Theories of Dreams in Psychology

Dreaming, whether it be day-dreaming, pleasantly fantasizing of something you love during the night, or nightmares, has elevated questions among us humans for years; why do we have them? What could they indicate, and do they relate with our psychological point out? Scientists first started studying dreams in ancient time periods, and questions on the problem remain today without precise, proven answers. Recollection consolidation, emotional regulation, or threat simulation have risen as recommendations for why we desire, but psychologists continue to ask questions and use their patients' dreams as signs to their condition (Dreaming).

Dreams are pictures our thoughts paint during sleep that usually evoke some kind of feelings within its manufacturer, explaining some recollection of dreams reoccurring in the brain the following morning hours. During rapid eyesight movement sleep, or REM rest, dreams are most stunning, however sleepers can experience dreams during any moment of sleep (Facts About Dreaming). The big question, why we dream, depending on who you ask, may follow with several different answers. Perhaps dreams have no purpose whatsoever, or perhaps they are a necessity to sleep and health, but either way, dreams do have ties with mindset, mental techniques, and behavior. Several experts have proven the importance of dreams when waking sleepers before they go into REM rest, when dreams would appear, and uncovered that the sleepers experienced anxiety, anxiety, depression, difficulty concentrating, a decrease in coordination, weight gain, or a rise in hallucinations (FACTUAL STATEMENTS ABOUT Thinking).

The description of psychology, that it is the study of habit and mental procedures (Rathus), specifically relates to dreams because dreams fit in the category of unconscious behavior. When looking into subconscious disorders in patients, psychologists will consider numerous factors that can add, such as both attributes of the nature-nurture controversy, past experiences, stress, and even dream patterns. Psychologists continue to explore the imperceptible idea of dreams to this day, particularly piggy-backing from the several theories written about why humans fantasy during sleep. Among the list of theories researched, the psychoanalytic theory of Sigmund Freud, the activation synthesis model, and information-processing theory stand near the top of the list (Cherry).

During his lifetime of 1856-1939, Sigmund Freud stood one of the primary of psychologists to explore psychoanalysis, the importance of unconscious motives and internal conflicts in determining human action. Freud's specific theory on dreams describes that folks are driven by hidden impulses, dreams in cases like this, that symbolize unconscious wishes (Rathus). Within the German language in the very beginning of the century of 1900, Freud shared his legendary booklet entitled The Interpretation of Dreams. He thought he had observed the trick, that dreams are wish fulfillments intending to resolve issues; dreams are "the Royal Road to the Unconscious" (Freud). In the pages and webpages of his publication, Freud shows that signs and symbols seen in dreams may easily lead to a connotation, a process in which he called a "phenomenon of condensation. " As his work translated to other dialects, his discoveries could be distributed to psychologists across the globe, and they could use his psychoanalytic theory to interpret the dreams of patients (A Knowledge Odyssey: People and Discoveries ).

In 1977, J. Allan Hobson and Robert McClarley proposed the activation-synthesis style of dreaming, which implies that during REM sleeping, an activation occurs in circuits of the mind (Cherry). The activation then influences the limbic system of the brain; the limbic system is involved with learning and storage, emotion, hunger, sex, and aggression (Rathus). This activation of the limbic system, regarding to Hobson and McClarley, leads the brain to synthesize and want to find sense in these signs (Cherry). Both theorists simply suggest that dreams only revolve around the brain interpreting indicators, whereas the information-processing theories offer an explanation that during sleep, we desire because our brain steps every one of the information from your day (Cherry). This theory is the simplest among the list of three most-used with respect to psychologists, for it basically revolves around dreams being truly a consequence of information-processing. Other ideas of dreams include the ideas our brains try to understand exterior stimuli while asleep, our brains clean up compartments and have dreams to rejuvenate for the very next day, or that people dream as a form of psychotherapy (Cherry). No matter which theory psychologists follow when interpreting the dreams of a patient, they all understand the value and necessity of doing so.

In psychological disorders, a big change in dream patterns can be alarming, nonetheless it is very common. With depressive disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), schizophrenia, personality disorder, and nearly every other mental condition, an elevated amount of nightmares occurs within patients (Carr). Frustrated patients tend to have more dreams with negative emotions, schizophrenic patients tend to have more dreams of aggression or with stranger numbers somewhat than familiar, and personality disordered patients tend to have more dreams of stress, and they awaken more distressed than the night before (Carr). Patients with personality disorder experienced the most typical nightmares, and their dreams change the most rapidly, altering between good and bad. Suicidal thoughts among psychologically-diagnosed patients usually result in more death themes or templates in dreams. Overall, psychologists must understand the value of inspecting dreams in their patients, because once dreams learn to improve, the psychologist can observe progression (Carr).

Nightmare disorder, or fantasy anxiety disorder, can derive from another mental health disorder, or within an individual from its cause, such as stress, injury, sleep deprivation, medications, drug abuse, or even an over-exposure to catalogs and films in the horror genre (Mayo Medical center Staff). Inside the DSM, or Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, nightmare disorder lists under the parasomnia category of sleep disorders, and it points out that the disorder may derive from abnormal happenings that happen when a person falls asleep, sleeps, or wakes up (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders). Having such a disorder usually leads patients to avoid rest, for the nightmares feel so real that they want to completely prevent them. Doctors may analyze their patients with this symptoms as parasomnia, however if the symptoms worsens, a psychologist must review the dreams to determine a true disorder within the tendencies of the individual (Mayo Clinic Staff).

Overall, psychology takes on a substantial role in dreams, specially when the identification of a disordered patient takes place. Dreams, whether terrifying, delightful, or odd, help our brains develop copiously. Experts will continue steadily to support the idea that dreams provide as assistance to solve problems, process emotions, or incorporate stories for years and years to come (FACTUAL STATEMENTS ABOUT Thinking). As Henry David Thoreau, a renowned philosopher once said, "dreams are the touchstones of our character. "


"A Science Odyssey: People and Discoveries. " 1998. PBS. web. 4 December 2016.

Carr, Michelle. "Dreaming in Despair (And Other Mental Health issues). " 25 January 2016. Psychology Today. web. 2 December 2016.

Cherry, Kendra. "7 Theories On Why We Goal. " 1 September 2016. VeryWell. web. 17 November 2016.

Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. Washington: American Psychological Association, 1994. print.

"Dreaming. " n. d. Mindset Today. web. 2 December 2016.

"Facts About Thinking. " n. d. WebMD. web. 2 December 2016.

Freud, Sigmund. The Interpretation of Dreams. Austria: Franz Deuticke, Leipzig and Vienna, 1900. print.

Mayo Clinic Staff. "Nightmare Disorder. " 9 August 2014. Mayo Medical center. web. 27 November 2016.

Rathus, Spencer A. "Psychology: Key points in Practice. " Austin: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 2003. 4. textbook.

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