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1986 - Volume 7, Numbers 2 and 3, Spring and Summer (Special Issue)

Cognitive Psychology and Dream Research

Cognitive Psychology and Dream Research: Historical, Conceptual, and Epistemological Considerations
Robert E. Haskell, University of New England
The Journal of Mind and Behavior , Spring and Summer 1986, Vol. 7, Numbers 2 and 3, Pages 131 [1]-160 [30], ISSN 0271-0137, ISBN 0-930195-02-7
Historical, conceptual, methodological, and epistemological factors in the development of dream research are outlined and discussed, along with four stages of dream research. Issues evolving from the analysis are examined in relation to cognitive psychology and the philosophy of science, among them disciplinary boundary problems, reductionistic approaches, the importance of dreams and dreaming as cognitive data, the concept of levels of analysis, cognitive operations, and meaning in dreams. Implications for future research are discussed.

Requests for reprints should be sent to Robert E. Haskell, Ph.D., University of New England, 11 Hills Beach Road, Biddeford, Maine 04005.

An Empirical Foundation for a Self Psychology of Dreaming
Harry Fiss, University of Connecticut, School of Medicine
The Journal of Mind and Behavior , Spring and Summer 1986, Vol. 7, Numbers 2 and 3, Pages 161 [31]-192 [62], ISSN 0271-0137, ISBN 0-930195-02-7
While the impact of sleep research on clinical practice has been nothing short of spectacular, the influence dream research has had on clinical practice has been negligible. Consequently, a wide gap exists today between the dream researcher and the dream interpreter. The reason for this gap is that dream researchers have by and large been overemphasizing the biological underpinnings of dreaming sleep and have paid insufficient attention to dreaming as a subjective experience. In this chapter, results will be presented which are not only scientifically sound and rigorous, but which also address themselves to the interests of the practitioner. Findings will be discussed from the perspective of Kohut’s self psychology, with which they are strikingly consistent. Laboratory evidence will be presented demonstrating that dreaming serves three primary functions: (1) the maintenance of self-cohesiveness, (2) the restoration of a crumbling or fragmenting self, and (3) the development of new psychic structures. Examples will also be presented to indicate how future research can further advance a clinically relevant experimental self psychology of dreaming.

Requests for reprints should be sent to Harry Fiss, Ph.D., Department of Psychiatry, University of Connecticut Health Center, School of Medicine, Farmington, Connecticut 06032.

Dreaming: Cortical Activation and Perceptual Thresholds
John S. Antrobus, The City College of the City University of New York
The Journal of Mind and Behavior , Spring and Summer 1986, Vol. 7, Numbers 2 and 3, Pages 193 [63]-212 [82], ISSN 0271-0137, ISBN 0-930195-02-7
It is proposed that (1) cortical activation and (2) heightened sensory thresholds are sufficient to (a) account for the particular characterstics of the Stage 1 REM dream report; (b) that these two variables modify certain characteristics of normal waking thought to produce dreamlike mentation; and (c) that no additional special cognitive operations are required to account for dreamlike mentation in Stage 1 REM. This paper attempts to specify what cognitive and neurological characteristics are required to distinguish waking mentation in noisy and understimulated environments from sleep mentation during different levels of cortical activation, namely Stages 1 REM and 2.

Requests for reprints should be sent to John S. Antrobus, Ph.D., Department of Psychology, City University of New York, Convent Avenue at 138th Street, New York, New York 10031.

Some Relations Between the Cognitive Psychology of Dreams and Dream Phenomenology
Harry T. Hunt, Brock University
The Journal of Mind and Behavior , Spring and Summer 1986, Vol. 7, Numbers 2 and 3, Pages 213 [83]-228 [98], ISSN 0271-0137, ISBN 0-930195-02-7
Cognitive approaches to dreams are limited by the conceptual and methodological narrowness of current “cognitive science,” obscuring the actual multiplicity of dream experience. While there may be nothing essentially or uniquely dreamlike, this very multiplicity could have a liberating effect on cognitive theory, by calling attention to the need for a psychology of visual imagination and metaphor and by reinforcing recent views on the multiplicity of waking consciousness.

