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

3.38  ·  Rating details ·  237 Ratings  ·  32 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 4th 2011 by Oxford University Press, USA (first published January 21st 2005)
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Ahmad Sharabiani
Dreaming: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions #127), J. Allan Hobson

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 affecting theories in psychoanalysis, and how
Bojan Tunguz
May 01, 2012 rated it really liked it
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
Dec 09, 2015 rated it liked it
This book had good points and bad points.
The good was that it dedicated the time to demolish Freudian theories systematically, which is something that the general public needs to hear. It also provided a lot of interesting information about a topic everyone is interested in, but not much is known about.
That said, many of his "explanations" suffered from circularity, chief of which was: "why do we dream? Because the brain is activated during sleep". This is an incredibly silly thing to say, and
Mohamed al-Jamri
My notes while reading the book:

Chapter 1: What is dreaming?

What causes dreaming? Why are they so strange? Why are they hard to remember?

Will give scientific answers. How we perceive think and feel. A formal approach. Not content or interpretation.

Recalls a dream.

Formal vs content approach.
1. Sleep onset dreaming: brief and without elaborate plot development
2. Cognition: thinking. No hallucinatory aspects. Emotions. Non-progressive. E.g. on the night of exam. (Non-REM)
3. REM: long, halluci
May 13, 2017 rated it liked it
I wish he'd picked more interesting dreams than his own to use as examples, and not used every opportunity to brag about how slutty he is... Other than that it's quite good. Free Berkeley dream lectures are better.
Monica Willyard
Feb 05, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: nls, kindle, medical
Finally! Someone has written a book about dreaming that doesn’t rehash Freud and his weird ideas. This book explains the neuroscience that has been discovered so far about the process of dreaming, how the brain works, and puts forward a plausible theory about why we need to dream.
Bernie Gourley
Mar 09, 2016 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: those interested in the science of dreams.
Dreaming is one of the most interesting and ill-understood activities of human existence. Many of us don’t remember most of our dreams—to the extent that a number of people don’t think they even have dreams (while not completely conclusive, the scientific evidence suggests that all of us dream every night—except people who live on RedBull and 2 hours / night until they tragically die young.) However, when we do remember a dream, it’s often a vivid and profound experience. Some people dream lucid ...more
Teo 2050
~2h @ 2x.

(view spoiler)
Dec 28, 2014 rated it liked it
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
Jan 22, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, science
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
Jul 22, 2014 rated it did not like it
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
Alexi Parizeau
Nov 09, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Dec 21, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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
Aug 26, 2016 rated it it was ok
Contains a lot of trivia and entertaining analyses of the author's own dream journal, but does not have a definitive pattern in which to tie all the thoughts on dream theory together in an enlightening manner. It provides much information and several points of view on what may or may not cause dream states and what they may mean, but by the end of the book, the result is no clearer understanding on the topic as researchers seem to still be in a state of flux and lack of consensus in their studie ...more
Daniel Wright
Dec 03, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: vsi, science, psychology
The message of this book was commendably scientific and anti-Freud.

Chapter 1: What is dreaming?
Chapter 2: Why did the analysis of dream content fail to become a science?
Chapter 3: How is the brain activated in sleep?
Chapter 4: Cells and molecules of the dreaming brain
Chapter 5: Why dream? The functions of brain activation in sleep
Chapter 6: Disorders of dreaming
Chapter 7: Dreaming as delirium: sleep and mental illness
Chapter 8: The new neuropsychology of dreaming
Chapter 9: Dreaming, learning and
Mar 02, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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."
Sep 08, 2011 rated it liked it
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?
Michael Prenez-isbell
Jun 16, 2012 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.
Tadas Talaikis
Jun 30, 2016 rated it it was ok
"From thousands of dreams we don't have clear black and white dream." It means you have only 10 people samples with 100 dreams samples each? It means little evidence for such a conclusion. Because I had some very special black and white dreams that I remember for decades unlike color ones.
Aug 01, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
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.
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.
Vikas Datta
Jul 24, 2011 rated it really liked it
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...
Oct 20, 2013 rated it really liked it
Good, concise and polemical introduction to modern physiological research on dreams.
Amy's Inkwell
Jun 18, 2014 rated it liked it
A short and accessible introduction to the science (and historical pre-scientific theory) of the dream state.
Aug 08, 2008 rated it really liked it
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).
Jun 24, 2013 rated it it was ok
Dreaming... my dreams are better!
Sep 03, 2011 rated it really liked it
Solid, engaging introduction to Dream Science. Particularly enjoyed learning about the neurobiology of sleep and dreaming and hearing Freud ridiculed extensively.
Matthew Trevithick
Jun 28, 2015 rated it liked it
This book was surprisingly difficult to read - quite scattered. Had high hopes, particularly for the chapter entitled 'Dreaming, Learning and Memory' but that too was a bit inchoate.
Leanne Ford
Jul 26, 2013 rated it liked it
it's pretty technical in places but any book that has a section entitled 'why freud got it completely wrong' is still a winner.
Oct 29, 2013 rated it it was ok
A little too clinical for me.
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John Allan Hobson is an American psychiatrist and dream researcher. He is known for his research on rapid eye movement sleep. He is Professor of Psychiatry, Emeritus, Harvard Medical School, and Professor, Department of Psychiatry, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center.
More about J. Allan Hobson...

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