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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Misleadingly titled
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...
Published on 16 Nov 2010 by TodayIsCaturday

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5 of 23 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars What a shame!
Excruciatingly badly written - a really disappointing contribution to the Very Short Introductions series, an otherwise wonderful and informative collection of books.
Published on 19 Jun 2007 by A reader


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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Misleadingly titled, 16 Nov 2010
This review is from: Dreaming: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions) (Paperback)
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 (Indiana, USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Dreaming: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions) (Paperback)
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. The study of dreaming is still very fascinating for the simple reason that it sheds a lot of light on our understanding of the way that brain works, and this book is a useful survey of the recent advances in neuropsychology.

Unfortunately after reading this book I was uncertain about its main messages and lessons. This is perhaps due to the fact that the author doesn't seem to be able to make up his mind about whether he is writing a survey book of a particular research field, a presentation of his own opinions and insights, or an informal discussion of personal dreams and anecdotes that are relevant to the subject. The writing tends to be pretty glum, and the author doesn't engage in the usual upbeat tone of voice that conveys much excitement about his own research field. This book is filled with a lot of information, but not necessarily with a lot of insight. It is still a worthwhile read, but I'd recommend that you also consider "Sleep: A Very short Introduction."
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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 (Birmingham, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Dreaming: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions) (Paperback)
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.

According to Hobson, studies show that compared to waking, dreaming involves simply the selective enhancement of certain mental functions and the diminution of others via biochemistry (and ultimately DNA). Essential reading for anyone with even the remotest interest in psychology or dreaming.
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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
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This review is from: Dreaming: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions) (Paperback)
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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5.0 out of 5 stars Surprisingly substantial for a "short" introduction, 14 Dec 2011
By 
Jan W. H. Schnupp (Oxford, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Dreaming: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions) (Paperback)
I was rather impressed by how much ground this VSI covers, not just on dreaming but also on sleep physiology and some of the neuroscience behind learning, emotion and development. A surprisingly comprehensive and highly accessible treatment of a fascinating subject area. At times the author is a little partisan, but he is always up-front about it, so it did not bother me at all, and I certainly learned a great deal from it.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Great, 1 Aug 2010
By 
T. Blackburn (Oxford, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Dreaming: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions) (Paperback)
Sophisticated, written in a clear yet detailed scientific manner, hugely interesting subject matter. A great buy.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Dont be afreud of the dark, 26 Oct 2008
By 
Melmoth (London, England) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Dreaming: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions) (Paperback)
A fascinating, lucid and easily understandable discussion of the current state of the art in the science of dreaming and a brutal demolition of Freud's system of dream analysis.
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5 of 23 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars What a shame!, 19 Jun 2007
This review is from: Dreaming: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions) (Paperback)
Excruciatingly badly written - a really disappointing contribution to the Very Short Introductions series, an otherwise wonderful and informative collection of books.
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Dreaming: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions)
Dreaming: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions) by J. Allan Hobson (Paperback - 21 April 2005)
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