SigmundFreud, who greatly influenced the field of psychology,believed dreaming wasa “safety valve” for unconscious desires.
Only after 1953, when researchersfirst described REM in sleeping infants, did scientistsbegin to carefully study sleep and dreaming.Everybody sleeps, but not many people know why or have even tried to figure itout. Most people don’t even remember their dreams, let alone research them. Scientistssoon realized that dreams almost always occur in the REM stage of sleeping. REMsleep begins with signals from an area at the base of the brain called thepons. These signals travel to a brain region called the thalamus, which relaysthem to the cerebral cortex; the outer layer of the brain that is responsiblefor learning, thinking, and organizing information.
The pons also sends signalsthat shut off neurons in the spinal cord, causing temporary paralysis of thelimb muscles. If something interferes with this paralysis, people will begin tophysically “act out” their dreams a rare, dangerous problem called REM sleepbehavior disorder. A person dreaming about a ball game, for example, may runheadlong into furniture or blindly strike someone sleeping nearby while tryingto catch a ball in the dream. REM sleep stimulates the brain regions used inlearning. This may be important for normal brain development during infancy,which would explain why infants spend much more time in REM sleep than adults.Like deep sleep, REM sleep is associated with increased production of proteins. Humanisticpsychology is a psychological perspective that emphasizes the study of thewhole person. Humanistic psychologists look at human behavior not only throughthe eyes of the observer, but through the eyes of the person doing thebehaving.
Humanistic psychologists believe that an individual’s behavior is connectedto his inner feelings and self-image. Organismic theorist Goldstein introduced theterm self-actualization as a modem concept in personality theory. Hall andLindzey (1978) noted that whereas other theories argued that humanbeings are motivated by a number of drives, Goldstein insisted that individualsare motivated by “one sovereign drive” The tendency for someone toself-actualize is a common trend in the human race; Everyone yearns to findtheir highest potential. There is high significance for dreams held by many,shown in the wide range of beliefs documented. Many of these beliefsforeshadowed theories from other scientists studying the subject – Dreamsreveal a message. Jung (MacKenzie, 1965; Ullman & Zimmerman, 1979) was one of the first to argue with Freud’s claim insaying that, “The dream is a vitalaspect of the human psyche; rather than a symptom of illness, it is an integralpart of the wholeness of the mind for all individuals, both for the normalperson and for the person who is mentally disturbed.” 1These scientists opened the doors to allow others to use Dreams as a form ofcounseling for mental health patients.
Dream work is a process of openlysharing the contents of his or her dream and closely examining what they find.Essentially the way it works is the patient goes to their therapist and says,”This is my dream, I don’t know what it means, please help me make something ofit.” When taking the humanistic approach it is believed that dreams aresubconscious clues you brain is trying to show you. Symbols of their own innerworld, so to speak, that they have to figure out.
The “one sovereign drive”mentioned earlier. The innate desire to find out more about yourself. This canhelp mentally ill patients to get answers about themselves that a doctorcouldn’t tell them or prescribe something for. Cognitive psychology is the scientific study ofthe mind as an information processor. Cognitive psychologists try to buildup cognitive models of the information processing that goes on inside people’sminds, including perception, attention, language, memory, thinking and consciousness. It isbelieved my many psychologists that cognitive psychology has little correlationto dreams. Though giving effort to keep the two areas linked such as using theword “mind” when talking about dreaming, The Late Calvin S.
Hall (1982) said inhis paper, “Imade a few futile attempts in the early 50’s to espouse a cognitive viewpointtowards dreams. I realize now that these attempts were very primitive and forthat reason fell on deaf ears. More recently David Foulkes in two books AGrammar of Dreams and Children’s Dreams has made a moresophisticated attempt to bring dreams within the domain of cognitivepsychology. John Antrobus’s chapter in The Mind in Sleep. is anotherrecent effort to incorporate dreams into cognitive psychology. It remains to beseen whether these efforts meet with success.”2Having heard a well known Psychologist speak so poorly on the validity ofcognitive psychology gives me the sense that it does not have any ties.
Dreamsobviously are connected to the cognitive workings of the human brain; however,scientists still don’t know much about why we dream. Dreamanalysis has obviously been an important therapeutic tool in the uncovering ofunconscious conflicts during the early days of psychoanalysis. In the area ofempirical research, dreams have been explored extensively in order tounderstand the impact of trauma on affect, memory, and cognition. Concerningthe use of dreams in psychoanalytic treatment, Fosshage (2000) believes thatdreams reveal the dreamer’s immediate concerns through affects, metaphors, andthemes. Rather than “concealing internal reality” as Freud suggested, dreamimages can be used directly for their evocative power in considering the issuesat hand.
Fosshage offers guidelines to work with dreams, which emphasize thedreamer’s experience, affective reactions, and associations. In Fosshage’sview, “The dreamerneeds to be encouraged to rely on their own dream experience and associationsrather than on the analyst’s interpretative translations in order to facilitatean “empowered sense of self.” In that sense, the therapist can provide a”holding environment” for the client that will enable them to explore their ownmeanings and associations in a safe context.”3 Psychologiststhat take the humanistic approach feel that humans are continually trying tobetter themselves to reach their full potential. This approach lies in the factthat one has free will and the ability to make his or her own decisions abouthis or her life. There is a relationship between the psychodynamic andhumanistic approach to dreaming. Psychologists that take the psychodynamicapproach support the idea that behavior is a result of unconscious forces inwhich there is little control.
With this view comes the idea that dreams arethe result of actual feelings within an individual. Through dreams, theseunconscious wishes or desires are exposed. Thecognitive approach focuses on how individuals think, understand, and know aboutthe things that happen around them. They emphasize the fact that internalmental processes affect the way that people behave in their environments.
Psychologists that take the cognitive approach to psychology use theirknowledge to explain the cognitive process and function of dreams. Those thattake the cognitive approach to dreaming believe that the mind is the center ofall dreams. They agree that dreaming is not an unconscious wish of theindividual, but a response of the brain while it is resting.
My opinion onthe matter fits best within the Psychodynamic approach. With the exception oflucid dreaming, dreams are most commonly your subconscious playing out a scenein your head using your own thoughts and emotions. However, I feel theHumanistic approach is better for working with people as a therapist.
Itconveys a more positive message to the patient while still getting the sameresults from the experiment. 1 (Barrineau)2 (Hall, 1991)3 (Shoshana Ringel, 2002)