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Description: What have you heard about what Psychology has to say about dreams? Well, if you have had an introductory course from me you would have heard me say that theories like those of Freud, that our dreams contain deep life insights and meaning, are not supported by research, especially in terms of dream interpretation by psychoanalysts. How does that fit with your own thoughts on the possible meanings in dreams? Have you had a dream and, when thinking about it after waking, felt that you had learned something useful or gained insight or perspective on some aspect of your life? Well, … me too. So, what is that about? Are dreams just internal secret Rorschach tests (ha, there is scientifically under supported Sigmund again!) that we interpret after waking with our first-hand personal access to our experiential life/reality? Or is there something more going on? What do you think? Now, hold that thought and read the article linked below and we will return to that thought later below.

Source: Why Do You Keep Dreaming You Forgot Your Pants? It’s Science, Alice Robb, The New York Times.

Date: November 10, 2018

Image Credit: Cristina Daura, The New York Times

Article Link:

At the very core of the scientific enterprise (in Psychology and elsewhere) is curiosity and questions. What if… What about…. How come…. Etc. So, why is it that we tend to mainly experience negative emotions like anxiety in our dreams? And why is it that we have such negative dreams about the very real-life things that are stressing us (like upcoming exams)? Maybe working through anxiety in a low risk environment? Maybe simulating threats so they do not seem weird or foreign when we actually encounter them for real? And maybe all this reflects an evolutionary advantage or selection and we have just replaced bears and other predators with exams and public speaking events. Something to think about and there IS some research that speaks to the possibilities somewhat, at least.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. While dreams might not be “real” how might they reflect on our realities?
  2. How did the dreams of medical students relate to their performances on their licensing exam?
  3. How are dram emotions related to dream content (and to our lives)?

References (Read Further):

Robb, Alice (2018) Why we Dream: The Transformative Power of Our Nightly Journey, Eamon Dolan/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, New York, NY.

Revonsuo, A. (2000). The reinterpretation of dreams: An evolutionary hypothesis of the function of dreaming. Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 23(6), 877-901.

Martinez-Gonzalez, D., Obermeyer, W., Fahy, J. L., Riboh, M., Kalin, N. H., & Benca, R. M. (2004). REM sleep deprivation induces changes in coping responses that are not reversed by amphetamine. Sleep, 27(4), 609-617.

Stickgold, R., Scott, L., Rittenhouse, C., & Hobson, J. A. (1999). Sleep-induced changes in associative memory. Journal of cognitive neuroscience, 11(2), 182-193.

Revonsuo, A., & Salmivalli, C. (1995). A content analysis of bizarre elements in dreams. Dreaming, 5(3), 169.