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Allan Hobson

allan hobson and robert mccarley, allan hobson
John Allan Hobson born June 3, 1933 is an American psychiatrist and dream researcher He is known for his research on rapid eye movement sleep He is Professor of Psychiatry, Emeritus, Harvard Medical School, and Professor, Department of Psychiatry, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center


  • 1 Biography
  • 2 Work
    • 21 Dream theories
  • 3 Books
  • 4 References
  • 5 External links


Hobson grew up in Hartford, Connecticut1 In 1955 he obtained his AB degree from Wesleyan University Four years later he earned his MD degree at Harvard Medical School in 1959

For the following two years he interned at Bellevue Hospital Center, New York Then in 1960 he was a resident in Psychiatry at Massachusetts Mental Health Center in Boston for a year Hobson then traveled to France where he was a Special Fellow of the National Institute of Mental Health for the Department of Physiology at the University of Lyon

Upon returning to the United States, he went back to the Psychiatry at Massachusetts Mental Health Center in Boston until 1966

He worked in numerous hospitals and research laboratories over the years and became the Director of the Laboratory of Neurophysiology at the Massachusetts Mental Health Center2

Hobson has received four awards for his work:1

  • Admission to the Boylston Medical Society
  • The Benjamin Rush Gold Medal for Best Scientific Exhibit
  • Honorary member of the American Psychiatric Association since 1978
  • Recipient of the 1998 Distinguished Scientist Award of the Sleep Research Society

Dr Hobson's sense of humor is shown in such quips as: “The only known function of sleep is to cure sleepiness"3


Dream theoriesedit

Hobson's research specialty is quantifying mental events and correlating them with quantified brain events, with special reference to waking, sleeping and dreaming Hobson's recent work45 puts forward the idea that during dreaming, different aspects of the conscious mind; Primary consciousness and Secondary consciousness, diverge from a unified qualia enter a self-referential interplay where by one constantly creates the environment of another In this way, the secondary consciousness performs the role of the dream environment itself, with the primary consciousness, not usually involved in self-awareness in waking life, becomes the object of conscious identity

This process transpires for multiple reasons, but the primary one suggested is as a means of instigating synaptic pruning, to reductively simplify and stabilise the ideas learned in waking consciousness to less computationally complex ones, to improve overall system stability and reduce computational entropy, or free energy Free energy is proposed by Hobson and Friston5 to correlate with capacity for an organism to experience shock or surprise Thus, for humans the process of daily learning becomes unsustainable without a corresponding process to revert from these neuroplastic increases in complexity Hobson has been critical of the idea that there are deep, nonphysiological, or hidden meanings in dreams, calling such notions "the mystique of fortune cookie dream interpretation" He has since used less confrontational phrasing in his critiques of Freud,6 and has produced much academic work supporting the notion that dreams may contain analytically useful information,7 just not psychoanalytically useful information in a Freudian sense of the term

Hobson asserts that dreams require no explicit training to decipher, and are certainly not encrypted to hide their meaning Instead, as we can observe through dream reports, during REM sleep, it is emotional salience that steps into a directorial role, and the seemingly bizarre connections made within and between the scenes of dreams are trying to reveal rather than disguise whichever type of emotional salience we have associated with new, unpredicted sensory impressions with which we have been bombarded during waking periods However, dreams may still be enormously useful to understanding our own psychological state so long as we ground our interpretations in the hard science of how dreams work at the physiological level In this sense, the emotions and feelings experienced in a dream can be viewed as the brain's 'best attempt' to communicate information to itself in a fractured state of awareness, as a means of preparing itself for waking consciousness the following day8

By exploring these emotions in an integrated state of wakeful awareness, according to Hobson, it may be possible to gain insight into what our brain was preparing itself for and why9

In addition to his many paid appointments, Hobson is actively involved with four groups relating to his neurological sleep research: the Society Memberships, the Society for Neuroscience, the Society for Sleep Research, the AAAS, and the International Association for the Study of Dreams IASD, for which he used to be president10

Since 2009, he has been developing his theory of 'proto-consciousness' According to this theory, dreaming is the most readily available representative of primary or proto-consciousness Primary or proto-consciousness represents a relatively more primitive stage of consciousness that develops earlier in both evolutionary and ontological terms In Psychodynamic Neurology 2015, he discusses the little-studied yet crucial role that proto-consciousness plays in overseeing and organizing the intricately complex growth of the individual, from zygote to fetus, through the trimesters in utero, and following parturition, and draws parallels with analogous phases of development in animals such as cats


Hobson has written, co-authored, or co-edited twenty books that relate to research on dreaming and waking consciousness and on mental health The following is a complete list:11

