|PARADIGMS LOST: THE BROADER IMPLICATIONS OF LUCIDITY|
|by Janice Brooks and Jay Vogelsong|
|This is a section that we excised from our book The Conscious Exploration of Dreaming, to save space and because it seemed generate a lot of dismay. :) Hope you enjoy it. ©1999 Janice Brooks and Jay Vogelsong.|
|Becoming lucid about dreams has ramifications that go beyond the topic of dreams per se. As should be apparent from the present chapter, people try to make use of their dreams in quite a few areas of waking endeavor. Yet how much validity do such efforts retain if they have been based on false assumptions about dreaming? The popular imagination still clings to superseded notions regarding the role of the so-called unconscious mind in the generation of dreams and other psychological phenomena, leading to any number of unwarranted extrapolations and expectations. In this section we will highlight a few areas of popular opinion about how the mind works in which the legacy of the unconscious model could stand some revision.|
|The suggestion theory of dreaming discredits the tenacious psychodynamic model of dreaming developed by Freud, Jung and their followers. An independently motivated, unconscious substratum of the mind makes a bad candidate for the source of dreams. Not only can a dreamer be quite conscious while dreaming, he or she can come to see how dreams get assembled as they go along by higher-level interpretive mental processes interacting with habitual patterns of perception and association that can usually easily be made conscious. By implication, since the untenable earlier model of dream creation depended on a conscious/unconscious model of the self, the suggestion theory would also support a new view of the self free of the constraints of the whole psychoanalytic edifice.1
As more and better observations accumulated over the past century, scientific opinion largely moved away from the psychoanalytic approach toward much more detailed and specific descriptions of how the human brain, our perceptions, and our concepts of ourselves based on those perceptions work.2 However, as far as dreaming has been concerned, research and thought, and especially popular thought, have lagged behind. Although much came to light in certain areas of dream research, the important findings of neurophysiological investigators did not usually connect with people's experiences of dreaming. Now, with the help of the suggestion theory and new reports from lucid dreamers, we can finally see how the creation of dreams connects with both the best of scientific dream theory and the newer, more detailed models of the self developed in other areas. The brain may creatively synthesize information to build up a shadow reality while dreaming, but this does not differ so very much from what it does all the time while awake.
Since many people have taken the unconscious to connect with a greater self or universal awareness, they may fear that eliminating the unconscious from the equation would simply shrink the self to the scientific laboratory animal of the reductionists. Actually, although much has been learned about the brain and its perceptual processes, consciousness and subjective experience have themselves come under closer scrutiny in recent years exactly because those subjects remain largely unexplained by science.3 This area of study extends well beyond the boundaries of dream research into such fields as cognitive psychology and metaphysics. However, insofar as lucid dreaming reveals the extent to which awareness controls perception, it provides a valuable body of evidence concerning the nature and function of consciousness.
The suggestion theory maintains that while we each create our own dreams, those dreams do not necessarily mirror the waking self because the dreaming self operates under unique and highly variable conditions. This apparent contradiction raises the question of the true nature of the self. To say that the most essential self might be one's own awareness or sense of "I," regardless of what one happens to be paying attention to or how that awareness may be modifed by one's physiological state, does not really explain the source of consciousness. The ultimate answer, best approached by serious scientists and authentic spiritual teachers, is, of course, beyond the scope of this book.
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