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No. 113: Sep-Oct 1997

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Why Are Dreams Always Retrospective?

This question and others regarding dreams have been posed by two French researchers in a new book. One of our French readers has summarized some points made in this new book.

"Michel Jouvet, a French specialist of dreams, asks the question: Why do cosmonauts never dream about space? Why do they dream only about the Earth?
"According to psychologists, the 'day residue' in dreams is rather important. Half of all dreams allude to events of the preceding day; 89% allude to events of the last 120 days. The older the event, the lower the odds that it will reappear during the night.
When people wear colored glasses, they begin very quickly to dream in the same color.
People who make a complete change of life; for example, by travelling to a faraway place; do not begin to dream about this new place for weeks or months.
A Bassari from Senegal, who was resident in Paris for two extended stays, was asked to write down his dreams. Surprisingly, 88% of his dreams occurred in Africa and only 6% in France.
This experiment and others like it are discussed at length in the book, but explanations are lacking. Do we really understand anything about dreams?

(Jouvet, Michel, and Gessain, Monique; Le Grenier des Reves, Paris, 1997. Cr. C. Marecaille)

From Science Frontiers #113, SEP-OCT 1997. 1997-2000 William R. Corliss