Dream Interpretation: What Do Dreams Mean?
Carl Jung is an analytical psychologist who believes that dreams are the unconscious representation of ideas, thoughts, and feelings we have either suppressed or are not aware of.
Sigmund Freud, the founder of psychoanalysis, believes they are fulfillment's of repressed wishes.
Neuroscientist J. Allan Hobson believes dreams are simply images of brain activity while we are unconscious and are strung together to form a dream story.
Which one of them however, is right?
Dreams occur in the REM sleep stage. This stands for rapid eye movement, and it's where the unconscious person begins to dream and their eyes move rapidly underneath their eyelids. Humans can go through as many as four or five stages of REM sleep a night.
According to Sigmund Freud, sexual urges and aggressive instincts are the forces that control human behavior. When these sexual urges and aggressive behavior become repressed, they manifest themselves in dreams.
Freud believed that dreams are composed of two parts: The manifest content and the latent content. The manifest content are the images themselves. The latent content is the hidden psychological meaning underlying the images and the dream itself.
This means that Freud believes dreams are an example of ones suppressed urges and feelings and can be seen as an important source of information about a persons psychological behavior.
Carl Jung believes it is much more than what Freud believes. Jung believes that although sexual urges may play a role in dream formation and interpretation, so can everything else. Fears, ideas, beliefs, and unknown feelings are hidden in the unconscious and dreams allow them to be manifested.
Allan Hobson is the developer of the activation-synthesis model of dreaming. He believes that dreams are the physiological by-products of unconscious brain activity. He feels that the since the brain never stops truly working or thinking when you fall asleep, the unconscious activity of your brain produces mental images that are strung together and form dreams.
All of these psychologist's have differing opinions, yet it seems slightly accurate that dreams are manifestations of brain activity either repressed from our conscious life or unknown to us and shown in the unconscious.
Yet this does not explain nightmares?
We do not wish for terrible things to happen, so how do these explanations justify the reality of nightmares or even night terrors?
The basic concept of a nightmare is a frightening or unpleasant anxiety dream that also occurs in REM sleep. They are dreams that exaggerate fearful or apprehensive emotions. However, a nightmare is not necessarily brought on by suppressed urges, but more on the side of Jungian psychology of feelings we are unaware of. If you fear something in the day, you could dream about it, however if you are unaware of exactly how afraid you truly are of something, than when you experience that emotion within a dream, if the emotion rapidly intensifies, it will turn into a nightmare and most likely jolt you awake in an instant, resulting in you remembering exactly what happened in the dream. Nightmares don't have to be solely fear based however. Feelings of sadness or depression can be exaggerated and felt to the point of a nightmare as well, as the exaggerated emotion is intensified to the point of extreme, unrealistic emotion.
Dream Themes and Bizarre Dreams
Now the question you are probably thinking after reading all of that, would be "what about those bizarre dreams that don't mean anything?". Those dreams could possibly just be random brain patterns like that suggested by Dr. Allan Hobson. Your brain never stops functioning, so it is possible that those random, weird dreams are in fact just random bursts of nerve cells in the brain stem. And contrary to popular belief these dreams have been concluded to be quite rare in 2005 by G. William Domhoff, Professor of Pyschology and Sociology at University of California, Cowell College in Santa Cruz.
However, those bizarre dreams just might reflect something after all, even if you don't realize it.
Have you ever had a dream where you're falling? And you can actually feel yourself falling and it's downright terrifying? You probably don't know what brings this on, and you more than likely wake up just before you hit the ground? Studies actually show that those dreams are a common occurrence among many people because it reflects a feeling of insecurity or instability that the dreamer is feeling while conscious. This explains why so many people have dreams of that nature, because everyone has felt the feeling of anxiety or instability at some point in their lives. So next time you have a falling dream, think about things that have happened recently in your life that are upsetting, stressful, or cause you anxiety, and that might just be the cause.
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