Requests for reprints should be sent to Harry T. Hunt, Ph.D., Brock University, Department of Psychology, St. Catharines, Ontario L2S 3A1, Canada.

REM Slep and Neural Nets
Francis Crick, The Salk Institute and Graeme Mitchison, Kenneth Craik Laboratory, Cambridge, England
The Journal of Mind and Behavior , Spring and Summer 1986, Vol. 7, Numbers 2 and 3, Pages 229 [99]-250 [120], ISSN 0271-0137, ISBN 0-930195-02-7
The broad features of Rapid Eye Movement (REM) sleep are reviewed. Memory storage in the brain is probably quite unlike that in a digital computer, being distributed, superimposed and robust. Such memory systems are easily overloaded. If the stored memories share common features, random stimulation often produces mixed outputs. Simulations show that such overloading can be reduced by a process we call “reverse learning.” We propose that this process is what is happening in REM sleep and that it explains in an unforced manner the condensation commonly found in dreams. Evidence for and against the proposed theory is discussed and several alternative theories are briefly described. The absence of REM sleep in the Enchidna and in two species of dolphins (that have relatively large brains) suggests that REM may allow the brain to be smaller than if REM were lacking.

Requests for reprints should be sent to Francis Crick, Ph.D., The Salk Institute, P.O. Box 85800, San Diego, California 92138.

Lucid Dreaming: Physiological Correlates of Consciousness during REM Sleep
Stephen LaBerge, Stanford University and The Saybrook Institute and Lynne Levitan and William C. Dement, Stanford University
The Journal of Mind and Behavior , Spring and Summer 1986, Vol. 7, Numbers 2 and 3, Pages 251 [121]-258 [128], ISSN 0271-0137, ISBN 0-930195-02-7
Reports of lucid dreaming (dreaming while being conscious that one is dreaming) were verified for 13 selected subjects who signaled by means of voluntary eye-movements that they knew they were dreaming while continuing to dream during unequivocal REM sleep. Physiological analysis of the resulting 76 signal-verified lucid dreams (SVLDs) revealed that elevated levels of automatic nervous system activity reliably occured both during and 30 seconds preceding the onset of SVLDs, implicating physiological activation as a necessary condition for reflective consciousness during REM dreaming. The ability of proficient lucid dreamers to deliberately perform dream actions in accordance with presleep agreement makes possible the methodical and precise determination of pyschophysiological correspondence during REM dreaming.

Requests for reprints should be sent to Stephen LaBerge, Ph.D., Sleep Research Center, Stanford University, Stanford, California 94305.

Effects of Environmental Context and Cortical Activation on Thought
Ruth Reinsel, Miriam Wollman, and John S. Antrobus, The City College of the City University of New York
The Journal of Mind and Behavior , Spring and Summer 1986, Vol. 7, Numbers 2 and 3, Pages 259 [129]-276 [146], ISSN 0271-0137, ISBN 0-930195-02-7
This paper describes two experiments that examine the relationship between external auditory non-specific stimulation and disruption of the thematic sequencing of spontaneous thought and imagery. It is proposed that such external stimulation disrupts the flow of spontaneous mentation, resulting in more and briefer thematic sequences per unit of time. It is assumed that the long thematic sequences of REM sleep, in contrast to waking, are achieved, in part, because of the high perceptual thresholds of that state, which prevent the disruption of mentation sequences by external stimuli. The two experiments simulate the long thematic sequences of dreaming in the waking state by comparing the disruptive effects of two levels of ambient auditory stimulation.

Requests for reprints should be sent to John Antrobus, Ph.D., Department of Psychology, The City College of New York, New York, New York 10031.

