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Freud, who greatly influenced the field of psychology,
believed dreaming was
a “safety valve” for unconscious desires. Only after 1953, when researchers
first described REM in sleeping infants, did scientists
begin to carefully study sleep and dreaming.
Everybody sleeps, but not many people know why or have even tried to figure it
out. Most people don’t even remember their dreams, let alone research them. Scientists
soon realized that dreams almost always occur in the REM stage of sleeping.

sleep begins with signals from an area at the base of the brain called the
pons. These signals travel to a brain region called the thalamus, which relays
them to the cerebral cortex; the outer layer of the brain that is responsible
for learning, thinking, and organizing information. The pons also sends signals
that shut off neurons in the spinal cord, causing temporary paralysis of the
limb muscles. If something interferes with this paralysis, people will begin to
physically “act out” their dreams a rare, dangerous problem called REM sleep
behavior disorder. A person dreaming about a ball game, for example, may run
headlong into furniture or blindly strike someone sleeping nearby while trying
to catch a ball in the dream. REM sleep stimulates the brain regions used in
learning. 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.

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psychology is a psychological perspective that emphasizes the study of the
whole person. Humanistic psychologists look at human behavior not only through
the eyes of the observer, but through the eyes of the person doing the
behaving. Humanistic psychologists believe that an individual’s behavior is connected
to his inner feelings and self-image. Organismic theorist Goldstein introduced the
term self-actualization as a modem concept in personality theory. Hall and
Lindzey (1978) noted that whereas other theories argued that human
beings are motivated by a number of drives, Goldstein insisted that individuals
are motivated by “one sovereign drive” The tendency for someone to
self-actualize is a common trend in the human race; Everyone yearns to find
their highest potential. There is high significance for dreams held by many,
shown in the wide range of beliefs documented. Many of these beliefs
foreshadowed theories from other scientists studying the subject – Dreams
reveal a message. Jung (MacKenzie, 1965; Ullman & Zimmerman, 1979) was one of the first to argue with Freud’s claim in
saying that,   “The dream is a vital
aspect of the human psyche; rather than a symptom of illness, it is an integral
part of the wholeness of the mind for all individuals, both for the normal
person and for the person who is mentally disturbed.” 1
These scientists opened the doors to allow others to use Dreams as a form of
counseling for mental health patients. Dream work is a process of openly
sharing 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 of
it.” When taking the humanistic approach it is believed that dreams are
subconscious clues you brain is trying to show you. Symbols of their own inner
world, 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 can
help mentally ill patients to get answers about themselves that a doctor
couldn’t tell them or prescribe something for.



Cognitive psychology is the scientific study of
the mind as an information processor. Cognitive psychologists try to build
up cognitive models of the information processing that goes on inside people’s
minds, including perception, attention, language, memory, thinking and consciousness. It is
believed my many psychologists that cognitive psychology has little correlation
to dreams. Though giving effort to keep the two areas linked such as using the
word “mind” when talking about dreaming, The Late Calvin S. Hall (1982) said in
his paper,                   “I
made a few futile attempts in the early 50’s to espouse a cognitive viewpoint
towards dreams. I realize now that these attempts were very primitive and for
that reason fell on deaf ears. More recently David Foulkes in two books A
Grammar of Dreams and Children’s Dreams has made a more
sophisticated attempt to bring dreams within the domain of cognitive
psychology. John Antrobus’s chapter in The Mind in Sleep. is another
recent effort to incorporate dreams into cognitive psychology. It remains to be
seen whether these efforts meet with success.”2
Having heard a well known Psychologist speak so poorly on the validity of
cognitive psychology gives me the sense that it does not have any ties. Dreams
obviously are connected to the cognitive workings of the human brain; however,
scientists still don’t know much about why we dream.

analysis has obviously been an important therapeutic tool in the uncovering of
unconscious conflicts during the early days of psychoanalysis. In the area of
empirical research, dreams have been explored extensively in order to
understand the impact of trauma on affect, memory, and cognition. Concerning
the use of dreams in psychoanalytic treatment, Fosshage (2000) believes that
dreams reveal the dreamer’s immediate concerns through affects, metaphors, and
themes. Rather than “concealing internal reality” as Freud suggested, dream
images can be used directly for their evocative power in considering the issues
at hand. Fosshage offers guidelines to work with dreams, which emphasize the
dreamer’s experience, affective reactions, and associations. In Fosshage’s
view,                       “The dreamer
needs to be encouraged to rely on their own dream experience and associations
rather than on the analyst’s interpretative translations in order to facilitate
an “empowered sense of self.” In that sense, the therapist can provide a
“holding environment” for the client that will enable them to explore their own
meanings and associations in a safe context.”3

that take the humanistic approach feel that humans are continually trying to
better themselves to reach their full potential. This approach lies in the fact
that one has free will and the ability to make his or her own decisions about
his or her life. There is a relationship between the psychodynamic and
humanistic approach to dreaming. Psychologists that take the psychodynamic
approach support the idea that behavior is a result of unconscious forces in
which there is little control. With this view comes the idea that dreams are
the result of actual feelings within an individual. Through dreams, these
unconscious wishes or desires are exposed. The
cognitive approach focuses on how individuals think, understand, and know about
the things that happen around them. They emphasize the fact that internal
mental processes affect the way that people behave in their environments.
Psychologists that take the cognitive approach to psychology use their
knowledge to explain the cognitive process and function of dreams. Those that
take the cognitive approach to dreaming believe that the mind is the center of
all dreams. They agree that dreaming is not an unconscious wish of the
individual, but a response of the brain while it is resting.

My opinion on
the matter fits best within the Psychodynamic approach. With the exception of
lucid dreaming, dreams are most commonly your subconscious playing out a scene
in your head using your own thoughts and emotions. However, I feel the
Humanistic approach is better for working with people as a therapist. It
conveys a more positive message to the patient while still getting the same
results from the experiment.




1 (Barrineau)

2 (Hall, 1991)

3 (Shoshana Ringel, 2002)

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