Analysis Of Different Theories Of Dream Interpretation

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The purpose of this research is to analyze the different theories purported to dream interpretation. Psychological studies, interview videos, and other research findings were examined for this particular paper. Because of the above procedure, dream interpretation can be expressed in various ways in terms of meaning and importance. Sigmund Freud believed that dreams were a mere representation of the unconscious desires that the human mind seem to suppress due to its unacceptability in society. Rosalind Cartwright along with Milton Kramer, Pesant, and Zadra believed, however, that this phenomenon was explained as an illumination of what people go through in their lives when awake. On the contrary, J. Allan Hobson rationalized that dreams are simply hallucination due to the reduced activities of the prefrontal cortex and increased activities of the limbic system. Antti Revonsuo offered another explanation that dreams are warnings of incoming danger and a repetition in dreams would help the person exercise their response to the situation if it happened. Taking on a more Christian view, Barbie Breathitt interpreted dreams as a tool used by God to communicate with humans about their lives. Conclusively, these theories aim to make sense of the strange phenomenon that has put people in awe at its occurrence.

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The purpose of the occurrence of dreams have fascinated over and questioned by scientists of all sorts but only several have assigned particular interpretation to this phenomenon. Some may have stated that dreams have no set purpose while others may argue that it is necessary for the individual’s well-being. Sigmund Freud has identified dreams as a preview of subconscious desires that are suppressed. Rosalind Cartwright along with others acknowledged that thoughts, concerns, and/or worries during the day are displayed at night in dreams. Since the prefrontal cortex reduces its activity during sleep while the limbic system increases, J. Allan Hobson proposed that dreams are just hallucinations. To deal with future/incoming dangerous situations, Antti Revonsuo believed that dreams show these circumstances while also allowing the individual practice their response. Another perspective provided by Barbie Breathitt is that God is able to communicate with humans through their dreams and there are several symbols to identify. Similar to how the concept of dreaming is viewed from various perspectives, dream interpretation is explained in many ways.

Sigmund Freud supposed that dreams were windows to the human subconscious in terms of desires. Freud recognized that dreams reveal “…unconscious desires…thought…motivation”. Subconscious desires are usually suppressed by the human mind because of its nature of sex and/or aggression and how they are viewed as unacceptable in the eyes of society. Because these desires were not acceptable in society, dreams help satisfy these urges unconsciously so that it does not overwhelm the individual. According to Freud, there are two contents in people’s dreams: manifest and latent. Manifest content is the actual literal content; the storyline of the dream while latent is the symbolic meaning behind manifest content. Freud was the very first one to acknowledge that (1) there were symbols in dreams to be discerned and (2) the possibility of interpreting dreams. Dreams help satisfy unconscious desires so that it does not interfere with life with society.

Dreams are also assumed extensions of waking life, as stated by therapists like Rosalind Cartwright. “Calvin Hall was the first dream researcher to argue that some contents of dreams reflected the daily concerns and ideas of the dreamers rather than the hidden libidinal wishes or compensatory emotional strategies”. He iterated that dreams that occurred repeatedly were not exactly strange but displayed the routine of the individual with other people in their waking moments. The continuity theory expresses the possibility of waking life’s problems becoming night’s unconscious show.

Dream doctor Rosalind Cartwright claims that because dreams are a reflection of the problems and mind activity in the waking life, depression can be cured with dreams. “…Cartwright is conducting to see whether she can cure mental depression by teaching people to control the outcome of their own dreams”. Through this experiment, she would analyze whether the waking life could be a lot better if the sleeping life was in a much better state. With 12 subjects being tested for this experiment, nine came back well enough to not be medically identified as depressed. She intended to have a much larger number of subjects and supposed that it may also help those who experienced divorce.

According to Cartwright, if an upsetting dream keeps reoccurring then analyze it and visualize a better ending or a solution. Find out why the dream was upsetting and what can be done about it so that better results are produced. Some may argue that not all dreams have a relation to their waking life but Cartwright offers an explanation. Unless the dream “…keeps you from sleeping or causes you to wake up in a panic…” there really is little to no reason to pay attention to whatever your dream was. A therapist can use dreams as tools to identify their client’s worries and to help them understand and overcome whatever problem they may be facing.

