Nature Of Dreams...


White studying Psychology, Dreams was definitely one of my favourite topics. Because I loved it so much it was one of the easiest to learn for the exam (and it happened to come up as well), in all honestly I didn't have to reread the stuff because I remembered everything from when I had been explaining it to my Mum several months before.
Unfortunately I can't tell you the meaning of your dreams, but I'm going to attempt to explain some of the theories that exist about why we dream.

First of all, some facts about dreams:
We forget 95% of our dreams.
About 80% of our dreams contain negative content
Men are 3 times more likely to have sexual dreams than women.

One of the most famous theories about why we dream is Freud's wish-fulfillment theory. He believed that dreams are a "psychic safety vault". It is how we experience our repressed urges and impulses that are unsuitable for ordinary social interactions and situations. He also believed that dreams protect the subconscious by creating imagery that stops disturbing thoughts from the consciousness. Freud's theory includes the idea of Dreamwork, these are the parts that make up our dream, for example the manifest content; this is what we experience as the dream, so what we remember and tell our friends about the next day, and latent content; this is the true underlying meaning of the dream, so maybe you are dreaming you are falling, but what it may mean is that you are scared of failing (FYI I just made that up, I have no idea if it's true, I wanted to use a dream about a sausage but Freud would say that means something sexual, so maybe not).

(As part of my exam essay I had to include supporting and contradicting evidence for the theories, however I'm just gonna right about the interesting stuff).

One of the biggest contradictions for Freud's theory was that fact that humans have nightmares. This declines the theory because if our subconscious is trying to project us, we wouldn't experience these negative emotions while we sleep. Freud's reply to this was that nightmares are a way of warning us. I suppose it has a catharsis effect really, so if we kill someone in our dreams, we won't have to do it in real life, but I guess it depends on your nightmares, I for instance had a dream last night that my family were off roading in France and some wolves started to chase us so I had to kill them with my bare hands (likely, I know).

The other theory is the Activation-Synthesis Hypothesis. This theory states that dreams are inherently random and meaningless. According to this theory dreams are created by the random firing of neurons in our brain while we sleep, it suggests that to dream about falling the neurons have activated the area of our brain that handles balance. It has been found that when acetylcholine (a neurotransmitter needed for dreaming)  was injecting into participants that both REM sleep and dreaming increased.

However there are 2 very important type of dreams that contradicts this theory, and these are lucid dreams and recurring dreams. Lucid dreams are dreams that the individual can control. There was a study of a man who could lucidly dream and every time we would enter one of these dreams he would move his eyes from left to right 8 times while asleep to alert the experimenters to his dream. Another study included a woman who could lucidly dream about the sexual situation she desired, I'll just say the way the experimenters knew was probably obvious. Recurring dreams are dreams that occur more than once, this contradicts the ASH theory because neurons cannot be firing truly randomly if the same dream is created more than once. I used to have a recurring dream when I was little that my Auntie's two dogs turned into a massive blue dog and tried to eat me while I tried to go down the stairs, luckily that's stopped.

Therefore I believe that there will be a link between neurotransmitters and our dreams, but more so that there are meanings behind them as Freud suggested (although his theories are incredibly unscientific and subjective, but who cares).

I hope everyone found this interesting!

So remember, each day, live a little, laugh a little and love a little.   

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2 Lovely messages

  1. This is all so fascinating! i am really interested in dreams and the psychology of the dreamers' mind state! yet another really fab blog Beth! xxx

    1. I'm so glad you think so! You can have my old booklet on it, if you like =P and thank you! =D


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