Dream Bigger, Darling.

in Uncategorized
July 22nd, 2010

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As my good friend Cobb once told me, “Dreams feel real while we’re in them. It’s only when we wake up that we realize something was actually strange.”

OK, fine, Leonardo DiCaprio’s character from Inception isn’t real, but he does make a valid point. Oneirologists, those who study dreams, have traditionally viewed dreams as uncontrollable streams of sounds and images with the ability to induce a tremendous spectrum of emotion. However, the idea of lucid dreaming has caused the conventional understanding of dreams to collapse. A “lucid dream,” terminology coined by the Dutch psychiatrist Frederik van Eeden, is one in which the sleeper is aware that he or she is dreaming. This example of dissociation is wonderfully paradoxical in that it exhibits components of both waking and dreaming consciousness.

An American psychiatrist and dream researcher named Allan Hobson specializes in the quantification of mental events and their corresponding brain activities. Although he vehemently dismisses the idea of hidden meanings in dreams, he has embarked on a search along with other neurobiologists and cognitive scientists to decipher the neurological basis of consciinception-trailer-movie-leonardo-de-caprio1ousness. Hobson hypothesizes that subjects may learn to become lucid, self-awaken, and regulate plot control by intercalating voluntary decisions into the involuntary nature of the dream.

The validation of this idea would imply that the mind is capable of experiencing a waking and a dreaming state at the same time. Consequently, Hobson states, “…it may be possible to measure the physiological correlates of three conscious states, waking, non-lucid dreaming, and lucid dreaming in the laboratory.” If there is a psychological distinction between the three, there should also be a physiological difference.

The advent of lucid dreaming experimentation has not only benefitted Hollywood, but it has also provided possible treatment options for those hindered by frequent nightmares or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Methodologically speaking, the study of lucid dreaming presents a formidable challenge, but it is becoming an important component of the cognitive neurosciences.

Josefin Gavie and Antti Revonsuo have built on Hobson’s theories by proposing a technique termed lucid dreaming treatment (LDT). The key to this treatment is that the subject learns how to identify cues that facilitate lucidity during a dream, and the subject learns to manipulate the environment once lucidity is attained. The phenomenon of lucidity may prove to be a useful device in that it offers the sleeper a method to control components of the dream – altering and diminishing any threatening situation. Although the investigation of LDT is extremely new and incontestably controversial, it has shown promising preliminary results in its ability to lower the frequency of nightmares in the selected subjects.

The premise of the film Inception may be wildly hypothetical, but it has expertly amplified the current research on lucid dreams. However, researchers in the field should take a word of advice from the character of Eames: “You mustn’t be afraid to dream a little bigger, darling.”

The Neurobiology of Consciousness: Lucid Dreaming Wakes Up – J. Allan Hobson
The Future of Lucid Dreaming Treatment (PDF) – Josefin Gavie and Antti Revonsuo

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8 Comments on Dream Bigger, Darling.

  • Curious. If it is as Hobson says, and humans can experience a waking and dreaming state at the same time, one must wonder how the dream would still be able to “flow” effortlessly from the dreamer. When lucid dreams occur, we don’t deliberate on details and dictate every aspect of the dream… parts of it seem to be involuntary, and parts voluntary. Where does that involuntary part originate?

  • the involuntary part originates in the subconscious, duh. that’s why Cobb couldn’t get Mal out of his dreams………

    In other words, the involuntary parts may be just like the involuntary or intrusive thoughts you have when awake. Perhaps they come from neural assemblies that “compete for attention”.

    What’s even more interesting is why bizarre things (like cities folding onto themselves) don’t seem strange in the dream. Why is it that you know what’s plausible when awake but don’t know when dreaming?

  • I have gotten these a lot before actually. There are two ways to induce them, the first is more difficult and is called WILD (wake induced lucid dreaming). The second is most likely to happen and is called DILD (dream induced lucid dreaming). The weirdest thing is that once you obtain awareness, your mind (or the seeming seperation of the “I” from the mind) often changes the scenery to convice you that you are not dreaming. I find it laughable that this guy thinks that there are no “hidden” meanings to dreams, since there seems to be such an amazing and powerful psychology behind how your brain/unconscious (?) attempts to convince or trick the you, for example, seemingly to convince you you are not lucid. Maybe the mental quantification specialist dreams of numbers, but my dreams have always been symbolic and deconstructable, so that I can see psychological intricacies in them. The same for many other individuals.

  • This is fascinating! I definitely believe that dreams are where your subconscious shifts through all the events of the day and helps you organize your life. the field of lucid dreaming is so interesting and i look forward to hearing more of their findings!

  • I really like the idea of LDT for reducing or getting rid of nightmares. I am a long time lucid dreamer and I have been free of nightmares for over 20 years. I think this could be a big deal for people with chronic dream problems.

    I really thing this is just the surface. Some of us believe that physical and other mental related issues can be addressed. Like, using lucid dreams to heal physical ailments or learning to overcome anxiety and even improve on all sorts of talents.

    I keep hoping the scientists would catch up to the facts that practicing lucid dreams already benefit from.

  • I get just begun researching Lucid dreaming, and My partner and i
    wonder if i am all-around it, I get dreams which
    have been so stunning and feel as if i feel there, and when i get up and
    during the day I can remember these and make clear what took
    place easily. In some dreams I recall tasting food that was delicious,
    and When i was participating in a acoustic guitar hero
    controller at the concert and Going how actual the control keys felt as
    if I seemed to be actually reaching them, but These types of dreams seem
    like i ‘m there however I am not, its hard to go into detail. I can’t control anything at all, its almost like I ‘m watching inside first man or women, I bear in mind people actually talking to me, but we couldnt choose things to say, I answered nevertheless it wasn’t us answering what I desired to say, Its hard to go into detail aswell, and We tell me before My partner and i sleep to remember to inform myself I will be dreaming although its consequently hard despite the fact that my aspirations have apparent signs i always am fantasizing. I ended up being wandering if this can be close in order to lucid daydreaming or not necessarily? and what are steps to get to the up coming level? I additionally wonder how do i wake me up coming from a lucid dream after I get it.

  • “Dreams feel real while we’re in them. It’s only when we wake up that we realize something was actually strange.”

    Yes, that is true if you don’t practice lucid dreaming. Like other commentators, I am into lucid dreaming for a long time and I can say only the best about it. Sadly, science is avoiding this topic because of parapsychological prejudices but I hope that in future this will be ignored and that lucid dreaming knowledge will be spread around the people.


  • This is a great informative article. I am lucid dreamer for the last 10 years and I assure you, there are many benefits of lucid dreaming besides having fun or exploring your mind. My meditative powers had increased and I felt much more relaxed, I guess it was the result of my confrontation with fears in my dreams.

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