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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

Science Frontiers Sourcebook Project Reviewed in:


  • "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