Comparing and Contrasting Psychological Theories of Dreaming

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Everyone dreams at night, but why do we dream? There are many theories and

interpretation of why are we dreaming. We usually dream at our REM sleep which is

the period of Rapid Eye Movement. But we do dream at NREM sleep as well, Non

Rapid Eye Movement. Our brain will still be functioning while we were asleep. The

common psychological theories of dream are from Sigmund Freud¡¦s ¡§Wish

Fulfillment¡¨ and Allan Hobson and Robert McCarley¡¦s ¡§Activation-synthesis¡¨.

Sigmund Freud¡¦s dream theory is mainly stating that we dream because we need to

accomplish our wish by dreaming. Allan Hobson and Robert McCarley¡¦s dream

theory is saying that we dream because dreaming is random activities that will occur

while we are sleeping. They both have their own interpretation, but after my research

I can say that Sigmund Freud¡¦s ¡§Wish Fulfillment¡¨ is valid and reliable.

Sigmund Freud was the father of psychoanalysis, a major school of psychology.

His theories of sexuality are being the center of psychopathology and the major drive

of all individual developments. His dream interpretation has made him the most

controversial yet influential in the twentieth century. Freud believed that we dream

because there are some wishes hidden in our unconscious mind which need to be

fulfilled. Dreams are symbolic and contain information about our unconscious mind.

We can not achieve our desires in the real world so we need to fulfill it through

Why do we dream? 3

dreaming. Our stress from our daily life can be released while dreaming. During the

night while we were asleep, our mind protects us by manufacturing dreams. Dreams

can prevent us from being disturbed by external stimuli like noise, temperature,

light...etc and even internal stimuli like emotions, fears, desires, previous day's

activity¡Ketc. When we become tired of receiving and responding to stimuli from the

environment around us we try to fall asleep and dream to avoid it. For example, Freud

thoughts that without dream we might get waken up if we were feeling thirsty. A

dream about drinking water can avoid waking us up and satisfy our desire of drinking.

It can let us continue in our sleeping. Freud explained dreams which make no sense as

necessary distortions of dreams that would otherwise seem unacceptable. Sigmund

Freud called his interpretation of dreams the ¡§Royal road¡¨ to the discovery of the

unconscious, it is the ¡§King's highway' along which everyone can travel to discover

the truth of unconscious processes for themselves.¡¨ (Freud 1894) Freud is popular for

his best known idea of Free association and dream analysis. It is a technique to help

patients express their hidden wishes and repressed experiences. ¡§Before Freud's

dream interpretation, dreams were generally thought to be either meaningless, or to

predict the future.¡¨ said Dr. Edward Nersessian, a psychoanalyst in New York City.

Freud maintained that the purpose of dreaming was to allow people to sleep, despite Why do we dream? 4

thoughts or physical discomfort that would otherwise wake them.

In1977, Allan Hobson and Robert McCarley, from Harvard University presented

a model of the dream process that seriously challenged Freud's theory. Their theory is

called ¡§Activation-synthesis¡¨. ¡§Activation-synthesis¡¨ stated that our minds make

many different meaningless random stories with things that occur in our daily life in

our REM sleep, dreams are a random event caused by firing of neurons in the brain.

Hobson and McCarley suggested that the occurrence of dreaming is determined by a

¡§dream state generator¡¨ located in the brain stem. These brain stem systems

periodically trigger the dream state with such predictable regularity. Dreams are

assumed to represent only a synthesis of random neurological activity.

There are lots of fallacies in...
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