Can Inception Work?

Can Inception Work? Photo by D.Hennessey

Inception can be defined as the process or action of beginning something or in other words the sewing of the seed of an idea. (Webster’s Dictionary)

Inception is also the title of a movie ( I just saw) centered on the idea of planting the seed of an idea in the subconscious mind of another person without that person knowing it. In the movie, the goal is to have the person embrace the idea as their own idea and act on it.

But can Inception Work? Can you sow an idea in a mind?

According to Dr. Deirdre Barrett, the author of the book The Committee of Sleep the answer appears to be ‘Yes’ if you are working on sowing the seed in your own mind to help you solve a problem.

In a recent interview in Scientific American Dr. Barrett explains what she has learned from extensive dream research.

Below in a step by step format, I have summarized Dr. Barrett’s response on the topic of problem solving. You can see once you have read over these steps there are great possibilities for all of us to use our own dreams to help us solve everyday problems. This process is sometimes called Dream Incubation.

Dr. Barrett says:


Before you go to bed think of the problem and hold the thoughts of the problem clearly in your mind.


If there is an image related to the problem hold the image in your mind, better still, if it is possible to put a copy of the image beside your bed, like the image of a person you are having a problem with do this. This will help your mind focus on the problem during the dream. I you are a writer looking for inspiration put a blank notepad beside your bed or if you are a business person place some notes about the problem beside the bed. I hope this helps you get the idea.


While still holding thoughts of the problem in your conscious mind, focus gently on going to sleep perhaps by counting down from one hundred or imagining you are walking down a staircase into sleep.


Then when you awake don’t get up out of bed right  away, instead lie there and don’t do anything. If you don’t recall a dream right away, see if you can feel a particular emotion, if you find a particular emotion there is a chance the whole dream can come flooding back. In one study Dr. Barrett did with students that lasted for only a week she found fifty percent of the students who were highly motivated to solve a problem dreamt of the problem and twenty five percent solved the problem.

Dr. Barrett suggests if these results can happen in one week of training over time people can learn to use the power of their dreams to help solve problems much more effectively.

It is important to note that, according to Dr. Barrett, if you demand the dream make a solution it does not work as well. The idea is to sew the seed and await the results to happen.

Can you plant the seed of an idea in the mind of someone else? Dr. Barrett says you can influence someone’s sleep by sounds and lighting that are present in the environment the person is sleeping in. She did not say you can implant an idea in the mind of a person like in the movie Inception. Perhaps, in other ways…

If you wish to use your mind more effectively you can learn more about Dream Incubation in Dr. Barrett’s book due out this month in a paperback version. Click on the following link to find out more about The Committee of Sleep: How Artists, Scientists, and Athletes Use their Dreams for Creative Problem Solving-and How You Can Too

All the best to you,