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To Jung, a major function of dreams was compensatory, a mode by which the unconscious expresses in symbolic form a homeostatic reaction to the onesided position of the conscious mind.

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The dream is seen as a self-representation of the psyche, emerging as part of the continual regulation of ones psychological processes. Despite their differing positions on many critical issues, Freud, Adler, and Jung all saw the function of the dream as facilitating some type of resolution or equilibrium within the psyche. Whereas Freud was more likely to emphasize conflict and Adler and Jung to focus on balance, all three found dreams clinically useful.

Later clinicians continued to acknowledge the unconscious determinants of the dream, but generally emphasized ways in which the dream directly mirrored the dreamers conscious concerns and problems. Most contemporary dream practitioners differ with Freud, acknowledging the ability of dreamers to avoid undue self-deception and defensiveness when attempting to understand their dreams. The conception of the dream as an authentic presentation of personality dynamics rather than a disguised product of repression is. This notion would have been ridiculed by many early psychoanalysts who took the position that only the therapist could tell a client what his or her dream signified, an extreme position not taken by Freud himself.

Research on dreaming informs the discussion of cultivating emotional balance.

Foulkes and Neisser Sometimes the images in our dreams make little sense if we presume that they only refer to the people or objects they depict. In those instances, they are probably symbols referring to something other than themselves. Freud complicated the issue by asserting that the symbols occurring in dreams often express, in disguised form, wishes the dreamer has repressed. However, this assertion implies a discontinuity in nature. Most current dream practitioners believe that the symbol-making process in dreams exhibits more commonalties than differences with the symbol-making process in other fields of human endeavor, such as the arts.

This continuous, cognitive position is taken by David Foulkes, a psychologist who sees dreams as meaningful and symbolic, but not as predetermined, encoded messages that need to be translated as a linguist would translate a foreign language. The human mind can be treated as an abstract formalized system, a kind of computer that transforms and rearranges symbolic material. Ulric Neisser, another cognitive psychologist, understands dreaming as a type of imagination, a cognitive activity that often anticipates waking information. He groups dreams with other imaginative products including after-images, hallucinations, and motion pictures in which the perceiver is being systematically misinformed by the real environment.

The dreamers visual system simulates an object by providing some of the information that would be available if that object were actually present. Dreams are seen as vivid imagery, closely related to waking imagery. Indeed, Foulkes has found that almost all people awakened after a dream are able to identify some events as having rough parallels in their waking experience.

Dreams typically manifest. Charles Rycroft, a psychoanalyst, notes that if dreams are poetry, they are incomplete poems. It is the nature of dreams to cast their meaning in symbols that are both highly personal, yet, in addition, represent the shared legacy of the dreamers culture. In most cases, however, dream imagery is too dependent on the dreamers personal experiences to be convertible into works of art with wide appeal. Nevertheless, the cognitive approach to dream interpretation sees these efforts, as well as less spectacular examples, as cognitive plans for dealing with memories that are more or less randomly activated during sleep.

Extraordinary Dreams and How to Work With Them S U N Y Series in Dream Studies

Some cognitive approaches to dreaming see the brain as a super-computer that has the capacity to generate dreams; however, this argument does not easily explain the highly creative dream that brings something new into the dreamers worldand often into the world at large. Hobson and McCarley An even more basic type of random activation is central to the work of the neurophysiologists J.

Allan Hobson and Robert W. McCarley, who have hypothesized that the elements in dreams derive from a synthesis of information produced by activation during sleep of the brains motor pattern generators and sensory systems. This internal information is linked and compared with information about the organisms past experiences. They conclude that dreams are not a result of an attempt to disguise, but are a direct expression of this synthetic effort.

Hobson and McCarley have produced laboratory data indicating that during REM sleep, brain stem neurons activate higher brain centers and generate rapid eye movements as well as various sensory-motor and emotional processes. The brain uses its stored information to synthesize dream imagery and construct plots to fit this activated material. The role of emotion is critical in Hobson and McCarleys hypothesis; dream intensity is associated with the dreamers respiratory rates, heart rate, and fluctuations of skin potential.

If dream content were a function of the distinctive pattern of neural events occurring in REM sleep, one would expect it to be rather bizarre in nature. The highly activated cortex must synthesize volleys of neuronal information from many sources in REM sleep; at other times during the night, the cortex is not highly activated and fewer neural stimuli impinge on it.

