Lucid dreaming is a fascinating aspect of psychology, and one very worthy of study. Indeed, for many years my work has been primarily centred around lucid dreaming. But it's time for that to change...
Over the past 10 years I have noticed a rapid decline in the way this subject is expressed, those who claim to teach or represent it, and an increasing toxicity in lucid dream content. This is especially true in online lucid dream communities.
It has sadly come to a point where defining oneself as a lucid dreamer has accrued so much baggage that it almost instantly connects you with terrible and embarrassing concepts such as:
An unhealthy attitude towards sleep and obsessive behaviours.
Toxic Discord and Reddit communities promoting group-think (a kind of lucid hive mind), copyright infringement, unhealthy activities, defamation, harassment and bullying.
Thoughtless promotion of potentially harmful supplements.
Promotion of binaural beats and other pseudoscience.
Toxic positivity (the concept that appearing to be being "nice" or "positive" is more important than morality or intervening against wrongdoing).
Con artists selling endless barely legible courses and poorly researched eBooks to cash in on the public's naivety.
Morally corrupt claims about using lucid dreaming for physical healing, from self-appointed "experts" who should know better.
Astral projection and other superstitious concepts.
Hacks and maddening oversimplifications of the complexity of dream psychology.
Jargonizing as a means of assuming a pseudo-authority and gatekeeping.
As a professional educator in the field of sleep and dreams, and as someone who appreciates independence and rational thinking over group-think and medieval style superstition, I find this deeply disheartening.
Lucid dreaming is a fascinating and accessible example of the complexity of sleep psychology, and an incredibly useful tool for personal psychological exploration.
At its best lucid dreaming is living proof of the true wonder of the human brain.
At its worst, it has been minimised as an escapism or egotistical pastime often masquerading as spirituality. And it often attracts control freaks, the scientifically illiterate, narcissists, and attention seekers or charlatans looking for an easy niche to claim unwarranted authority.
For me, lucid dreaming is the former. It is a jewel in the expanse of human psychology. But sadly, almost universally the subject has fallen into the hands of those who indulge in and celebrate the latter.
Nowhere is this worse that the social media platforms such as TikTok, Discord, and YouTube, where individuals with no meaningful training, interest, or understanding of the wider subjects of psychology and sleep, appoint themselves as spokespeople for the subject, with nothing more than a handful of their own personal lucid dreams as "credentials". What an absolutely absurd state of affairs! This is something we'd never accept in other areas of life. It's like looking for medical advice from someone who once self-administered a Band-Aid on their scratched knee.
And because such flimsy "authority" in these communities is based on nothing but hot air and bravado, and as individuals vie for virality or fame within their community, it leads to an arms race of absurd claims, hyperbole, bickering, bullying, and toxicity.
This is not something I want any part of.
I am certainly not alone in this thinking, I have watched over the years as all of my peers - rational trained professionals and enthusiasts alike - who have respected lucid dreaming as a fascinating aspect of psychology - have either left the field, been pushed out, or their voices drowned out due to the tsunami of misinformation and toxic individuals that surround it.
Gone are the saner days where the legitimate voices of trained professionals were the backbone of lucid dream education. Todays lucid dream "gurus" are mostly gaggles of socially inept outcasts who band together in dingy corners of Discord indulging in circular thinking, "Exaggeration Olympics", and toxic tribalism.
Have you noticed how very few scientists and professionals align themselves with this subject? This is likely because they are currently embarrassed to do so.
And so too is it for me: I cannot consider myself or my work as connected to, or part of, the current wave of the lucid dreaming "community".
I simply cannot condone the bastardization of such a wonderful subject, nor the promotion of sleep as just another plaything or spiritual brownie point.
That's not to say that the subject of dreams hasn't always been plagued with irrational thinking. Dreaming has long been a staple of the superstitious. One famous example can be found in my Biblical namesake Daniel. Many more can be found in the pages of dream dictionaries widely available in the new-age section of any bookstore!
But while dreams may have attracted charlatans and the superstitious over the centuries, lucid dreaming started mostly free of such baggage, investigated mostly by rational sleep researchers and scientists.
But that didn't last long, and here we are today, where lucid dreaming has embraced the nonsensical madness of paranormal thinking and virtually zero standards of evidence.
It can't go on this way, not if lucid dreaming is ever to be taken seriously.
