Head in the clouds

What can we learn from studying the daydreams of patients?

· psychology

If you’re reading this, there’s a good chance your mind has wandered a few times today.

Spoiler alert: the patients, caregivers and HCPs who we serve are having these moments too. We believe this has a profound impact on some core assumptions about the way that decisions are being made.

Under normal conditions, human beings reportedly spend 30–50% of our lives daydreaming.* If we assume a 16-hour day of waking consciousness, spending 40% of our time daydreaming would amount to ~6.5 hours a day during which our minds are carried away by sub-personal processes we don't control and barely understand.

There’s a big implication here: we do not act in a mentally autonomous way for about two thirds of our waking lives.

Against this backdrop, we ask: how can those of us in the healthcare industry understand the "lived experience" of patients if we don’t have any insight into what’s on their minds when they wander? What can we learn about the patient experience by inquiring about the content of their daydreams?

If the daydream scholars are to be believed, studying wandering minds holds the promise of unique insight into the lived experience of patients, including:

  • Access to the subconscious: Daydreams offer access to subconscious drivers and barriers of behavior, unmet needs, and deep desires.
  • Insight into emotions: Daydreams provide intimate insight into the kinds of subtle mental and emotional experiences that are difficult for people to otherwise access and express verbally.
  • Reportable experiences: Because people experience a sense of “meta-awareness” during daydreams, they are able to report on them with some level of accuracy and detail.

Drop us a line to discuss how understanding daydreams could create competitive advantage for your business.

* Metzinger, T. (2013). The myth of cognitive agency: subpersonal thinking as a cyclically recurring loss of mental autonomy. Frontiers in psychology, 4, 931.







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