  • 1988, The Dreaming Brain Basic Books
  • 1989, Abnormal States of Brain and Mind Co-edited with Paul Adelman Birkhäuser Verlag
  • 1989, Sleep Scientific American Library Series W H Freeman & Co
  • 1992, Sleep and Dreams Carolina Biology Readers Series Carolina Biological Supply Co 16 pages
  • 1994, The Chemistry of Conscious States: How The Brain Changes Its Mind Little, Brown & Co
  • 1999, Consciousness Scientific American Library Series W H Freeman & Co
  • 1999, Dreaming As Delirium: How the Brain Goes Out of Its Mind This book a reprint of The Chemistry of Conscious States, originally published in 1994 see above MIT Press
  • 2000, The Conscious Exploration of Dreaming: Discovering How We Create and Control Our Dreams Co-authored with Janice E Brooks and Jay Vogelsong AuthorHouse
  • 2001, Dream Drugstore: Chemically Altered States of Consciousness Bradford Books
  • 2002, Dreaming: An Introduction to the Science of Sleep Oxford University Press
  • 2002, Out of Its Mind: Psychiatry in Crisis, a Call for Reform Co-authored with Jonathan A Leonard Basic Books
  • 2005, 13 Dreams Freud Never Had Pi Press
  • 2005, From Angels to Neurones: Art and the New Science of Dreaming Mattioli
  • 2005, Dreaming: A Very Short Introduction Oxford University Press
  • 2011, Dream Life: An Experimental Memoir MIT Press
  • 2012, Creativity, Ilustration by Sofia Areal ISPA University Press12
  • 2014, Ego Damage and Repair: Toward a Psychodynamic Neurology Karnac Books
  • 2014, Dream consciousness : Allan Hobson's new approach to the brain and its mind Edited by Nicholas Tranquillo Springer
  • 2015, Psychodynamic Neurology: Dreams, Consciousness, and Virtual Reality CRC Press
  • 2016, Dreaming as Virtual Reality Forthcoming
  • 2016, Conscious States: Waking, Sleeping and Dreaming Manuscript in preparation


  1. ^ a b Robert, Rose 2004 "Network on Mind Body Interactions" Retrieved 2007-03-25 dead link
  2. ^ Dreifus, Claudia 2002-08-27 "A CONVERSATION WITH/J Allan Hobson; A Rebel Psychiatrist Calls Out to His Profession" The New York Times Retrieved 2007-03-25 
  3. ^ Konnikova, Maria 8 July 2015 "The Work We Do While We Sleep" The New Yorker Retrieved 17 July 2015 The Harvard sleep researcher Robert Stickgold has recalled his former collaborator J Allan Hobson joking that the only known function of sleep is to cure sleepiness 
  4. ^ Hobson, JA 2009 "REM sleep and dreaming: towards a theory of protoconsciousness" Nature Reviews Neuroscience Retrieved 2013-06-29 
  5. ^ a b Hobson, JA 2012 "Waking and dreaming consciousness: Neurobiological and functional considerations" Progress in Neurobiology 98: 82–98 doi:101016/jpneurobio201205003 Retrieved 2013-06-29 
  6. ^ Hurd, Ryan 2010 "Allan Hobson and the Neuroscience of Dreams" Dreamstudiesorg Retrieved 2013-06-29 
  7. ^ Gourguechon, Prudence 2009 "The Meaning of Dreams and Do Dreams have Meaning" Psychology Today Retrieved 2013-06-29 
  8. ^ Hobson, JA 2015 "Psychodynamic Neurology: Dreams, Consciousness, and Virtual Reality" Taylor & Francis Retrieved 2015-01-29 
  9. ^ Hobson, JA 2001 "Out of its Mind: Psychiatry in Crisis — A Call for Reform" Perseus Publishing Retrieved 2013-12-28 
  10. ^ President and Fellows of Harvard College 2006 "Faculty Profile" Archived from the original on 8 March 2007 Retrieved 2007-03-25 
  11. ^ AddALLcom - browse and compare book price: J Allan Hobson
  12. ^ "Criatividade - Creativity | ISPA | Centro de Edições" ceispapt Retrieved 2017-01-11 

External linksedit

  • IGS, ISGS, and NYSGS 2003-10-23 "From Mind / Body / Experiencing / Environment To MindBodyExperiencingEnvironment" Archived from the original on 2007-08-18 Retrieved 2007-03-25 CS1 maint: Multiple names: authors list link
  • The Mind Science Foundation 2007 "Tom Slick Research Awards in Consciousness 2005-2006" Archived from the original on 2007-02-28 Retrieved 2007-03-25 
  • Division of Sleep Science @ Harvard Medical School 2006 "Faculty Profile: J Allan Hobson, MD" Retrieved 2010-01-28 
  • J Allan Hobson 2016 "International Allan Hobson Society" Retrieved 2016-09-02 
  • J Allan Hobson 2010 "Dreamstage Museum" Archived from the original on 22 December 2010 Retrieved 2010-11-11 

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