Hypnagogia : the nature and function of the hypnagogic state
An analysis of the hypnagogic state (hypnagogia) leads to the conclusion that, far from being a simple phase of sleep, this state or process is a central phenomenon characterized by a constellation of psychological features which emerge as a function of the hypnagogic subject's loosening of ego boundaries (LEB) and are correlated with activities of subcortical structures. This analysis both facilitates the relating of hypnagogia to other states/ processes of the human organism, such as hypnosis, meditation, dreams, psi, schizophrenia, and creativity, and helps shed light on their nature. Further, hypnagogia is viewed as a circadian phenomenon. related to the basic restactivity cycle wherein it represents the cycle's dream component. As such it encompasses a variety of types of dream, the nocturnal or REM kind being only one of them. It, thus, constitutes the exemplification of a basic and pervading phenomenon herein termed Oneirosis, i.e. the need and readiness to have dreams and dreamlike experiences, such as hallucinations and quasi-hallucinations, throughout the 24 hour cycle independently of sleep and wakefulness. It is further proposed, on neurophysiological, developmental and psychological grounds, that this phenomenon is evolutionally older than sleep and wakefulness, that it has a hypometabolic and anxiety-reducing function, and that, by dint of its character of LEB, it enables the individual to slacken his ego strictness and become more tolerant as well as providing him with opportunities for more holistic experiences and continually renewed psychological orientations. Moreover, due to its unique character of riding between wakefulness and sleep, hypnagogia points to new evolutional possibilities, namely, to the establishment of a new psychological state serving collectively the functions of wakefulness, sleep, and dreaming.