I am looking for a noun that describes the moment one remembers a dream in its entirety while lucid. Not déjà vu, but that moment when the memories come flooding in, and one understands that one is remembering a dream.

  • this would be like anagnorisis, but in the lucid world as referring to the realization of the loss of self. – Luke Foster Jan 7 '18 at 20:01
  • A madeleine moment. – Hot Licks Jan 7 '18 at 20:06
  • 2
    Niels Bohr had an epiphany in his dream about the atom structure. – Boondoggle Jan 7 '18 at 20:49
  • @HotLicks I always thought "a madeleine moment" referred to childhood memories. – Centaurus Jan 7 '18 at 20:54
  • You could coin somnamnesis (from Latin somnium dream) or oneiromnesis (from Greek óneiro dream) if you follow the word anamnesis. – 0.. Jan 7 '18 at 21:43

I suggest not a noun, but a topos: a Proustian moment or madeleine moment, in reference to Proust's famous experience when he dipped a madeleine into a cup of tea.

In principle that should be in reference to a real experience. We could argue, however, that even though the content of the dream was not real, the experience of the dream was real.


My favorite way to describe the moment one remembers a dream in its entirety while lucid is anamnesis, which means the calling back of a memory once completely forgotten.

My Webster's dictionary (c.1959) says that it's from the Greek, anamnesis, meaning a calling to mind (again) or recalling of a forgotten memory; with synonyms being a recollection, or a remembering. It also provides the two most commonly understood definitions:

  1. (noun) a remembering, especially of a supposed life before this life. [Referring to Platonic Philosophy].

  2. (noun) in medicine, the history of a particular case of disease. [Referring to a patient's testimony given to the consulting physician].

Beyond the standard dictionary definitions, art scholars also use the word when speaking of artistic anamnesis, which I gather is the mental process by which great painters / artists interpret their unique visions / ideas onto the canvas or other media:

Lyotard can thus write: "the language of the dream seems to be nothing more nor less than the language of art."

Anamnesis is to be understood as one of the operators that allow Lyotard to link psychoanalysis and art.

There is also a type of anamnesis associated with the ritual religious experience of the Eucharist, which I nearly forgot to mention.

However, it is interesting that psychologists also use the exact same word when discussing the recollection of both repressed memories and forgotten dreams. One study found that in the case of dreams memories are not emotionally repressed, as with traumatic amnesia. Instead, the theory is that some kind of chemical brain process physiologically suppresses dreams, because of their subconscious nature, from entering conscious thought -- for some mysterious reason (they seem to suggest that it may be to prevent problems distinguishing between reality and fantasy or hallucinations).

And that's why dreams are so difficult to recall.

Finally, the new theory does not deny meaning to dreams, but it does suggest 1) a more direct route to their acquisition than anamnesis via free association, since dream origins are in basic physiological processes and not in disguised wishes...

  • I often experience anamnesis; yet every time it happens, it takes me by surprise.

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