Study Shows How to Control Your Dreams
Carl Jung devoted much of his professional life to analyzing dreams, much to the chagrin of his colleagues. He saw a connection between these nighttime visions and our seemingly innate penchant for mythological symbolism. While he discussed the creative scenes one encountered during sleep in terms of mandalas, he was always careful to stick to as rigorous a scientific method as possible in his interpretations.
Jung demanded that we give up any idea of a universal analysis of the unconscious—as he termed it, the ‘objective psyche’—as he felt there was no deductive method available. Theoretically, he wrote in his essay ‘Individual Dream Symbolism in Relation to Alchemy,’ we can never know in advance the dreamer’s web of associations, nor can the analyst rely too heavily on technical rules. He goes on,
It should therefore be an absolute rule to assume that every dream, and every part of a dream, is unknown at the outset, and to attempt an interpretation only after carefully taking up the context.
In his time dreams had many possible connotations. Some believed them to be messages from a divine source, while others thought they were the language of our deeper, darker self: the unconscious. Those of a more psychological and scientific bent felt dreams were rubbish, mental chatter and hallucinations. Jung gingerly attempted to give form to the formless.
Yet what if we can control the formless? Some people report being able to control their dreams, termed ‘lucid dreaming.’ Perhaps we’ve all had such moments; on occasion I know I’ve been dreaming while dreaming, and was able to manipulate the weightlessness of my body through situations with ease. It is thought that the more you fall asleep with this intention, the more you are able to control (and remember) what happens. From Jung’s time to today practice makes perfect.
A study in Germany has shown that not only can you control your dreams sometimes, researchers can do it with electrodes most of the time. In a double-blind study, they electrically stimulated 24 volunteers with 40 hz of juice—the frequency associated with our brain’s ability for self-awareness—all of whom had no history of lucid dreaming. The result: dreamers were able to control their experiences seventy-seven percent of the time.
This study offers a potential breakthrough in PTSD therapy, for one. I consider it a sort of unconscious mirror box solution. Trauma victims and veterans often suffer intolerably while asleep; giving them control over their dreams holds the possibility of alleviating the mental and emotional weight of their waking life.
It also sheds more light on our rapidly expanding knowledge of how consciousness operates. Many of our previously held assumptions of our brains have been proven wrong in the last decade. Seeing auras, once thought a mystical ability, turns out to be the neuronal cross-wiring known as synesthesia. And of course, since 2007 scientists have been able to induce out-of-body experiences in laboratories.
Electrical stimulation doesn’t predict the content of the dream, so in this Jung’s ideas remain intact. Now armed with the ability to turn lucid dreams on through stimulation does shed light on the dreaming phenomenon in general. For one, we are secure in our knowledge that dreams don’t come from anywhere ‘out there.'
Until we have a firmer grasp of the mechanisms of consciousness, it will be difficult to make many assumptions regarding the function of dreams. Walking in this direction, however, does offer insight into the time we spend awake and the murkier domain of sleep. Perhaps spending more time controlling that matrix will reveal new secrets about the daytime as well.
Image: Sergey Nivens /shutterstock.com
Upstreamism advocate Rishi Manchanda calls us to understand health not as a "personal responsibility" but a "common good."
- Upstreamism tasks health care professionals to combat unhealthy social and cultural influences that exist outside — or upstream — of medical facilities.
- Patients from low-income neighborhoods are most at risk of negative health impacts.
- Thankfully, health care professionals are not alone. Upstreamism is increasingly part of our cultural consciousness.
The Bajau people's nomadic lifestyle has given them remarkable adaptions, enabling them to stay underwater for unbelievable periods of time. Their lifestyle, however, is quickly disappearing.
- The Bajau people travel in small flotillas throughout the Phillipines, Malaysia, and Indonesia, hunting fish underwater for food.
- Over the years, practicing this lifestyle has given the Bajau unique adaptations to swimming underwater. Many find it straightforward to dive up to 13 minutes 200 feet below the surface of the ocean.
- Unfortunately, many disparate factors are erasing the traditional Bajau way of life.
We explore the history of blood types and how they are classified to find out what makes the Rh-null type important to science and dangerous for those who live with it.
- Fewer than 50 people worldwide have 'golden blood' — or Rh-null.
- Blood is considered Rh-null if it lacks all of the 61 possible antigens in the Rh system.
- It's also very dangerous to live with this blood type, as so few people have it.
An innovation may lead to lifelike evolving machines.
- Scientists at Cornell University devise a material with 3 key traits of life.
- The goal for the researchers is not to create life but lifelike machines.
- The researchers were able to program metabolism into the material's DNA.
SMARTER FASTER trademarks owned by The Big Think, Inc. All rights reserved.