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Death-Related Experiences
Record Type: Review   ID: 427

Death Dreams: Unveiling Mysteries of the Unconscious Mind

Kramer, Kenneth Paul, with Larkin, John

 Kramer, a professor of religious studies at San Jose State University, reports on his investigations of "unconscious imagery of death in ways which make it available to ordinary consciousness" (p. 5), dreams, in particular. He is especially interested in whether dreams might present a more positive view of death than modern Western culture provides. He uses a comparative, interdisciplinary approach, drawing upon "the methodological strengths of various fields in the humanities and social sciences" (p. 7). (Thus, he is following the method this Journal recommends for any kind of exceptional experience, of which dreams are one.) He examines death dreams to identify their cross-cultural context and to highlight " their potential transformational nature" (p. 10). The latter is not linear, but is experienced subjectively "as (1) a de-formation of the dreamer’s pre-death identity, and (2) re-formation of a post-death identity in life" (p. 10). A similar process is also associated with other types of EHEs. Kramer provides the following summary of the book: "We will discuss and present examples of various types of death dreams (Chapter 1); survey more than 700 death dreams according to who dies, how they die, their emotive state, and whether the dreamer lives on in the dream after death (Chapter 2); research various ways in which death dreams have been understood in and by various disciplines (e.g. anthropology, eastern and western religious traditions, literature, philosophy and psychology) in order to provide cross-cultural interpretations for our study (Chapters 3-8); and then investigate various experiences analogous to death dreams, such as near-death experiences, altered states of consciousness and lucid dreaming (Chapter 9). By highlighting death dreams in which the dream-soul does not die, but continues either as a passive observer or as an active participant in the dream, our conclusion underscores the possible trans/formative significance of the dreamer’s confrontation with death" (p. 11).
Publisher Information:New York: Paulist Press, 1993. 288p. Bibl: 278-284; Chap. notes; 24 figs; Glossary: 273-277; 9 graphs; Index: 285-288; 9 tables
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