that we must move away from a politics of salvation, in which an expert mediates between the dream and the dreamer, to a politics of revelation (Lawrence, 2000: 165ff). A Social Dreaming Matrix, in which all participants are equal, functions as a priesthood of all dreamers. The use of such terms as ‘salvation’ and ‘revelation’, and the attraction of having no human mediator between the dreamer and the source of the dream, would resonate with modern-day Christians.

 

Chapter Seventeen: The creative frame of mind

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Gordon Lawrence and Susan D. Long

The purpose of this essay is to explore the mental posture, or frame of mind—phrases with sufficient common-sense meaning for enquiry—by examining the mental phenomena evoked subjectively when in the process of creative thinking. For this purpose we take the original meaning of creativity, that is, the bringing forward of new ideas through the courage to go beyond the existing and institutionalized domains of knowledge. This meaning has been diluted and nowadays the term ‘creative’ is applied to anything novel. There are, however, human beings who perform daring, creative acts, often outside of the confines of current thinking and discourse: the discovery of a scientific law, the authorship of new writing, the making of a poem, the configuration and striking image of a painting, or any work of art, for instance. These acts have special value for society and civilization. Yet, despite the plethora of research, the essential nature of creativity still lies beyond the grasp of scientific investigation, not quite able to encompass the combination of uniqueness of process and daring of endeavour involved.

 

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