I would like to welcome to the readership those of you who wrote and expressed an interest in Lucidity Letter in response to the announcements in Brain/Mind Bulletin, from the Society for Psychical Research and from other sources. This is the third issue of a quarterly newsletter which is provided free of cost and is designed to serve as a professional forum for discussion on dream lucidity. Past issues are available upon request. As editor, I reserve the right to change or omit parts of submitted material in order to clarify. Extensive copy changes will be cleared with the contributing author.
Lucidity Letter Back Issues, Vol. 1, No. 3, May, 1982, page 13.
For various reasons dream lucidity has not seemed especially relevant to dream theory--partly because little or no content analysis of these dreams has been attempted, and partly owing to what I think are two red herrings: First, so much discussion has gone into whether those dreams are part of REM physiology (they do seem to be)- with so little attention given to what they are re content--that what has been missed is that they can be taken as showing a rare but often spontaneous and unsought transformation that is the opposite of what Rechtschaffen calls the “single mindedness” or ordinary dreaming and so establishes an underlying cognitive dimension on which all dreams seem to vary. And this dimension, whatever else it is, involves a progressive cognitive—abstract transformation of ordinary dreaming. The rarity and existence of those dreams are of about equal importance theoretically!
The second point of current reluctance seems to be based on a more “clinical” view (possibly correct) that since we understand little re the ultimate functions of dreams, their deliberate change or control seems questionable. But nothing need be said either way about the comparative personal value of dream lucidity in attempting a cognitive account of how they are possible.
Briefly, content analysis--both descriptive and more quantitative approaches--shows that the state of mind in lucidity is especially close to that emerging from research on “insight meditation” and out—of—body experience (although important distinctions should be drawn between “ordinary” lucidity, dream control, and various forms of pre—lucidity). While the rarity of lucidity does call attention to a normal “single mindedness,” it is also striking that this dimension only exaggerates the same dimension of cognitive clarity—unclarity or “perspective” in wakefulness. Given the overlap between lucidity, out—of—body experience and meditation (so that lucidity could not be a mere “accident” of REM arousal, whatever aid that might also provide), I do not see how the basic phenomenon can be explained apart from positing a “decentering” or “taking the role of the other” with respect to visual imagination (with reference also to Piaget’s “beginning discussion of the “affective schemata” and their development). Some recent data from our lab is especially intriguing from the point of view, I’ve taken. First it appears that Green’s early statements about the comparative realism of lucid and pre-lucid dreams were a partial function of her limited sample (from which she did some very fine classificatory-descriptive work). Instead, in the ‘study with Bob Ogilvie, our lucidity subjects had very bizarre dreams compared to more typical laboratory subjects and the most bizarre reports came from prelucid episodes -- with full lucidity episodes showing either bimodal distributions or a return to nonlucid levels. Yet all of the full lucidity episodes also showed prelucidity indicators. It is important then that there is evidence that dream bizarreness is associated with waking creativity (and a small recent study of my own -- with Theresa Casteels -- shows low level but significant correlations between subjects with high waking visual imaginative levels (physiognomic cues), dream bizarreness, and dream length, but not with a measure of waking verbal creativity (fluency in word associations). [EDITOR’S NOTE: Recent data from our lab with a measure of verbal creativity showed no difference between frequent lucid, infrequent lucid and non—lucid dreamers who were female. However, for males, frequent lucid dreamers were significantly more creative than infrequent lucid dreamers but did not differ from non- lucid dreamers -- Gackenbach and Hammons, 1982.] Accordingly, it may be that we have tentative evidence that the tendency to lucidity develops along with bizarreness (both showing a manifestation of visual creative imagination or of cognitive intelligence of some sort), and that these both appear together with “prelucidity” (scoring for Green’s criteria), while the final unstable and rare push to full lucidity would inhibit or subordinate or “use up” bizarreness -- suggesting that they may make use of the same underlying cognitive processes. Anecdotally we also know that once lucidity is stabilized, high levels of dream bizarreness can return as part of its further development.
Harry Hunt, Ph.D., Dept. of Psychology,
Brock University, St. Catharines, Ontario
Lucidity Letter Back Issues, Vol. 1, No. 3, May 1982, page 13
Dr. Hearne sent some data along from the content analysis of 100 lucid dreams regarding the causes of lucidity and the dream settings which were reported at the moment of lucidity. The breakdown as a function of causes can be seen in the table below.
