Drainagediversion Hypothesis


DREAM THEORY. A dream may be defined as a more or less coherent imagery sequence that ordinarily occurs during sleep or, simply, as "imagery during sleep." Before 19th and 20th century scientific investigations took place, a popular dream theory was that they were divine messages with prophetic intent where the messages were coded, and the decoding task was performed by persons with a "gift" for dream interpretation (such as tribal leaders, chiefs, or witch doctors in uncivilized/primitive societies, or by psychoanalysts in modern/civilized societies). C. Hall divides the history of the scientific study and theories of dreams and dreaming into three periods: 1861-1900; 1900-1953; and 1953-present. In 1861, a French scientist, Alfred Maury, de scribed the effects of external stimuli on his dreams (e.g., his dreaming of a guillotine sequence was interrupted by the headboard of his bed falling on his neck). Henri Bergson asserted that explanations of dreaming and dreams transcended a mere accounting of correlations between external and internal stimuli and anticipated the later interest in the influence of the unconscious on dreams. In 1900, Sigmund Freud initiated a period dominated by the clinical investigations of dreams where the functions of dreams were to help uncover the origins of patients' symptoms and to understand one's unconscious ("wish fulfillment") mental processes. According to Freud, a dream has different components: the manifest content - the dream as it is consciously recalled, and the latent content - the "true" meaning of the dream, which is unconscious. In Freud's approach, the dream as recalled represents a compromise between the fulfillment of a repressed wish and the desire to remain asleep; dreams were considered as guardians of sleep and protected the sleeper from being disturbed by unconscious conflicts and annoying external stimuli (cf., the egoistic theory of dreams, a basic psychoanalytic speculation which states that dreams are essentially egoistic in nature where any major "player" in a dream is likely to be the dreamer). Carl Jung distinguished "little dreams" (which are a continuation during sleep of one's waking preoccupations) from "big dreams' (which carry messages from the deepest layer of the unconscious, called the collective unconscious and, theoretically, are the same in every individual in every culture. The contents of the collective unconscious are defined as mental structures ("archetypes") inherited from previous generations. Jung developed the method of amplification, or "guided questioning," to identify the expression of an archetype in a "big dream." The symbols one uses in dreaming are not disguises, according to Jung, but are attempts of the archetypes to express themselves. Jung suggested that symbols reveal, rather than conceal, meaning - in contrast to Freud's viewpoint. On the other hand, both Jung and Freud agree that dreams are compensatory (cf., M. Boss, who argues that dreams are neither symbolic nor compensatory, but that they should merely be taken at "face value"). For Jung, dreams compensate for undeveloped archetypes, and for Freud dreams compensate for unfulfilled wishes. Other theoretical approaches to the functions of dreams are provided by B. Wolman who notes the wide variety and range of viewpoints: A. Adler suggests that dreams serve a problem-solving function offering cryptic solutions to difficulties the dreamer faces; Adler's idea is that the dream is always interpreted as a reflection of the dreamer's attitudes toward the future, especially one's drive toward superiority, and that they are "prodromic" (they foretell the future) where the dream is a kind of rehearsal for action; H. S. Sullivan asserts that dreams satisfy in symbolic ways the needs that may not be discharged in wakeful states and, thus, reduce tension; W. Dement and C. Fisher suggest that dreams are safety vales reducing the danger of emotional disturbance where deprivation of dreaming may produce psychosis; R. Hernandez-Peon considers dreams to be related to disinhibition of cortical and lim-bic neurons associated with the motivational and muscular systems where the neurons associated with memory functions determine the manifest dream content, and the limbic neurons determine the latent dream content; and M. Jouvet and J. Jouvet identify the causal-positive area in the thromboencephalic part of the brain as the locus and center of dreaming. An objective, laboratory-based analysis of dreaming is provided by E. Aserinsky and N. Kleitman who correlate the rapid, conjugate eye movements (REMs) that sleepers make periodically throughout the night with the experience of dreaming; they discovered that participants recall few dreams during non-REM (NREM) sleep and a great many dreams during REM periods of sleep. Other physiological characteristics of REM periods include high frequency/low amplitude brain waves during REM (but low