MadSci Network: Neuroscience

Re: Can you tell me more about 'Lucid Dreaming', or the ability...

Date: Fri Jan 28 14:03:28 2000
Posted By: joshua rodefer, Research Fellow in Psychobiology & Lecturer
Area of science: Neuroscience
ID: 939935038.Ns

Lucid dreaming, the experience of dreaming and simultaneously being aware 
that one is dreaming is a technique that some believe is easily learned and 
that may provide effective and therapeutic relief to a number of 
conditions, including chronic nightmares.

Numerous reports of lucid dreams have been recorded through the centuries 
by philosophers, poets and occultists. However these, as well as the 
investigations carried out by serious researchers, were completely ignored 
by scientists because they were based on personal experiences. It was not 
until the late '50s that the first effective techniques for inducing lucid 
dreaming were developed in Germany.  Shortly thereafter, the first 
investigations were begun - this is always an important step as up to this 
point most of the knowledge was obtained from subjective reports (which are 
not the most rigorous and reliable form of assessing information).

However, one thing to keep in mind is that there appears to be some 
relationship, at least at the psychophysiological level, between dreaming 
and hallucinations. One study (Fisher, 1991) demonstrated that intense 
visual hallucinations began shortly after injection of drug (atropine) and 
persisted for more than one week. They were present only when the eyes were 
closed and were associated with heightened dreaming and disturbed sleep.

Others have also examined lucid dreaming compared to other types of 
dreaming. Spafadora & Hunt, (1990) demonstrated that lucid dreamers could be 
distinguished from nightmare sufferers on the basis of high 
imaginativeness, proclivity to waking mystical experience, spatial/analytic 
skills, and physical balance. It appears that the intensification of 
dreaming is expressed positively or negatively, depending on variations in 
these cognitive dimensions.

Consider most forms of "new age" therapies - many might be ridiculed as 
they are perceived to have little scientific merit behind them.  However, 
this is not to say they are without merit - one good example of this is 
Chinese herbal remedies. For a great period of time, herbal medicine was 
not considered a valid form of medical treatment by western-trained 
physicians.  However, herbal therapies have come into greater respect 
recently as there have been independent studies supporting the value of the 
treatments.  Yet there are still many bogus treatments out there.

While certainly not a thorough review of what is out there, hopefully
this is enough to get you started.

Josh Rodefer, Ph.D.
Harvard Medical School

References - Scientific Papers:
Eisenberg DM, Davis RB, Ettner SL, Appel S, Wilkey S, Van Rompay M, Kessler 
RC  Trends in alternative medicine use in the United States, 1990-1997: 
results of a follow-up national survey. JAMA 1998 Nov 11;280(18):1569-75 

Zadra AL, Pihl RO Lucid dreaming as a treatment for recurrent nightmares.
Psychother Psychosom 1997;66(1):50-5 

Lequerica A.  Lucid dreaming and the mind-body relationship: a
model for the cognitive and physiological variations in rapid eye movement 
sleep.  Percept Mot Skills 1996 Aug;83(1):331-6 

Prescott JA, Pettigrew CG Lucid dreaming and control in waking life.
Percept Mot Skills 1995 Oct;81(2):658 

Abramovitch H The nightmare of returning home: a case of acute onset
nightmare disorder treated by lucid dreaming. Isr J Psychiatry Relat Sci 

Fisher CM. Visual hallucinations on eye closure associated with atropine 
toxicity. A neurological analysis and comparison with other visual 
hallucinations. Can J Neurol Sci 1991 Feb;18(1):18-27 

Spadafora A, Hunt HT The multiplicity of dreams: cognitive-affective 
correlates of lucid, archetypal, and nightmare dreaming. Percept Mot Skills 
1990 Oct;71(2):627-44 

Overview of the Development of Lucid Dream Research in 

Current Queue | Current Queue for Neuroscience | Neuroscience archives

Try the links in the MadSci Library for more information on Neuroscience.

MadSci Home | Information | Search | Random Knowledge Generator | MadSci Archives | Mad Library | MAD Labs | MAD FAQs | Ask a ? | Join Us! | Help Support MadSci

MadSci Network,
© 1995-2000. All rights reserved.