Is Lucid Dreaming Dangerous?

Feeling a vague discomfort about the safety of lucid dreaming?  Is it dangerous: a slippery slope into madness? Will it make you lose touch with reality?  You’re not alone in these thoughts, although I say with confidence that there’s nothing to fear. Not even fear itself.

This essay is part one of three addressing the central arguments used against the practice of lucid dreaming. Today, I’ll address lucid dreaming and mental illness, a connection that is being made more frequently than ever as lucid dreaming becomes a household word.

There’s no evidence that lucid dreaming can bring on mental illness. In fact, lucid dreaming has recently been linked to resilience, the ability to maintain stability during and after traumatic events. Lucid dreaming is used clinically to help cope with nightmares, and is considered by many psychologists to promote psychological growth and encourage problem solving.

So why does the myth continue to rear its head? We can thank bad journalism, for one, such as Time magazine’s regrettably unbalanced and fear-mongering piece on murder suspect Jared Loughner last fall.

But the myth goes deeper, and seems to be based on common fears of lucid dreamers, as well as some logical fallacies and headline-grabbing metaphors used by dream psychologists.

Mental illness and hypnagogic visions

We’ll start with the logical fallacy that lucid dreaming can cause mental illness. This myth begins with the observation that both people who have dementia and lucid dreamers sometimes see things that are not there. I am talking about hypnagogic hallucinations, imagery that is seen at the threshold between waking and sleep.

People who are suffering from mental illness often experience lucid hypnagogia, as mental illness often comes with arousal disorders that increase the likelihood of awareness at sleep onset.

Seeing things at sleep onset is also an early symptom of the grab-bag of conditions known as schizophrenia, often occurring years before the arrival of other symptoms of mental disease.1 For years, hypnagogic hallucinations has been seen as a predictive factor for developing schizophrenia later in life, especially in individuals who have a family history of mental illness.

Lucid dreamers run into hypnagogic hallucinations when trying techniques that encourage wake-initiated lucid dreams. But even today, psychiatrists still misdiagnose lucid hypnagogia and sleep paralysis as early symptoms of schizophrenia, despite the fact that these states frequently occur in normal, health adults with no trace of illness.

Dreaming as Delirium

Another strand of this myth is due to an old literary convention. For over a century, psychiatrists have compared paranoid delusional patients as existing in “a world between waking and sleeping.”

More recently, dream researcher Allen Hobson has strengthened this metaphor with his tantalizing metaphor that “dreaming is delirium.”  Just as tantalizing, Harvard sleep doc Patrick McNamara has recently argued that dreaming is “an act of aggression,” due to the high levels of negative dream content.

This is the perspective that was miscontrued by Time Magazine into the unsubstantiated claim that classifying dreams as delirium means that lucid dreams can lead to psychosis.

Indeed, dreaming, waking hallucinations, and disorders of social aggression involve some the same brain mechanisms. The implications are complex, pointing towards the often-unrecognized dark side of dreaming that is an artifact of our evolutionary heritage. But no one is suggesting that dreaming, lucid dreaming, or dream journaling for that matter, leads to madness or anti-social behavior.

The terror of false awakenings

Salvador Dali: Woman at the Window (Muchacha en la ventana) oil on board 1925

Finally, the experience of false awakenings leads to worries that you’re losing touch with reality. A false awakening is a dream in which you think you have awaken, but are actually still securely in the dream.

Lucid dreamers run into false awakenings because lucid dreams tend to terminate with waking up. The expectation that you’re waking up as a dream scene fades and another begins creates a virtual bedroom that seems real…..

until you get out of bed a there’s a Grecian sea where the bathroom usually is.

Other common triggers for lucidity include strange bodily feelings (lifting off the ground, dizziness, drunkenness, etc) and strong emotions.

False awakenings are disconcerting. We don’t know if we are awake or asleep.

Here’s a tip: if you’re seriously doubting if you’re awake, chances are you’re dreaming. This confusion leads dreamers to wonder if they will start to doubt waking reality too. But it doesn’t work like that. Having false awakenings does not lead to a break from reality in waking life.

Read about how to deal with and prevent false awakenings here.

