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(1960). Meetings of the New York Psychoanalytic Society. Psychoanal Q., 29:607-608.

(1960). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 29:607-608

Meetings of the New York Psychoanalytic Society

March 15, 1960. THE EFFECT OF DREAM DEPRIVATION AND EXCESS: AN EXPERIMENTAL DEMONSTRATION OF THE NECESSITY FOR DREAMING. William C. Dement, M.D. and Charles Fisher, M.D.

Dr. Dement presented the experimental method and results, and Dr. Fisher the psychoanalytic implications of this study. The method followed that used by Kleitman, Aserinsky, Wolpert, and Dement, whose studies showed that in sleeping persons there are measurable physiological signs (ocular movements and EEG characteristics) of the presence of dreaming. Dream deprivation was accomplished by awakening subjects when eye movements and EEG patterns indicated the presence of dreaming. The major finding was a great increase in 'dream time' following dream deprivation. Apparently there is a quantitative dream need, with a dream deficit building up when the total dream time per night does not approach the established baseline average. Controls indicate that the need for increased dream time is dream deficit, rather than fatigue or the forced awakenings. Dreaming appears to be necessary and may play a role in inhibiting hallucinations and in effectively dealing with reality. Subjects who were 'dream-deprived' showed certain disturbances in ego functioning (anxiety, tension, difficulty in concentrating, fatigue, muscular incoördination, and 'lapses'). Frequently extreme hunger, overeating, and gain of weight occurred.

Dr. Fisher stated that the experiments confirmed Freud's assumption that dreaming is a necessary psychobiological function, as well as his ideas about the extent and time of dreaming. The authors felt that if the experiments were carried out for longer periods serious mental derangements (hallucinations) would occur.

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