In the new movie, 'Inception,' a master thief is able to infiltrate peoples' dreams and steal their subconscious secrets -- even plant a dream idea they'll think is their own.As fantastical as that seems, an evolving area of sleep research holds that it is possible for people to direct their own dreams, in a limited way.For example, people who suffer from recurring nightmares can learn to substitute happier endings. Practitioners of lucid dreaming -- who train themselves to be aware that they are dreaming -- say they can try out fantasies like flying.
Ordering up a dream about a nagging personal problem is difficult, but possible, says Robert Stickgold, an associate professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School. 'As you go to bed tonight, really think about some of those emotional issues that you haven't wanted to deal with. You've got about a 10% to 20% shot.'
哈佛医学院(Harvard Medical School)的精神病学副教授罗伯特 斯蒂克戈尔德(Robert Stickgold)说，控制关于烦人的个人问题的梦很难，但却是可能的。“如果你今晚上床时考虑过某些你不想处理的感情问题，那么你梦到这些问题的几率约为10%至20%。”
That fits with the current understanding of what dreams are and why we have them. Once thought to represent repressed sexual urges, or simply neurons firing randomly, dreams are now believed to be mash-ups created by the unconscious mind as it processes, sorts and stores emotions from the day.'We take our problems to sleep and we work through them during the night,' says Rosalind Cartwright, an emeritus professor of at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, who has spent nearly 50 years studying sleep and dreams.
这与目前人们对梦是什么以及我们为何会做梦的理解相符。人们曾经认为梦表示被压抑的性冲动，或只是随机的神经元放电，但现在人们认为，梦是由潜意识处理、分类和储存白天的情感时产生的混合产物。“我们带着问题入睡，在夜里处理这些问题，”位于芝加哥的拉什大学医学中心(Rush University Medical Center)的神经学荣誉退休教授罗莎琳德 卡特赖特(Rosalind Cartwright)说。她曾花了近50年的时间研究睡眠和梦。
Her new book, 'The Twenty-Four Hour Mind,' explains that the mind latches onto some thread of unfinished emotional business from the day. Then, in REM sleep (the rapid eye movement period when most dreaming occurs), it calls up bits of older memories that are somehow related, and melds them together. 'That's why dreams look so peculiar. You have old memories and new memories Scotch-plaided into each other,' she says. 'They are emotional connections rather than logical ones.'
她的新书《24小时思维》(The Twenty-Four Hour Mind)解释说，思想依附于某些白天未完成的情感事务的线索。然后，在快速眼动睡眠(多数梦产生时的快速眼球运动时期)中，它将唤起一些有关系的旧记忆，并将其糅合起来。“这就是为什么梦看来如此奇特。你的旧记忆和新记忆相互交织着”，她说。“这种联系是情感联系，而不是逻辑联系。”
Usually, people work through the most negative emotions first, and their dreams become more positive as the night goes on. (How do researchers know that? 'The old-fashioned way. We wake them up and ask them,' Dr. Cartwright says.)But nightmares interrupt that process; people usually wake up before the frightening emotion is resolved, so the dream keeps repeating.
'Your brain seems to think that it's helping you to prepare, but you don't allow yourself to finish it so it becomes a broken record,' says Shelby Freedman Harris, director of the Behavioral Sleep Medicine Program at Montefiore Medical Center in Bronx, N.Y.Dr. Harris's program is one of a small number around the country that helps nightmare sufferers and people with post-traumatic stress disorder learn to rewrite the script of their recurring dreams using a technique called Image Rehearsal Therapy.
“大脑似乎认为这有助于帮助你做好准备，但你不允许自己做完这个梦，因此它会反复出现，”位于纽约州布朗克斯(Bronx)的孟特菲尔医疗中心(Montefiore Medical Center)的行为睡眠医疗项目总监谢尔比 弗里德曼 哈里斯(Shelby Freedman Harris)说。哈里斯负责的项目是美国为数不多的项目之一，这些项目帮助噩梦患者和创伤后压力心理障碍症患者利用被称为“意象排演治疗”的方法去改变他们反复出现的梦境。
After recalling the nightmare in detail, the dreamer writes out the new script and envisions it several times a day. Dr. Harris says one of her patients had recurring nightmares of being surrounded by sharks. She imagined they were dolphins instead and rehearsed the scene during five sessions, and the nightmares vanished. A young patient having nightmares of being chased turned the pursuer into chocolate and ate him.
'It gives the patient control over the nightmare,' says Dr. Harris. Studies have found that after several sessions practicing with a therapist, some patients dream the new ending just as they envision it, some dream another version of it, and some stop having the nightmare altogether. Can you order up a dream on a specific topic, or can somebody else influence your dreams? Numerous experiments with so-called dream incubation have tried, with mixed results.
'I can control people's dreams. I can get them to dream about videogames by having them play intensely,' says Dr. Stickgold. His studies at Harvard found that when volunteers played the game Tetris for hours a day, 60% reported dreaming about it at least once as they were falling asleep.
In a follow-up study with the virtual-skiing game Alpine Racer, 14 of 16 students reported seeing skiing images at sleep onset (as did three people who were merely observing the experiment.)
It's unclear how far into the night's dreams those images persisted. Dr. Stickgold and colleagues are now repeating the study having subjects play 'Dance, Dance Revolution' and waking them later in the night to ask about their dreams.
至于这些图像在夜晚的梦中持续了多久，仍然不清楚。现在，斯蒂克戈尔德和他的同事重复了这一研究，他们让实验对象玩《劲舞革命》(Dance, Dance Revolution)，然后在夜里叫醒他们，问他们关于梦的问题。