Theory of Mind in Dreaming: Awareness of Feelings and Thoughts of Others in Dreams


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Abstract

If the awareness of what others are thinking and the ability to attribute feelings to others characterizes both waking and dreaming consciousness, it suggests that a social species like man has a state-independent need for a theory of mind; that is, an ability to know that others have feelings. The authors performed 2 studies, the first of which consisted of 35 participants who submitted 320 dream reports containing more than 1,200 dream characters and the second consisted of 24 participants who submitted 151 dream reports with 543 dream events. Participants reported that as subjects in their own dreams they were aware that their dream characters had feelings and thoughts about them. This finding shows that awareness of what others are feeling is a robust aspect of consciousness that is maintained despite the changed chemistry and changed activation patterns of the brain's neuronal connections during dreaming.

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