Biography

Deirdre Barrett, PhD is an author and psychologist and teaches at Harvard Medical School. She is known for her research on dreams, hypnosis, and imagery and has written on evolutionary psychology.

Barrett is a Past President of The International Association for the Study of Dreams and of the American Psychological Association’s Div. 30, The Society for Psychological Hypnosis. She has written four books for the general public: The Pregnant Man and Other Tales From a Hypnotherapist’s Couch (1998), The Committee of Sleep (2001), Waistland (2007), and Supernormal Stimuli (2010). She is the editor of four academic books: Trauma and Dreams (1996), The New Science of Dreaming (2007), Hypnosis and Hypnotherapy (2010), and The Encyclopedia of Sleep and Dreams (2012). She is Editor in Chief of the journal Dreaming: The Journal of the Association for the Study of Dreams and a Consulting Editor for Imagination, Cognition, and Personality and The International Journal for Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis.

Most recently Barrett has written on evolutionary psychology, especially the concept of supernormal stimuli—the idea that technology can create an artificial object which pulls an instinct more strongly than that for which it evolved. The phrase "supernormal stimuli" was coined by the Dutch scientist Niko Tinbergen in the 1930s. Barrett's book Waistland (2007) explores the weight and fitness crisis in terms of supernormal stimuli for food and rest. Her latest book, Supernormal Stimuli: How Primal Urges Overran Their Evolutionary Purpose (2010) examines the impact of supernormal stimuli on the diversion of impulses for nurturing, sexuality, romance, territoriality, war, and the entertainment industry’s hijacking of our social instincts.