(a) Seeing persons who are known to be dead in reality 2%
(b) Home or residence from previous period in life recognize 2%
(a) Malfunctions of equipment in dreams 3%
(d) Scenery (outside) is seen to be wrong in some way 5%
(e) Scenery (inside) is seen to be wrong in some way 5%
(f) Something odd about self e.g. own body, circumstances,
driving car when can’t in reality 6%
(g) Specific objects, or animals, cause lucidity. Includes
faces appearing suddenly and vanishing 14%
(h) A person, or persons, in the dream triggers lucidity in
some way e.g. appearance, behaviour, voice, etc. 16%
2. “JUST KNEW’:
Just knew 16%
(a) Animal threat, attack of pursuit 1%
(b) Dreamer has lost something or someone 2%
(c) Other unpleasant situations e.g. funeral, death, accident 2%
(d) Dreamer anxious about phobic situation e.g. if dreamer
has fear of heights 2%
(e) Threat, attack or pursuit by a person or persons 6%
(a) Recurring dream recognized 9%
(b) Unclear how dreamer became lucid from account 9%
Hearne’s analysis of settings at lucidity aredepicted in the figure below.
Keith Hearne, Ph.D., 36 Deerhurst Grove
Bransholme, Hull, North Humberside, England
Lucidity Letter Back Issues, Vol. 1, No. 3, May 1982, page 14.
Many hundreds of people in the U.S. and other countries have written to me asking about my research into lucid dreaming, so let me summarize it thus. My initial knowledge of the phenomenon came from reading Celia Green’s little book “Lucid Dreams,”1 and van Eeden’a paper2 given to the Society for Psychical Research, in 1913. Having completed some research into the modification of evoked—responses by visual imagery,3’4 my thoughts turned to the question of whether a suitable channel of communication could be established between a lucid dreamer and the outside world, so permitting the dream to be studied ‘from within’ for the first time. A method using ocular signaling, which circumvented the general bodily atonia of REM sleep, was found to work beautifully with a subject on the morning of 12 April 1975 at 8.07 in the Department of Psychology at Hull University. That break—through enabled me to define the basic characteristics of lucid dreams in a 3-year study for a Ph.D.5’6’7’8’9~10~11 after transferring to Liverpool University. The thesis5 was lodged in May 1978, and copies are obtainable from the Librarian.
Essentially, that early research found: that the lucid dreams were indeed genuine dreams occurring in Stage REM sleep, and not some form of waking imagery (although I think some may be); that they had a duration of several minutes and usually happened towards the end of the sleep period — on average some 24 minutes after the start of a REM period; that a pre—lucid REM burst, averaging 22 seconds, invariably preceded lucidity — indicating perhaps prior cortical stimulation; that the quality of sleep on lucid dream nights was no different from control nights; that the emotional level in the dream might be pre—determined; that the reported events corresponded closely with information signaled from within the dream (it had never been certain how farone could trust dream reports). Further items of research conducted at that time included a simulating control study — in which subjects attempted (unsuccessfully) to produce similar eye signals by cheating; questionnaire data; personality and intellectual capacity in relation to lucid dreaming; lucidity—induction methods; and description of various devices.
By the way, I was greatly encouraged in my research by Allan Rechtschaffen of Chicago University, with whom I corresponded and sent my early results to in 1975.
The early work was inefficient because I had no idea when a subject would have a lucid dream — in one study, only eight lucid dreams were monitored out of 45 nights of continuous polygraphic monitoring. This problem caused me to ponder on the possibility of artificially inducing lucidity in subjects. Some form of external stimulation seemed a likely technique for producing an internal perception within the dream which might trigger lucidity by acting as a cue. To make an automated unit, some form of dream detector would also be required. Much effort went into developing both aspects of the ‘dream—machine.’ All sorts of stimulation methods were tried, including sound stimuli, sprinkled—water, pungent odours, etc., however, a method of electrical stimulation to the median nerve at the wrist was found to be effective. Different methods of dream detection were investigated. The first technique was to monitor REMs but this electrode system proved to be unsatisfactory in operation. Eventually, the method of using a nasal thermistor was chosen — providing an artefact—free method of monitoring the respiratory rate differences between SWS and REM sleep. That device was patented, but another patent covers many other ways of detecting dreaming sleep (including monitoring penile. erection!) and forms of stimulation. In a sleep—lab study the technique was found to induce lucidity in half the twelve subjects, in just one night each.12 Another function of the ‘dream—machine’ is its ability to wake (using an audible tone) the user from REM sleep, so increasing the amount of dream recall. That option might be useful for ‘dream interpretation’ groups Nightmare sufferers13 and sleep—paralysis sufferers’4 could also use it to good effect. In connection with a TV programme here recently, the device induced lucidity in about one third of the users. One person entered the lucid state three times on one night. Hopefully, the units will become available in the U.S. later this year. (By the way, the unit which a student at Newcastle used — see last ‘Lucidity Letter’ — is not one that I have tested, and it lacks certain new elements.)