The real connection between lucidity and illness

That said, there is a link between lucid hypnagogia and sleep disorders, such as insomnia, narcolepsy and sleep apnea. Lucid dreams also tend to come when fighting serious illnesses like influenza and malaria. Anxiety disorders such as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, which come with hyper-arousal and increased nightmares, may also indirectly bring on some disturbing lucid dreams.

This last tendency has recently been leveraged by psychiatrists who have had some early positive results in reducing nightmare frequency in PSTD sufferers by teaching them how to change their dreams to more positive outcomes via lucid dreaming.

Lucidity and Vision Quests

Now for some cross-cultural context of this association between lucidity, visions and stress. Throughout history, and in some indigenous cultures today, young people are encouraged to bring on lucid dreams and hypnagogic visions through the vision quest complex. This process instigates all the stressors that co-occur with anxiety conditions and sleep disorders, including sleep deprivation, disordered sleeping, social isolation, and prolonged fasting.

This is the shamanic side of lucid dreaming.

The difference, of course, is that these rituals are culturally supported. They are done within a context of initiation into adulthood and backed by a supportive spirituality that views dreams and visions not as illness but as profound, meaningful experiences. They are not illusions, but more real than real.

Studying lucid dreaming will not cause a descent into madness. If your lucid dreams are distressing, however, you may want to do what you can to reduce your anxiety and find some social support for working with the dreams therapeutically.

Lucidity in dreams does not make us enlightened by default either. Lucidity is not good or bad, healthy or unhealthy: it’s a natural product of arousal during sleep and other states of consciousness.  Lucid dreaming is a skill that can be applied—and misapplied—for many purposes and intentions.

This post is part one of a series that addresses arguments used against the safety or advisability of lucid dreaming. The next post deals with the claim that lucid dreaming is not natural and disturbs the dream process.

Finally, we’ll look into the common fear  that lucid dreaming can bring contact with unsavory human drives or cause “spiritual corruption.”

The series is drawn from my Lucid Immersion: my mastermind guide on lucid dreaming.

The next post in this series: Is lucid dreaming unnatural?

Notes

 

1 Mavromatis, A. 1987. Hypnagogia: the unique state of consciousness between wakefulness and sleep. London: Thyrsos Press, p. 183.

First Image: Rockclimbing by Carolincik

Comments

  1. Pete says

    I remember reading about Jared L.’s statements on dreaming, but in the video’s or text that he posted I can only remember him stating “conscience” dreaming. If he did in fact lucid dream I never came across anything he wrote that said “conscious or lucid,” dreaming. I wonder if his family or friends didn’t quite understand the difference and wonder if he ever really did lucid dream. Either way, it was bad publicity for a Practice which can only bring positive enlightenment to one’s life.

    • Ryan Hurd says

      Yes, as this case comes up for review we may see another media cycle of lucid dreaming = psychosis. Among the many rumors that came through was the dream journaling could intensify one’s antisocial behaviors. it was pretty ridiculous! dreams appear to have a dichotomy in the media for being either not important/trash/defrag or they are the royal road to insanity.

      • Pete says

        As i’m sure you know very well, the “people” fear what they do not understand and demonize what they can’t comprehend. I believe your work/website and the manner which you present lucid dreaming is great though.

        • Ryan Hurd says

          thanks Pete! it is indeed black/white world in the arena of the soundbite. hopefully we can continue dispelling myths here. grey ones.

          • Jeff says

            “The Teachings of Don Juan” by Carlos Castanada studied the shamanic side of lucid dreaming. His books were popular in the 70’s and 80’s documenting his study of a Northern Mexican Shaman Don Juan Matus and his use of psycotic drugs in Art of Dreaming.

  2. says

    Thanks for dispelling the myths, Ryan. This is important work you’re doing.

    The other day, after waking from a hypnagogic vision of a 2 foot tarantula in my bedroom(!), I researched “spiders in hypnagogic visions” and came across a post warning a dreamer about potential psychosis. The response was alarmist and dramatic. I was a bit surprised. My entire extended family experiences these (or more specifically, hypnopompia) and there is no mental illness in my family. I’ve often wondered if there was something going on in our brains that was perhaps unusual, though. A genetic mutation or something.

