Why Do We Dream? Top Theories
Freudian Theory and Dream InterpretationPublished on Thursday, November 24th, 2011 at 7:11 pm and is filed under Freud Related Articles
Dreams have fascinated philosophers for thousand years, but recently the dream became subject for empirical research and for focused scientific studies. It’s likely to be aroused often trying to solve the mystery of dream or perhaps we wonder why we dream…
Let’s start by answering a basic question – What is a dream? Dream includes the amount of images, thoughts and emotions experienced during sleep. Dreams can be extremely intense or very vague; full of positive emotions or frightening representations; focused or easy to understand; clear or unclear.
Why do we dream? What is the purpose of dreams?
While many theories have been advanced, none has reached a consensus. Since most of us spend time dreaming, the researchers still don’t understand the purpose of these dreams. It is important to be aware that science has not yet discerned the exact purpose and functions of sleeping.
Some researchers suggest that dreams don’t serve specific purposes, while others believe that dreams are essential for mental, emotional and physical well – being. Ernest Hoffman, director of the Center for Sleep Disorders Newton Wellesley Hospital in Boston, suggests that “…a possible (not proved) function of dreams would be to weave a new material for their new central system to reduce both emotional stress and to help us to cooperate better with future trauma or stressful events”.
Next steps we will learn more about some of the most popular theories about dreams.
Psycho – analytical theories about dreams
According to psycho-analytical perspective, the Freud’s dream theory suggests that dreams are a representation of desires, thought and motivations of the subconscious. According to psycho-analytical vision of Freud’s personality, people are ruled by aggressive and sexual instincts, which are suppressed by our consciousness. In Freud’s conception, forbidden desires lose control on conscious during awaken state and take control during dream thus seeking to enter consciousness.
In his famous book “The Interpretation of Dreams”, Freud wrote that dreams are “… disguised fulfillments of repressed desires”. He describes also 2 different components of dreams: manifest and latent content. Manifest content is what the subject remembers upon awakening. There is a latent content that causes the dream. The manifest content is the result of labor, a process that engages the emotions and unconscious impulses.
Freud distinguishes three types of dreams that are based on differentiation depending on the degree of rationality and the reliability of the content. In the first category lay simple or clear dreams which are specific for children and inspired by physiological needs. In the second category are located reasonable dreams that have some logical coherence, in the third category are located obscure dreams, incoherent and absurd, which psychoanalysts are interested in.
Freud’s theory has contributed to increase popularity of dream interpretation, which remains popular today. However, research has failed to demonstrate that the manifest content hide real psychological significance of a dream.
Many other theories have been developed in order to make clear the appearance and significance of dreams. Here are some:
- a theory suggests that dreams are the result of our brain trying to interpret external stimulus during sleep. For example: sounds from radio can be incorporated into the content of a dream.
- Another theory uses a computerized metaphor to analyze dreams. According to it, dreams serves to “clean” clutter of our minds, like a cleaning operation of a computer, up-dating mind and set it ready for the next day.
- Another model proposes that dreams function as a form of psychotherapy. In this theory, the dreamer is able to make connections between different thoughts and emotions in a safe environment.
- A modern theory of dreams combines elements of previous theories. Extensive connections between brain activation create thoughts and ideas, which are guided by the emotions of our dream.