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No. 52: Jul-Aug 1987

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Do dreams reflect a biological state?

Scientists have never been able to agree on the meaning of dreams or even if there is one. Mostly dreams were thought to have psychological import, as in the work of Freud and his followers. But there has also been another group of researchers who have considered dreams to be a consequence of one's biological state; that is, one's physical health. The present paper supports this latter belief.

Some 214 patients were heart problems participated in this study.

"The patients' dreams were evaluated for the predicted correlations of the number of dream references to death (men) and separation (women) with different levels of severity of heart disease. The severity of heart disease was evaluated with anatomical (coronary angiography) and physiological (ejection fraction) measures obtained at cardiac catheterization, each represented by a 6-point scale of increasing severity. There was no correlation of the number of dream references with the severity of abnormalities on coronary angiography. However, the number of dream references to death and separation correlated with the severity of cardiac dysfunction, as measured by the ejection fraction, which is a more sensitive parameter of disease severity."

(Smith, Robert C.; "Do Dreams Reflect a Biological State?" Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease, 175:201, 1987.)

Comment. One would suppose that the minds (and dreams) of people who knew they had heart problems would normally be filled with dire thoughts.

From Science Frontiers #52, JUL-AUG 1987. 1987-2000 William R. Corliss

Science Frontiers Sourcebook Project Reviewed in:

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  • "A sourcebook of unexplained phenomena is therefore a valuable addition to a collection of scientific literature. William R. Corliss has provided this in the past with his source books of scientific anomalies in several subjects, and now he has provided it for astronomy. He has done an excellent job of collecting and editing a large amount of material, taken in part from scientific journals and in part from scientific reporting in the popular or semi-scientific press." -- "The Mysterious Universe: A Handbook of Astronomical Anomalies", reviwed by Thomas Gold, Cornell University, in Icarus, vol.41, 1980

  • "An interesting, systematic presentation of unusual weather [..] This book is recommended for a general audience" --"Corliss, William R., Tornados, Dark Days, Anomalous Precipitation, and Related Weather Phenomena, Sourcebook Project, 1983.", revieweed in Choice, September 1983
  • "..the science is necessarily somewhat speculative, but Corliss's symthesis is based on reputable sources." -- "Corliss, William R. (Compiler). Lightning, Auroras, Nocturnal Lights, and Related Luminous Phenomena" reviwed by Joseph M. Moran, Univ. of Wisconsin in Science Books and Films, Sep/Oct 1983

  • "Before opening the book, I set certain standards that a volume which treads into dangerous grounds grounds like this must meet. The author scrupulously met, or even exceeded those standards. Each phenomenon is exhaustively documented, with references to scientific journals [..] and extensive quotations" -- "Book Review: The moon and planets: a catalog of astronomical anomalies", The Sourcebook Project, 1985., Corliss, W. R., Journal of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, Vol. 81, no. 1 (1987), p. 24., 02/1987