- The Twenty-Four Hour Mind: The Role of Sleep and Dreaming in Our Emotional Lives
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- The Twenty-four Hour Mind by Rosalind D. Cartwright | Waterstones
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The Twenty-Four Hour Mind: The Role of Sleep and Dreaming in Our Emotional Lives
The formation of these habits frees us to use our highest mental processes for those special instances when a prepared response will not do, when circumstances change and attention must be paid, choices made or a new response developed. The result is that much of our baseline thoughts and behavior operate unconsciously. When emotions evoked by a waking experience are strong, or more often were under-attended at the time they occurred, they may not be fully resolved by nighttime.
In other words, it may take us a while to come to terms with strong or neglected emotions. It will probably be brushed off at the time, but that question, along with its emotional baggage, will be carried forward in our minds into sleep. Nowadays, researchers do not stop our investigations at the border of sleep but continue to trace mental activity from the beginning of sleep on into dreaming.
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All day, the conscious mind goes about its work planning, remembering, and choosing, or just keeping the shop running as usual. On balance, we humans are more action oriented by day. We stay busy doing, but in the inaction of sleep we turn inward to review and evaluate the implications of our day, and the input of those new perceptions, learnings, and—most important—emotions about what we have experienced. One purpose of this sleep-related matching process, this putting of similar memory experiences together, is to defuse the impact of those feelings that might otherwise linger and disrupt our moods and behaviors the next day.
The various ways in which this extraordinary mind of ours works—the top-level rational thinking and executive deciding functions, the middle management of routine habits of thought, and the emotional relating and updating of the organized schemas of our self-concept—are not isolated from each other. They interact. The emotional aspect, which is often not consciously recognized, drives the not-conscious mental activity of sleep.
Despite differences in terminology, all the contemporary theories of dreaming have a common thread — they all emphasize that dreams are not about prosaic themes, not about reading, writing, and arithmetic, but about emotion, or what psychologists refer to as affect. What is carried forward from waking hours into sleep are recent experiences that have an emotional component, often those that were negative in tone but not noticed at the time or not fully resolved. One proposed purpose of dreaming, of what dreaming accomplishes known as the mood regulatory function of dreams theory is that dreaming modulates disturbances in emotion, regulating those that are troublesome.
My research, as well as that of other investigators in this country and abroad, supports this theory. Studies show that negative mood is down-regulated overnight.
The Twenty-four Hour Mind by Rosalind D. Cartwright | Waterstones
How this is accomplished has had less attention. I propose that when some disturbing waking experience is reactivated in sleep and carried forward into REM, where it is matched by similarity in feeling to earlier memories, a network of older associations is stimulated and is displayed as a sequence of compound images that we experience as dreams. This does not always happen over a single night; sometimes a big reorganization of the emotional perspective of our self-concept must be made—from wife to widow or married to single, say, and this may take many nights.
We must look for dream changes within the night and over time across nights to detect whether a productive change is under way.
In very broad strokes, this is the definition of the mood-regulatory function of dreaming, one basic to the new model of the twenty-four hour mind I am proposing. Matthew Syed. Battle Scars. Jason Fox. The Organized Mind. Daniel Levitin.
The Descent of Man. Grayson Perry. Oliver Sacks. Other Minds. Peter Godfrey-Smith. Why We Sleep. Matthew Walker. Your review has been submitted successfully. Not registered? Forgotten password Please enter your email address below and we'll send you a link to reset your password. Not you? Forgotten password? Forgotten password Use the form below to recover your username and password. New details will be emailed to you. Simply reserve online and pay at the counter when you collect.
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