13 April 2011

Hypnagogic and hypnopompic

Dreams have been covered here, and I really don't have much more to say about them. They can be fascinating, but I am not of the school that makes them a royal road to the unconscious. I am not sure the idea of an unconscious mind is very useful. In the current set of metaphors, I prefer the notion of reptilian brain functions to the unconscious mind. Most dream discussions are beastly dull.

One observation which seems trivial is relation between dream experience and waking mood. A pleasant dream experience is flying. Sometimes it is chaotic, tangled in high wires or crashes on landings; sometimes it is perfect, free and controlled and with beautiful vistas. In my experience, perfectly controlled beautiful vista flying dreams are strongly correlated with elevated mood for the following few hours of waking consciousness.

Another experience, again trivial, is love objects in dreams. Jung coined the term anima to describe an inner personality of the opposite sex; I prefer to describe the anima as a love-object type of woman. The attractive women who I do not recognize in my dreams are all of one physical type. My shorthand for this is: anima-woman. The real world equivalent to this would be that all of the public relationship figures for some prominent men seem to be of one physical type--all the Bill Clinton women (except for his wife) have the big salon hair and heavy makeup; all the Tiger Woods women have long straight blond hair, &c.

One time I participated in a Jungian T group where the group leader was nearly a perfect instance of my own anima-woman. Fortunately I had the sense not to mention this to her. I am fairly sure (probability~.7) she has heard that enough to be sick and tired of it, and more sure (probability~.9) that her response to such a comment would be akin to: "Ack! Stay away from me you creep."

This can be a little disturbing when a real-life person of little importance sneaks into my dream world in the anima-woman role. This happened to me recently. The woman is not unattractive, but I have not had any personal interaction with her. When she showed up in my dream the attraction was intense. This was not disturbing at all; to the contrary it was a pleasant dream. The disturbance came into the waking world when it took some effort to banish the anima-woman from repeatedly creeping into my conscious thought.

The kicker was the hypnopompic material that came right after, the stuff that came into my half-world and mostly conscious mind. I conceived what I thought to be a novel theory of clinical depression and treatment and a conversation with my doctor where I explained it all and enlightened him. It is simple enough to explain in a paragraph or two.

Human mood varies--we have good days and bad days. For the sake of discussion, evaluate all of human mood with one number, scale 1 to 10.

10: the first time you fell in love, winning the World Series, sex with a nine-thousand-dollar prostitute.
1: what would be the most painless and sure-fire way to commit suicide?

Natural fluctuation is between 3 and 8. If your mood is at 3 for too long an interval and too often, you complain to the doctor and he prescribes a Selective Serotonin Re-uptake Inhibitor, which solves the problem for a lot of people.

Here is where my hypnopompic theory and imagined discussion with my doctor comes in. I told him what the SSRI does is not just block off the lower state, but compresses the range from 4 to 7 and blocks out the potential for high states as well, which may not be a desired outcome at all. I used diagrams in my explanation, with graphs of mood versus time which resembled Neumann Functions. In my hynopompic state, this all made perfect sense and my diagrams were beautiful. When I got up I immediately made notes and drew graphs and it all made a lot less sense to me than it did in my hypnopompic state.

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About Craig

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Houston, Texas, United States
I have been living in the lovely neighborhood of Spring Branch in the great city of Houston since late in 2005. I started out with the idea of making this blog about my life in this neighborhood. That did not last long. Right now I am posting every five days on the alternating topics of literature, philosophy, psychology, and metaphysics. This project has been ongoing since July 27, 2010 and I believe it will continue for at least a few more months.