Why We Dream


We suggest this…

if you are experiencing mental ill-health and think it might be connected with poor sleep.

(more details below)


(by Kate MacDougall)

Why We Dream is the work of the co-founders of the Human Givens approach, Joe Griffin and Ivan Tyrell. As psychologists and counsellors, they looked into dream sleep from a mental health point of view. The book sets out their theory on the function of dreams in protecting mental health. It also explains how you can help yourself in waking hours to have better, more refreshing sleep.

Spoiler alert! In a nutshell, the theory is that dreams allow people to process emotions that went unexpressed during the day. Emotions are a call to action, they demand expression – but often aren’t expressed. This can be for socially appropriate reasons like choosing not to vent your anger to a call handler when you have a complaint. This kindness to the other person leaves your nervous system still activated by the ‘anger’ signals and needing to get back to equilibrium. A dream gives a safe release for the emotion, and gets the nervous system back into balance. However, if you stack up a lot of unexpressed emotions in the day (as many people do), they can’t all be cleared within one night’s sleep, and the system breaks down. According to the Human Givens approach, this may be at the root of a lot of mental ill-health, depression in particular.

About Human Givens

The human ‘givens’ are a list of the essential things all humans need to thrive. The Human Givens approach is an empowering and practical framework for wellbeing. It harnesses innate resources humans to meet essential human needs. It is a therapy approach, and can also be used as a design approach in education, health and governance.

Additional information

Format Paperback
Weight 450 g
Dimensions 230 × 153 × 22 mm
ISBN 9781899398423


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