Show Summary Details

Page of

PRINTED FROM OXFORD HANDBOOKS ONLINE ( © Oxford University Press, 2018. All Rights Reserved. Under the terms of the licence agreement, an individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a title in Oxford Handbooks Online for personal use (for details see Privacy Policy and Legal Notice).

date: 21 November 2019

Abstract and Keywords

Spontaneous thought has recently been defined as a state of reduced constraints on the mind, and it encompasses a range of experiences such as mind-wandering, day and night dreaming, creative idea generation, and others. While its day-to-day benefits have been explored for some time, its clinical implications have been understudied, and for the most part have been limited to potential detrimental effects on mood. We propose that spontaneous thought has a wider variety of clinical effects, as well as a number of potential therapeutic benefits—affording the opportunity to address suppressed or repressed material, facilitating therapeutic insights, and promoting general relaxation. Its unconstrained mode may not be without clinical risks, however. Within literature discussing meditation, sleep, relaxation, and sensory deprivation—activities that promote unconstrained attention—evidence suggests that some individuals may become destabilized, or face a worsening of symptoms in some circumstances. More research needs to be done to clarify the mediating factors that could result in these divergent outcomes.

Keywords: spontaneous thought, unconstrained attention, clinical risks, therapeutic benefits, meditation, sleep, sensory deprivation, relaxation

Access to the complete content on Oxford Handbooks Online requires a subscription or purchase. Public users are able to search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter without a subscription.

Please subscribe or login to access full text content.

If you have purchased a print title that contains an access token, please see the token for information about how to register your code.

For questions on access or troubleshooting, please check our FAQs, and if you can''t find the answer there, please contact us.