Jared Loughner's Obsession with Lucid Dreaming Described as "Dangerous" by Tucson Professor of Psychology

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An Illustration of Loughner's high school photo
Jared Loughner may find it hard to plead insanity after shooting U.S. Representative Gabrielle Giffords and killing six others, but perhaps he'll consider pleading "dreaming."

According to one of his classmates, Jared Loughner kept a journal of his dreams, which is most likely being pored over by Tucson investigators. And if Loughner documented what his friend described to Mother Jones as "obsessive" lucid dreams, investigators might be in for a real trip.

Lucid dreaming differs from conventional dreaming in that the person who is asleep is aware he or she is dreaming and can control and redirect what's happening in the dream (as opposed to being an observer).

It's a practice often associated with dream-obsessed whack-jobs and Waking Life and Inception film fans, but it's also an activity encouraged by a variety of sleep psychologists who cite a broadening of the imagination and an increase of awareness in daily life.


To Loughner, lucid dreaming allegedly provided an alternate reality in which he says he could fly and do things he couldn't do when he was "awake." Loughner's is a case that Dr. Gary Schwartz, a psychology professor at University of Arizona, calls "dangerous," because Loughner told friends he ultimately preferred what was imaginary to what was real.

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Dr. Gary Schwartz

Schwartz is a household name in lucid-dreaming circles and forums, found mostly online. His papers on spirits, dreaming, and alternative realities have been called into science-based question, but Schwartz insists he's a scientist who bases his conclusions on data.

He says he was disturbed when he first heard about Loughner's interest and obsession with lucid dreaming (after the shooting) because he knew it would feed into potential misconceptions about the actual experience and those who practice it.

"Here's a kid immersed in violence and heavy rock bands . . . a person, who in all likelihood, was a deranged mind," Schwartz says of Loughner. "Now add an obsession with lucid dreaming, and it becomes dangerous because it's carried to an extreme."

Loughner's obsession was documented in the videos he posted on YouTube, where he describes himself as a "sleepwalker -- who turns off the alarm clock."

He allegedly kept a journal of his "waking life" for more than a year, a common practice for those who practice lucid dreaming or have interest in the meanings and/or psychology behind dreams. 

"Lucid dreaming, under normal circumstances, can be used for good," says Schwartz, who just published The Sacred Promise: How Science Is Discovering Spirit's Collaboration with Us in Our Daily Lives. "But [in Loughner's case] it fell into the wrong hands. It's like a knife, which is a neutral object used in skilled hands for surgery and healing. But when it falls into the wrong hands, it can be used for destruction and killing."

More information about Loughner's journal has yet to be released. You can catch up with more of our coverage of Saturday's mass murder here in Valley Fever.


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7 comments
Plur332
Plur332

I remember another shyster who called himself Dr. Gary like "Dr. Phil" and then he was plastered all over the New Times and shortly after arrested and jailed

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Guest
Guest

"Here's a kid immersed in violence and heavy rock bands . . . a person, who in all likelihood, was a deranged mind,"

I honestly can't believe shit like this still flies in this day and age. Why if only Loughner had listened to Dave Matthews Band, this tragedy could have been avoided!

DJ
DJ

No, that's not what they are implying. They're saying he connects with songs like Drowning Pool's Bodies because he likes the way these songs describe violence. His liking the song is a symptom of his deranged mind, not the other way around like you seem to think. Drowning Pool's singer has commented: "But you have to have respect for the others in the pit. If you push them down, you have to pick them back up. I’m not going to get behind the violence thing, it is violent, but there is a certain amount of respect and a code." So one can like the song for reasons different than Loughner's so no one can automatically assume a heavy rock fan is violent. However, most heavy rock music is aggressive. A naturally aggressive person can chose to use these songs to fuel their personalities. Another person can use these songs to remind them of the consequences of being violent without purpose like Drowning Pool's singer. I don't think they're implying heavy rock needs to be feared, but a fan needs to evaluate how he/she letting the music affect him/her.

Dave
Dave

I can imagine the headlines: "Tragedy in Tucson today as Jared Lee Loughner, 22, walked into a supermarket and bored six people to death with his whiny vocals and ambling, pointless improvisations..."

Steve Tracy of Phoenix
Steve Tracy of Phoenix

That is some fucking great shit.The only funny thing from this tragedy I've heard.

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