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The Interpretation of Dreams, The Origin of Consciousness, and the Birth of Tragedy

Robert Atwan
Research Communication in Psychology, Psychiatry and Behavior, 1981, 9, 6.
Reprinted in Marcel Kuijsten (ed.), Gods, Voices, and the Bicameral Mind: The Theories of Julian Jaynes (Julian Jaynes Society, 2016).


Discusses Julian Jaynes's hypothesis that the subjective consciousness developed as late as the 1st millennium B.C.; before then, men and women were bicameral. Their actions were guided by auditory hallucinations activated in the right temporal parietal region of the brain. Jaynes's theory suggests why the ancient idea of the dream as a divine experience followed a distinctly auditory pattern. The shift in dream patterns from the auditory dream of the Homeric period to the visual dreams of 5th-century tragedies approximates the timetable Jaynes proposed for the bicameral mind's breakdown and the evolution of left-hemispheric specialization.