Lucid Dreaming Frequency in Relation to Vestibular Sensitivity as Measured by Caloric Stimulation
Jayne Gackenbach, University of Northern Iowa and Thomas J. Snyder, Iowa Area Education Agency 6 and LeAnn M. Rokes, University of Northern Iowa and Daniel Sachau, University of Utah
The Journal of Mind and Behavior , Spring and Summer 1986, Vol. 7, Numbers 2 and 3, Pages 277 [147]-298 [168], ISSN 0271-0137, ISBN 0-930195-02-7
Twenty-four males and 24 females with no history of vestibular dysfunction but who differed in their reported frequency of lucid dreaming (being aware of dreaming while the dream is in progress), underwent bithermal caloric irrigation to determine their electronystagmographic (ENG) responsiveness and their reported vertigo, both of which are measures of the functional integrity of the vestibular system. Evidence of a positive association between lucid dreaming frequency and ENG responsiveness was found for two graphic measures of nystagmus, amplitude per beat and speed in the slow phase, and for three other measures which imply decreased vestibular sensitivity, dysrhythmia, directional preponderance, and canal paresis. These results signify that frequent lucid dreamers are more responsive to caloric irrigation than are persons who never dream lucidly. Consonant differences between dreamer types were also found for the latency and duration of self-reported vertigo. Based on these findings and others in which lucidity frequency has been related to experiential and behavioral differences in equilaboratory functioning, it is proposed that frequent lucid dreamers represent a subset of people whose vestibular system is subject to intense activation during sleep and whose dream mentation reflects this activation. It is conjectured that studies of vestibular physiology may provide a promising path for understanding the psychophysiology of sleep, the dream process, and self-awareness.

Requests for reprints should be sent to Jayne Gackenbach, Ph.D., Department of Psychology, University of Northern Iowa, Cedar Falls, Iowa 50614.

The Dream-Scriptor and the Freudian Ego: “Pragmatic Competence” and Superordinate and Subordinate Cognitive Systems in Sleep
Frank Heynick, Eindhoven University of Technology
The Journal of Mind and Behavior , Spring and Summer 1986, Vol. 7, Numbers 2 and 3, Pages 299 [169]-332 [202], ISSN 0271-0137, ISBN 0-930195-02-7
On the basis of theoretical and anecdotal literature, as well as a systemayic experiment, a study is made concerning the appropriateness in using verbal language as part of the overall dream scenario. Of particular interest is whether the automaticity of grammatical processes – to which can theoretically be attributed the general syntactic well-formedness of dream dialogue (as recalled and reported) – may also contribute to these processes becoming divorced in sleep from superordinate control systems. An experiment is related in which dream reports were scored for the appropriateness of dialogue to an overall narrative, with results strongly indicating that the dreamer displays a rather high degree of pragmatic competence as well as grammatical proficiency. In this light, recent attempts to reinterpret Freud’s dichotomy of primary and secondary processes and their theoretical shifting relationship from states of wakefulness to dreaming are themselves critically reexamined.

Requests for reprints should be sent to Frank Heynick, Ph.D., Eindhoven University of Technology, Department of Philosophy and Social Sciences, Applied Linguistics Section, P.O. Box 513, 5600 MB Eindhoven, Netherlands.

Structural Anthropology and the Psychology of Dreams
Adam Kuper, Brunel University
The Journal of Mind and Behavior , Spring and Summer 1986, Vol. 7, Numbers 2 and 3, Pages 333 [203]-344 [214], ISSN 0271-0137, ISBN 0-930195-02-7
Claude Lévi-Strauss developed structuralist methods in anthroplogy, deriving inspiration from the phonological analysis of the linguist Roman Jacobson. His most successful application of structuralist methods has been in his analyses of myths, but – as both Lévi-Strauss and Jacobson independently suggested – the method may be applicable to the analysis of dreams. Attempts have recently been made to develop the structural analysis of dreams, and some exploratory studies are described. The structural analysis of language, myths and dreams has implications for theories of cognition, and these are touched upon in the conclusion.