    Also, my sisters and I are clair-sentient and often smell things that “aren’t there.” Medically, this is a sign of possible stroke or brain problems, but since my sisters and I all experience it, and smell the same things, I’m inclined to think there are other explanations/reasons for this phenomena.

    We’re so quick to label things in our culture. The dreamtime has taught me to appreciate the mystery and trust the unseen, unanswerable aspects of life.

    Thanks again, Ryan!

  3. Stephan Pickering/Chofetz Chayim ben-Avraham says

    First, background for you (aside from the

    Shalom & Boker tov, Ryan:
    Below is an excerpt from a letter posted at James Van Praagh’s website re: the cryptofascist pseudosciences of ‘psychiatry’/’psychology’, which you allude to in your piece. These are irrelevant to the research you and others are doing on ‘consciousness’ (I am deeply interested in the Hameroff/Penrose ORCH/OR models for the book I am writing on Jewish clairvoyants throughout history):

    I would recommend (besides the voluminous research of Thomas Szasz):

    Daniel Carlat, 2010. Unhinged: the trouble with psychiatry. A doctor’s revelations about a profession in crisis (Free Press), 256pp

    Irving Kirsch, 2009. The emperor’s new drugs: exploding the antidepressant myth (Bodley House), 226pp

    Robert Whitaker, 2002. Mad in America: bad science, bad medicine, & the enduring mistreatment of the mentally ill (Perseus Publications), 334pp

    Robert Whitaker, 2010. Anatomy of an epidemic: magic bullets, psychiatric drugs, & the astonishing rise of mental illness in America (Crown Publishers), 404pp

    Where you and I disagree is that I am convinced we are confronting the proliferation of a cryptofascist pharmacracy: medical diagnoses being offered (and used) as moral justifications for medical ‘treatments’. To submit to ‘treatments’ is, to be frank, dangerous. Yes, I have experienced severe chronic depression — but, because of my scientific research, I did not allow myself to be ‘helped’ by the pharmacracy you defend. I understand your ‘faith’ in the alleged benevolence of ‘professionals’, that, somehow, the individuals who have spoken here would be ‘helped’ by such ‘professionals’. I reject the idea that pharmacracy is a science, or that the MMP II version is, somehow, more scientific than the non-science of MMP I version.

    The fact remains that ‘psychology’ and ‘psychiatry’ are ideological tools of repression, using the snake-oil mantra, so to speak, of ‘disorders’. (It is no accident that, in the U.S., the origins of ‘psychiatry’ can be found in the Salem persecutions of Wicca followers.) Beginning in 1987, when Prozac was introduced, we have seen ‘psychoactive’ drugs proliferate, the premise being that chemical brain dysfunctions can be ‘balanced’ with drugs. In fact, these drugs outsell (that is a fundamental key word) those medications used to lower cholesterol.

    Robert Whitaker’s research — which should be read with Thomas Szasz’s extensive analyses of legal systems — is especially relevant here. The various drugs now on the market exacerbate difficulties individuals are experiencing with brain functions. In other words, the idea of ‘mental illness’ is a lie from pharmacracy. In the early 1950s, most of the introduced drugs (Thorazine being the most famous) were for physical infections, not neuronic activity between synapses. Quickly, ‘psychiatry’ developed drugs to fit a ‘diagnosis’, and ‘diagnoses’ to fit the drugs. All of the drugs, then and now, are manufactured to affect neurotransmitters. As Robert Whitaker astutely notes, ‘chemical imbalance’ is an outrageous concept: the drugs used cause the brain to be dysfunctional. Irving Kirsch — whose book and numerous papers are worth the effort in reading — discovered that placebos are as 75% effective as drugs. He took not the pharmacracy literature (‘peer-reviewed’ papers), but the actual clinical trial document submitted by drug companies to FDA.

    In other words — and I say this as a warning to all who have written about their anguish here — the actual negative effects of these drugs found during double-blind clinical trials. Kirsch and his team sued the FDA through Freedom of Information Act, and obtained the hitherto classified FDA files. What did they find? Well, of six drugs prescribed, there were 42 clinical trials…and the vast majority had negative results. 82% of the placebos were as useful as the drugs.

