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Sleeping and Dreaming

Dear Harvey,

Does sleep serve any useful purpose in the sense of "filing and storing" of information received during the day?

If a lot of information has been taken in during the day, then the sleeping state might be the process of comparing the new information with old (good) information and filing it away (as per the model in The Human Side of Human Beings). This would happen if there was no time during the day for this process. The dream state may then occur when the information doesn't make sense (i.e., discharge is needed). If occlusion or discharge hasn't occurred, then a recurrent dream or nightmare could be the result. Could this be the source of restimulation upon waking?

Some things I have noticed-can you comment please?

  1. Soon after my children fall asleep they often give off great amounts of heat; this subsides after an hour or so. However, if they have had a session just before bedtime, this does not happen so much. Can this be a useful event that is lost to most adults? Can you explain what is happening?
  2. If I have active "heroic" or flying dreams, I wake up fully refreshed and "ready for the day." However, most often I don't remember the content of my dreams, but I wake up restimulated by despair.
  3. I recently had to sleep in an uncomfortable bed for two weeks. I had the opportunity to notice that most times when I woke in the night (five to ten times), I was dreaming about old and not-very-nice stuff from my school days, things that I haven't yet worked on directly. This might indicate that this is the subject of my dreams when I don't remember them. Could this be the reason why I wake with restimulated despair?

Thanks for your time. Sweet dreams.

Colin Stroud
Cambridge, United Kingdom


Dear Colin,

There seems to be two processes operating in two different kinds of sleep. During ordinary or non-dreaming sleep, we seem to be simply catching up on ordinary evaluation of simple information that has come in during our waking hours which we could not keep up with. When we have finished with that, we switch over to what has been called dreaming sleep, and this is dealing with information that has some tension attached to it and which eventually will need re-evaluation.

Re-evaluation can take place during dreaming sleep, but the result is more like knocking the sharp corners off the restimulation enough that we can relegate the material to our growing "brush pile" of unevaluated distressed information. This refreshes us and clears our decks for handling our next waking period to the extent it takes place. It does not complete the discharge and re-evaluation, however, and any dreams that we can remember need to be talked about and discharged on if we can find the time and the listener. Everyone should have a chance to tell their remembered dreams at breakfast. It improves people's days remarkably. "If you remember a dream, it needs to be talked about."

Unfortunately, if you can't remember a dream, it doesn't mean that it doesn't need to be talked about. It just means that an occluding pattern is masking it from your remembrance.

Counseling on dreams is easy for the counselor. You simply have to keep the person telling the dream over and over. Discharge will occur to the extent that the counselor is really paying interested attention.

Recurrent dreams or nightmares are occluded distress experiences trying to be brought to your attention by the "little boy downstairs," i.e., your basic intelligence, which retreats from the growing pile of garbage in your life but, usually without your being aware of it, continues to monitor your surface activities.

On the heating up of your sleeping children, it's undoubtedly some kind of restimulation, but speculation would be futile until they're ready to talk about it.

On your "waking up restimulated by despair," you need a good counselor who incisively flashes questions to you about what you need to say to start discharging your despair and then furnishes effective contradictions from the hints.

Discharge first! Only speculate when you don't seem to have anything more to discharge!

Harvey Jackins


Last modified: 2019-05-02 14:41:35+00