The Phenomenology of REM-sleep Dreaming: The Contributions of Personal and Perspectival Ownership, Subjective Temporality and Episodic Memory

Psychology of Consciousness: Theory, Research, and Practice 6:55-66 (2018)
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Although the dream narrative, of (bio)logical necessity, originates with the dreamer, s/he typically does not know this. For the dreamer, the dream world is the real world. In this article I argue that this nightly misattribution is best explained in terms of the concept of mental ownership (e.g., Albahari, 2006; Klein, 2015a; Lane, 2012). Specifically, the exogenous nature of the dream narrative is the result of an individual assuming perspectival, but not personal, ownership of content s/he authored (i.e., “The content in my head is not mine. Therefore it must be peripherally perceived”). Situating explanation within a theoretical space designed to address questions pertaining to the experienced origins of conscious content has a number of salutatory consequences. For example, it promotes predictive fecundity by bringing to light empirical generalizations whose presence otherwise might have gone unnoticed (e.g., the severely limited role of mental time travel within the dream narrative).

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Stanley Bernard Klein
University of California at Santa Barbara


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