Ballantine Books, RP 2001
ISBN: 0345396669
Is "reality" better glimpsed with open eyes during the daylight hours while dreaming? Dr. Robert L. Van de Castle’s Our Dreaming Mind will make you ponder the answer to that seemingly simple question.
         Dreams have always fascinated mankind. Even the ancient questioned what was most real, waking reality or dreaming reality. Dreams are interwoven into each of our lives; both consciously and unconsciously they leave footprints on our thoughts by way of a forgotten image, a familiar face, a strange encounter. But to some of us, dreams remain in that dark abyss each night. We haven’t a clue as to what went on. Nighttime slumber is often filled with mysteries that only begin to unravel long after consciousness has slipped from our grasp. At times, dreams may even seem as if they belong to someone else because they aren’t always readily available for examination. Dr. Van de Castle opens the door to this mysterious world and invites readers to come in, take a seat, and get comfortable.
         Dreams, Dr. Van de Castle says, are the portals between our inner and outer worlds. They might be visits from an external God, the wanderings of the dreamer’s soul, or the reworking of unresolved emotional tensions from the previous day. Dreams not only prod us to ask questions but also provide answers, Dr. Van de Castle suggests, to most of our waking problems. They contain keys to our present life and are predictive of future situations. Dr. Van de Castle has spent his life trying to answer the questions that dreams leave hanging. He has devoted his career not only to dreams and their meanings, but also to the history, future, and development of dream and R.E.M. study. Dr. Van de Castle shows readers how they can begin a journey to self-discovery by paying attention to the symbols and imagery so prevalent in the dreaming world. This is when it gets really interesting.
         When is a snake a snake? A stranger a stranger? According to Dr. Van de Castle and other dream specialists, everyone or everything in a dream is often a different facet of the dreamer’s personality. For instance, animal figures in dreams represent the unacceptable and frightening impulses that reside within us. And in fact, a strange woman or man in our dream may not be a stranger at all, but a part of ourselves from which we choose to unconsciously separate.
         Our Dreaming Mind is ambitious and presented in a format that is palpable to not only the reader who is interested in their own dreams, but also to the psychiatrist, psychologist, or physician who is interested in dream analysis. As readers learn, dreams are a part of the history of subjects ranging from religion to mythology, art to literature, medicine to psychology. Dr. Castle also provides a plethora of everyday dream examples to uncover meanings and symbolism in some of the most commonly reported dreams.
         Step-by-step, this book shows dreamers how to uncover hidden meanings behind the images, figures, and actions in their dreams. In fact, the book itself is much like a dream world. The pages of Our Dreaming Mind are filled with illustrations, photos, and real-life dream reports from dream studies throughout history, including those of renowned psychologists Freud and Jung. This resource is complete, from A to Z; a magnus opus, a consummate book that begins with an intriguing introduction and doesn’t stop until each area of dream study is satisfied. And, unlike other books available on dreaming, there’s a bibliography filled with resources for the waking mind as well as the dreaming one.
         More than just a reference book, Our Dreaming Mind is an entertaining read to dreamers on all levels. The work is divided into six parts. Part 1 offers various examples of dreams that have reportedly inspired significant events in religion, politics, art, science, and history. Part 2 races through dream theories from "the dawn of history" to the nineteenth century. Part 3 outlines the major dream theories of the twentieth century: Freud, Jung, Boss, Perls, Gendlin, Hall, and Ullman, among others. Part 4 describes modern scientific dream research, while Part 5 explains the methods and the findings of content analysis. Part 6 unveils "the twilight zone of dreams," including psychic, lucid, and spiritual dreams.
         One of the most interesting aspects of Our Dreaming Mind is the story it tells of Dr. Van de Castle's personal journeys as a dream explorer. He has been a strong and courageous figure in the study of dreams for over three decades. Look up any modern dream study and you will most likely find Dr. Van de Castle’s name. He participated in the earliest days of sleep laboratory research, was a colleague of Calvin Hall and with him co-wrote the highly influential The Content Analysis of Dreams (1966), has been deeply involved in the study of psychic and precognitive dreams, served as co-editor with Henry Reed of Dream Network Bulletin, was the second president of the ASD and host of two ASD conferences, and is the general editor of the Series in Dream Studies being published by State University of New York (SUNY) Press.
         Our Dreaming Mind is the result of Dr. Castle’s magnificent career; the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow for a man that has closed his eyes but attempted to see. No other resource on dream study has or likely will measure up to the all-encompassing scope of this book. In Our Dreaming Mind, Van de Castle is trying to share the insights he has gained from a lifetime of dedicated dream research. Fueled by his sincere desire to help others better appreciate their dreams, the information in this book leaps off the pages with excitement.