Requests for reprints should be sent to Adam Kuper, Ph.D., Department of Human Sciences, Brunel University, Uxbridge, Middlesex UB8 3PH, United Kingdom.

Logical Structure and the Cognitive Psychology of Dreaming
Robert E. Haskell, University of New England
The Journal of Mind and Behavior , Spring and Summer 1986, Vol. 7, Numbers 2 and 3, Pages 345 [215]-378 [248], ISSN 0271-0137, ISBN 0-930195-02-7
It is suggested that dreaming exhibits logical structures such as either/or and negation relations, but that the modes of expression of logical relations in imaginal processes are different from typical waking modes. While it was Freud who first pointed out such structures in his The Interpretation of Dreams, it is suggested that logical relations in dreaming can be studied independently of the psychoanalytic framework. Historical reasons for the lack of research into the logical structure of dreaming are explored. Preliminary data are presented along with methodological strategies for eliciting logical relations. The validity and definition of dream “content” and dream symbolism are discussed as well as implications for establishing a field of “dream” research. Attention is paid to the concept of abstract feature analysis in cognitive psychology.

Requests for reprints should be sent to Robert Haskell, Ph.D., University of New England, Biddeford, Maine 04005.

Subliminal Perception and Dreaming
Howard Shevrin, University of Michigan Medical Center
The Journal of Mind and Behavior , Spring and Summer 1986, Vol. 7, Numbers 2 and 3, Pages 379 [249]-396 [266], ISSN 0271-0137, ISBN 0-930195-02-7
Research on the relationship between subliminal perception and dreaming initiated interest in the field of subliminal perception. Nevertheless, over the years only a very small number of studies [11] have investigated this relationship. A review of these studies is presented, divided into three sections: (a) early studies of historical and theoretical interest, (b) quasi-clinical, empirical studies, and (c) experimental studies. Essentially, the early findings reported have been borne out by subsequent empirical and experimental studies: (1) much that remains unreported and presumably unconscious following a briefly flashed stimulus is later recovered in dreams, (2) dreams appear to be necessary to recover at least some kinds of transformed or primary process aspects of the briefly presented stimulus. Implications for our understanding of perception, the nature of consciousness, and various states of consciousness are discussed.

Requests for reprints should be sent to Howard Shevrin, Ph.D., University of Michigan Medical Center, Department of Psychiatry, 900 Wall Street, Ann Arbor, Michigan 48105-0722.

Evaluating Dream Function: Emphasizing the Study of Patients With Organic Disease
Robert C. Smith, Michigan State University
The Journal of Mind and Behavior , Spring and Summer 1986, Vol. 7, Numbers 2 and 3, Pages 397 [267]-410 [280], ISSN 0271-0137, ISBN 0-930195-02-7
In spite of a rich heritage of scientific interest in dreams, there is still no known function or meaning of dreams. There are, however, a wealth of carefully worked out hypotheses that were spawned by Freud’s work. Because of the lack of answers from dream physiology and because of the maturation of the discipline of dream psychology, it is time to move into the phase of systematic testing of hypotheses to determine the function of dreams. This chapter reviews some methodologic considerations for hypothesis-testing and stresses the importance of data gathering and definition of the independent variable. The Staged Interview Technique is recommended as a way to achieve some control in both dimensions. The study of patients with organic diseases is proposed as a way to evaluate biological function of dreaming. Data are cited showing that, in medical patients, the number of death references (men) and separation references (women) correlates with a poor clinical outcome and that patients with no dreams have an even worse prognosis with significantly more deaths. These data indicate that dreams reflect, or are reactive to, biological function. They are consistent with Kardiner’s formulation that severe ego distress mediates these changes. This suggests that death and separation are the dream language of severe distress. Finally, this chapter reviews some future research directions with an organic disease approach. It also emphasizes the continued value of studying patients in severe distress, psychological as well as biological, as a way to gain insight into dream function.

