I like dreams. Dreaming, attempting to interpret dreams, unconsciously developing weird short ideas, hearing about others’ dreams – all of it is fun. While I thinks dreams can teach us, and that our unconscious mind helps us sort through problems and memories, I also like the mystery of dreams. Why is Person X on my mind? What’s with all the snakes? Why am I always close to water? Is flying cool or terrifying? (It’s both.)
In the past I’ve read some books on dream interpretation and lucid dreaming, but they read more like hokey quackery or copied and pasted Wikipedia entries than useful resources. I’ve been looking for a credible book exploring both the science and mystery of dreams. Alice Robb’s book fits that description.
In Why We Dream, Robb explores the context, history, and science of dreams. She provides a brief but useful history on both the soft and hard science of dreaming, including why the study has been both in and out of fashion over time. (If you’re interested, one of the most interesting and powerful areas of research appears to be in dealing with trauma.) She also explores dreaming’s role in problem solving and creativity.
With that foundation firmly in place, Robb discusses her own experiences with becoming aware of her dreams, keeping a dream journal, joining a dream interpretation group, and lucid dreaming. I liked the self-experimentation section of the book and have applied it to my own life, somewhat accidentally. After having learned from the book at which stages of the REM cycle we’re most likely to remember dreams, I’ve started waking up at those times automatically – kind of hoping that stops happening. Although, I definitely remember and record more dreams, now.
Why We Dream is a credible introduction into the science and possibility of dreams. Use it as a springboard to dig into peer-researched dream articles, find dream apps and online communities, or even to head off to experience a tropical dream retreat.