In psychology, dreams are characterised as any images, thoughts, or emotions that a person experiences while asleep. Psychologists do not agree on why we dream and what these dreams mean, however, there are several popular theories.
Freud’s Psychoanalytic Theory of Dreams
Sigmund Freud, the father of modern psychology, believed dreams were a reflection of the unconscious. According to his theory, dreams have three layers: the manifest content, the latent content, and the underlying theme. The manifest content is whatever a person remembers after waking up. The latent content is what a person actually dreamed, and the underlying theme is the true meaning of the dream. Freud’s psychoanalytic theory of dreams states that dreams contain repressed thoughts and desires, which are the opposite of what one actually wants. Dreams are a result of the unconscious mind trying to solve problems by creating images from memory. The process of dreaming and remembering are very similar, which explains why dreams contain whatever images a person has seen or experienced before.
Carl Jung Theory on Dreams
Carl Jung, another famous psychologist, did not believe dreams were a reflection of the unconscious. According to his theory, dreams are the process in which the conscious and unconscious are communicating. Jung’s theory is based on the thought that the conscious mind is focused on logical reasoning and information, while the unconscious mind is concerned with the person’s feelings and emotions. Jung believed the unconscious could contain thoughts, feelings, and desires that a person has buried or forgotten. He believed it was important to process these thoughts in order to move past them and attain fulfilment in life. Jung’s theory on dreams is based on the idea that the unconscious is trying to send a message to the conscious mind. The content of the dream is the message the unconscious is sending, and the feelings a person has when they wake up is the message the conscious mind sends back.
The Activation-Synthesis Model of Dreaming
The activation-synthesis model of dreaming assumes that dreams are a result of the brain attempting to make sense of random neural impulses. This model suggests the brain has an intrinsic drive to make sense of these impulses, even if they are nonsensical. Dreams are the end result of this process, and the content of the dream is not important. Dreams can be bizarre and nonsensical because the brain is simply attempting to make sense of random impulses. The activation-synthesis model of dreaming suggests that the “synthesis” part of the brain is trying to make sense of the “activation” part of the brain. The “synthesis” part of the brain is responsible for long-term memory, language, and logical reasoning. The “activation” part of the brain is responsible for emotions and impulses. According to this model, dreams are the result of the “synthesis” part of the brain attempting to make sense of the “activation” part of the brain, and the content of the dream is irrelevant.
Hall’s Theory on Dreams
James Hall, a psychologist from the 1960s, believed dreams are a result of what a person has seen, heard, and done during the day. According to his theory, the brain attempts to make sense of this information at night, and dreams are the end result of this process. Hall’s theory on dreams is based on the idea that dreams are simply a person’s “review of the day.” Hall’s theory on dreams states that we dream in order to review the day’s activities and store the information away in long-term memory. Hall’s theory on dreams suggests that dreaming is a way of looking back at our day, particularly the information that is relevant or important.
Common Themes Found in Dreams
Dreams are often bizarre, nonsensical, and difficult to remember, which can make it difficult to determine their meaning. However, psychologists have found common themes in dreams, which can help determine their meaning.
- Dreams about death and dying – This can be a sign that a person is anxious about a transition in their life.
- Dreams about flying – Flying can symbolize freedom and being unrestrained.
- Dreams about falling – Falling dreams can represent a person’s fear of failing at a task.
- Dreams about water – Water often symbolizes emotions.
Dreams are a fascinating part of our sleeping lives. Although dreams are difficult to study and understand, psychologists have made progress in their research. Today, there are several popular theories on dreams, including Freud’s psychoanalytic theory of dreams and Jung’s theory on dreams. The activation-synthesis model of dreaming and Hall’s theory on dreams also provide helpful insights into the science of dreams.