Another discovery I made was that the respiratory rate could be altered voluntarily in the lucid state. That gave rise to a further invention15 — a unit which enables the lucid dreamer to participate in a dream—telepathy experiment. On becoming aware of dreaming, the subject makes a sequence of rapid breaths (detected by a simple nasal thermistor) which triggers an automatic telephone—dialing device. The other person in the experiment is thus contacted and can attempt to send or receive telepathic information -if such a thing is possible. The dreamer’s accounts are compared with the ‘target’ information. The dream state has long been considered to be conducive to telepathy, and lucid dreams are particularly useful for research in this area because the dreaming subjects knows full well that he or she is taking part in an experiment and can concentrate on the task. The apparatus has been tested and found to work satisfactorily.
Over the years I have heard and read many dream accounts. I began to notice that the inability to switch on an electric light in the dream (lucid or ordinary) scenery was mentioned quite a lot. I therefore gave the task to eight lucid dreamers.16 All reported back in isolation so as not to bias the reports. Six subjects found that the light would not work properly, one person could not find a switch, and the lights did switch on for one person — however that was just after she had ‘covered her eyes’ in the dream and so abolished the imagery. It would seem that perhaps there is a ‘ceiling limit’ on visual imagery—brightness and that an attempt, using dream control, to exceed that limit has to be dealt with (by the central dream—directing process) by rationalized avoidance of the intended situation. A follow—up study17 found similar results, but one subject reported switching on a light with no prior decrease in brightness level. Conceivably, on those odd occasions when it does work, (see also Tart’s report, last issue the event might correspond with spontaneous phasic activity which might at that moment increase the ceiling limit. Clearly, further research is required here. I have a feeling that the ‘light—switch phenomenon’ might also be observed in waking imagery, usinig good visualizers. They must of course be naive subjects. The second study also indicated that the various imaging modalities may be loosely linked in dreams and that ‘substitution’ of imagery may occur in other modalities. The forms may have different priority of effect over others at any one time. Schools of dream ‘interpretation’ have failed to consider the possibility that there might be natural, limitations in dreams, therefore many ‘analyses’ could have been highly erroneous. On ‘closing’ or ‘covering’ their eyes in the lucid dream state, all six respondents reported that a scene shift occurred. In two cases, a re—run of the dream happened. Oneironauts9 need to learn about these techniques in order to make the most of their lucid dreams.
In response to a questionnaire about lucid dreams printed in a British national newspaper in 1980, much information was acquired.18
Lucid dreams are without doubt an important new avenue of research because apart from insights into the dreaming process that we are sure to discover, I think we shall be able to learn something about consciousness itself. The ‘switching on’ of consciousness, in the unchanging physiological state of REM, sleep can be sudden. A study of the brain’s activity at that moment could be most rewarding. In addition to such knowledge, the induction of lucidity by suggestion or electronic techniques could open up a limitless ‘inner universe’ of experience to many people, and the undoubted creativity aspect of dreaming sleep could be harnessed so that man may research new heights of artistic and scientific invention.
1. Green, C. (1968) Lucid dreams. ‘Institute for Psychophysical Research, 118
Banbury Road, Oxford, England.
2. van Eeden, F. (1913) A study of dreams. Proceedings of the Society for
Psychical Research, 26 (pt 47): 431—461.
3. Hearne, K.M.T. (1978) Visual imagery and evoked responses. Psychological
Research, 40: 89—92.
4. Hearne, K.M.T. (1976) Visual imagery and evoked responses. M.Sc thesis. Dept.
of Psychology, University of Hull.
5. Hearne, K.M.T. (1977) Eye—movement communication from lucid dreams: a new
technique and initial findings. Paper given to 11th Post—grad/post—doctoral
Conference in the Behavioural Sciences, Hull University, April 15—18.
6. Hearne, K.M.T. (1978) Lucid dreams: an electrophysiological and
psychological study. Ph.D. thesis. University of Liverpool.
7. Hearne, K.M.T. (1980) Insight into lucid dreams. Nursing Mirror, March 6:
8. Hearne, K.M.T. (1980) Lucid dreams” a new area for psi investigation. Paper
given at Annual conference of the Society for Psychical Research, Brighton,
9. Hearne, K.M.T. (1981) Lucid dreams and ‘ESP’: an initial experiment using
one subject. Journal of the Society for Psychical Research, 51 (787): 7—11.
