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Big DreamsThe Science of Dreaming and the Origins of Religion$
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Kelly Bulkeley

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780199351534

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: April 2016

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199351534.001.0001

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(p.145) 9 Aggressive
Big Dreams

Kelly Bulkeley

Oxford University Press

This chapter looks at the “aggressive” prototype of big dreaming. These kinds of dreams often involve vivid experiences of being chased or violently attacked, and many people wish they could eliminate such nightmares. This chapter looks at the frequency of such dreams in the general population, and their recurrence in various cultures throughout history and around the world. Research from neuroscience and cognitive psychology is presented to show which brain systems are most likely to be active while aggressive dreams are occurring. The argument is presented that intensely aggressive dreams have the psychological effect of stimulating people’s waking awareness, preparing them for evolutionarily probable threats and priming their mental and physical abilities to respond should such threats ever appear in waking reality.

Keywords:   dreams, dreaming, big dreams, prototypes of dreaming, aggressive dreams, nightmares, chasing nightmares, threat simulation theory of dreaming

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