The authors of "The Conscious Exploration of Dreaming" make a good job at painting a picture of their own lucid experiments and drawing tentative conclusions that may be of use to other lucid dreamers.
Especially their suggestion theory of dreaming may be judged as the most progressive and promising theory of dream creation. This suggestion theory of dreaming proposes that dreams bear no psychological insight whatsoever and goes so far to state that dreams are of no use at all: They are just by-products of other sleep processes that may be responsible for the storage of experiences in long-term memory or a like. The authors explain this proposal with the fact that after making sure dreams couldn't be acted out by creating sleep paralysis, there was no evolutionary gain in further limiting this activity. If there is no purpose in dreaming, why do we still do it? The explanation given in the book is that our dreams are the result of a mind not confronted with sensatory perception anymore: The mind simply creates imagery to fill this hole and to make this imagery fitting it draws on several so-called suggestion factos such as random activation of neurons in the brain, knowledge about the last percepted situation, momentary real-world perceptions breaking through the barrier of sleep and much more. The revolutionary thing about the suggestion theory of dreaming is that it accounts for all the experiences of all dreamers and that it also is able to explain why nearly every other dream theory has numerous experienced dreamers stating it to be true: If you believe in a dream theory, according to the suggestion theory of dreaming, this belief is enough to make it come true, because the belief is one of the several suggestion factors. Having shown that there theory of dreaming is a promising candidate for solving the mystery of dream creation, the authors set out to explain the conclusions they drew from it: They deal with the fact that most advice on why and when (not) to control dreams is based on superstitions and false notions of the dream state and state that there is no damage done in doing whatever you like in a dream. Probably the best thing about this book is the insights that are waiting around every corner in this book, ranging from dream control to what to expect from your memory in dreams. The next part of the book deals with common dreams and explains how they are not the result of certain neurosis or psychological illnesses, but rather are to be expected if one believes in the suggestion theory: They are the result of suggestion factors such as going to bed naked - if you go to bed naked and find yourself naked in a dream, the reason should be obviously far more simple than having an obsession with nakedness or something alike. For people really interested in the theories of dream creation, the chapter entitled "The Functions of Sleep and Dreaming" is a real treasure trove, dealing in depth with ideas such as the activation-synthesis argument and giving an overview on the possible psychological and physiological reasons of sleep. If you have a more practical interest in the topic, this chapter could make you a bit tired. The reason I am subtracting a star from the rating of this book, follows in the form of the chapter with the most promising title, namely the "Uses of Lucidity": Having read only Stephen LaBerge's opinion on the topic, I expected the authors to explain that now, with their suggestion theory of dreaming, they have more or less scientifically proven that anything is possible in a lucid dream - as long as you remember it's just a dream and still are able to believe in the possibility of achieving your goal. But instead they focused on how lucid dreaming really is not a good goal to have as it's not "cost-effective" and benefits will not transfer to your waking life. I agree with the authors' opinions on most of the matters discussed in the chapter (how can anyone believe in mutual dreaming?), but the very way they are talking about them makes me sad: Having fun in dreams happens sometimes, but might do more damage and will certainly don't do any good, and most lucid dreams are dull anyway. That's just not a way to talk about lucid dreams, because according to their own theory of dream creation the very fact of people reading about dull lucid dreams will make them dull. This chapter is so much of a desillusion, which I'd normally welcome, but it is kind of a forced desillusion, because it will most certainly have influence on the lucid dreams of the readers - if it has, that influence won't be positive. In a nutshell, Janice E. Brooks and Jay A.
Vogelsong did what no author before them was able to do to such an extent: They have lucid dreaming a scientific basis and created a theory of dreaming that seems to encompass all the different phenomena connected with lucid dreaming and nonlucid dreaming. Most unfortunately, in their endeavour to propose a scientific sound theory of dreaming, they overdid it: The suggestion theory of dreaming may be right, but the conclusions the authors draw from it are certainly biased. So as a finaly comment on the book, I'd like to quote J. K.
Rowling: "Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?"