Why we dream: the definitive answer tells the remarkable story of how the distinguished Irish psychologist Joe Griffin discovered how and why dreaming evolved in mammals and thereby helped us unravel what our dreams actually mean.
Humankind has puzzled over and been inspired by dreams since earliest times. Yet dreaming remained a mystery to science until this ‘expectation fulfilment theory’ of dreams was announced, tested and found useful.
Thanks to Griffin’s work we now know what dreams are doing for us: they keep us sane, or, in certain circumstances, can drive us mad (psychotic). And this knowledge opens up wonderful new possibilities for humanity: greater creativity; improved mental health and deeper understanding of who we are.
Griffin always believed that nature does not produce complex phenomenon by chance and that therefore dreams must be performing a significant survival role for mammals. After piecing together the most recent scientific findings he devised a simple experiment (which readers of the book can easily do for themselves) that revealed a strikingly simple and satisfying explanation for why we dream and why the content of our dreams is often so strange.
He and co-author Ivan Tyrrell convincingly show that dreaming is vital for mental health and that the brain state we associate with dreaming (the REM state) also has crucial importance when we are awake. Indeed, this understanding of the REM state explains not only how our brains construct a model of reality in our minds, but also explains hypnosis, how creative behaviour works, and why we develop mental illnesses such as depression and psychosis.
Full of real life stories, dream examples and case histories, Why we dream gives readers the key to understanding their own remembered dreams, explains why daydreaming is crucial to human development, and why stories and metaphors have universal appeal. It takes the reader’s understanding to a new level.