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Analyzing the Dream State

I recently read a profound book by scientist and sleep researcher Rosalind Cartwright called The Twenty-four Hour Mind: The Role of Sleep and Dreaming in Our Emotional Lives. I’ve always been interested in dreams and dream analysis, but this book provided the psychological element that was missing in other publications of its kind.

Dreaming, according to Cartwright, serves as much more than subconscious entertainment: It serves to regulate negative emotions and is a natural way to improve symptoms of depression:

“I propose that when some disturbing waking experience is reactivated in sleep and carried forward into REM, where it is matched by similarity in feeling to earlier memories, a network of older associations is stimulated and is displayed as a sequence of compound images that we experience as dreams,” writes Cartwright. “This melding of new and old memory fragments modifies the network of emotional self-defining memories, and thus updates the organizational picture we hold of ‘who I am and what is good for me and what is not.’ In this way, dreaming diffuses the emotional charge of the event and so prepares the sleeper to wake ready to see things in a more positive light.”

To learn more about the psychology of the dream state, check out one of these read-alikes:

On Dreams
by Sigmund Freud
A short but comprehensive account of Freud’s views on the nature and mechanism of dreams. The author regarded this as a summary restatement of his earlier and more important interpretation of dreams.

The Dreamer’s Companion: A Young Person’s Guide to Understanding Dreams and Using Them Creatively 
by Stephen P. Policoff
Introduction to the science and mythology of dreaming, including theories of Sigmund Freud, Carl Jung, and others. Explains causes and interpretations of childhood nightmares and the role of neurochemicals. Offers suggestions such as keeping diaries and joining discussion groups to make creative use of dreams. For senior high and older readers. 1997.

Super Mind: How to Boost Performance and Live a Richer and Happier Life Through Transcendental Meditation 
by Norman E. Rosenthal
Professor of psychiatry and author of Transcendence (DB 75694) outlines three states of consciousness: waking, sleeping, and dreaming. Uses research and hundreds of interviews to discuss how transcendental meditation can help people reach higher levels of consciousness and improve their quality of life. 2016.

Dreaming: A Very Short Introduction 
by J.A. Hobson
Psychiatrist demystifies dreaming, describing the paradigm shift from content and Freudian psychoanalysis to the study of characteristics distinguishing dreaming from waking. Discusses neurobiological discoveries made possible by brain imaging technology, allowing brain- in-action observation, and showing that waking and dreaming are two states of consciousness determined by brain chemistry. 2002.

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