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My girlfriend called me from Dallas the other day. You have got to hear about the dream I had last night, she said. Since this was not a normal reason to call me, I was more than a bit interested to listen to her. The dream went like this, she explained.
I came to visit you at college. You showed me around, introduced me to your friends, and showed me a great time. Basically, we never left each others side. I felt so happy. Unfortunately, when I woke up, I realized that it was all a dream, and I felt kind of sad. You?
re the psychologist what do you make of this? she said. Freud said that dreams are unfulfilled wishes, I said. I think he? s right, she replied. So do I.
Sigmund Freud is called the Father of Modern Psychology. His work with patients suffering from hysteria, a psychological ailment characterized by extreme anxiety, lead him to study the next to every facet of human existence from parent and child relations to human psychological defense mechanisms. Many of Freud? s works have been published today including the monumental work The Interpretation of Dreams. This book discusses Freud? s theory on the importance and meaning of dreams.
Freud realized his dream theory shortly after his father died. The death of his dad was very traumatic to him, and he had a recurring dream that he would be standing at the gates of the cemetery where his father was buried, but he could not bring himself to go inside and see his father? s grave. This seemed odd to Freud because he was very close to his father. After much soul searching, which included Freud undergoing hypnosis, he discovered that he had unresolved anger for his father that he pushed into his unconscious. Freud believed that he was getting even with his father in his dream by not visiting his grave.
To Freud, understanding dreams was an integral part in understanding the true inner feelings of people. Freud believed in the theory that dreams have meaning. This hypothesis is also shared by the Gestalt theorist Fritz Pearls. However, not every psychologist agrees with this view. Many of Freud?
s colleagues subscribed to the idea that dreams are nothing more than random brain popping's. These scientists do not believe that dreams have any meaning or use in the therapy of people. Freud? s theory is a very important contribution to psychological thought and should not go overlooked. While the random popping's theories may be more biologically correct, Freud? s theory explains a part of the human psyche that science cannot measure.
According to Freud, dreams are a disguised form of wish fulfillment, a way to satisfy unconscious urges or resolve unconscious conflicts that are too upsetting to deal with consciously. For example, sexual desires might appear in a dream as the rhythmic motions of a horse back ride; conflicting feelings about a parent might appear as a dream about a fight. Seeing patients? dreams as a royal road to a knowledge of the unconscious (Adler 1), Freud interpreted their meaning as a part of his psychoanalytic treatment of psychological disorders.
The biggest criticism of the Freudian dream theory is that it is based solely on subjective, unproven, nonscientific evidence. The main opposing view to Freud? s theory is the activation-synthesis theory. First theorized in 1977 by James Hobson and William Mc Carley, the activation-synthesis theory sees dreams as the meaningless, random by-products of REM sleep.
According to this theory, hind brain arousal during REM creates random messages that activate the brain, especially the cerebral cortex. Dreams result as the cortex synthesizes these random messages as best it can, using stored memories and current feelings to impose a coherent perceptual organization on the random thoughts it receives. From this perspective, dreams represent the brain? s attempt to make sense of meaningless stimulation during sleep, much as it does when a person, while awake, tries to find meaningful shapes in cloud formations (Beck 2). The other major dream theory that states that dreams are random is the Crick Hypothesis. This says that dreams are the dislodging of maladaptive neural connections.
Dreams rewire the brain and make certain connections stronger. Psychological biology utilizes modern technology to study dreams. The electroencephalogram, or EEG, records brain waves and can tell when a person is dreaming. Scientists can then tell what areas of the brain are being activated to discover where dreams are coming from.
The Freudian dream theory made sense in the early part of this century, but modern technology has shown us that dreams are basically random and meaningless, explained Dr. Gregory Murphy, a research cognitive / biological psychologist at the University of Illinois. Dreamers may be affected by their dreams, but that? s how each person perceives their dreams. It has nothing to do with the actual dream content or why dreams exist in the first place. Freud is one of the most unscientific scientists ever, said Sascha Meinrath, a teaching assistant in the University of Illinois psychology department.
In the world of psychological research, there are two types of scientists: ones who discover new theories and ones who attempt to disprove older theories. Disproving an existing theory is one of the biggest accomplishments in the scientific world. Thus, Freudian theory has had its share of critics. Though the dream theory, when first conceived, was only tested on Freud? s patients, different cultures around the world have used dream interpretation to help those beset by illness or misfortune. Among the More Tribe of Peru dream interpretation has is an important part of the culture.
When someone has a dilemma, a healer conducts an extensive ritual to find causes and treatments. During the ceremony, the healer attempts to gain insight into the patient? s problems. In the context of many other tribal cultures, too, dream interpretations are revered (Bernstein 3). Freud? s dream theory had many detractors.
The patients that Freud tested his hypothesis on are a major criticism. Since Freud tended to only work with rich, white Austrians, that demographic is the base of Freud? s research. Rich, white Austrians are not a proper representation of the world?
s populations. Thus, it can be argued that the theory does not apply to everyone. Freud? s other theories also detract from his dream theory. Some of Freud? s theories are considered incredibly far fetched.
In Freud? s theory of development, he hypothesized that humans go through three stages: the oral stage, the anal stage, and the phallic stage. In the oral stage, everything revolves around the mouth. Babies inspect things by sticking them into their mouths. In the anal stage, whether, or not, a person tightens their rectum while going to the bathroom can determine what kind of person they will be.
In the phallic stage, a person? s main motivation is to have sex and appease their inner sexual desires. While I am a big fan of Freudian theory, I find this theory incredibly far fetched, and I can easily see why Freud? s critics can attack his work. However, Freud? s theories must be judged on an individual basis.
