Consciousness In Sleep
Sleep seldom, if ever, is a condition of utter unconsciousness. We so
frequently have at least a vague recollection, when we wake, of
dreaming--whether or not we remember the dream material--that we are
inclined to accept sleep as always a state of some kind of mental
activity, though waking so often wipes the slate clean. A new word which
serves our purpose well has come into common use these last years, and
we describe sleep as a state of rest of the conscious mind made possible
as weariness overpowers the censor, and this guard at the gate naps.
The censor is merely that mental activity which forces the mind to keen,
alert, constructive attention during our waking hours, a guard who
censors whatever enters the conscious mind and compares it with
reality, forcing back all that is not of immediate use, or that is
undesirable, or that contradicts established modes of life or thought.
In sleep we might say that the censor, wearied by long vigilance,
presses all the material--constantly surging from the unconscious into
consciousness, there to meet and establish relations with matter--back
into the unconscious realms, and locks the door, and lies and slumbers.
Then the half-thoughts, the disregarded material, the unfit, the
unexpressed longings or fears, the forbidden thoughts; in fact, the
whole accumulation of the disregarded or forgotten, good, bad, and
indifferent--for the unconscious has no moral sense--seize their
opportunity. The guard has refused to let them pass. He is now asleep.
And the more insistent of them pick the lock and slip by, masquerading
in false characters, and flit about the realms of the sleeping
consciousness as ghosts in the shelter of darkness. If the guard
half-wakes he sleepily sees only legitimate forms; for the dreams are
well disguised. His waking makes them scurry back, sometimes leaving no
trace of their lawless wanderings. So the unconscious thoughts of the
day have become sleep-consciousness by play acting.
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