Monday, 5 October 2009

Elizabeth Loftus: Nightmares

After struggling mightily, and not particularly successfully, to have a thought about this, I broached a Friday after-work happy hour group and asked them what they would say about themselves. To a person, each looked uncomfortable with the mere question. They asked me whether I had anything in mind. Well maybe one thing: I don’t understand why I have nightmares almost every night. Nightmares of frustration. Obstacles in my way that keep me from catching an airplane trip on time. Obstacles that keep me from getting where I’m supposed to be. I wake up almost every morning with a sense of relief – “Thank goodness it was just a dream.” None of my colleagues seemed to spend their nights this way. What possible reason is there for this mental behaviour, night after night, that is clearly so uncomfortable? One happy hour colleague, a developmental psychologist, said: “that’s it - the happy relief you feel at the end. There’s your reinforcement.“ And thus she took away my one idea, by explaining it. It is now one nagging thing that I only partly understand. Or do I?

Elizabeth Loftus is Professor of Psychology at the University of California, Irvine. Among her numerous accolades, she received the 2005 Grawemeyer Award for Psychology and in 2002 was named among the 100 most influential psychologists of the twentieth century by the Review of General Psychology.

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6 comments:

  1. Anonymous4:01 pm

    maybe this in part: sleep preferentially enhances memory for negative emotional experiences, minus the details (sentence comes from research title). What are you nagging yourself about not doing?

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  2. Anonymous6:02 pm

    It could relate to a difficult birth experience. Just a wild guess. :)

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  3. Anonymous5:53 pm

    It's simply that you are eating certain foods that stimulate the nightmare regions of your brain.
    Make sure you don't eat within the 3 hours prior to bedtime also.

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  4. I'd suggest that what's bothering you is some aspect of your psychology that your unconscious needs you to develop, some self-awareness (ie consciousness development) that is not included in your research or your otherwise well-rounded psychological worldview with considerable consensual validation in your collegial world. What's pursuing you in hopes of being allowed out into your consciousness might even be a manifestation only available in a realm you don't normally acknowledge because it would not meet with consensual validation--or at least you semiconsciously assume it would not be acceptable to your peers. I'm also surprised that you wouldn't have tried to ply psychologist colleagues with some dream interpretation expertise with questions about your nightmares. That fact suggests to me that dream interpretation is not consensually validated in your academic world. (It's sub rosa for my academic psychology colleagues too, unless they've accepted that academic research paradigms are inadequate to guide a serious multiperspectival investigation of the meanings of dreams, and great interpreters "outside the pale" are the best witnesses and teachers for this subject.)

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  5. Anonymous5:24 am

    Some part of you has been trying to ascend for a long while. You're way too attached to your worldview ever to get it. To do so would be to shatter your world which your psyche cannot, would not allow. You are trying to connect to the universal source -- a source you fear would rob you blind of your life. And until you let go and allow it to happen, you will continue to have nightmares.

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  6. Anonymous3:53 am

    The waking dream is no more real or less real than the night-time dream. The comments of the one prior are provocative. . . from the Chinese 5-elemental perspective there is an elemental energy that is screaming out for attention and treatment. You have not necessarily asked for help, so I humbly submit there are excellent 5-element practitioners all over. Or you can check-out this man: Eliot Cowan. May your journey be full of growth and self discovery!

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