A Brief History of Lucid Dreaming

Frederik van Eeden

A lucid dream is quite simply a dream in which the dreamer is aware they are in a dream.  We generally credit the term lucid dreaming to a Dutch psychiatrist by the name of Frederik van Eeden.  While in a lucid dream the dreamer may be able to control their participation within in the dream state.  Lucid dreams can be as real and vivid as any other dream for the participant.

Imagine if you are dreaming that you’re being chased by a large scary dog (one of my own frequent dreams.)  The lucid dreamer could theoretically stop themselves in the dream and confront the dog; even make friends with the dog if they so pleased.  Or what if you could simply float off the ground and fly into the sky rather than worrying about the dog chasing you?  All of these options are within reach for the lucid dreamer.

Lucid dreaming has been researched scientifically, and its existence is well established.  The first book to really discuss the potential of lucid dreams was written by Celia Green in 1968.  She decided that lucid dreams were a new type of dream, distinct from our normal experiences.  Ms. Green also predicted that they would be associated with our REM (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep.  Green also tried to link lucid dreaming to the experience of “false awakenings.”

In the late 1970’s British psychologist Keith Hearne recorded eye movements with a polysomnograph machine.  His results indicated that certain eye movements may signal the onset of lucidity.

Unfortunately Hearne’s results were not widely distributed.   Many years later Stephen LeBerge at Stanford University published the first peer-reviewed article as part of his doctoral dissertation.  Later in the mid-1980s further evidence was published as lucid dreamers were able to demonstrate to researchers that they were consciously aware of being in a dream state. Since then additional tools including binaural beat technology have been experimentally proven to enhance the likelihood of achieving lucid dreaming.



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