J. Allan Hobson disagreed with theories that deemed dreams as helpful or important. He drafted up his own theory in the 1970s that stated “…that dreaming occurs because brain areas that provide reasoned cognitive control during the waking state are shut down. As a result, the brain is stimulated by different chemicals and neural influences that result in hallucinations, delusions, high emotions, and bizarre thought patterns we call dreams. ” Supporting his theory, there were reports of reduced activities in the prefrontal cortex and increased in limbic system activity.

The prefrontal cortex is responsible for “…planning complex cognitive behavior, personality expression, decision making, and moderating social behavior…orchestration of thoughts and actions in accordance with internal goals”. The limbic system, on the other hand, is “…composed of structures in the brain that deal with emotions (such as anger, happiness and fear) as well as memories”. “REM dreaming is characterized by low serotonin levels and high acetylcholine levels, which may explain why dreams are so hard to remember: they are never encoded in short-term memory in the first place”. Taking on a more rational way of thinking, dreaming is believed to be mere misconceptions by our brain areas that reduce activity while emotions skyrocket.

Another theory that connotes with how dreams are helpful and important is the threat simulation theory by Antti Revonsuo. The concept of this theory is that dreams present future danger or incoming upsetting situations and repetition of the same dream allows the person to practice their response to a particular condition. Based on the biological defense mechanism, dreams that are rather simulating threatening tend to repeat themselves. Depending on the storyline of the dream, the person can practice how to efficiently perceive it and respond to it in a way that pleases them. This theory also includes the factors of childhood trauma and how “…children who live in an environment in which their physical and psychological well-being is constantly threatened should have a highly activated dream production and threat simulation system, whereas children living in a safe environment that is relatively free of such threat cues should have a weakly activated system”. Research has been done to confirm this idea and indeed, a large number of subjects who were severely damaged children were confirmed to have more threatening dreams than others. However, not every dream presents a threatening aspect hence why this theory is not widely accepted but seems legitimate in identifying factors to help damaged children.

Adapting a more religious perspective, Barbie Breathitt stated that dreams are a form of communication between the mortal human and God Himself. When God wants to share something with humans, on way He does it is through visions and dreams. “God crafts each dream individually and uses them to speak to us in different ways and for different purposes”. Dreams are also prophetic and can be used to help prepare for the future, hence why the entire context of the dream is vital.

Breathitt has also compiled a book of symbols for the individual to recognize and place meaning to their dream because she is determined to say that God has a symbolic language and that the human individual should learn it. Various symbols show up in a person’s dreams, depending on how spiritually charged a person is or how much anointing they are inputting in their system. For example, Breathitt recognized that horses were a symbol of power and the state of the horse in her dreams would let her know the state of her spiritual life. There are various other symbols that have been compiled by the renowned author and many people have attested to the accuracy of her interpretations.

It is also mentioned in the Bible about a man named Joseph that was known for interpreting dreams. The pharaoh has had a reoccurring dream that “…there came up out of the river seven well favoured kine and fatfleshed; and they fed in a meadow. And, behold, seven other kine came up after them out of the river, ill favoured and leanfleshed; and stood by the other kine upon the brink of the river. And the ill favoured and leanfleshed kine did eat up the seven well favoured and fat kine…” (Holy Bible). Joseph was a prisoner at the time but he was summoned by the pharaoh once the pharaoh heard that he had the ability to accurately interpret dreams. Once Joseph heard the storyline of the dream, he interpreted it as a warning that there will be famine for seven years straight (Holy Bible). Trusting Joseph, the pharaoh put him in charge of the food supply and the seven-year famine came to past. Moreover, dream interpretations can be looked at in a scientific way as well as a religious perspective.

In conclusion, there are several ways to identify dream interpretations as well as why humans dream at all. Freud believes it to be a showcase of what the human subconsciously desires and is repressed by the brain due to social unacceptance. Other psychologists along with Cartwright believed that dreams reflect the things that human ponder about in their daily lives and hence why Cartwright believes that dreams can cure depression. However Hobson leans more on rational thinking and acknowledged that certain brain areas are being shut down during sleep, allowing the mind to hallucinate with emotional dose. Considering biological factors, Revonsuo believed that dreams help simulate threatening events and allow the individual to rehearse their desired response for a desired result. Nonetheless, Breathitt deemed dreams as a pathway of communication between the Supernatural God and human beings whereas He shows symbols to let the individual know what he or she needs to do. Dreams are beneficial to the human body and mind, regardless if the findings are scientific or religious.

31 October 2020

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