Dreaming is an alteration in consciousness in which remembered images and fantasies are temporarily confused with external reality.
Typical part of waking consciousness, even though our awareness of the environment around us declines while daydreaming.
2-4% of the population spend at least half their free time fantasising. Studies that ask people to identify what they are doing at random times during the day have that that they daydream 10% of the time.
Content is mostly mundane, ordinary events.
Frequent daydreaming may seem to suggest psychological difficulties, but there appears to be little relationship between psychological disturbance and daydreaming, except when the person is unable to distinguish between fantasy from reality.
Most dream four or five times a night
Spaced out 90 min apart; appear to become more vivid, bizarre and illogical as REM becomes increasingly dominant.
First dream lasts for only about 10 min, but the last dream averages about 30 min, although it may last for as long as 50 min.
Usually have several characters, involvement movement (running or walking), more likely to occur indoors than outdoors, more often unpleasant than pleasant, mostly filled with visual sensations rather than taste, smell or pain.
Collected over 10,000 dreams and concluded most dreams reflect the events that occur in everyday life (Hall, 1966)
There are gender differences, although whether those differences are caused by hormonal/genetic influences, sociocultural influences or a combination of influences remains to be seen.
Girls and women tend to dream about people they know, personal appearance concerns and an emphasis on family and home.
Boys and men tend to have more male characters in their dreams, which are also typically outdoors or unfamiliar settings and may involve weapons, tools, cars and roads.
Sometimes people are aware that they are dreaming, even though they are asleep- called lucid dreaming
The lucid dreamer can direct the dream, they can exert some conscious control over their dream
Hearne (1981) conducted a series of experiments in which people learned to control their own dreams by receiving a mild electrical buzz to the wrist when they entered REM sleep
LaBerge (1992) suggests one way of increasing lucid dreaming is if you awaken from a dream in the middle of the night, immediately return to the dream in your imagination, then envision yourself recognising the dream.
Night Dream Theories
Psychodynamic Dream Theory
Extensions to Waking Life
The idea that dreams express unconscious wishes or impulses, influenced greatly by Sigmund Freud
Freud examined the dreams of his patients, believing that conflicts, events and desires of the past would be represented in symbolic form in the dreams
Believed dreams ‘protect sleep’ by providing imagery that would help keep disturbing, repressed thoughts out of awareness
Freud separated dream content into two levels: Manifest and Latent
Manifest vs Latent
The MANIFEST CONTENT of a dream is the actual dream itself. E.g. If Betty had a dream in which she was trying to climb out of a bathtub, the manifest content is exactly that – she was climbing out of a bathtub!
The LATENT CONTENT is the true meaning of a dream lay hidden and was only expressed in symbols. E.g. in the dream, the water in the tub might symbolise the waters of birth, and the tub itself is her mother’s womb. Betty may be dreaming about being born in Freudian terms
climbing a ladder, entering a room, climbing a staircase, flying in an airplane, crossing a bridge, riding a horse, driving an automobile, riding a roller coaster, riding an elevator, walking into a tunnel or down a hall, dancing
No scientific evidence yet to show dreams express forbidden urges.
Freud did not recognise that some dreams were trivial or unimportant, representing a continuation of ordinary waking events, rather than symbolic representations of something more meaningful
Activation Synthesis Hypothesis
Using brain-imaging, Hobson and McCarley (1977) have found evidence that dreams are products of activity in the lower brain stem.
This lower area inhibits the neurotransmitters that would allow movement of the voluntary muscles while sending random signals to the areas of the cortex that interpret vision, hearing and so on.
When signals from the lower brain bombard the cortex during wakefulness, this process results in an experience of reality. During sleep, the signals from the brain stems are random and not necessarily attached to actual external stimuli, yet the brain must somehow interpret these random signals.
Activation Synthesis (cont’d)
It synthesizes an explanation of the cortex’s activation from memories and other stored information.
Result is less realistic because it comes from within memories and experiences of the past. The frontal lobes, which people normally use in daytime thinking, are more or less shut down during dreaming, which may also account for the unrealistic and often bizarre nature of dreams.
No need for dream interpretation because they arise from random activation on neurons.
Criticism: A survey questioning subjects about their dream content concluded that much of the content of dreams is meaningful, consistent over time, and fits in with past or present emotional concerns rather than bizarre, meaningless and random.
Hobson revised ASH to reflect concerns about dream meaning, calling it the activation-information-mode model (AIM) where the brain uses bits and pieces of the person’s experiences from the previous day or the last few days to create a dream.
EXTENSIONS TO WAKING LIFE
Agreeing partly with Freud, many therapists and sleep-dream researchers believe that dreams are extensions of waking life, including thoughts and concerns, especially emotional ones.
Rosalind Cartwright (1988) found that dreams of people undergoing divorce seem to be about past marital problems; in contrast, the dreams of those who are happily married reflect many themes. In one sense, Cartwright is updating Freud’s idea that dreams are the “royal road to the unconscious.” She studies dreams in a sleep laboratory, and like Freud, she would see dreams as providing clues to the person’s problems, concerns, and emotions.
Colour or B&W?
Virtually everyone’s dreams contain color, however, we often forget the colour by the time we awaken and recall the dream. People who grew up in the era of black and white television sometimes have dreams in B&W
Can external events become part of dreams?
Yes, to a degree. E.g. Dement and Wolpert (1958) sprayed water on sleepers who were in REM and more than half reported water in their dreams