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New Links between Dreams and Psychosis Found

New Links between Dreams and Psychosis Found

Similarities in brain activity during lucid dreaming and psychosis suggest that dream therapy may be useful in psychiatric treatment, a European Science Foundation (ESF) workshop has found.

Lucid dreaming – when you are aware you are dreaming – is a hybrid state between sleeping and being awake. It creates distinct patterns of electrical activity in the brain that have similarities to the patterns made by psychotic conditions such as schizophrenia. Confirming links between lucid dreaming and psychotic conditions offers potential for new therapeutic routes based on understanding how healthy dreaming differs from the unstable states associated with neurological and psychiatric disorders.

New data shows that while dreaming lucidly the brain is in a dissociated state, according to Ursula Voss from the University of Frankfurt in Germany. Dissociation involves losing conscious control over mental processes, such as logical thinking or emotional reaction. In some psychiatric conditions this state is also known to occur while people are awake.

“In the field of psychiatry, the interest in patients’ dreams has progressively fallen out of both clinical practice and research. But this new work seems to show that we may be able to make comparisons between lucid dreaming and some psychiatric conditions that involve an abnormal dissociation of consciousness while awake, such as psychosis, depersonalisation and pseudoseizures.” said the workshop’s convenor Silvio Scarone, from the Università degli Studi di Milano in Milan, Italy.

Meanwhile, the previously discredited idea of treating some conditions with dream therapy has attracted interest from clinicians. An example is people suffering from nightmares can sometimes be treated by training them to dream lucidly so they can consciously wake up.

“On the one hand, basic dream researchers could now apply their knowledge to psychiatric patients with the aim of building a useful tool for psychiatry, reviving interest in patients’ dreams,” continues Scarone. “On the other hand, neuroscience investigators could explore how to extend their work to psychiatric conditions, using approaches from sleep research to interpret data from acute psychotic and dissociated states of the brain-mind.”

REHACARE.de; Source: European Science Foundation

- Read more about the European Science Foundation at: http://www.esf.org

 
 

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