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Q: UPDATING DREAMS ( Answered 5 out of 5 stars,   0 Comments )
Category: Miscellaneous
Asked by: yesmam-ga
List Price: $10.00
Posted: 17 Nov 2003 18:41 PST
Expires: 17 Dec 2003 18:41 PST
Question ID: 276893
Here it is for the world to know: I am disabled. I can hear you
saying,"But, you write just like a normal person," LOL. Because of a
chronic disease, I no longer can walk and get around by wheelchair.
(Thank God, my arms are still okay, but you never know...)
In my dreams, I am ambulatory, sometimes using crutches like I had to
for several years, but I am never in a wheelchair. I wonder if on some
level, I don't accept that I am this disabled or the mind works in
mysterious ways that I don't understand. What do you think?
Answered By: andrewxmp-ga on 17 Nov 2003 22:18 PST
Rated:5 out of 5 stars
Hi yesmam,

This is a very interesting, yet somewhat common and understood
phenomenon.    At first glance, you seem to be displaying some
symptoms of anosognosia:

"Anosognosia is a disorder occurring in about 5% of patients who have
had a stroke affecting the right side of their brain (6), in
particular the right parietal cortex, causing left hemiplegia
(paralysis of the side of the body opposite to the affected side of
the brain). Its characteristic feature is the inability, or, some
would say, unwillingness of patients to perceive their own paralysis,
and in extreme cases, that of others. "
[ ]

You did not mention what the cause of your disability is, bu if it is
due to a brain disorder, this could be the source of your changed
perception-of-self, perhaps only in a minor way such that just your
dreams, and not conscious perceptions, are altered.

"Dr. V.S. Ramachandran, Director of the Center for Brain and Cognition
at UC San Diego, has proposed an interesting hypothesis that may help
explain anosognosia. He believes that to make sense of our complex
environment, the human brain forms a coherent belief system, and
suggests how each hemisphere participates in its creation. According
to Ramachandran, our beliefs about ourselves and the world develop in
the left side of our brain. The function of the right hemisphere is to
detect anomalies, forcing the left to revise the established belief
structure. Through this process, we generate a unified model of
reality, a consistent storyline that allows us to live without
confusion and indecision.  In anosognosiacs, the 'anomaly detector' is
impaired due to damage to the right hemisphere. The belief structure
cannot be altered, and the patient is left with no choice but to deny
his paralysis. Based on the ideas discussed above, I would like to
offer an alternative explanation."
[ ]

Again, this sounds quite like the changes you described...perhaps you
brain is having trouble at this level updating your sense of self.

From a physical neuroscience perspective, the brain very much follows
the "use it or loose it" principle: different structures and cortical
araes that are in charge of certain functions, including motor
planning, can actually change shape, size, and excitability if they
are not used (which would include those that control your lower
extremities).  It is possible that this diminished neural
representation of your physical body is being reflected in your

From a psychological perspective, this could simply be a denial of the
change that perhaps you inwardly feel is a negative one.  Dreams have
been known to often incorporate one's "ideal self-image" and perhaps
yours does not include the use of a wheelchair.

I am not sure "what to think" about this condition, especially given
such little background, but hopefully these points offer some insight
into what is possible, as the mind is often seemingly very strange.  I
would suggest reading "Phantoms in the Brain" by Dr. V.S.
Ramachandran.  It is a popular cognitive science book that discusses
many similar cases to yours and is in any case a very interesting
read.  If you have any further questions please do not hesitate to
request an answer clarification, especially before rating this answer.
 Thank you for bringing your question to Google Answers!


Search terms used:
dreams anosognosia
dreams desired self-image

Request for Answer Clarification by yesmam-ga on 18 Nov 2003 21:03 PST
You did not mention what the cause of your disability is

I have multiple sclerosis.

Clarification of Answer by andrewxmp-ga on 18 Nov 2003 21:21 PST
Hi again,

With multeple sclerosis, it is most liely not a cortical impairment
like anosognosia.  Without any other type of exampination, the
condition you described is most likely psychological in nature, as I
mentioned before about "ideal self-image" and similar changes (or lack
of change) that may be happening in your mind after the onset of the
disorder.  Although there are many solid scientific theories, we know
relatively little about what dreams actually are or represent, thus
making this kind of assesment very difficult.  If you would really
like to find out more about the significance of your dreams, I would
suggest contacting a psychologist who specializes in dreams,
particularly in patients who have experienced drastic changes in

Best wishes,
yesmam-ga rated this answer:5 out of 5 stars and gave an additional tip of: $5.00
Andrew, I think that your observation that my dream disconnect is
psychologcial and not caused by anosognosia. Seeking a psychologist
may not be my course of action, because it really doesn't bother me
enough; it's more of a curiosity. I am now going to ask others as to
whether they dream of themselves in their current condition or one
from their past? Now, I'm inspired to learn more about this.
Your answer is excellent and thanks very much.

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