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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