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Dreaming: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions) [Paperback]

J. Allan Hobson
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
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Book Description

21 April 2005 Very Short Introductions
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 it is helping our understanding of the causes of mental illness. J. Allan Hobson investigates his own dreams to illustrate and explain some of the fascinating discoveries of modern sleep science, while challenging some of the traditionally accepted theories about the meaning of dreams. He reveals how dreaming maintains and develops the mind, why we go crazy in our dreams in order to avoid doing so when we are awake, and why sleep is not just good for health but essential for life. ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 168 pages
  • Publisher: OUP Oxford; Ill edition (21 April 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0192802151
  • ISBN-13: 978-0192802156
  • Product Dimensions: 17.3 x 10.9 x 1.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 137,716 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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Product Description


"...fascinating..." -- BBC Focus, September 2005

"Fascinating." -- Caroline Green, BBC Focus

About the Author

J. Allan Hobson is Professor of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts. He was the recipient of the Distinguished Scientist Award of the Sleep Research Society in 1988. His major research interests are the neurophysiological basis of the mind and behaviour; sleep and dreaming; and the history of neurology and psychiatry, with his most recent work focusing on the cognitive features and benefits of sleep. He is the author or co-author of many books, including: The Dreaming Brain (1988), Sleep (1995), Consciousness (1999), Dreaming as Delirium: How the brain goes out of its mind (1999), The Dream Drugstore (2001), and Out of its Mind: Psychiatry in Crisis (2001).

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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Misleadingly titled 16 Nov 2010
This isn't really an "introduction" to the subject. The author uses the book to push his own theories on the purposes of dreaming, such as thermoregulation etc. but does a good job of presenting them as fact. Surely a book such as this should detail accepted theories from a neutral point of view, and maybe delve into some newer or competing theories near the end? It should be better titled "Why Do We Dream - Ideas From My Own Research". Having said that, the book does make an interesting read, just don't expect an "introduction".
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Book of Dreams 1 May 2012
By Dr. Bojan Tunguz TOP 500 REVIEWER
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 claim that it was finally able to put many such interpretive claims to a rigorous test, and psychologist to this day are beset by request from the lay public for the explanation of their own dreams.

In "Dreaming - A Very Short Introduction" we are treated to the best modern scientific exploration of dreams - their nature, their causes, and whether or not they hold any special meaning. It is a very detailed book that covers most of the last hundred years of research on dreams, including the two major scientific and conceptual breakthroughs. The first breakthrough was the realization that the brain is still fairly active when we dream, albeit in the ways that are qualitatively different from those of an awake person. The other insight is more recent and it has brought to the end any hope of a systematic interpretation of dreams: dreams, by and large, don't hold any special meaning. Most dreaming activity is a pretty random activation of various cognitive regions of the brain, and even though we still don't know what purpose those activities may hold we are now highly certain that they don't hold any special message for us.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Lucid 'Dreaming' 16 Feb 2008
By Jon Chambers VINE VOICE
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
As brilliantly written, entertaining, informed and convincing an introduction to a subject as you could ever wish for. It gets to the point very quickly, talking of a 'paradigm shift' in dream science over the last half century brought about by a change in emphasis from dream content to dream form.

This formalist account has little time for Freudian psychoanalysis. Dream interpretation is considered unnecessary, and Freud over-speculative because of a lack of detailed knowledge about brain science. Hobson takes an essentially physiological, 'brain as mind', approach that he thinks explains nearly everything we need to know about dreaming and consciousness - a major exception being the notoriously 'hard problem' of subjectivity (ie the unobservable, private states of mind and events - the so-called 'qualia') . Some readers - like the reviewer below, perhaps - may consider the formalism too reductionist, a charge that the author seems to anticipate when he says, 'Much apparent complexity melts away when the science comes up with the correct simplicity. This is the true meaning of reductionism.'

Despite the author's own commitment to simplicity, the details can at times be complex, especially to those readers without much neuroanatomy or biochemistry. But Hobson carries the non-specialist with him by clever use of summary and fascinating in-text 'inserts' on questions like: Do animals dream? What is lucid dreaming? and Do we dream in black and white or in colour? His own dream journals are also used to illuminate common features of dreams - like their bizarre discontinuities and character instability, their heightened emotions and sensations, but simultaneously, their convincingly lifelike narratives.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Good - as expected 11 May 2012
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
No spine bends or paper bendings. good book and very insightful for just a 'short introduction' Using the book to start my understanding on dreams for my dissertation next year.
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