Dreams of the 2016 U.S. Presidential Election

Psychologists from Sigmund Freud onwards have usually treated dreams as purely egotistical and self-centered, with no relevance outside the personal wishes of the dreamer. Every four years I try to prove that assumption wrong. In response to my quadrennial request about election-related dreams, several colleagues sent me reports of dreams they have experienced relating to the 2016 campaign for U.S. President. These dreams offer intriguing insights into the impact of the political race on … [Read More...]

Lucid Dreaming and “Pan’s Labyrinth”

This essay is based on a presentation I gave at the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry on April 13, 2016, as part of OMSI’s “Reel Science” series in which a lecture precedes the showing of a popular movie. My lecture involved the science of lucid dreaming, and the film was Guillermo del Toro’s “Pan’s […]

Recent Interviews About “Big Dreams”

In the past couple of weeks I have spoken several times with journalists about Big Dreams: The Science of Dreaming and the Origins of Religion.  It’s a daunting experience to have smart people read what you’ve written and ask sharp questions about how you put together your argument… and all the more intimidating with a tape […]

Donald Trump: The Sleep Deprivation Hypothesis

It seems that every pundit on the planet has taken a shot at explaining the phenomenal rise and mercurial character of Donald Trump, currently the leading contender to become the Republican nominee for US President. A recent op-ed piece by Timothy Egan in the New York Times, “A Unified Theory of Trump,” suggested a novel […]

Cartoon Dreams: Psychological Insights in The Justice League and SpongeBob SquarePants

Childhood is a time of frequent and intense dreaming for many people. Often these nocturnal experiences from early life have a dark hue—children are especially prone to nightmares, sleep paralysis, and night terrors. But children are also more likely than adults to experience magical dreams of flying and lucid dreams of self-awareness.   The whole wild […]

Beyond the Eclipse of Research on Big Dreams

On Friday, February 19, I will visit with C.G. Jung Society of Atlanta and give a talk on “Big dreams: Religion, science, and Jung’s theory of highly memorable dreams,” followed by a workshop on Saturday titled “Dreaming as Theater of the Psyche.” I wrote the following essay for the Society newsletter as a prelude to the talk and workshop. […]

What Kinds of Technology Do People Dream About Most Frequently?

The past one hundred years of human history have been dramatically transformed by the invention of several new technologies, each of which has impacted people’s lives in profound and complicated ways. In light of empirical research showing strong continuities between waking and dreaming, we can hypothesize that modern technologies have also made a tangible impact […]

Prophetic Rodents: Neuroscientists Find Hints That Rats Dream of the Future

New findings from brain researchers at University College London in the U.K. suggest that sleeping rats have the capacity to imagine a place they have never been in waking. This intriguing study does more than support the idea that many animals do indeed dream, in modes appropriate to the neural capacities and environmental experiences of their species. Beyond that, the study shows that rat dreams … [Read More...]

Ben Carson’s Illuminating Dream

Ben Carson, the retired neurosurgeon and leading Republican contender for the Presidency, says that his life was changed by a shadowy figure who appeared in a dream and gave him special advice at a time of crisis. Not since Barack Obama’s 2004 memoir Dreams From My Father has a presidential candidate shared such valuable insight into his personal dreaming experience. Carson’s 2009 autobiography … [Read More...]

Big Data and the Study of Religion: Can a Google Search Lead to God?

A recent essay in the Sunday Review Section of the New York Times made several observations about religion in contemporary America by analyzing a huge collection of Google search data. In “Googling for God,” economist Seth Stephens-Davidowitz examined the search results for various religious terms and questions in relation to where the people lived and when they performed the searches. … [Read More...]

Google’s Deep Dreaming Project

Google recently released a computer program that may help understand various aspects of visual imagination in dreaming.  Check out these images in their "Inceptionism Gallery" here.  The main discussion of the program is from a June 17 post on the Google Research Blog, here.  Other images can be found at the Twitter hashtag #deepdream. I talk in more detail about Google's project and its … [Read More...]


BOOKS BY KELLY BULKELEY