From Publishers Weekly
Taking her title from John Steinbeck, who once wrote that "a problem difficult at night is resolved in the morning after the committee of sleep has worked on it," Barrett gathers supporting evidence for the idea that dreams can enhance creativity and solve problems, not only for Nobel Prize winners and other overachievers like Coleridge, Gandhi and Dal¡, but for everyone. Drawing on personal narratives, anecdotal evidence and clinical studies, Barrett (The Pregnant Man and Other Cases from a Hypnotherapist's Couch), a faculty member at Harvard Medical School's department of psychiatry, shows how "the Committee" works across all disciplines and media--including poetry, film, engineering, music, sports and politics. She also crosses cultural boundaries to show that dreams in non-Western societies serve a similar creative function. Intriguingly, Barrett explores dreams that foreshadow "illnesses that did not yet show physical symptoms": one man dreamt of a panther piercing him "just to the left of his spine between his shoulder blades," in exactly the spot where, two months, later a malignant melanoma was found. Barrett provides readers with dream exercises and specific techniques for making the most of their sleeping hours. In addressing the "accuracy of dream recall," she reinforces her credibility by acknowledging a greater "potential for distortion when people other than the dreamer repeat the story." However, her use of the catchall term "Committee" begins to lose its irony through repetition, yielding the occasional impression that Barrett actually believes that some independent body governs dream content. But that's one small stylistic quibble with an otherwise graceful and fascinating work.
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"This fascinating and balanced compendium is the first critical examination of the tricky subject of the role of dreams and dreaming in creative life -- a question which has been pondered since antiquity. Dr. Barrett draws vividly and eloquently on the world's literature as well as her own clinical experience; one leaves this book with much more respect for sleep and dreaming."
-- Oliver Sacks, author of The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat
and An Anthropologist from Mars
"An Engaging yet scholarly adventure filled with absorbing anecdotes from the history books and from Dr. Barrett's own interviews with some of the world's great scientists and artists. As she explores the sometimes whimsical, often profound creative energy of the dream, her perceptive commentary illuminates why and how nocturnal inspirations occur and provides practical guidance for readers wishing to call upon the Committee as a resource. Facinating reading!"
-- D.M. Thomas, author of The White Hotel
"Barrett provides a delightful update on the creative use of dreams by contemporary artists, writers, filmmakers, musicians, scientists, inventors, and others, along with a reminder of classical dream discoveries. She has gathered many unique examples from eastern cultures, as well, including India, Islam, and Africa. Her personal interviews with living artists in various fields inspire readers to recognize their own dream discoveries and use them to enrich their daily lives. Good bedtime reading!"-- Patricia Garfield, Ph.D., author of Creative Dreaming
and The Universal Dream Key
"A fascinating account of the fantastic creativity of the dreaming mind. The most extensive collection of creative dreams yet, The Committee of Sleep
is well written, thoughtful, and inspiring."-- Stephen LaBerge, Ph.D., author of the bestseller Lucid Dreaming