External Motivations

All motivations discussed so far are internal motivations. The previous chapters introduced precognitive dreams, other impressive dreams and fascination for dreams as motivations for dreaming. With exception of those who mentioned a general interest in the paranormal, I would conclude that for the 104 respondents, dreaming is mostly motivated by dreams themselves, calling the dreamer for attention.

There are also external motivations. Naturally, external motivations are especially relevant to the group of self-starters, as natural dreamers are by definition mostly internally motivated. Some self-starters became dreamers only after reading a book, or after having access to education resources in general. How essential it can be to have access to resources, is expressed by Shmucky_Bard_Boy:

I guess that would have to be when I moved two years ago to where I currently live. I have forever been passionate about the field of dreams (heh heh heh) but never had the resources to look into it.
Moving to the city put me smack dab in the middle of Libraries, bookstores, workshops etc... etc... etc.

The question what attracted natural dreamers to dreaming, comes down to looking at the types of dreams they have had. The same question for self-starters is harder to answer. Some self-starters have had a few big dreams so that may have triggered some potential interest in dreaming. Some self-starters may have been looking for a self-development tool, or an entry point for other worlds. Probably issues like a quest for a better life philosophy or an answer to the question about the meaning of life, have been important.

Books as introduction

Books are discussed in this report twice. The Additional Education chapter later on in this report focuses on the use of books after somebody became an experienced dreamer. Here, in this chapter, books are discussed as being an essential introduction to dreaming.

To start with self-development, it was a bit surprising that the whole group of 104 respondents rarely mentioned this reason explicitly. The explanation of course is that many respondents are natural dreamers, who became dreamers long before concepts like self-development were known to them. For self-starters, the possibilities for self-development may have given them something concrete enough to actually get started with dreaming. Judging by the book titles mentioned, it is also the main thing many first read about dreams.

The clearest example of finding dreams as a tool for self-development was given by Liudmila Valls. She came across dreaming while looking for a way to solve a serious depression. This doesn't happen very often. In general, dream books are rarely consulted for finding a solution to a specific problem. This is surprising, because typically the whole field of psychology uses dreams to work on problems, but when a large group of longtime dreamers is asked about it, only one actually started with dreaming because of a specific problem.

It was several years ago...I remember I was severely depressed and went to the library to find some psychological books that could explain me my condition. I stumbled upon Man and His Symbols by Carl Jung and he sold me the idea that exploring dreams was therapeutic, that it was supposed to make you healthier or even more wholesome and even more spiritual. It took me two weeks of relentless efforts to harvest my first dream. After that I have been always able to recall my dreams.
Liudmila Valls

While not mentioning books, it is likely that Siggy learnt about dreaming from books as well:

Mid 20 general interest in psychology and selftherapy. Thought dreaming as a cheap way to know myself and started to write them down. A bad ;-) habit started and didn't leave me...

Here are quotes of four other self-starters interested in self-development. They also have in common is that they were in search of a life philosophy. Curt mentions self-understanding and Seth. Darwin mentions problem-solving and a way of looking at life. Jay Vinton was interested in learning more about oneself and deeper aspects of life. Tjitske Wijngaard was searching for balance, but also studied psychology.

I encountered the Seth books while in college, in which attention to dreams is encouraged. My purpose was mostly self-understanding. My attention to dreams has mostly been a background aspect of my life, occasionally coming to the fore, which usually occurred after reading a particulary good dream book (e.g. Delaney's "Breakthrough Dreaming").
Lucid Dreaming by Stephen LaBerge. I thought that if I worked with my dreams then I can not only find an interesting way of looking at life but solve some problems I'm having in my life.
original motivation: scott pecks 'the road less traveled', jeremy taylors 'dreamwork'. interested in dreams as a way of learning more about myself, getting in touch with myself, simple enjoyment of the rich tapestry of dream images. focusing on the deeper aspects of life, both with myself and others.
Jay Vinton
Ann Faraday's books and my own search for balance which seemed at that time, some 12 years ago, very much tipped towards intellectual pursuits. I then started a dream journal, took up my psychology studies again and did dream courses and so on and now I use several ways of dealing with my dreams.
Tjitske Wijngaard

Deedee was one of the respondents who had some interest in dreams during her childhood, but started developing that interest as a result of books. Gwendolyn had a few big dreams, but like Deedee only started developing an interest after learning more about it from others:

I have always been interested in my dreams and those of other people, yet this interest became more serious, and I started to see benefits in actually working with dreams, when I had read Ann Faradays book on dreams (the Dream Game) when I was 18.
Remembered nightmares from childhood, a few "big dreams" from late teens/early twenties. Then heard Gayle Delaney's radio talk show re dreams in the early 80's and have been VERY interested since then - read her books, as well as some by Patricia Garfield, Stephen LaBerge, Jungian writers...

