A Study of Dreams
Introduction by Blake Wilfong

In "A Study of Dreams", printed in the Proceedings of the Society for Psychical Research, Volume 26, 1913, Frederik Van Eeden coined the phrase "lucid dream". This groundbreaking paper was the first extensive English-language scientific report on lucid dreams.

Besides the existence of lucid dreams, this study also accurately documents reduction of sensory input at sleep onset, thoughtful/meditative NREM dreams, false awakenings, effectiveness of lucid dreams in combating nightmares, and the increased frequency of lucid dreams toward the end of the night.

Of course Van Eeden also made some mistakes: the dreaming mind can sometimes perceive real bodily sensations; lucid dreams often do occur just before awakening in many people; and lucidity is frequently incomplete and confused.

Most controversially, Van Eeden blamed "demons" for his unpleasant dreams. He suggested that the "subconscious" is an ad hoc creation--like "phlogiston" causing combustion, or "ether" carrying light waves--invoked by Freud to explain the inexplicable.

Scientists today still have little understanding of the origin of dreams. For all they know, Van Eeden might yet be right!

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