10. Hearne, K.M.T. (1982) Eye—movement communication from lucid dreams: a new
technique and initial findings. Perceptual and Motor Skills. (Pending)
11. Hearne, K.M.T. (1981) Control your own dreams. New Scientist, 91 (no. 1272);
12. Hearne, K.M.T. (1982) Lucid dream induction. Journal of Mental Imagery, Fall.
13. Hearne, K.M.T. (1980) Terror lurking in the dark. Nursing Mirror, August 14:
14. Hearne, K.M.T. (1982) Trapped in sleep. Nursing Mirror, Jan. 13; 34—35.
15. Hearne, K.M.T. (1982) An automated technique for studying ‘psi’ in home lucid
dreams. Journal of the Society for Psychical Research, June.
16. Hearne, K.M.T. (1981) A ‘light—switch’ phenomenon in lucid dreams. Journal
of Mental Imagery, Fall.
17. Hearne, K.M.T. (1982) Effects of performing certain set tasks in the lucid
dream state. Perceptual and Motor Skills, 54: 259—262.
18. Hearne, K.M.T. (19--) Features of lucid dreams: questionnaire data and
content analyses. Submitted.
Keith Hearne, Ph.D., 36 Deerhurst Grove
Bransholme, Hull, North Humberside, England
Lucidity Letter Back Issues, Vol.1, No. 3, May 1982, page 15
I was quite interested to read the material regarding the relationship between near—death experiences (NDE), out—of—body experiences (OBE) and lucid dreamers (LD). Here, I would just like to add a comment or two. One point is obvious, I think, but perhaps needs to be stated all the same. Because OBEs/NDEs and LDs may be correlated, it doesn’t follow that NDEs are a variety of lucid dreams. It may, instead, simply be that individuals prone to lucid dreams are more likely to have OBEs/NDEs or that the likelihood of lucid dreaming is increased subsequent to an OBE/NDE. Clearly, the correlational data mentioned in your newsletter in themselves do not permit one to distinguish among these (and possibly other) interpretations. Nevertheless, the relationships noted are intriguing and deserve to be further researched. A second point is that I believe that there may be some connections between the findings just alluded to and the work of Sheryl Wilson and Theodore X. Barber on women who make extremely good hypnotic subjects (they have a fantasy life that is extraordinarily rich).
Kenneth Ring, Ph.D., International Assoc. for Near—Death Studies,
Box U—20, University of Connecticut, Storrs, CT 06268
I have already asked about the occurrence of lucid dreams in one questionnaire (a shortened version of John Palmer’s Survey of Psychic Experiences) administered to self—selected members of the International Association for Near—Death Studies (IANDS). Among the “controls’ (i.e., IANDS members who have not had NDEs), 83 out of 155 respondents (54%) reported having had lucid dreams, which is roughly what Palmer found among his sample from the general population. Among near—death experiencers, 13 out of 62 respondents (21%) reported having had lucid dreams prior to their NDEs, and 33 (53%) reported had Lucid dreams since their NDEs. Thus, a fairly low percentage of near—death experiencers had Lucid dreams before their NDEs, while after the NDE, this percentage rises to the level among the IANDS controls and the population Palmer sampled.
Bruce Greyson, M.D., Director, Research Division, IANDS, Box 54,
University hospital, 1405 East Ann Street, Ann Arbor, MI
Here is some recent unpublished data from Iceland which is of interest as most results are from American or European cultures. In a manuscript “Some Results Concerning Reported OBEs in Iceland” by K. D. Wiedmann and E. Haraldsson the following data are reported.
No relationship between OBEs and either frequency or recall of other dreams was found. The sample was a group of Icelandic adults between 30 and 70 years of age selected at random from the National Registry.
Dr. Enlendur Haraldsson, Dept. of Psychology,
University of Iceland, 101 Reykjavik, Iceland
Lucidity Letter Back Issues, Vol. 1 No. 3, May 1982, page 18.
Often in dreams ‘something’ (it may be some inconsistency or an intuition) causes the dreamer to ponder momentarily whether he or she is in fact dreaming. A correct analysis of the situation at that ‘pre—lucid’ point can initiate the incredibly exciting and interesting experience of conscious controllable dreaming (lucid dreaming), but often the great insight is missed because things look all right generally, and critical thought is not to the fore. However, despite the superficial correctness of the imagery there are certain detectable peculiarities in the dream world and if the person has a ready—made set of tests to perform at such moments, the dreaming state can be recognized more frequently.
It is necessary to mention that apart from ordinary dream settings there is an extraordinary condition where the dreamer believes, erroneously, that waking has happened. A perfectly reproduced version of the bedroom is observed. These ‘false—awakenings’ are in fact fairly common. Unless state—tests are performed the person will have no inkling that the whole experience has been generated internally by the dream process.