frequency/higher amplitude during NREM), irregularities of breathing, blood pressure and heart-rate changes, and penile erections. The early scanning hypothesis of E. Aserinsky and N. Kleitman (which states that the dreamer's eye movements are correlated with the specific events the dreamer is "watching" in a dream) was not corroborated by later experiments. Later stud ies discovered, also, that dreams are recalled on awakening from every sleep stage, not just from REM awakenings. Thus, it appears that all sleep is "dreaming sleep." Another theoretical approach toward the study of dreams is the content analysis procedure of C. Hall, where different categories describe various elements in dream reports, such as human characters (distinguished by age, gender, family member, friends, strangers), animals, interactions among characters, objects, and emotions (cf., salience hypothesis - holds that emotionally-arousing dreams are more easily remembered than are non-arousing dreams). Generalizations from such content analyses indicate that women and men differ in their dreams: men dream more about male characters, strangers, physical aggression, sexuality, physical activities, tools/weapons, and outdoor settings than do women, whereas women dream more about female characters, familiar or known characters, verbal activities, clothes, and indoor settings than do men. Hall's data indicate that what an adult dreams about from one year to the next changes very little, and that there is considerable congruence or continuity between what one dreams about and one's preoccupations in waking life. The various theoretical approaches to dreaming have been challenged recently by a controversial, biologically-based approach called the activation-synthesis theory, which states that all dreams begin with random electrical discharges from deep within the brain. The signals emerge from the brain stem and go on to stimulate higher areas of the cortex. According to the activation-synthesis theory, the brain deals with this strange event by attempting to make sense out of all the input it receives, seeking to give order to chaos, and to "synthesize" the separate bursts of electrical stimulation into a coherent story by "creating" a dream (cf., mental housecleaning hypothesis - states that dreams clean the mind of what is redundant, bizarre, or useless and are, therefore, phenomena dedicated to the optimal and efficient functioning of the mind). Proponents of the activation-synthesis theory argue that REM sleep furnishes the brain with an internal source of activation (when external stimulation is minimal) to promote the growth and development of the brain. The content of a dream results from such random stimulation, not unconscious wishes. In this view, the "meaning" of a dream comes as a "brainstorm afterthought" where meaningless activations, once synthesized, give a feeling of familiarity, coherence, and meaningfulness. The activation-synthesis theory helps to explain some of the "mysteries" of sleep where the essence of dreams may actually be a brain chemical (i.e., acetylcholine) that is turned "on" by one set of neurons in the brain stem during REM, and those neurons are "on" only when the others, which trigger the release of serotonin and norepinephrine, are "off." These two brain chemicals are necessary to store memories; people forget about 95 percent of their dreams because they are stored only temporarily in short-term memory, and they cannot be transferred to more permanent memory because serotonin and norepinephrine are shut off during the dream. This approach has opened the door to the molecular biology of sleep and closed it on the psychoanalytic theory of dreams. In another current theory, J. Antro-bus' neurocognitive theory, dreams are regarded as variations of normal perceptual, cognitive, and motor activities. Under a high level of cortical arousal, produced by stimulation of the cortex by the reticular formation, together with a blocking of sensory input and motor input, various modules in the cortex interact with one another to produce the images and themes present in dreams, together with emotional responses to the dream content. It appears that humans are so competent at making sense out of chaos in waking life, they even do it in their sleep (cf., the Poetzl phenomenon/effect - following single tachisto-scopic exposures of scenes, of about 1/100th second, the person's dreams the next night reflect with the greatest clarity those portions of the scene that the individual fails to report immediately after exposure or does not remember seeing). By understanding the mechanisms of dreaming, knowledge of the waking aspects of imagery and conscious thought processes, theoretically, may be enhanced. See also AROUSAL THEORY; FREUD'S THEORY OF PERSONALITY; IMAGERY AND MENTAL IMAGERY, THEORIES OF; JUNG'S THEORY OF PERSONALITY; POETZL/POTZL EFFECT;



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