Hobson tested this hypothesis by taking pairs of sleep reports from 73 subjects; one report was obtained from REM sleep and one was not. A Bizarreness Scale that establishes discontinuity, incongruity, and uncertainty was applied to the dream plot, as well as to the characters, objects, action, dreamers thoughts, and dreamers feelings as reflected in the reports.

Dreams take the stimuli produced by these dream generators and use the images as story material. As a result, any number of psychological functions can be superimposed upon the basic biological process, such as, integrating daytime experiences with those memories already stored away; providing a safety valve so that the dreamer can deal with upsetting issues and events; and addressing ones unsolved problems and coming up with tentative solutions.

A few writers would claim that dreams function only to purge unnecessary brain cell connections produced during wakefulness and that dream content is best forgotten. In a further rebuttal of this position, Hobson states: Since dreaming is universal, it stands as testimony to the universality of the artistic experience. In our dreams, we all become writers, painters, and film makers, combining extraordinary sets of characters, actions, and occasions into strangely coherent experiences.

I thus strongly object to any implication that the artistic experiences of waking or dreaming are fundamentally pathological, defensive, or neurotic. Instead, the brains creative processes produce a meaningful narrative from the randomly evoked images, activities, and memories that occur during REM sleep. As a result, dream practitioners or dreamworkers , can discard the idea that dreams merely relive previous experiences; instead, dreams often are capable of fabricating new experiences.

These emerging ideas, novel feelings, and unusual views of old problems can be. It is this novelty that can be put to use by people who want to study their dreams and learn from them. In confirmation of Maurys trail-blazing work, Hobson and McCarley observed that external stimuli can be incorporated into ones dream content. External fluctuations in light, heat, and sound can influence dreams, even though the laboratory attempts to measure this phenomenon have produced capricious results. Sometimes a dreamer will hear a doorbell ring but awaken to an alarm clock.

An increase in room temperature may shift the setting of a dream to a hot, sandy desert. The fact that dreams can synthesize so many elements from internal stimuli, external stimuli, and ones memory bank demonstrates their remarkably creative potential. Many orthodox psychoanalysts and other psychotherapists insist that there are psychodynamic determinants for every bit of dream content.

However, this dogmatic position was never taken by Freud, who admitted that external sensory and internal somatic stimuli could initiate dreaming. Freud simply assigned a more critical role to psychodynamic factors, concluding that the objective sensory stimulus encroaching upon sleep plays only a modest role as a dream source and that other factors determine the choice of the memory image to be evoked.

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Hobson and McCarley also have given the key role to internal stimulation. Ones memories, no matter how pressing at the time, may not appear in the dream at all if they do not match the internally generated patterns of light and other sensations. And if Hobson and McCarley are even partially correct, one should not expect all elements of the dream to make equal sense; some items may reflect internal or external stimuli that ones memory bank can not easily match.

This is apparent when the content of extraordinary dreams is examined. Antrobus and Solms Objections to Hobson and McCarleys proposal about dream generation have come from several investigators. John Antrobus, for example, has described a feed forward system that is lawful rather than random. Eye movements are directly associated with this system because the dreamer is looking at the action in the dream, and periods of dense REM activity reflect a dreams vividness and clarity. According to Antrobus, higher brain centers and more complex cognitive processes are involved in dream production right from the beginning.


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This is a top down model in contrast with Hobson and McCarleys bottom up model. Antrobus concedes that lower brain centers may trigger REM activity, but holds that their contribution is to determine the rate of REMs rather than specific features of dream imagery. Thus, there is more control by the cortex than Hobson and McCarley credit. Antrobus also disputes the uniqueness of REM dream reports; his data indicate that many differences between REM and nonREM dream reports disappear once the number of words in a report are taken into account.

As a result, some non-REM reports can be extraordinary in nature. The brainstem mechanisms associated with REM sleep can only generate the psychological phenomena of dreaming with the help of a second forebrain mechanism.

For Ordinary People With Extraordinary Dreams

This forebrain activity also is responsible for non-REM dreams. Both REM on and non-REM on mechanisms stand outside dream formation itself, which is mediated by an independent dream on mechanism located in the forebrain. He elicited similar reports from epileptics after their seizures, supporting his hypothesis that dream reports are similar to material obtained from states of consciousness other than REM sleep. His work with brain-injured patients produced further support for his hypothesis; some recalled no dreams in either REM or non-REM sleep, and some reported dreams even though the lower brain site of the alleged dream generator was severely damaged.