It is my opinion that it is time for this subject to grow up and grow out of its pandering to deeply foolish and outdated modes of thought.
Part of that process is for those with a rational interest in the subject to cut any associations with, and to avoid being apologists for, the loony new-age and toxic Discord dwelling fringe.
But I Am Not Giving Up ON Lucid Dreaming
All this said, I am certainly not giving up lucid dreaming, nor am I going to stop teaching it to those who wish to explore the wonders of sleep and dream psychology.
It is my goal to offer an alternative to this noise and chaos, and to hopefully inspire other legitimate professionals to return to the field.
I'm stubborn, and I think lucid dreaming is too valuable to be ceded to those who do it harm.
I write this article to firmly clarify my position and distance from the current associations of this subject, and to express my firm and thorough disgust at how a subject with so much potential can be come so mired in misinformation and thoroughly distorted.
I consider lucid dreaming to be a practical example of the subtle nature of mind and consciousness, and a tool that allows individuals to explore the psychology of sleep and dreams directly. It is a subject that deserves a mature representation.
It is not a fad, not a hack, not an obsession, not a numbers game, not a spiritual badge of achievement, not a path to enlightenment or paranormal realms, nor is it an excuse to indulge in behaviours that ignore the wider psychology and purpose of sleep.
I therefore I draw a firm line of distinction between my own work and the toxic fringe that calls itself "the lucid dreaming community", and return to my roots as fact-based sleep and dream educator, who will use and teach lucid dreaming as an example and valuable tool in the wider, and vital, subject of sleep and dreams.
I reject those who obsess over lucid dreaming while ignoring the importance and value of sleep and dreams - after all sleep and dreams are mother nature's most wonderful gift - they are superpowers, that when respected, restore, replenish, and develop mind, body, and intellect.
I have long used the handle of The Lucid Guide, partly as a nod to my profound passion for lucid dreaming, but more specifically to the vital importance of lucid (logical) thinking. It is the latter which my name now represents.
I will continue to do my absolute best to inspire and teach those who are interested in sleep, dreams, and lucid dreaming. But I shall do so from a rational and lucid space that is sleep/dream science and psychology, with an emphasis on the bigger picture and the wellbeing of the individual.
Lucid dreaming as it is represented by those who obsess over it as a fringe subject or "community" is, as far as I'm concerned, entirely beyond repair; a gaggle of bickering halfwits all fighting to be the ruler of a toxic landscape of misinformation.
Therefore, the only solution is to approach lucid dreaming anew, shaking off the decade of garbage accrued from the TikTok and Discord generation. I intend to share lucid dreaming as it truly is: a fascinating gem in the crown of sleep psychology.
With that in mind, in my work and productions, I shall limit my interviews and interactions to genuine sleep and psychology professionals with a grounded understanding of sleep and dreaming.
As for the home-baked lucid dreaming TikTok, YouTube and Discord gurus, and their business minded counterparts who do the rounds in the new-age and self-help circuit. As far as I'm concerned, they are irrelevant, limited, and offer nothing but a short-sighted or warped perspective on something far bigger and far more beautiful than they care to comprehend: the subtle and wider wonders of the human mind.
I'm Daniel Love, I do not represent the lucid dreaming community, I am a sleep and dream educator, who considers lucid dreaming as one of many wonderful examples of the power of mind and mysteries of consciousness.
But it is absolutely NOT a standalone subject.
Treating it as such greatly diminishes and distorts it. It can also lead to a warped sense of self-importance. It sits among the many fascinating and important aspects of sleep, dreams, and psychology. And when treated this way, it becomes a tool towards a more rounded and healthy life.
For my "crimes" of wanting the subject to mature and my criticisms of those who adhere to the issues raised in this article, over the years I have endured attacks, slander, stalkers, and all manner of genuinely vile behaviours from so called "lucid" individuals. It sounds quite bonkers, but sadly that's the level of schoolyard mentality that dominates. Frankly, I've had enough of that. Why would I want to associate with people like this? For those who want to explore lucid dreaming and sleep/dreaming in a mature fashion and as part of modern science, I'm here for you.
I'll be expanding my work to educate and reach what I believe is the silent majority: rational individuals who are fascinated by the wonders of the mind .
For the rest of the lucid dream community who do not think this way , I am not one of you.