What do people dream about when they have lucid dreams? What’s going on in the dream when someone has the realization, “I am dreaming”? Here’s another example of how the word search function of the SDDb can help get a research project started. The database includes a set of surveys (Demographic Survey 2012) in which the participants were asked to describe a lucid dream. By word searching their answers you can get a quick sense of the overall patterns of their dream content. This information gives you an empirical context for deeper study of particular dreams and particular themes within the dreams.
I’m following here the same approach I described in the previous post with visitation dreams, with one refinement. Instead of searching for reports of 25 words or more, I performed separate searches for reports of 25-49 words and 50-300 words, for both females and males (see links below). This produced smaller numbers of dreams for each analysis, but it allowed more of an apples-to-apples comparison with the SDDb baselines I’ve been developing (described in posts here, here, and here). I now have provisional baselines for word usage frequencies in shorter (25-49 words) and longer (50-300 words) most recent dream reports. These baselines guide the analysis below.
To repeat the method: From the SDDb’s word search page I scrolled down the list of constraint values and selected harris_2012:Q1035, Lucid Dream. Then I selected Female from the top line of the constraint values, in the line for Gender, Q922. I clicked on “word search,” and then entered the appropriate numbers in the Min Words and Max Words boxes under “Limit Response Length” (25 and 49, 50 and 300). I clicked on “Perform Search” and received a set of dream reports with these parameters. I then searched the given set for each word class and word category, one by one. I followed the same procedure for the male lucid dream reports.
The results of this analysis, which took me about an hour to conduct, can be easily summarized. Compared to the SDDb baselines, lucid dreams tend to have unusually low frequencies of words relating to visual perception, color, emotion, characters, social interactions, and culture. Lucid dreams have higher than usual references to awareness, effort, and physical aggression (relative to friendliness). Females and males share these basic patterns, though the men’s reports included more flying-related words.
These findings, though preliminary, seem strong enough to formulate a working hypothesis that lucid dreams are generally characterized by low visual references, low emotions, high awareness and effort, and relatively high physical aggression compared to friendly social interactions.
If I were now given two sets of dreams and told that one is a set of lucid dreams and the other a set of most recent dreams, I believe this working hypothesis could help me tell the difference without ever reading through the dreams, just by performing a few word searches.
Of course, each individual report has its own unique constellation of content. Some lucid dreams are filled with visual perceptions, strong emotions, and friendly social interactions. Indeed, I think it’s even more interesting to study such dreams now we know they are rather unusual.
If learning about the patterns of ordinary dreams gives us new insights into extraordinary dreams, then learning about the patterns of extraordinary dreams gives us new insights into extra-extraordinary dreams.
Female lucid dreams 25-49 words: 113 total
Female lucid dreams 50-300 words: 71 total
Male lucid dreams 25-49 words: 60 total
Male lucid dreams 50-300 words: 29 total