Harvard Medical School


David Kahn received his PhD in Physics from Yale University. He is currently on the faculty of Harvard Medical School in the Department of Psychiatry, Boston, MA, engaged in research to help develop a neuropsychology of dreaming that can be used as a basis for a brain-based theory of psychiatry.

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The dream as a product of an emergent process
Volume: 18, Issue 1
Thoughts, feelings and images that come to mind while asleep may come from recent or distant memories, fragments of both recent and distant memories, from salient day emotion, from imagination or maybe even randomly. But we still don't know how dreams form from these ruminations of the mind or random activations. This paper hypothesizes that dreams form through the process of emergence. The dream as an emergent product creates a story that is largely unpredictable even when knowing individual content. Emergence of a dream implies qualitative novelty in that the dream's story transcends its individual memories and images. When a dream forms, meaning that may have resided in individual elements is transcended into a functional story providing the dreamer with new or modified situations and people. Functionality comes only after the disparate elements form into a dream where a story and an experience emerge. Core functionality comes from emergence of a dream, and is thus independent of the specific content of the dream even if the specific content provides additional meaning for the dreamer.