Sage had an additional reason to be interested in self-development, namely becoming a parent.

It was after I had my first child that the desire to grow spiritually really hit me. I wanted to be the best person/parent that I could be, for her. I began studying spiritual/metaphysical books with a deep interest. It was then that I started reading books about dreaming. Garfield's "Creative Dreaming" was the first that really sparked my imagination and inspired me to begin keeping dream journals.

While I normally consider 'Creative Dreaming' as a typical self-help kind of book, Karen seemed to be especially interested in the existence of other realities.

My first motivation to pay more attention to dreams came when I read 'Creative Dreaming' by Paticia Garfield (when I was about 14). I tried a dream incubation for visiting my grandfather, who had passed over. I was successful on my very first try, and very thrilled to see "Pop" again.
I always felt that the dream world was a separate reality, no less "real" than the waking world. At about the same age as when I read "Creative Dreaming" (14) I also read Carlos Castaneda's books. I became convinced not to dismiss the existence of other realities.

Clint and Ray clearly were strongly motivated by the possibility of lucid dreaming.

My interest in dreaming was peaked again about 4 years ago when I learned about lucid dreaming on the Internet.
After a couple of years passed and my head became clearer I realized that I always was a mystical, occult kind of a guy, I'd just been pursuing those interests via chemicals and that had proved to be the wrong path. Then one day I read an article about a guy named Steve LaBerge and something he dubbed "lucid dreaming".

Christopher Bonn Jonnes became curious about the possibilities of lucid dreaming, though lost that interest after he successfully experienced three lucid dreams. Contrary to most self-starters, he does not seem interested in the self-development potential, nor in a broader philosophy that supports and explains dreaming.

I read a science magazine article in the 1980's on lucid dreaming and the techniques for inducement that intrigued me. I was totally skeptical, yet the promised result enticed me to try the techniques. I stuck with the bizarre ritual for approximately a month, and then had three lucid dreams within a matter a weeks--the last of which is the subject of my best-selling suspense novel, "Wake Up Dead."
Christopher Bonn Jonnes

From the miscellaneous department, Time Red expresses neither an interest in self-development nor the paranormal, but just wonders what is going on during sleep.

Patricia Garfield's book was a great influence, probably the first book that told me that dreams were in many ways very interesting. I had always been intrigued about what happened during the many hours of unconsciousness during sleep. Garfield showed that at least for the dreaming part we can easily find out just by remembering dreams. Until then, I simply forgot nearly all my dreams like anyone else.
Time Red

Seer, Angela and Pam mentioned having read something, but didn't give any specific references. Interesting is that Pam became interested in dreams after the death of a close one. This reminds of Karen, who incubated a dream to visit her dead grandfather. The interviews of Seer and Angela suggest that they both were primarily interested in understanding themselves and their relationship to the world.

I first got interested in dreams about the age of 33. (13 years ago). A book I read got me interested.
I have always been interested in dreams. I don't know when it started. But I did read somewhere, after I was an adult, to write down your dreams and it will help you remember more of them. So I do. And have for years. And it works.
Death of a loved one, reading a book on near-death experiences. Then learning about meta-physics and the connection to all, journaling, slowly but surely identifying with what I learned and applying it.


Of the 104 respondents, two were first introduced to dreams by a therapist. Nickname could have had more luck with her psychologist, Qabaladream says she had a great therapist.

my earliest recollection of the importance of dreams came while in pre surgery counseling - i was 14. the psychologist asked me about my dreams or i mentioned having weird dreams to him. i got a freudian and negative response from him, he tried to seduce me and i left his office in mid session and never went back. i think it was then that i realised there was something to my dreams but not what he was suggesting.
It was not until my adulthood when I began psychotherapy did I realize the value of dreams as the road to the unconscious. Fortunately, I had a great therapist who was excellent at dream analysis.

There are other respondents who've worked with therapists, but they were interested in dreams before they met a therapist. You can read more about this in the Additional Education chapter.

Other turning points

External turning points were: marrying somebody, discovering an internet newsgroup, learning NLP, joining a meditation group, exposure to other cultures and books / dream education.

I became interested in dreams while I was working on my B.S. in Psych.
When I got involved with meditation groups I would hear others talk about the importance of dreams and that I should keep a journal. I noticed that some of the dreams and my meditations were connected. Once I learned how to interpret the dreams I realized that some of the answers I was looking for were there. Eventually I got some instruction in them.
When I start with TM meditation I noticed I have much better dream recall. Also I have a wish to meet one special person in my dreams (mutual dreaming).


A minority of dreamers was first motivated to pay attention to dreams due to external influences. Books are the main external influence, while an interest in self-development usually explains the first interest in dreams.

Email Harry Bosma for any comments or questions.

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