Dreaming as Delirium

How the Brain Goes Out of Its Mind

With a new foreword by the author.

In this book, J. Allan Hobson sets out a compelling—and controversial—theory of consciousness. Our brain-mind, as he calls it, is not a fixed identity but a dynamic balancing act between the chemical systems that regulate waking and dreaming. Drawing on his work both as a sleep researcher and as a psychiatrist, Hobson looks in particular at the strikingly similar chemical characteristics of the states of dreaming and psychosis. His underlying theme is that the form of our thoughts, emotions, dreams, and memories derive from specific nerve cells and electrochemical impulses described by neuroscientists. Among the questions Hobson explores are: What are dreams? Do they have any hidden meaning, or are they simply emotionally salient images whose peculiar narrative structure refects the unique neurophysiology of sleep? And what is the relationship between the delirium of our dream life and psychosis?

Originally published by Little, Brown under the title The Chemistry of Conscious States.

Table of Contents

  1. Preface to the MIT Press Edition
  2. Acknowledgments
  3. I. Defining the Brain-Mind
  4. 1. The Brain Is Insane
  5. 2. Brain-Mind Schizophrenia
  6. 3. Delia's Dream Delirium
  7. 4. The Cause of Delia's Delirium
  8. 5. Traveling in Brain-Mind Space
  9. II. Analyzing the Brain-Mind
  10. 6. Lost and Found: Orientation and Disorientation
  11. 7. The Story of Our Lives: Memory and Confabulation
  12. 8. Seeing Is Believing: Perception and Hallucination
  13. 9. The Heart of the Brain-Mind: Emotion and Instinct
  14. 10. Stop, Look, and Listen: Attention and Distraction
  15. 11. Ups and Downs: Energy, Mood, and Health
  16. 12. What Is Consciousness? What Is the Mind?
  17. III. Changing the Brain-Mind
  18. 13. How the Brain-Mind Heals Itself
  19. 14. Changing Brain-Mind States to Improve Your Health
  20. 15. The Last Resort: Using Drugs to Change Your State
  21. Index