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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.112) 7 Continuities
Big Dreams

Kelly Bulkeley

Oxford University Press

This chapter looks at the question of whether or not dreams have any intrinsic meaning. Many people through history have argued that dreams have no meaning in themselves, but individuals attribute meaning to them after the fact, like imagining shapes in passing clouds. The chapter presents evidence of the “continuity hypothesis,” the idea that certain patterns in dream content are meaningfully connected to people’s waking life concerns. These concerns include people’s relationships, activities, cultural interests, and personality traits. Research has found the continuities between waking and dreaming are so strong and numerous they can often be accurately identified without any input from the dreamer, “blindly” as it were. The results of several experiments in “blind analysis” are presented, showing that the meaningful connections between waking and dreaming are not something people read into their dreams, but rather something that emerges out of the objectively verifiable patterns of dream content.

Keywords:   dreams, dreaming, meaning of dreams, continuity hypothesis, blind analysis, dream content

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