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December 1969

Dreaming and Nitrous Oxide

Author Affiliations

From the Department of Psychiatry (Drs. Greenberg and Pearlman), and the Department of Anaesthesiology (Dr. Mahler), Tufts University School of Medicine, and the Boston Veterans Administration Hospital (Drs. Greenberg, Mahler, and Pearlman), Boston.

Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1969;21(6):691-695. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1969.01740240051006

STUDIES of the dream process have been considerably expanded by the use of allnight electroencephalogram (EEG) recordings which provide the ability to determine when and how much people dream.1 These studies led to the possibility of depriving subjects of dreaming by awakening them as soon as the EEG revealed changes associated with dreaming.2 Observations of dream-deprived subjects raised questions about the relationship of disorders of sleep and dreaming to psychopathologic states.3 If such a relationship exists, then the hope arises for a substance or method which can substitute for or increase dreaming. Such a substance or method might be helpful in the treatment of various mental disorders.

Nitrous oxide has long been known to produce, in some subjects, a state of unusual intensity of feeling and vivid imagery.4 Federn5 reported an experience under nitrous oxide which appeared indistinguishable from dreaming. Thus,

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