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The Dream Distiller

What's in a dream? This age-old conundrum is exactly what Bill Domhoff, a psychologist and professor emeritus at the University of California, Santa Cruz, wants to solve. And the way he goes about it could be called the 'dream accountant approach:' Domhoff uses statistics and the popular spreadsheet program Excel 5 to confer meaning to his collections of dreams. He simply counts the various elements that occur in dreams, such as persons, objects or interactions between them. A blunt spreadsheet full of numbers tells Domhoff a great deal about the dreamer's personality; he feels that no further interpretation or free association is necessary. The central assumption of Domhoff's dream content analysis is that the frequency with which a dream element occurs reflects its importance to the dreamer. Domhoff concludes that there is a continuity between dreams and our waking thoughts; dreaming is "thinking while we sleep. Dreams are extremely revealing about our daily concerns, our self-conception and our conception of the world we live in." 

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Written by Michael Hagmann

Illustrated by Christi A. Sobel