Chapter 1: Exploring Dreams Lucidly

After a brief review of the history of lucid dream research we introduce ourselves and our own experiences with lucid dreaming.  The chapter also covers some common lucid dream observations and induction techniques, as well many of the speculations surrounding its potentials, as a prelude to discussing our own approach.

Chapter 2: Levels of Lucidity

Lucidity is no all-or-nothing affair.  Many so-called "lucid" dreams are at best semilucid, with the usual muddled rationalizations and false memories characteristic of ordinary dreaming interspersed.  This variability in lucidity level and the way that lucidity can come and go during the course of a dream both indicate that lucid dreaming is not in fact a discrete altered state of consciousness.  Lucid dream observations should therefore be applicable to furthering our understanding of dream creation in general.

Chapter 3: The Suggestion Theory of Dreaming

This chapter discusses the concept of world modeling, or using learned constructs to build up complex pictures of the world from minimal cues.  A wide variety of such cues, which might be called "suggestion factors," can be shown to influence dreams.  These include thoughts, emotions, recent memories, expectations, habits of perception, sensory intrusions, and so on.  This process of building imagery around incorporated cues underscores the perceptual nature of dreaming.

Chapter 4: Dream Control

The increased control over dreaming that lucidity enables has sparked considerable controversy.  Yet dream control is exercised even in nonlucid dreams, so lucidity only extends the natural control we all exert over our dreams.  This is illustrated by discussing a wide range of dream control experiments involving attempts to control the dream ego, dream perceptions, dream characters, and dream objects and scenes.

Chapter 5: Emotions, Thoughts and Memories in Dreams

Dream cognition tends to be rather impoverished by waking standards, and lucidity does not always bring it up to normal waking levels.  One of the more striking aspects of dream mentation is that even when lucid one can be almost wholly divorced from recent waking memory.  The character of the thoughts, emotions and memories experienced in dreams tends to vary in keeping with the level of lucidity, and in turn to influence the varieties of dreams we create.

Chapter 6: The Origins of Common Dreams

If dreaming involves the mind incorporating various suggestion factors into an ongoing narrative while in a state of reduced awareness, the basic characteristics of the dreaming brain should have similar effects on many people's dreams.  Indeed, a combination of REM neurophysiology and the misapplication of waking habits of perception to the unreal dream environment can explain the instability, bizarreness, lapses of rationality, and memory problems that so often characterize dreams.  This chapter concludes by examining a number of common dream motifs that may arise from the human mind trying to make sense of these aspects of dream experience, using the perspective of the suggestion theory of dreaming rather than taking the usual symbolic approach.

Chapter 7: Dream Interpretation

Dreams may seem real and meaningful only because they rely on the same internal systems that are used to create perceptions and assign meanings in waking reality.  The observations of lucid dreamers suggest that dreams are not pre-programmed but indeterminate, the spontaneous, moment-to-moment creations of the dreamer.   Further, what we think and feel while dreaming does not necessarily parallel our state of mind while awake.  For these reasons, traditional dream interpretation schemes must be called into question.  The suggestion theory explains the observations at the base of other interpretive systems in a new manner, which reduces their applicability to only those dreams created from very specific suggestion factors.

Chapter 8: The Functions of Sleep and Dreaming

The suggestion theory integrates well with modern sleep and dream research, which explains the lack of lucidity in ordinary dreams in terms of alterations in neurochemistry and the reduced activation of specific regions of the brain.  This chapter takes a brief look at these findings and critiques various scientific proposals concerning the purpose of dreaming.  In particular, if dreaming is not a unique process but is simply a matter of continuing to use perceptual habits learned in the real world while asleep, then it need have no unique function at all.

Chapter 9: Uses of Lucidity

Some of lucid dreaming's promoters have painted rather too rosy a picture of the phenomenon.  In reality, not everyone is capable of sustaining entertaining lucid dreams, or coming up with creative projects, solving waking problems, or rehearsing skills while lucidly dreaming.  Many of the proposed uses of lucid dreaming are based on what may in fact be inadequate models of dream creation and are questionable on that basis, such as notions that lucidity can be used to foster physical or psychological healing.  For this reason we advocate becoming lucid about dreaming as more important than becoming lucid while dreaming.

Chapter 10: Unanswered Questions

Having described a new theory of dreaming based on our lucid experimentation in some detail, we discuss several issues which remain incompletely explained by our perspective, and mention possible adverse consequences of lucid dreaming.  We conclude by presenting several ideas for future research.