Requests for reprints should be sent to Robert C. Smith, M.D., Michigan State University, Department of Medicine, B220 Life Sciences Building, East Lansing, Michigan 48824.

Affect and Dream Work from an Information Processing Point of View
Rosalind Cartwright, Rush University, Presbyterian-St. Luke’s Medical Center
The Journal of Mind and Behavior , Spring and Summer 1986, Vol. 7, Numbers 2 and 3, Pages 411 [281]-428 [298], ISSN 0271-0137, ISBN 0-930195-02-7
Data relevant to the emotional information processing function of dreams are reviewed from a study of the dreams of women undergoing a stressful life event (divorce). These data show that there were both structural and content differences in the dreams of women who were experiencing depression in relation to the event from those who were not, and differences of both of these from dreams of married controls living stable lives. Dream sequences show problem-solving progress when waking dysphoric affect is moderate, and poor quality dream work when affect levels are too high.

Requests for reprints should be sent to Rosalind D. Cartwright, Ph.D., Department of Psychology and Social Sciences, Rush Medical College, Rush-Prebyterian-St. Luke’s Medical Center, 1753 West Congress Parkway, Chicago, Illinois 60612.

Dreaming and the Dream: Social and Personal Perspectives
Montague Ullman, Albert Einstein College of Medicine and Edward F. Storm, Syracuse University
The Journal of Mind and Behavior , Spring and Summer 1986, Vol. 7, Numbers 2 and 3, Pages 429 [299]-448 [318], ISSN 0271-0137, ISBN 0-930195-02-7
Social (public) and personal (private) perspectives on the study of dreams and dreaming are contrasted. Dreaming is an intensely private and personal experience about public matters. Scientific descriptions of dream phenomena are publicly shared descriptions, and thus it is not possible to observe in a controlled manner the strictly private experience which is the essence of the dream. Housekeeping theories of dreaming, which posit that we dream so that unwanted material can be eliminated from the accumulating record of experience, founder because they rest upon a concept of undesirability that resists definition in terms of anatomical and physiological realities. Alternatively, the concept of undesirability may be founded on the categories of essentially private experience, categories which are inaccessible to public inspection. A vigilance theory of dreaming is described, a theory founded on familiar observable structures and processes in the nervous system. This vigilance theory is seen to be consistent both with present knowledge about the anatomy and physiology of the nervous system and with widespread perception that dreaming occurs in order that the dreamer may be alerted to sources of tension and conflict in his/her relationships with others.

Requests for reprints should be sent to Montague Ullman, M.D., 55 Orlando Avenue, Ardsley, New York 10502 or Edward F. Storm, Ph.D., School of Computer and Information Science, 313 Link Hall, Syracuse University, Syracuse, New York 13210.

Dreams and the Development of a Personal Mythology
Stanley Krippner, Saybrook Institute, San Francisco
The Journal of Mind and Behavior , Spring and Summer 1986, Vol. 7, Numbers 2 and 3, Pages 449 [319]-462 [332], ISSN 0271-0137, ISBN 0-930195-02-7
Personal myths are defined as cognitive structures that give meaning to one’s past, define one’s present, and provide direction for one’s future. They serve the functions of explaining, guiding, and sacralizing experience for the individual in a manner analogous to the way cultural myths once served those functions for an entire society. Dreams appear to synthesize one’s existing mythic structures with the data of one’s life experiences. Some dreams attempt to strengthen old myths, others may illustrate a counter-myth, and still others appear to facilitate a cognitive interaction between old and new myths. Dreams can be used to focus upon ongoing dialectics between personal myths in an attempt to attain a synthesis or to resolve the conflict in another way.

Requests for reprints should be sent to Stanley Krippner, Ph.D., Saybrook Institute, 1772 Vallejo Street, San Francisco, California 94123.


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