Thursday, 18 December 2014

Worrying drains your motivation. But how? Here's the surprising explanation:

Dream (REM) sleep is a wonderful mechanism. But, just as two aspirins can be helpful in curing a headache but taking the whole bottle would be harmful, so the right amount of REM sleep accomplishes the emotional repairs required but too much is counter productive. In addition, if you give the dreaming brain too much work to do, it is forced to up the amount of REM sleep you have each night, which isn't healthy.

The normal sleep pattern is to start the night with slow-wave body-repair sleep, followed about 90 minutes later by our first period of REM sleep, which lasts about 10 minutes. As the night goes on, we gradually have less slow-wave sleep and more REM sleep, culminating in about half an hour of REM sleep just before we wake up in the morning (which is why we sometimes remember the last dream we have had). As a rule though, we usually forget our dreams, because they represent expectations that didn't get completed in real life, and we don't want them stored in memory as if they had been.

However, research has shown that depressed people who worry a lot have their first REM sleep just 20 minutes (or at most 50) into the night, and it can last for almost an hour. They then continue to have more and longer periods of REM sleep (and more intense dreams) until the brain can take no more and they wake in the early hours, even more exhausted than when they went to sleep. Then, once again, they start worrying all over again.

We have an electrical signalling system in our brains - sometimes called the orientation or 'fight or flight' response - that alerts us to sudden changes in our environment. This same signal is also set off at the start of and during dreaming, alerting us to the fact that there are undischarged emotional arousals which need de-arousing through dream content. Unsurprisingly, this signal goes off at an amazing rate in people who worry continually. Each time we respond to this signal, however, it draws on our motivational energy of which we only have a certain amount. And, as excessive REM sleep pretty well uses this up, it is no surprise then that incessant worriers all too often wake up in the morning feeling not just exhausted but depressed and lacking the motivation to get them going.

Quite naturally, this provides something new to worry about. "Why do I feel like this? I went to bed early, and I know I had quite a bit of sleep. Why don't I feel refreshed? Why is it such a huge effort to just get out of bed and go and put the kettle on? Perhaps there's something seriously physically wrong with me?"

If this is you....

Well yes, something is physically wrong - at the moment. Your sleep pattern is out of balance, leaving you short on slow-wave body-repair sleep while your dreaming brain is in overdrive, running itself ragged trying to discharge all the arousal caused by your worrying. No wonder you don't feel good. And the longer it goes on, the greater the wear and tear on your body, as it is also under siege from all those perpetually circulating stress hormones.

Quite a dramatic scenario isn't it? And it stems entirely from all that fretting, worrying and dread. And although your energy stores gradually fill up somewhat during the day, they quickly become depleted again when the next bout of emotional arousals comes up for discharge in dream form that night. For dreaming doesn't solve problems. It isn't intended to. It merely completes our unresolved emotional expectations so that we can start the day with a fresh 'slate' in terms of emotional arousal. By starting the worry cycle all over again, we undo all that work.

But this needn't be a permanent state of affairs. Indeed, we have found that simply knowing all this is often the spur that people need to enable them to successfully take the steps needed to stop worrying...

This blog post was taken from the book How to Master Anxiety: all you need to know to overcome stress, panic attacks, phobias, trauma, obsessions and more.


Links to more information on how to treat anxiety and depression

SELF HELP blog posts:

How to stop worrying
3 ways to relax immediately
How to beat emotional stress
8 Essential tips for managing anger
Why do I wake up tired?
How to use your imagination to manage pain
5 Golden rules for setting achievable goals
Why emotional arousal makes you stupid
A 'woo free' guide to interpreting your dreams
7/11 Breathing: How does deep breathing make you feel more relaxed?


Why do we dream? - A website dedicated to the expectation fulfilment theory of dreaming.
Lifting depression fast - A website for anyone wishing to learn more about how to lift depression 
Free articles on mental health

Publications and training:

Self help and psychology books 
Training with Human Givens College in how to treat depression, anxiety, addiction, trauma and much more
NEW Online training courses: How to Break the Cycle of Depression

Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Online Therapy Training: How To Break The Cycle Of Depression

The latest online course launched from Human Givens Online Courses:

How to break the cycle of depression ‒ vital information for everyone - with Joe Griffin

Despite being on the increase, depression is actually one of the easiest disorders to treat successfully and quickly – once you know how.

This new online course with psychologist Joe Griffin, a leading expert in the field, shatters the many myths that still surround this distressing condition and how it should be treated. It also gives you the new insights, information and research findings that have been quietly revolutionising the effective treatment of depression for well over a decade.

Literally thousands of people in the UK and Ireland have already been helped to recover from depression – often remarkably quickly – as a result of the new information taught on this course.

Among other things, you will discover: what really causes depression; why depressed people wake up tired and unmotivated; the link between worrying, dreaming and depression; why some forms of psychotherapy can actually be harmful when treating depression; why the appropriate type of psychotherapy has a dramatically lower rate of relapse than antidepressants and is also the most effective treatment – even with severe cases and postnatal depression.

For the sake of the millions of people affected by depression around the world (including rising numbers of children, young people and the elderly), this information needs to be much more widely known.

It doesn't just transform lives – it saves them...

