Rosalind Cartwright is a Professor in the Dept. of Psychology at Rush University in Chicago.
The discovery that the mind never sleeps but changes the kind of processing in the different states
opened areas of research into the sleeping mind, its powers and dysfunctions. Rosalind has been
conducting research into the functions of REM sleep for 40 years.
Her present studies deal with the nature of disorders of the sleep/wake transitions which lead to
abnormal behaviours involving basic drives acted out without awareness and with no memory on
awakening. She is also involved in developing and testing innovative treatments for sleep apnea.
She founded The Sleep Disorder Service and Research Centre at Rush in 1978. This centre is now
equipped with 8 beds and runs subjects 7 nights a week.
Ongoing studies include sleep in untreated depression, testing behavioural treatments of insomnia in
the elderly, the sleepiness of Parkinson's Disorder patients, and the Phase-Delay Sleep disorder of
She believes that dreams are coherent, symbolic reflections of the dreamer's mental state and that
dreaming is a way of highlighting daily experiences and solving problems. This helps us to maintain
and update our internal emotional picture of ourselves. We process this material during sleep because
this is the time when we are not attending to the pressing realities of our waking life. Dreams display
our efforts to integrate today's concerns with material already in memory storage. Emotionally hot
issues activate a memory network connected to that same emotion. The images, feelings and
sensations of any resulting dreams will have been drawn from this memory network and will mix old
memory images with more recent ones. She believes this is why dreams, which are dreamt on the
same night, tend to have a common theme running through them.
Copyright JCHarthan 2004