Just because a few of his theories are outlandish does not mean that all of them are. Freud did extensive research on all facets of human behavior, and it is expected that not all of his theories will be correct. You cannot judge the dream theory by another theory. Many of Freud?
s detractors believe that Freud? s dream theory is based solely on his own personal problems, and not his patients. This shows that he is unscientific Though this statement is true, there is a reason behind it. Freud? s initial interest in psychotherapy came from his studying of patients suffering from high anxiety. However, after a while he discovered the need to explore many other facets of the human psyche.
The motivation behind the need to discover the inner most secrets of human behavior came from his own personal life. The dream theory came from the need to analyze his dream about his father, and he used the data that he learned about himself and applied it to others. No brain wave measuring machine on earth can possibly show the internal conflicts that rage inside a person? s unconscious. Thus, it is impossible to fully prove Freud?
s theory. However, there is evidence that does help to prove the hypothesis. When Freud first proposed his theory, he was considered a radical. Freud lived and worked in Vienna in the early 20 th century. At this time, the scientific community was based solely on scientific fact. The idea of scientific research based on subjective and circumstantial evidence seemed ludicrous.
Thus, when Freud presented his theory, he was jeered by his peers and colleagues. However, he presented evidence to support his proposition. To support the wish fulfillment theory, Freud pointed to examples of dreams from patients that were clearly wish-fulfilling in their content. One of Freud? s patients was an explorer who was deprived of food and water on one of his expeditions. During his adventure, this man continually had dreams of huge banquets and clear, clean water.
Also, it is common for medical school students who must report to the hospital early to make his rounds often have dreams of sleeping in a hospital bed. This dream fulfills the wish of sleep, a treat that medical school students rarely get. Though the activation-synthesis theory does have roots in biology, said University of Illinois professor and psychoanalyst Dr. Gerald L. Close. The Freudian theory is the only hypothesis that deals with the meaning of dream content, and the dream as an approach to a deeper understanding of emotional life.
The theory is also used to help understand the motives of patients. Dr. Close has worked with dreams before. His research shows that women who are married to men who have been married before often have dreams of confronting their husbands ex-wives. One woman dreamt that she first yelled crude comments at her husband? s ex-wife then punched her.
She also had dreams of her husband beating his ex wife while she stood and watched. This shows that many women have unresolved conflicts with their husbands? pasts, and they wish to confront the events and people who came before them. Since this is not always possible, dreams give the women a sense of relief. Though biology does not typically accept Freud, said Sascha.
There is no reason why Freudian theory and science can? t work together. Each field of science seems to compliment each other. While biology can explain brain processes, Freud can explain the abstract stuff that biology almost seems to ignore. Many psychologists today use a mixture of both psychoanalytic and scientific methods to help their patients. Science does not accept Freud?
s dream theory, but new technology is beginning to show support of Freud? s ideas. According to biological psychologist Alan Beer, the brain is like a computer. It holds millions of pieces of information in the form of memories. Though these memories are not always in use.
Every memory is available throughout our lives in dreams. This hypothesis is called the information-processing theory and was inspired by Freud? s insights into repressed memories and the origin of dreams. Though the random brain popping dream theories are supported by modern science, there is a major phenomenon that technology cannot explain. The problem-solving theory is a major part of Freudian thought that is highly regarded as fact. According to the problem-solving theory, dreams give people a chance to review and address some of the problems they face during waking hours.
For example, one study conducted by Harold Cartwright at Boston University dealt with the dreams of the of recently divorced women. Those who were depressed dreamed mostly of the past, but non depressed women more often had dreams about the future and how they were going to live their lives being newly single. Thus, the current concerns of the dreamer does effect dream content (Adler 1). The problem solving theory is generally accepted as fact in the psychological world, said Dr. Close. When a psychoanalytic theory, which is usually highly subjective, is treated like a truism, you know that you are on the right track.
As a psychology major, I am a big fan of Freud and psychoanalytic thought. Freud is definitely a pioneer in the field of psychology. In the past, psychologists dealt strictly with data they gathered through observation. Freud was the first to sit and talk with his patients.
He strove to get to the root of his patients problems by delving deep into their mind and uncovering repressed feelings and experiences. At the time Freud lived, he was considered outlandish and crazy, but from the late? 20 s to the? 60 s, psychoanalytic thought became the prominent form of mental treatment in the world. However, when behavioral psychology became the leading school of thought. Freudian theory seemed to disappear. While behavioral psychology, which has roots in biology, does explain many superficial actions done by human, it does not explain the inner motivations that drive every human being. Though Freud is the most famous psychologist in history, his work has little meaning in modern psychology.
This is very disappointing to me. The man that the psychological community uses as a measuring stick for theories has very little effect on modern thought. Freud deserves better for the contributions that he has given to the world. The fact that psychoanalytic thought is not one of the leading forms of modern therapy is truly a shame.
While I do not agree with everything that Freud says. I believe that his development theory is completely off track, but many of his ideas are arguably correct despite the fact they are based on circumstantial evidence. By far my favorite theory of Freud? s is the dream theory. I can often find faults in various psychological theories, but I cannot find one in the dream theory.
I am a strong believer in the idea that dreams have meaning, and Freud? s ideas are right on. I like the idea that dreams have hidden meanings, and that the brain disguises true feelings to protect the dreamer from his true feelings. Freudian dream theory is a very important part of psychological thought. Not only does is explain the origin and meaning of dreams, but it helps people understand themselves and their problems better.
Though biology does have its place in dream theory, Freudian theory explains a part of humanity that cannot be measured by any machine.
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