“Finally a course which has shown me what depression is. I know what I've learnt is going to be immediately helpful to some of my clients.” - Occupational Therapist 

"Loved it. Can't think of anyone I know who wouldn't benefit from this course.” - Psychotherapist

How to break the cycle of depression - an essential course - available to take online, at a time, pace and place that suits you.

Visit our site and enroll now.


For more information on the human givens approach to treating depression - see and the book, How to Lift Depression ... fast.

For more online training please visit: HG Online Courses

Thursday, 4 December 2014

Seemingly strange psychotic symptoms can be explained by a new theory of dreaming

Sleep - Salvador Dali, 1937

Strange psychotic symptoms explained

Our observations of hundreds of depressed patients had confirmed that excessive worry puts huge stress on the REM sleep mechanism. This led us to hypothesise that schizophrenia develops in those particularly imaginative, highly sensitive people who become so stressed that the REM sleep discharge mechanism cannot take the strain, and so their ability to separate waking reality from the metaphorical reality of the dream world (where the metaphors themselves seem totally real), becomes impaired. When they wake up, they cannot properly switch out of the REM state and become stuck in it.

Naturally their thinking is then predominantly driven from the right hemisphere, the part of the brain most active in metaphorical pattern matching and dreaming. Many of their bodily behaviours could be expected to derive from those found in normal dreaming. In other words, the left hemisphere’s role, which is normally to analyse and organise reality in a rational way, and is predominantly in charge during wakefulness, has been usurped. The delicate working partnership of the brain’s hemispheres has shattered.

This, to our minds, provides a plausible way of explaining the wide variety of psychotic symptoms.

'Word salad'

The phenomenon of ‘word salad’ – the loosening of meaningful associations between words and phrases that results in people talking in a stream of apparent nonsense – is just what one might expect if the left hemisphere of the brain were to be out of sync with the metaphorical mind of the right hemisphere, as the latter would continue to generate associations without waiting for the left hemisphere to check them out and articulate them.


Catatonia, where patients can stand, sit or lie motionless for long periods in strange postures, oblivious to pain, is what the body also does during REM state dreaming, when the anti-gravity muscles are paralysed. Indeed, resistance to pain is often observed among schizophrenic patients and is even more marked during severe episodes. This is easily understood when we realise that, in dreaming also, cut off from all sensation, we experience no physical pain. That, too, is a REM state phenomenon (and is why hypnotised people can have major surgery painlessly without anaesthetic).

Hearing voices 

Hearing voices is entirely predictable from our theory too. Talking is primarily a left hemisphere activity, whereas right hemisphere activity is mainly concerned with processing pattern matching and tagging emotions to those patterns to prompt action. We don’t talk when the right hemisphere is dominant during dreaming in REM sleep, although talking whilst in slow-wave sleep is common (but the content rarely seems to make sense to the awake mind.) However, during a psychotic episode, if the person were in the REM state awake, there would still be some logical activity and thinking taking place in the left hemisphere.

But, because the REM state is not anticipating any input from the left hemisphere, it has to interpret those thoughts metaphorically and comes up with the image of alien voices, which can seem to be commenting on the person’s every move, or haranguing them or giving ‘instructions’. (It might be expected that such thoughts would often be critical because the left hemisphere would, to some degree, still be able to analyse what was going on and ‘logically’ know that the behaviour is not normal.) This could further be interpreted metaphorically by the right hemisphere as being spied upon, or being persecuted, or that aliens are inside their head or that they are being followed everywhere by strange ‘rays’ that know everything they are doing. (Neurophysiological evidence confirms that, when schizophrenic people are hearing voices, the speech centres in the left neocortex are activated. And other researchers have observed and filmed REM activity when patients hear voices.)

Visual hallucinations

The visual hallucinations or delusions associated with psychosis are also totally characteristic of the dream state, the function of which is to generate such hallucinatory realities. Neuroscientists have shown the same neuronal pathways are activated in psychotic episodes. Whilst dreaming we all believe completely in the reality of our dreams, just as the schizophrenic person believes in their reality.

Creativity and mental illness 

It has long been suggested that there is a connection between creativity and mental illness. Certainly, people prone to schizophrenia tend to come from creative families. And even if they themselves are not productively creative, then high rates of creativity are found among their siblings and other relatives.

Furthermore, creative people tend to be more sensitive to the emotional environment around them and are less robust in withstanding hostility, intolerance or criticism. Indeed, the higher the level of emotional criticism within the family context, the higher the rate of schizophrenic and depressive relapses. When people go into a psychotic REM trance due to emotional arousal any criticism may well be acting like a post-hypnotic suggestion, compounding the condition.


This article was taken from, the website dedicated to the expectation fulfilment theory of dreaming, proposed by Joe Griffin and Ivan Tyrrell.

Knowing the basics of the expectation fulfilment theory of dreaming will enhance your understanding of this post, so if you are not already familiar with it, watch this talk, or read this page of the Why We Dream website. Of course you could read Why We Dream: The Definitive Answer, (The Kindle version is only £4.99)

Wednesday, 3 December 2014

Why We Dream: The Definitive Answer becomes a Finalist in The People's Book Prize

Good news! Why We Dream: The Definitive Answer has become a FINALIST in The People's Book Prize Autumn 2014 phase!

The book will compete in the finals in May 2015, but in the meantime another important HG book, Human Givens: A new approach to emotional health and clear thinking, is competing in Stage II of this competition.

To help us promote human givens ideas please vote for us again and share with friends and family.