Biologically and psychologically, we are wired to be creative.
I am intrigued by analogies between gene mutation and the process of dreaming and how each can contribute to creativity. I am looking forward to reading The Gene: An Intimate Portrait by Mukherjee.
Just briefly, a gene is a hereditary unit consisting of a sequence of DNA that occupies a specific location on a chromosome and determines a particular characteristic in an organism. Genes undergo mutation when their DNA sequence changes. While mutations can be the source of dreaded diseases, they can also be responsible for creative adaptations to the environment, resulting in evolutionary progress.
Similar to new evolutionary forms, in dreaming we experience new associations and re-consolidations that can lead to valuable innovative ideas. Just like genes can physically relocate on a chromosome to create a new structure, so dream images can re-consolidate and translocate (change in location) to form new associations and ideas.
An example is the following “translocated” dream image that I had the night following a patient telling me about her cruel and seductive mother. This image was a chilling and dreadful representation of a mermaid with the face of Joan Crawford (the body of a mermaid was moved to replace the body of Joan Crawford.). I immediately associated to my patient who had been talking the day before about her mother. This patient had been discussing for a few months how difficult her mother was but I had been unable to "feel" this. Whether I was mirroring her detachment or it was my own defensiveness, or possibly both, I do not know. However, when I woke up from the dream, I was shaken and sweating, and felt a horror and dread about the image. I knew then on a very visceral level what the patient felt. This gave me a sense of what could develop in the treatment, that is, how we could get into an enactment where either she or I could become the mermaid and have a sadomasochistic interaction. Instead, I was forearmed by the dream image and could move forward with more awareness of both her unconscious and mine.