Tuesday, June 26, 2012

The Unconscious Mind Takes Over

        What purpose do dreams serve? Do they play an “adaptive role" in the maintenance of our bodily or psychological health? Do they truly express our secret desires? After decades of research and recent develop, the question now is, do dreams serve any purpose at all, and if so, what do they mean? Sigmund Freud believed that dreams were full of hidden meanings. He theorized that dreams were insights into one’s unconscious mind; they were the revelation of past traumatic experiences and the exposure of one’s secret desires. Carl Jung, an early follower of Freud who broke away to develop a very different theory, claimed that the function of dreams is to compensate for those parts of the psyche (total personality) that are underdeveloped in waking life. However a study done by Calvin Hall's two-week dream series from students and longer dream journals from adults of all ages, strongly suggest that dream content is continuous with our waking thought and behavior. Some clinical psychologists interpret dreams to signal a repressed memory of abuse; For example, a dream consisting of water may mean that one was sexually abused in a bathing suit.
      Since the beginning of time people have been trying to “decode” their dreams. To do so, they seek advice and information from the findings and experiments of researchers and dream theorists, as wells as the information in “dream meaning” books and online websites. From research of my own and taking many psychology classes, I have learned that when REM sleep was first discovered, many theorists and scientists believed that dreams only occurred during that stage. However, we now know that dreams can occurs during any of the four stages of sleep, but the most vivid dreams occur in the last stage (REM). I have also learned that a person can have multiple dreams a night; the average sleep cycle consists of four stages and lasts about 90-120 minutes. Therefore, it is very common for a person to have several different dreams in one night.
      My point of view on dreams agrees with that of Freud’s. I believe that dreams are full of hidden meanings and that they are insights into a person’s unconscious mind. I think the meaning of each dream varies and that it is not fair to say that a dream about water represents a suppressed memory of being sexually abused in a bathing suit.  After reading about dreams, I would like to do some research on why people have reoccurring dreams and how is it possible to do so. Dreaming is fascinating; it’s a unique and creative side to every individual and is not the same in any two persons. I wonder if future research will continue to hypothesize and prove that dreams potentially have no meaning.
-Meghan Jirkovsky

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