Because I’ve been studying dreams since I was a boy, every now and then I think it’s time for me to write my own book about dreams.
But each time that happens I immediately think of psychologist Robert L. Van de Castle’s monumental book, Our Dreaming Mind and I discard the thought.
It’s a book of everything about dreams. Van de Castle documents the long complex history of dreams. His chapters on the sophisticated understanding of dreams that existed in ancient Greece, Egypt, India, China and the Muslim empire are fascinating. Those were the times and places of the great dream books and dream thinking.
That there were thinkers long ago who thought more deeply and extensively about dreams than anyone thinks about them now is food for thought.
For example, in Our Dreaming Mind you’ll meet Artemidorus of Daldis, who in the 2nd century travelled through the cities of Greece, Italy and the Middle East doing ‘field research’ for his five volume Oneirocritica, the ‘great-grandfather of all dream books’. Van de Castle discusses it volume by volume.
You’ll read of the Muslim author, de Dinawari, who in 1006 produced an immense and influential book of dreams. You’ll learn of the rich dreaming in the early Christian church and the banishment of dreams in the late Christian church, a repression that may be connected with the relative lack of interest in dreams today.
You meet real dreams and dreamers from the past. For example, the 19th century Russian doctor Marie de Manaceine, who wrote a lengthy book on sleep in which she provided her own unusual analysis of dreams, wrote:
I myself have known an old woman …who preserved the memory of a dream as the happiest recollection of her whole long life. She would become radiant with animation as she narrated that sacred dream which had thrown up its single ray of splendor on an existence made up of petty miseries and petty satisfactions.
How many people appreciate dreams that way now?
Besides including a thorough analysis of dream research and theories from the twentieth century, in his chapter ‘Paranormal Dreams’, Van de Castle takes you into his own controversial explorations at Brooklyn’s Maimonides Medical Center.
What more could you ask for from a book on dreams?