Two New Works from G. William Domhoff

A new book and lecture from one of the leaders in scientific dream research.

Posted Dec 13, 2017

For more than half a century, G. William Domhoff has been researching and writing about dreams, using the resources of psychology and cognitive neuroscience to establish solid empirical foundations for theorizing about the nature, functions, and meanings of dreams. His impact on the study of dreams has been far-ranging, and with the help of his colleague Adam Schneider, he created the Dreambank, an online archive of searchable dream reports that stands as one of the great treasures of 21st-century dream research. 

If you think you know a lot about the science of dreaming, but don’t know about Domhoff’s work, think again. You’re probably buying into a host of misguided theories and faulty hypotheses that Domhoff will thoroughly dismantle for you. Take it from someone who has learned the hard way after knowing him for 20-plus years!

Two new works show that his creative fires are still burning brightly. The first is an hour-long lecture, available on Youtube and accessible to anyone curious about the science of dreaming. The lecture is titled, “Seven Discoveries that Changed My Thinking About Dreams,” and it was delivered as a keynote address at the 2017 conference of the International Association for the Study of Dreams, held in Anaheim, California on June 19, 2017. I won’t ruin the surprise, but the seven discoveries Domhoff describes in his lecture constitute a fair history and overview of dream science in modern times. 

The second is his new book, The Emergence of Dreaming: Mind-Wandering, Embodied Simulation, and the Default Network, published by Oxford University Press in 2017. In many ways, the book is a text version of the lecture, and the lecture an oral version of the book. The Emergence of Dreaming builds on many different sources of empirical research to argue that dreaming can be conceived as a form of mind-wandering during sleep, in which the neurocognitive system known as the “default network” is activated. Domhoff offers sharp critiques of other theories of dreaming, always pointing to important evidence that needs to be included in any adequate model of the dream process. Although he regards dreaming as an accidental by-product of adaptive waking cognitive abilities, Domhoff acknowledges that humans have made creative and in some cases positive innovations in their healing and religious practices based on their dreams.