The 34th Annual Conference of the International Association for the Study of Dreams begins on Friday, June 16, in Anaheim, California. I’ll be making several presentations, all of which draw on findings from the Sleep and Dream Database (SDDb).
On Saturday, a panel on “Dreams and Current Politics” will include Jody Grundy, Jeremy Taylor, and myself, talking from various perspectives about dreams as reflections of people’s political beliefs. My presentation will describe a demographic survey of 2,285 American adults. The initial findings correspond to previous studies I’ve done on this topic: political conservatives tend to sleep better (less insomnia) and remember fewer dreams than liberals, who tend to sleep worse and remember more of their dreams.
The survey also revealed a troubling divide on the demographic questions of personal income and education. Wealthier people tend to sleep better and remember more dreams than poor people. Likewise, more educated people tend to sleep better and remember more dreams than less educated people.
I’m looking forward to a lively discussion with the other panelists and the audience about the significance and implications of these results.
On Sunday, a session on “Dreaming and Waking Continuities” will include Nori Muster, Jayne Gackenbach, and myself, all focusing in various ways on empirical methods of identifying clear and meaningful continuities between dream content and waking life concerns. My presentation will describe the results of analyzing the long-term dream journals of four women, using the word search tools in the SDDb. I’ll show the audience how to practice the method of “blind analysis,” an interpretive approach in which the word usage frequencies of a person’s dreams are used to make inferences about the person’s most important concerns, activities, and relationships in waking life. Hopefully the audience will gain a practical, hands-on appreciation for what this method can and cannot achieve.
On Monday I’m part of a panel titled “Research 101” with Justina Lasley, Tracey Kahan, Jayne Gackenbach, Bob Hoss, and Michael Schredl. The plan is for each of us to take 5-10 minutes to describe our research and the main findings that we think anyone interested in dreams should know about. It’s an ambitious program, and likely to put on display both the agreements and disagreements that define the field today.
For my portion of the panel, I will draw upon what I did at the “OMSI After Dark” event earlier this year at the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry in Portland. It was the first time I gave a public show-and-tell presentation about the SDDb, and I learned a lot about how to engage ordinary people in the most intriguing aspects of dream research.
Last but not least, on Monday evening I have the honor of introducing one of the conference’s keynote speakers, Professor G. William Domhoff of the University of California, Santa Cruz. Prof. Domhoff (Bill) has been a tremendous supporter and guide in my efforts to develop and improve the SDDb. He and his colleague Adam Schneider have done revolutionary work in bringing the Hall and Van de Castle coding system into the digital era, and I am very excited to hear Bill’s talk, which is titled “Seven Surprising Discoveries That Changed My Thinking About Dreams.” I’ve got some guesses about what they are…