‘IT’S NOT ALL ABOUT BREXIT!!’ (But quite a lot of it is…)

The second Social Dreaming matrix of this series at the Wellcome Library involved

  • 13 people, 10 of whom were there from the start, 3 who joined during the hour. 1 left during review mode.
  • 17 dreams
  • About 33 associations or reflections

As the co-facilitators, we arrived with Brexit dominating our thoughts, again. A draft withdrawal agreement had been made between the Government and the EU earlier in the week followed by cabinet resignations and uncertainty over whether there would be ‘this deal, no deal or no Brexit at all’. A number of dreams during the matrix seemed to reflect some of our, and participants’, current preoccupations:

  • A rubbish dump, with burnt carcasses
  • The dilemma between two partners and an elderly aunt who helped pour water on the garden below
  • Dreams driven by fear, and in particular the fear of red
  • Feelings of insignificance, with big rocks and gloomy clouds
  • Groceries, including biscuit boxes with holes in them
  • Guilt – being in the desert with myself, seeing myself and knowing that two of me is there
  • Mum telling me to go to sleep, inside mum was there whilst I opened the door
  • A big blue spider in its web
  • Having a conversation with a spider, like a friend
  • The story of a young person without any dreams last night
  • A friend saying they were the tennis coach for the Scottish team

Associations included spiders symbolising mother, and Teresa May as the mother stuck; dilemmas; the importance of listening; the potential split between the UK nations.

At a certain point, a moment of tension: “Can you speak louder?” came a voice from the boundary, from a man sitting half in, half out of the group. “Perhaps you can come closer” came the reply from the woman quickly. No movement was made. What hope is there? Who can hear, who can move?

But one of the oldest and one of the youngest members of the group reminded us that ‘It’s not all about Brexit!’ What then? Guilt held as a result of historical actions, “my friend’s band is called ‘Sorry.’” Dreams about exams: waiting to go home, not having long enough and a dissertation to do in two weeks (recurring) led to associations about the pressures and anxieties for young people, particularly around education – the effects on younger generations’ mental health.

And life’s ongoing dilemmas, big and small. A powerful real dilemma, and the subject of dreams, involved a pig, and a choice to be made whether to kill the pig for eating or not.  This was associated to Islamophobia, anti-Semitism and the rise of Veganism. Further associations were made about the environment, waste and dilemmas about what to do with waste created, guilt derived from the past, but also happy childhood memories.

As the Matrix came to a close, familiar stories were remembered from Charlotte’s Web – with a spider and a pig – to Babe and Animal Farm.  Animals don’t know about Brexit and whatever happens with Brexit, life will go on in one way or another. (Though Animal Farm’s Napoleon says it all). Perhaps the dilemma is how we live our lives, with the consequences and the inconsequential.

We went away from the matrix, full of dreams and many associations. We were struck by the generational differences and similarities, the presence of gender dynamics in the space. There had been a few silences, but not many and in the review, the group reflected on the warmth, intimacy and joy of connecting with strangers over an hour’s social dreaming. It had been a joy to be part of.


Camilla Child and Heather Stradling

The next session will take place on Thursday 22nd November 7 – 8.30 pm at the Reading Room in Wellcome Collection.


183 Euston Road

London NW1 2BE


Join the conversation! 1 Comment

  1. As I remember it, there was no mention of Islamophobia, veganism or anti – semitism in the discussion about killing a pig. It was simply a question of being true to oneself: if we are prepared to eat meat, should we accept taking that to its logical conclusion? That was the dilemma on which the dreams were based.
    I felt that much of the rest of the discussion was over- interpreted, Brexit being blamed for senses of insecurity, guilt etc. I believe that dreams are random, but include people, preoccupations and situations we are familiar with.


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