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Dreaming: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions #127)

3.43 of 5 stars 3.43  ·  rating details  ·  137 ratings  ·  22 reviews
What is dreaming, and what causes it? Why are dreams so strange and why are they so hard to remember? Replacing dream mystique with modern dream science, J. Allan Hobson provides a new and increasingly complete picture of how dreaming is created by the brain. Focusing on dreaming to explain the mechanisms of sleep, this book explores how the new science of dreaming is affe ...more
Paperback, 153 pages
Published June 1st 2011 by Oxford University Press, USA (first published January 21st 2005)
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Most dreamers are in for a rude awakening, I'm afraid. The book advances an idea that I'm sure is anathema to most people: basically, dreaming is not a driving force in itself, but more of a side-effect of the chemical state the brain happens to be in during its little-understood maintenance activities. Much of the arbitrariness of our dreams is just that: happenstance with no meaning or reason. Any attempt to interpret dreams is doomed to fail as there is really nothing behind the curtain, so t ...more
An interesting book on dreams, if somewhat, Freud bashing at times. Although, the author revealed a time in his life when he was beat up by three men and had his nose shattered. It related to the part about the power of trauma on dreams, but it never went into the subject in great depth, due to space, as this is meant as a very short introduction on dreams. As the author states:

As this book has proceeded, I have first knocked Freud down, then picked him up again, dusted him off, and put him back
About half way through this I was under the impression the author got all of his various vendetta out of his system and we were going to have an unadulterated science adventure together. This was not the case. I did gain valuable information, but it wasn't worth the effort.

Imagine going to a five star restaurant. You order, the waiter brings out plates of delicious food, and beckons for you to follow him. You end up in the alley outside the restaurant and the waiter dumps all of your food right
The first thing I liked about this book is its completely dismissive attitude to psychoanalysis. OK maybe not completely dismissive, but very negative.

Dreaming is caused by brain activation during sleep. That may sound slightly obvious, but it is only in the last 50 years that when have been able to prove it. Moreover through neuroscience we are starting to understand what dreaming is for and more importantly how it does it.

Hobson compares the process of 'interpreting' dreams to 20:20 hindsight
Bojan Tunguz
We all dream, even if we are not aware of it seems like we had stopped dreaming many years ago. The act of dreaming is an integral part of human sleep, and dreams have always been a source of endless fascination and speculation. People in various cultures and time periods have devoted time and effort to the interpretation of dreams, and many such interpretations have had a significant impact on culture, religion, and even the course of history. One of the early promises of psychology was the cla ...more
Alexi Parizeau
This was a fascinating read. Overall it's well written and the science it delivers is excellent (and not too technical). The core thesis is that the content of dreams doesn't mean anything. It turns out that this has been really easy to prove, except for the problem that no one thought to try until midway into the 20th century. At this point there's now a ton of experimental evidence reinforcing just how meaningless our dreams are, but also just how important sleeping is for critical neurologica ...more
Joseph Masters
This was really interesting for me as Hobson did a great job of blending neuroscience/physiology (the subject I am studying), with psychology. A good blend of the science behind sleep and our current understanding with historical perspectives.

I particularly liked the fact that Hobson included anecdontes from his own 'dream diary'. These sections were not only interesting and gave a certain 'character' to the book, but also helped illustrate some of the concepts he was discussing in the various c
Move over Frued!! I know more about brain science than Frued did!! Very interesting book.

amazon review:

"A cool outline of modern knowledge about dreams...and an explanation of what is really happening in our brains when we dream.... Throughout he uses his own dreams, recorded over many years, as examples while showing how the science of sleep has evolved over the past 50 years. Along the way, Freud takes a battering."
Amy's Inkwell
A short and accessible introduction to the science (and historical pre-scientific theory) of the dream state.
This book has a lot of interesting information about the science of sleep and dreaming. However, the way it is written the information doesn't flow very well, and his personal vendetta against Freud is sort of distracting. Maybe one of Hobson's other books would be equally informative but better edited?
Nema Al-Araby
This book is brilliant on an educational level. However, for a 'reader' like myself, I found it extremely hard. It's full of great info but to anyone who studies the psychology of dreams as a university major. Wouldn't really recommend it if you want to know a short introduction on dreaming.
Michael Prenez-isbell
Jul 01, 2012 Michael Prenez-isbell is currently reading it

Great presentation of dream form theory, as opposed to dream content theory or "interpretation." Oxford University press imprint gives secure feeling that I'm not wasting my time. Brief, lucid, clear on its facts about how brain activation effects dreaming and consciousness.
Very interesting book exploring some recent research on dream science and the chemistry of the brain that leads to dreaming. Lots more on the HOW rather than the WHY, and tends to be rather sniffy of psychological interpretations of dreams, but a good read for non scientists.
Vikas Datta
Interesting analysis of the physiological mechanisms - or simply the chemical reactions - that underpin this mysterious human activity, and a fair assessment of where Herr Doktor Freud went astray...
Solid, engaging introduction to Dream Science. Particularly enjoyed learning about the neurobiology of sleep and dreaming and hearing Freud ridiculed extensively.
attacks Freud with zeal just like in real person, but has some nice insights into sleep/wake differential of thalamus (now believed to be unimportant).
Leanne Ford
it's pretty technical in places but any book that has a section entitled 'why freud got it completely wrong' is still a winner.
Good, concise and polemical introduction to modern physiological research on dreams.
Fascinating overview of current brain science on dreaming.
Great introduction to dreams and dream science.
A little too clinical for me.
Dreaming... my dreams are better!
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