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Record Type: Review   ID: 224

Our Dreaming Mind

Van de Castle, Robert L.

 This overview of research and theorizing about dreams begins as all scholarly works should begin, with an account of the author’s own experience with the subject matter, personal and professional. The personal element is interlaced throughout the book, not only as regards the author, but the entire work could be viewed as a handbook in the form of a personal letter to the individual readers. Van de Castle combines in this book, as he does in his life, the attempt—often successful—to be both thorough and scholarly and personal and interpersonal. In the preface, for example, he does not simply summarize the book. His summary is written to reveal to the reader "what discoveries await you in this book." The opening two chapters (Part 1) provide a brief overview of dreams, including "dreams that have changed the world." Part 2 consists of 3 chapters reviewing the history of dream theories from the dawn of history through the 19th century. Part 3 reviews 20th-century dream theories, with a chapter each for Freud and Jung and a third about other theorists who stand out from the rest; Adler, Lowy, Stekel, French, Erikson, Boss, Hall, Perls, Gendlin, and Ullman. The next part is on experimental dream studies, with a chapter devoted to early approaches and one to the era of REM studies. Part 5 consists of a chapter on content analysis of dreams and one on "Dreams Throughout the Life Span." Dreaming, in itself, is often an exceptional human experience, but dreams likely to be EHEs are discussed in Part 6, "The Twilight Zone of Dreams." Here are chapters on "how dreams may alert us to disturbed physiological functioning of organ systems," one on psychic components in dreams; and one entitled "Finding Our Inner Light: Lucid and Spiritual Dreams." In an Afterword, he points out that it is estimated that most people will have 100,000 dreams in a normal lifespan. He urges us to "use those...priceless, but free, opportunities for ‘clear-seeing at night’ to encounter ourselves at a deeper level, to comprehend better our social interactions with others, and to explore humankind’s relation to transpersonal sources of energy" (p. 462). To assist readers in doing this, he provides two appendices: Dream Resources (organizations) and guidelines for "working with our own dreams." Although this book is commendable for the personal element, in which the author’s caring for each individual dreamer is evident, the outstandingly thorough chapter notes, bibliography, and index attest to its high value as a scholarly work as well.
Publisher Information:New York: Ballantine Books, 1994. 548p. Bibl: 497-516; Chap. bibl: 468-496; 30 figs; Index: 519-547
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