David Foulkes is one of the international leaders in the empirical study of children’s dreaming, and a pioneer of sleep laboratory research with children. In this book, which distills a lifetime of study, Foulkes shows that dreaming as we normally understand it—active stories in which the dreamer is an actor—appears relatively late in childhood. This true dreaming begins between the ages of 7 and 9. He argues that this late development of dreaming suggests an equally late development of waking reflective self-awareness.
Foulkes offers a spirited defense of the independence of the psychological realm, and the legitimacy of studying it without either psychoanalytic over-interpretation or neurophysiological reductionism.
He is to be congratulated for promoting a stimulating theory about the development of dreaming. Written in a clear manner and in a style accessible to a wide audience, Foulkes’s book combines empirical data and cognitively oriented ideas about the development of dreaming.
Here is an academic who is deeply committed to his subject of research and the truthfulness of his investigations. David Foulkes has much knowledge to offer and enlightening insights into the development of consciousness—a matter that is probably of interest to all curious human beings.
The book is well written, intellectually provocative, and easy reading. Though written for the educated masses, the advanced student will find many references to the more detailed academic accounts of both supportive and detractive work. This is a magnum opus of a careful scientist’s lifetime work in an area that needs more illumination and less fancy. I recommend it to anyone interested in both developmental science and human consciousness.
Retired child psychologist David Foulkes, internationally recognized for his empirical research on children’s dreaming, here summarizes his lifework for a general audience, and shares his conclusions about how and when waking reflective self-awareness develops… This book presents a thought-provoking look at the development of our distinctively human consciousness and sense of personhood.
Rather than relying on generally accepted beliefs about dream content, Foulkes takes a fresh look at dreaming in children, harvesting dreams by observing children in a sleep laboratory, a procedure he vigorously defends as the most reliable way to secure scientific data. He takes data on both a longitudinal and cross-sectional basis, from groups of children who range in age from 3 to 15, and he provides an interesting analysis that relates emerging cognitive abilities to both the dream experience and the retelling.
Based on 35 years of brilliant dream research in the sleep laboratory, Foulkes has gone Freud one better by making dream experience the royal road to understanding consciousness. What he has to say cannot be ignored by cognitive psychologists and philosophers of consciousness who want their theories to be consistent with the best scientific evidence in every domain of human experience.
Reporting on what is by far the most comprehensive scientific study ever done of dreaming in children, David Foulkes argues convincingly that the appearance of dreams during the preschool and early primary years both depends on and demonstrates the development of essential cognitive processes. With a gift for seeing the deepest implications of his data, Foulkes takes his readers from the data of dream reports and sleep electrophysiology to profound observations on the narrative structure, emotional characteristics, cognitive qualities, and stimulus determinants of dreams. This is the authoritative work on childhood dreaming; it will have no rivals for many years to come.
- 212 pages
- 5-1/16 x 7-15/16 inches
- Harvard University Press
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