Drew Housman

Working (6-15 years of experience)
198Joined Jan 2022
https://drewhousman.com/

Bio

I started out as a professional basketball player, then became a writer, and for the last 8 years I've done sales for tech startups. 

I would like to find a way to help an EA-aligned org one day.

I am especially interested in animal welfare, consciousness research, and reducing suffering. 
 

How I can help others

Research, editing, being a person to chat with about whatever, being a person that can meetup in Brooklyn, NY. 

Comments
13

Reducing nightmares as a cause area

The likelihood of having a strong rebound effect when stopping THC use seems really bad, thanks for pointing it out.  There's definitely a lot to explore in this area. 

Reducing nightmares as a cause area

Can you explain more about what you mean when you say people are wrong about their subjective experience? To me, what you feel in your internal world simulation is what matters, whether or not time is objectively speeding up or down. 

And when referring to people, do you only mean humans? Seems like animals can have totally different subjective experiences of time that we should take into consideration when thinking about harms being done to them. 

I am basing that on an article linked to in the above Applied Divinity Studies blog post called The Subjective Experience of Time: Welfare Implications, where the author states: 

"convergent evidence from their neurology, behavior, and the temporal resolution of their senses indicates songbirds and honeybees experience 2-10 times as many subjective moments per objective unit of time as humans."

 

Reducing nightmares as a cause area

I liked that post a lot, thanks for sharing. I wholeheartedly agree with your first footnote — "The moral importance of time-dilation turns out to be an absolutely fascinating question"

It's something I want to learn more about. 

Reducing nightmares as a cause area

Ha, that's great, points for a novel earning to give strategy. Some of the stuff that happens to Dream Drew would not be out of place in  a Rob Zombie film or the Saw franchise, so I see where you're coming from. 

When watching shows or movies now I usually look away from anything even a little gory out of fear that the images will find a way into my dreams.

Reducing nightmares as a cause area

Thanks for sharing. I'm so glad you were able to find relief. I'll have to take a closer look at EMDR. 

I started reading The Body Keeps the Score a couple years ago but set it aside because the writing style grated on me. Maybe I should give it another go. 

Reducing nightmares as a cause area

Thanks, yeah, I think starting with the simples possible thing is usually a good idea. 

Unfortunately, I could not build the app myself nor could I supervise a bright high schooler building it. But I am brimming with enthusiasm and would love to help out in other ways if I could! 

I just got a forum DM from an EA-aligned mental health charity saying they might be able to recruit volunteers to build some digital tools to help in this space. I look forward to having a call with them and seeing how I can contribute. 

I've worked in tech basically my whole career but it's always been on the growth/sales/marketing side of things. 

Oh and thanks for calling out my mistake on imagery reversal / imagery rehearsal, that is now fixed that in the post. 




 

Reducing nightmares as a cause area

I liked that a lot, thanks for the share. This reminds me that I wanted to note that I also have incredibly positive dreams as well. I have higher dream highs, I am pretty sure, than most of my friends. This is especially true if I am able to lucid dream. 

There are so many interesting things to note in that post and in Gwern's comment. 

There's one part of Gwern's post I'd like to pull over here because I think it adds to the conversation around how bad nightmares are (or aren't.)

 I agree with Harri's observation that some dreams can feel like they are lasting an incredibly long time. And if it's a bad dream that's obviously really bad. 

Gwern brushes that concern aside by saying:

 "You can't remember or produce hours of experience corresponding to [the dream], and when you try to intervene by waking people up in lucid dreams or doing tasks, they seem to still be processing time at a normal 1:1 rate."

It doesn't seem relevant to me that the awake person is processing time normally. I care about the subjective experience of whatever person is suffering. And if someone has an awful experience that feels like it lasts hours or even days, I think that's worse than a subjectively shorter bad experience. This kind of stuff happens with psychedelics, too. 

Reducing nightmares as a cause area

I really enjoyed the Schwitzgebel post, thanks. When he says "We don't really care that much about our hedonic states in sleep" it reminded me of the TV show Severance. 

In the show (minor spoilers) a group of people get a procedure so that their working self has no memory of their self when they are not at work, and vice versa. The selves that work are treated almost like slaves by the selves don't work, even though it's technically the same person. 

It's weird to imagine that there is one version of me that routinely goes through torturous experiences. Meanwhile, the awake version of me is mostly just like, "Meh, whatever, dream Drew has been bitten by poisonous snakes before, one more time won't hurt him." 

Reducing nightmares as a cause area

First off, thanks! 

I agree that not all nightmares are equally intense. But I bet it's more than your suggested 0.001% of people that occasionally have really awful ones. 

I just did a quick Reddit search and found several long threads with hundreds of comments where people describe awful nightmares they've had. Examples: 

"Had one where my skin was falling off and I kept trying to keep it on by sewing it."

"I dreamed that I was a young Harry Potter and found out that Voldemort was trying to kill me every night by cooking me (as if the bed were a stovetop)"

"I dreamt that I fell off a cliff and slamed onto the ground. That was scary, but usually falling/dying wakes me up. This time I kept dreaming as a ghost after I had died."

What about the existing medical system? In a developed country are there treatments/interventions that a person can get? If I go to a doctor and describe terrible nightmares, will I be referred to a sleep specialist who will give me what I need to solve the problem?

As discussed in other comments and in the ACT post, there does seem to be some promising pharmaceutical treatments, but they have not-so-great side effects. 

I forgot to mention that I know a lot of people who regularly consume THC/cannabis who say that they no longer even dream, and so they don't have nightmares either. Maybe that's something to explore further for people who are really struggling with nightmares. 

It seems similar to saying that "physical health" is important. That statement is true, but there is a vast variety in the types of physical health ailments that people suffer from. Preventing different specific issues would need different interventions, which would have different cost-benefit ratios.

I don't think I agree, assuming I understand your argument. If we're taking the worst nightmares, I see seeking treatment to be more akin to going to a doctor and saying, "I have really bad low back pain." The medical systems isn't great at addressing nightmares or low back pain, but both are very common and make up their own category of thing. 
 

(also sorry for the bolded quoting, every time I try to quote it puts all text in a quote and I can't figure out a better solution right now)

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