    Like Kirsch, I believe in the scientific method, which is why Robert Whitaker’s work is so important for those ‘diagnosed’ with ‘borderline personality disorder’ (a meaningless combination of words). Drugs are dangerous, not helpful, and, in my opinion, should never be considered an option. In fact, Whitaker insists (and I agree) that the drug ‘therapy’ creates chronic effects on all brain neurotransmitter dysfunctions. To be sure, there are no 50 year studies of the drugs involved, to fully ‘map’ the evolution of brain ‘disorders’, but the evidence is frightening of significant, decades-long changes in neurotransmitting, deriving from pharmacracy ‘quacks’ masquering as scientists (iatrogenic alchemy). In fact, in 2008, there were published studies showing these drugs for ‘disorders’ were actually shrinking the brains of those diagnosed with ‘disorders’.

    Looking at the Diagnostic & statistical manual of mental disorders (4th edn.), under the ‘disorders’ used here, and reading Szasz and Carlat, among so many others, we see thousands harmed, sometimes destroyed, by the pharmacracy. Studying the DSM-IV-TR (2000), one is staggered by the racialist, sexist paradigms. The ‘diagnoses’ are presented so that someone, say in Alaska, will use a ‘diagnosis’ parallel to someone, say, in Florida…all using the same language.The goal of the manual is simple, to justify the utilizations of pharmacracy’s manufacturers for ‘mood disorders’. Maximizing profits is the point I am making.

    There is another, major point about the Manual: there are no citatations of actual scientific studies. Today, if one suspects one has a ‘borderline personality disorder’, and if one goes to see a ‘psychologist’ or ‘psychiatrist’, one is entering the pharmaceutical moor. In fact, all of the writers of entries on ‘borderline personality disorder’ and ‘schizophrenia’, in the latest Manual, have direct financial links to manufacturers. The 5th edition of the DSM will be enormous, to have categories for ‘mild cognitive impairment’ and ‘psychosis risk syndrome’. The editor of this edition (scheduled for 2013) is on the advisory boards of Eli Lily, Forest Pharmaceuticals, Solvay/Wyeth Pharmaceuticals, Johnson & Johnson.

    We have millions of children being harmed by the ‘professional’ ‘therapy’ for ‘juvenile bipolar disorder’ and ‘attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder’. Young children who are irritable have ‘temper dysregulation disorder with dysphoria’. In 2004, a four year old girl died from three drugs given to her because she was ‘borderline’ ‘bipolar disorder’.

    So what recourse does one have for depression, etc.? My own advice: groups of other individuals who have similar experiences to discuss (‘talk therapy’). Under no circumstances, would I advise anyone to consult an ambassador of pharmacracy. There are Spirit healers. Even if one is very depressed, one can reach out to these individuals. There is a danger one will convince oneself that one needs ‘professional’ help: this is the pseudoscientific trap of believe there is a difference between ‘mindlessness’ and ‘brainlessness’.

    Again, thank you, Skip, for the interesting discussion. I believe Light Workers to be the only viable option here.
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    STEPHAN PICKERING / Chofetz Chayim ben-Avraham
    Temple Illuminatus Goddess Jew / Starfleet Yeshiva Heretic Spiritist

    • Ryan Hurd says

      fascinating stuff; that’s an intense critique of psychiatry that is clearly based on your experience and years of research. you nailed it, the darker side of the military-industrial complex is our strange brand of psychologization with its potions, rituals and contentment-making frames of reality. anthropologists are also increasingly alarmed as the drug culture is being used to “treat” people from other cultures. It’s even more complex with bicultural individuals who find themselves trapped between paradigms. In my view, pharmaceuticals are not evil from the get go, and I know many people personally who have been stabilized through this process. it comes down to cognitive freedom on that side too. but I also agree that there are other ways, older ways, a than tinkering with brain chemistry lobotomies.

