Saturday, November 14, 2009

Margaret Talbot on Dreams

This is a picture by Salvador Dali, the artist that I most associate with dreams.

Margaret Talbot
has an article in this week's New Yorker (here) in which she examines the current state of dream and nightmare research. While reading it I was completely reminded of a paper that I wrote -- I think in high school (which class would this have been for?) -- about lucid dreaming, which refers to the ability that some people have to recognize that they are dreaming and then control the content/plotline of their dreams. Talbot says that about 20% of people have lucid dreams and that there's some evidence that you can be trained to have them.

The first part of Talbot's article is, indeed, about "dream training": a technique used with people who have recurring nightmares where they practice visualizing soothing images. Talbot says that some sleep researchers are convinced this "imagery-rehearsal therapy" works, but others are skeptical.

355. How many nights in a typical month do I remember my dreams? If I had to ballpark it, I'd say maybe 20-25% of nights.

356. Talbot talks about dreams (and nightmares) being the source of artistic inspiration ... what are some of the famous books and movies that are based on dreams? When I was a kid I remember someone telling me that George Lucas had dreamed the entire Star Wars saga (all nine episodes?!).

357. Do I dream in color? Talbot says that more and more people are claiming they dream in color, but a researcher named Schwitzgebel says that "dreams may be neither colored nor black and white, leaving the colors of most of their objects unspecified, as novels do."

358. Talbot actually mentions the "teeth falling out" dream is very widespread!! I have this one about once or twice a year ... what the heck does it mean? It's not exactly a nightmare but I definitely don't like having it.

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