Visions of the Night: Dreams, Religion, and Psychology

visionsofthenightVisions of the Night: Dreams, Religion, and Psychology.
By Kelly Bulkeley, Ph. D.
SUNY, 1999

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This wide-ranging exploration of the spiritual and scientific dimensions of dreaming offers new connections between the ancient wisdom of the world’s religious traditions, which have always taught that dreams reveal divine truths, and the recent findings of modern psychological research. Drawing upon philosophy, anthropology, sociology, neurology, literature, and film criticism, this book offers a better understanding of the mysterious complexity and startling creative powers of human dreaming experience. For those interested in gaining new perspectives on dreaming, the powers of the imagination, and the newest frontiers in the dialogue between religion and science, Visions of the Night promises to be a welcome resource.

Blurbs and Reviews

“I am most intrigued by Bulkeley’s notion of dreams as root metaphors. Such a notion fits in well with an existential-phenomenological approach to dream interpretation, and also lends itself to understanding dreams in the context of spirituality. I think this text matches the quality of Bulkeley’s 1994 book (The Wilderness of Dreams), which I regard as a potential ‘classic’ in dream theory.”
—Hendrika Vande Kemp, Fuller Theological Seminary

“In Visions of the Night Kelly Bulkeley articulates a thesis which allows dreams to be accessible to the most reductive scientific analyses while concluding that they are both meaningful and religious. Punctuated by illustrations taken from a variety of cultural arenas, Bulkeley weaves a narrative that sifts through a panoply of psychological, sociological, and religious perspectives on dreams, engages cutting-edge debates, and speaks to the vicissitudes of individual and collective dreaming…. The virtue of this book lies not simply in its guiding thesis but in its scope. It provides a rich feast of perspectives on dreaming and an entry into pivotal controversies in the field.”
—William B. Parsons, The Journal of Religion

“This book, both a personal and scholarly journey, is well written, tightly argued, and evocative of the deeper regions of the human heart and mind. It covers a wide spectrum of disciplines, from the literary to the religious to the scholarly/historical, and has academic depth as well as an easy reading style. I very much respect Bulkeley’s scope of knowledge and breadth of integration.”
—Edward Bruce Bynum, author of Families and the Interpretation of Dreams

“Kelly Bulkeley offers us a series of essays on dreams and dreaming through a multiperspectival lens of several contemporary psychological and textual approaches used in religious studies….Self-contained chapters on dreams and conversion, neurophysiological models for understanding the religious meaning of dreams, dreams as play, and dreams and environmental ethics–to name just some of the thirteen topics addressed–awakened me to the many ways in which dreams deepen understanding of religion and connect us thoughtfully to issues of personal and political significance….Bulkeley is a prolific writer on dreams and religion from a psychological perspective. In this latest work beneath his erudite conversational informality lies not only a deep passtionate conviction about the contribution dreams make to human life and a human religion but a deep concern for a culture or a nation that has a perverted relationship to its dreams.”
— Chris Ross, Journal of the American Academy of Religion

Table of Contents

Introduction: The Varieties of Religious Dream
1. Root Metaphor Dreams
2. Dreaming and Conversion
3. Where Do Dreams Come From?
4. Sharing Dreams in Community Settings
5. Dreams and Environmental Ethics
6. Dreaming in a Totalitarian Society: A Winnicottian
Reading of Charlotte Beradt’s The Third Reich of
7. Dreaming is Play: A Response to Freud
8. Gods, REMS, and What Neurology Has to Say about the
Religious Meanings of Dreams
9. The Evil Dreams of Gilgamesh: Interpreting Dreams in
Mythological Texts
10.Wisdom’s Refuge in the Night: Dreams in The
Mahabharata, The Ramayana, and Richard III
11.Dreamily Deconstructing the Dream Factory: The
Wizard of Oz and A Nightmare on Elm Street
12.Dreams within Films, Films within Dreams
13.Dreaming in Russia, August 1991
14.Postscript on Dreams, Religion, and Psychological
Bibliographical Essays