For Roger Harnish, falling into a deep sleep is more than just a satisfying end to a busy day. Sleep—and, more importantly, the dreams that accompany it—has actually been the catalyst for his research for more than 30 years, dating back to the days when he used dream interpretation in clinical psychology.
Harnish, a psychology professor in the College of Liberal Arts, recently launched a new app that allows users—dreamers— to analyze their thoughts, images and sensations based on decades of dream interpretation research. Harnish developed the computer program—Dream Professor— with the help of bobeestudios.com and uses intuitive algorithms to interpret dreams by searching for patterns based on how people’s minds and memories work. According to Harnish, the program not only works on nighttime dreams, but daydreams, fantasies, song lyrics and poetry.
“I’ve studied dreams for decades and have taught courses such as Altered States of Consciousness for 20 years, but not until recently have I been able to create a reliable database that allows me to look at patterns within dreams,” he explains. “This app was built based on the best information that we know about dreams; obviously, we can’t interview people when they’re dreaming. Dreams often involve emotional memory connections and actually help us store new emotional memories. Proper analysis allows us to understand basic themes and underlying issues. This program is not intended to offer concrete advice; it is, however, meant to stimulate insights to enhance one’s life. These insights are meant to trigger your subconscious into expanding these insights into a full-blown understanding of what your dream is secretly trying to tell you.”
Harnish says that his dream interpretation app is different than others currently on the market because it doesn’t use standard “cookie cutter” dream dictionaries, which simply conjure up “canned” meanings.
The user simply downloads the app and types in details of the dream. Even though the stories occurring in dreams are often distorted, such as riding a purple elephant in the middle of rush-hour traffic, which doesn’t make sense, it’s important to include as many visual or emotional facts as possible to receive a detailed analysis.
He also believes that with proper analysis, recurring issues like anxiety, fear, stress or depression can sometimes be reduced.
Harnish cautions that there are no guaranteed results when using the Dream Professor app—currently available for iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad—but hopes users will see the app as an opportunity to look within themselves.
Up next for Harnish is the development of a sleep-aid app and a stress management app. But for now, Harnish is enjoying the idea that his decades of painstaking dream research are now accessible to the public.
“What’s exciting is that this database provides unique information for each person by making the best guess possible based on the information that is input,” he says. “With the advice that the app delivers—a theme, sub-theme and up to three ideas that are designed to stimulate the user’s insight—the user can hopefully connect the dots, make some necessary changes or work on resolving issues that may be troublesome. Sometimes, when a person gets the insight they need, it’s worth gold.”