    • Mark Burrows says

      I don’t love the pharmaceutical empire and it’s global capitalistic power over health issues but who ever wrote that letter must have been born yesterday. First, a psychologist and a psychiatrist are two different things. A psychologist is a therapist and can not prescribe medication. A psychiatrist must first be a practicing medical doctor before he can go into psychiatry. Now some psychiatrists are greedy and take on dual roles of Dr./therapist but I would never see such a person. Second, Mental Illness was not just invented, some of the illnesses just went by different names, most were quite derogatory. But if they had done their research and not that far back. Most mental illness was treated with barbiturates and amphetamines aka uppers and downers. Not to mention the high voltage shock therapy. Then if all else failed the good old lobotomy. It has all improved dramatically.
      As far as dreaming goes, I have always been a power lucid dreamer. I didn’t give it much thought, I just assumed that everyone had the ability to recognize that they were dreaming and take control and have some fun with it. I am just finding out now that is not the case. I guess somewhere along the line I got the jaded perception that dreams were just brain candy you got every night when I went to sleep. Probably something that was told to me when I was young and decided to let my subconscious say that was just fine.

  4. Ryan Hurd says

    Amy, thanks for your story. I know many people who have had hypnagogic visions who have been unjustly labeled. many think they are losing it just because there’s no room to talk about it — and friends and family get really quiet. I agree with your inclination: there’s a whole class of “seeing things” that is alive and well (and healthy) in modern people’s everyday experience.

  5. says

    I can say with confidence that lucid dreaming can be dangerous to your mental health… BUT

    …then again, I can also say that walking into pretty much any grocery store is a potential hazard to the mind! Perhaps more so.

    Everything that exposes us to stimuli, new ideas, and new realizations can impact our ability to be stable and rational. If we spent all our lives in baby cribs and never learned to read, we’d stay away from newspapers and likely not be infected by as much “madness”.

    But we are driven to become more perceptive to become aware participants among more conscious peers. (This involves, as you say “seeing things” which we didn’t before.) It’s there to avail ourselves of if we wish, and to deny it if we do not. You know what they say: horses, water, drinking, ad nauseum.

    http://realityhandbook.org

    (æ)

    “The brain does much more than just recollect. It intercompares; it synthesizes, it analyzes. The simplest thought (like the concept of the number ‘1’) has an elaborate logical underpinning. The brian has its own language for testing the structure and consistency of the world.”
    — Carl Sagan
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zSgiXGELjbc

  6. Ken says

    I have had crazy,miserable,exciting and fun lucid dreams for as long as I can remember. Growing up I learned to control things in them. Not everything but I clearly no I’m in a dream and have the power to make conscious choice. I frequently fall asleep in my dreams and dream. I have been three dreams deep. Kinda wild. I’ve started to write detailed acounts of these dreams and nights. Some nights are good and some are miserable. I have just now started to try and learn about my condition. Any suggestions on where to go from here?

    • Gwandau Pathfinder says

      Ken,

      if you are able to become lucid in the dreams that you dream after falling asleep within a dream,
      you will be with correct training be able to perform extremely interesting but actually quite dangerous shifts between realities.

      What I am about to tell you here is something one should only practice when fully controlling every part of the technique, and I am sure most of you that read this will shake his/her head, and that’s just as it should be, since this is knowledge only for those dedicated beyond normal levels.

      The technique presented here will additionally need such a enormous amount of focus and energy that only a person with such levels of Intent will be able to perform this.

      I may also add, that in contrast to almost any other lucid dreaming activity, this one involves real danger, meaning a kind of danger that even surpasses the danger of death.

      Read this just for entertainment, if you prefer, it is of course up to you how to take this other worldy information., I just felt I wanted to share this many thousand year old Toltec shamanic knowledge.

      Fasten your seatbelts and join me on this strange ride:

      There is an old technique said to be performed frequently by the Toltecs, using this specific route through dream within a lucid dream and thus become lucid in a layer of consciousness below the first layer of lucid dreaming.

      The trick is to train yourself to lie down with every limb of you body in an exact position that you easily can recall, when going to sleep.

      Every joint, from your big limbs down to every joint of your fingers has to be positioned in a way that you can remember exactly.
      The Toltecs for some reason preferred lying on their left side.

