Dreams and Themes

My previous post, Nightmares, Anyone?, whetted my appetite for a better, overall understanding of dreams. So, after a quick search of the literature, two contradictory theories caught my attention: those of Freud and of Hobson. Briefly,

  •            Dreams are psychologically meaningful (Sigmund Freud)
  •            Dreams are  physiological (J. Allan Hobson)

The contrast between the two is clear. In fact, it is striking. But, while knowing now what I did not know before, I find myself still tied to the  belief that dreams, including nightmares, have psychological meaning despite newer research claiming that a dream’s main function is to anticipate “conscious awareness.” This controversial theory meets with some resistance. And not only from me.

John Tierney www.nytimes.com/2009/03/science/ describes, for example, a recent series of studies that interviewed more than one thousand students about their dreams. The results? The studies’ researchers, from Carnegie Mellon University and Harvard, found that only a small number of the students questioned believed that, according to J. Allan Hobson, psychiatrist and Harvard sleep researcher, dreaming was a device ” . . . to tune up the brain for the day’s work,” (Gourguechon. November 10, 2009. www.Psychologytoday.com ). The majority believed that dreams are meaningful, or in Freud’s view, that dreams are subconscious wishes to be interpreted.

As proposed by Gourguechon, however, these two dream theories may, in fact, have common ground. She asserts that ” . . . it’s nature AND nurture, brain AND mind, physiology AND psychology.”

That sounds good to me since I believe that my dreams originate from my days and become central to my nights. I’ll also accept the theory of a morning “tune-up”  to wake up, and that, for me, requires help in any form and from any source.


Editor: Edwin C. Goldstein