The following tests are meant to enable a person to distinguish the dreaming state from wakefulness. They have been devised as a result of my experience in lucid dream research. The tests should be committed to memory and even practiced in the waking state so that they spring easily to mind when required. They should be conducted routinely whenever the person thinks that waking has occurred. Any incongruity noticed in the environment as a consequence of performing a test should instigate dream—lucidity.
1. Switch on an electric—light in the dream scenery. If it does not work or there
is a malfunction of any kind, or light—switches cannot be found where they
should exist, suspect very strongly that you are dreaming. The same applies
for any other electrical appliance.
2. Attempt to ‘float’ in mid—air, or fly.
3. Jump off an object such as a chair. If you descend slowly you know you are
4. Look carefully at your surroundings. Is there anything which should not be
5. Look at your body (e.g. hand’s~, arms, feet) and your clothes. Is it your
body and are the clothes yours in reality?
6. Look out of a window. Is the environment accurate? Is the season correct?
7. Attempt to alter a detail in the scenery, or make something happen — by will
8. Attempt to push your hand through solid looking objects.
9. Pinch your skin. Is the texture as it should be?
10. Look in a mirror. Is there some alteration to your face?
Keith Hearne, Ph.D., 36 Deerhurst Grove,
Bransholme, Hull, North Humberside, England
Lucidity Letter Back Issues, Vol. 1, No. 3, May 1982, page 18.
My book Lucid Dreams (1968) is now distributed in the USA and Canada by State Mutual book and Periodical Service Ltd., 521 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10017, USA.
My colleague Charles McCreery’s book Psychical Phenomena and the Physical World which also deals extensively with lucid dreams is likewise distributed by State Mutual, along with the rest of the Institute’s books.
We have had a number of letters from individuals in the USA over the years since Lucid Dreams was first published complaining of difficulty in obtaining the book in your country, so I thought your readers might be interested to know that State Mutual are now able and willing to fulfill orders, whether from libraries or individuals. The price of the book is $18.95, not including postage and packing, and it is preferab1e if individuals include payment with their order.
If any of your readers would like further particulars of all our publications, a number of which deal directly or indirectly with the subject of lucid dreaming, we should be pleased for them to write to us.
Celia Green, M.A., Institute of Psychophysical Research,
118 Banbury Road, Oxford, England
Thanks to Dr. Edith Gilmore for offering to translate two German articles dealing with dream lucidity:
Schnieing, K. Dreams of flying and excursions of the ego. Archiv fur die Gesamte
Psychologie, 1938, 100, 541—554; and
von Moers—Messmer, H. Dreaming while knowing about the dream state. Archiv fur die
Gesamte Psychologie, 1938, 102, 291—318.
When they are completed, copies will be available from me for the cost of postage and handling.
Papers are to be read this summer on dream lucidity both at the Association for the Psychophysiological Study of Sleep (APSS) meeting in June and at the American Psychological Association (APA) meeting in August.
APSS —— June 16—20, Hilton Palacio Del Rio Hotel, San Antonio, Texas;
June 16 (afternoon) —— Gackenbach, J. I. and Schillig, B. Lucid dreams: The
content of waking consciousness occurring during the dream.
(Commentary by Dr. Harry Hunt)
June 17 or 18 (evening) —— Gackenbach, J. I., Sachau, D. and Rokes, L. Vestibular
sensativity and dynamic and static motor balance as a function of sex
and lucid dreaming frequency.
June 17, 18 or 19 —— Ogilvie, R. D., Hunt, H. T., Tyson, P. D., Lucescu, and
Jeakins, D. B. Alpha activity and lucid dreams.
June 19 (afternoon) —— LaBerge, S. and Demerit, W. Voluntary control of
respiration during lucid REM dreaming.
June 18 (evening) —— LaBerge, S. Paradox of lucid dreaming.
APA —— August 23—27; Capital Hilton, Washington, D.C.; 1—2:50 p.m. in Senate Room:
Symposium: Lucid Dreaming: Waking Consciousness Occurring During the Dream
in order of presentation:
LaBerge, S. The psychophysiology of lucid dreaming.
Dane, J. An empirical evaluation of three techniques for lucid dream induction.
Gackenbach, J. I. Dream lucidity: A consideration of individual differences and dream content.
Malamud, J. Training for “Lucid” awareness in fantasy, dreams, and waking life.
Van de Castle, R. Discussant.
Lucidity Letter Back Issues, Vol. 1, No. 3, May, 1982, page 19.
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