      Now, when getting lucid in you first layer dream, you have to reposition yourself into the exact same position as your body had as falling asleep in your normal reality.

      If you manage to fall asleep in this position within
      the dream, and then succeed to get fully lucid in next dream layer, your physical body will according to the Toltecs snap out of your physical world and get locked into your first layer of dream.

      The Toltecs say this is because your dream body, or astral body, are primary to your physical body,
      not the other way around as we western people think.

      Thus the physical body is inferior and closely dependent upon the energy level of the dream body, always situated one single level away from the dreambody.

      The state of lucid dreaming always engage the dreambody, if moving into deeper levels of dreaming in a lucid state, the dreambody follows.

      The Toltes knew that your higher energy body, your dreambody, is the very body that will remain when you die, and this knowledge was used by the Toltecs in many sophisticated ways.

      The ancient Toltecs used this specific method to move the physical body over great distances without the aid of physical transport systems.

      To re-enter normal reality at the point of arrival, you have to go there with your dreambody and identify the place as being a true part of normal reality.

      This techique is achieved thorugh years of training to move around with the dreambody in the normal reality, starting with the point of departure in normal reality where your body is lying asleep.

      At the chosen point of arrival the Toltec placed his dreambody on the ground in the exact trained position and woke up into the first layer of lucid dreaming.

      Now his body was lying asleep on the spot of arrival. From here he just woke up and re-entered the physical world.

      But years before doing the big “jumps”, the diciple had to perfect his re-entry training by re-entering at dedicated spots nearby his sleeping body.

      This is but one of the old and almost forgotten arts of the Toltecs, which where shamans of an unparallelled magnitude in human history, who knew more about our reality than we ever can imagine.

      Lucid dreaming hides a lot more secrets than our contemporary western knowledge can even fathom, being portals into realms far beyond our wildest dreams. Western Lucid dreaming is just the tip of the iceberg.

      Gwandau

      • Ryan Hurd says

        thanks for the awesome perspective Gwandau. Can u share any recommended reading on this topic?

        • Gwandau Pathfinder says

          Dear Ryan Hurd,

          Unfortunately I am not in a position to tell you where I got this information, but I still thought it could be of interest to anybody open minded enough to dare regard this as true sorcery.

          I can go as far as telling you that the source of this information has a trail going through the shamans of the Rattlesnake School of Turtle Island, the Twisted Hairs Metis Medicine Society Council of Elders, which incorporates shamans from both North, Central and South America following a continous line more than three thousand years back.

          There is no dedicated or consistent litterature about these intimidating dream techniques due to the still active tradition of secrecy initially initiated when the Spanish conquistadors arrived, but it is actually frequently touched in the writings by the following shamanic diciples, who all are in some way connected to the Twisted Hairs Metis Medicine:

          Merilyn Tunneshende is one of the active disciples who has written “Twilight Language of the Nagual – The Spiritual Power of Shamanic Dreaming.”

          Florinda Donner is another woman in this group. She has written the book “The Witch’s Dream”.

          Another member is Taisha Abelar who has written “The Sorcerer’s Crossing”.

          The fourth member known to have published material from his experiences in this group is Carlos Castaneda, who has written several books,
          “The Art of Dreaming” the most notable.

          All four disciples have contributed with some highly interesting descriptions of their involvement in this strange shamanic group, and íf I remember things correctly, they even touch the very source of the Toltec dream knowledge.

          Gwandau

  7. Dane says

    I thoroughly enjoyed reading this, thanks for your work. But I believe you have an error in the second paragraph of the lucidity and illness section I believe PSTD should be PTSD.

    • Ryan Hurd says

      thanks Dane, and also for the edit! I’ll fix it. As a blogger friend of mine likes to say, “typos are my gift to you.”

  8. John says

    Hi all, just wanted to say, im quite new to lucid dreaming, not that ive never had one before, as ive had many growing up, just I never knew there were techniques to induce them… what Gwandau Pathfinder said, I can honestly say that anything is possible, and personaly, and after reading the first few lines about this being more dangeriouse then death, led me to skip that story and go to the next post, lol I have a real creative mind, in genral and especially when im sleeping, and weather that what Gwandau Pathfinder said it true or not really isnt the point, just the idea is unsetteling for me, and the reason why I didnt read it is because I know ill be thinking of it and end up disturbed, or scared to have a lucid dream! Thanks Gwandau Pathfinder:) tut tut no offence!

