The Role of Dreams in the Human Psyche

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The Role of Dreams in the Human Psyche.

Plan: 1) The history of dream perception in indigenous cultures.

2) The modern theories of sleep and dream interpretation.

3) Jung's archetypes. The Meaning of Sleep and Dreams identified by Freud, Jung, and other theorists.

We all dream. Every night - as we dim the light of consciousness - we enter the realm of the dream. In this dream state our imagination runs free with little or no interference from our conscious mind. In the morning, when we awaken and return to consciousness, we may bring with us a recollection of the wanderings of our imagination - we remember the dream.  To dream is natural, it is a universal experience. All people of all cultures enter into this dream state when they sleep. As sleep research has shown even animals dream. How we regard the dream, however, varies from culture to culture and from person to person.

          Originally the dream was held to be the voice of God. Most indigenous cultures hold that the dream is sent by the Great Spirit and serves to offer advice and instruction. This idea of the divinity of the dream can also to be found in ancient Egyptian and Greek society.  In the Old Testament Jacob interprets a dream for the Egyptian pharaoh. Jacob explains that God has spoken to the pharaoh and warned of seven years of prosperity to be followed by seven years of famine.

           In Egypt and Greece the dream was considered as a message from the gods. “The Egyptian people believed that the gods revealed themselves in dreams, but the soul was not transported to another place or time.  The Egyptians believed that dreams served as warnings, advice, and prophecy” (Agee, 2010) (Diane Agee, 1).Both Egyptian and Greek society there existed temples where one would go to dream and receive healing or instruction from the gods. Homer's Iliad (8th century BC) tells the story of Agamemnon who receives instruction from Zeus through a dream. “Another element of Homeric dream interpretation, similar to that of the Egyptians is that not all dreams are prophetic, so people had to attempt to distinguish between “true” dreams and “false” dreams.  For example, in the Iliad Zeus sent a misleading dream to King Agamemnon, which undermined his authority“(Agee).In this practice the sleepers actively attempted contact with divine beings. This practice reflects the Homeric view of dreams; according to this view “the dream was not conceived as internal experience, a state of mind, or a message from the irrational unconscious to the conscious ego.  Rather, it was an objectified messenger, a supernatural agent sent by a deity” (Parman pg. 18)“(Agee).    

Hippocrates, the father of modern medicine, used dreams as a diagnostic aid. In the near East the dream was considered to be a source of divine inspiration. Mohammed, the founding prophet of the Islamic culture, is said to have received much of what is written in the Koran through his dreams.

  In Christian tradition the dream was thought of as the word of God, or the work of the devil. The biblical legacy pertaining to dreams is very important. There are descriptions of forty-three dreams in the Old Testament, while in the New Testament there are nine (including apparitions and visions) (Sokolovskii, p.27). St. John Chrysostom preached that God revealed himself through dreams (The life of St. John Chrysostom, para.5,, p.229 ), whilst other church fathers, such as Martin Luther, viewed the dream as the work, not of God, but the Devil. According to Luther it was the church, and only the church, which was the conduit of God's word. For Luther revelations made to people in dreams could only be diabolic (The Legacy of Martin Luther).

In the Christian epoch the church and its scriptures supplanted the importance of the dream. The dominance of Christianity...
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