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Hypnagogia, anxiety, depersonalization

a phenomenological perspective

Dylan Trigg

pp. 163-179

This chapter investigates the phenomenological significance of so-called hypnagogic states of consciousness. The hypnagogic state refers to the transitional zone between wakefulness and sleep, which tends to be characterised by vivid visual phenomena. Phenomenologically rich, the hypnagogic state appears to dissolve the boundary between different levels of subjective existence. While there has been a modest amount of phenomenological research into hypnagogic visions and images, what has been overlooked is the affective relation we have to this experience. Investigating this oversight, this chapter aims to do two things. First, I provide a phenomenological account of hypnagogia. Second, I argue that that there is a close relation between hypnagogia and states of anxiety, evident in conditions such as depersonalization. My argument is that both hypnagogia and anxiety involve a loosening of the ego together with an exposure to temporal ambiguity. I demonstrate this claim through case studies detailing first, the anxious experience of hypnagogia; and second, the hypnagogic experience of anxiety. I conclude with some remarks considering the implications these findings have for our understanding of unconsciousness.

Publication details

DOI: 10.1007/978-3-319-55518-8_10

Full citation:

Trigg, D. (2017)., Hypnagogia, anxiety, depersonalization: a phenomenological perspective, in D. Legrand & D. Trigg (eds.), Unconsciousness between phenomenology and psychoanalysis, Dordrecht, Springer, pp. 163-179.

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