  9. S. says

    It’s now 38 years since my first intentional self-induced lucid dream.

    In my opinion, the question: “Is lucid dreaming dangerous?” is the wrong question. It polarises the subject into two options: “dangerous” or “not dangerous”. A better question, in my opinion, would be: “Can lucid dreaming be dangerous?”

    My answer to the latter would be a most definite “yes”.

    Without some sort of “anchorage”, so-called “lucid” dreaming is generally fleeting and quickly leads into non-lucid chaos, i.e. “normal” dreaming. This anchorage of the attention while dreaming solidifies “lucidity”. Without this “control”, one is at the whim of something that nobody has yet got close to understanding and defining.

    One can learn to lucid dream by instilling the practice into one’s thoughts of asking oneself the question: “Am I dreaming?/Am I awake?” whilst sleeping. However, the effects of chronic sleep deprivation can also manifest in an “Am I dreaming?/Am I awake?” scenario, although the physical body is “awake”, i.e. moving around and active. Then, without any “anchorage”, it can be very dangerous indeed, moving from “lucid” to “non-lucid”, from “awake” to “asleep” and back again, all this whilst appearing to be “awake” from the viewpoint of an objective onlooker. This may lead to one’s incarceration by the “Pharmacracy”, who almost exclusively misdiagnose the effects of such sleep deprivation as “psychosis” or “schizophrenia” or another of their arbitrarily-constructed concepts of grouped behavioural patterns.

    I hope that makes some sense. Without a sober control, it can be very dangerous indeed, especially if it happens when you’re not lying down asleep.

  10. S. says

    I followed the link in the last post and I have to say that it reads like a “dream-incubation” account of normal dreaming. I don’t see any connection in it at all to lucid dreaming.

  11. ekedin says

    Knowing if you’re dreaming or not is easy. You simply cannot feel pain in a dream. Pinch yourself under the arm in a dream then you’ll know. Plus reality is obvious when you’re actually awake vs in a dream its hard to decipher.

  12. S. says

    “Knowing if you’re dreaming or not is easy.”

    ..it’s the getting to that point that’s tricky.

    “You simply cannot feel pain in a dream.”

    Completely disagree.

  13. says

    Hello Ryan,

    Thanks for making this very informative post on whether or not lucid dreaming is dangerous.

    I agree that lucidity doesn’t entitle us to automatic enlightenment, however, I do believe that it does trigger a sense of awakening of yourself. Especially when you have your first lucid dream, the intensity, the excitement, the assurance that practicing the induction techniques and such increases your chances of lucidity, all of these feelings are a step towards “enlightenment.”

    Enlightenment in my opinion is a never-ending goal towards improving in many aspects (spiritually, physically, and mentally), and it involves knowing how to deal with the relapses (when the passion for practicing lucid dreaming dies), and also being honest to yourself in terms of progress. When a person can finally realize its about reformatting how we conceptualize life through dreaming, then they can have a better awareness of the bigger picture.

    I have one concern about what was stated that seeing things at sleep onset being small symptoms such as schizophrenia.

    I’m sure you already know what the disorder means scientifically, but seeing things while you’re going to sleep doesn’t seem to be signs of being delusional. Usually, when going into a half-asleep state, visualizations from the mind will become more prevalent, and the likelihood of that is increased if you woke up in the middle of the night and went back to sleep.

    I would say worst scenario with this is simply hallucinations that are normal when you start getting used to remembering your dreams more. Just wanted to state my opinion on that since I know a lot of newcomers might be fearful of being considered crazy if they wanted to lucid dream and reveal their interest to their friends, family, and such.

    Hopefully in the future more psychological research can be applied to lucid dreaming, and maybe society won’t be so strict on creating a standard of hallucination-free lifestyles.

    Again, thank you for your post on this, and I wish you the best in more in the future.