Dreaming is hot this year. Actually, the world of dreams and the dreaming mind has received great attention since sheltering in place began. While everyone dreams every night, some people report little-to-no recall. Many people only started paying attention to the dream lives with the arrival of 2020. Sheltering in place led to increased sleep among certain people who noticed an increase in dream recall. If attending to dreams is new for you, you may wonder what it all means. To help, I will share eight perspectives on the function of dreams.
The psychodynamic perspectives seem to be most familiar to dreamers. Freud would have said that dreams express hidden instincts and reflect one’s instinctual drives. Wish fulfillment may have played a part in the conversation analysts of Freudian dream theory. Around that time, Jung developed his own ideas. He is credited with the Compensatory or Complementary Hypothesis which suggests that dreams are a natural expression of our imagination. Furthermore, dreams, he would tell us, integrate our conscious and unconscious lives.
As time went on, and science further developed, Hobson’s Activation-synthesis Hypothesis claimed that dreams were not as meaningful as once believed because dreams arose from neurochemical changes in the brain, nothing more. But this wasn’t the only explanation for dreaming. A cognitive perspective emerged where Hall posited that dreams are continuous with the dreamer’s waking concepts, meaning that one’s dreams reflect one’s waking life concerns. This is known as the Continuity Hypothesis. Attention has been given to developmental perspectives as well, so theories of information processing and dreams are also important to consider. In this territory, we marry dreams with memory consolidation. We can’t deny that dreaming plays an important role in the life of every human. Dreams help process and organize stimuli from the day as well as help us store information into memory. Let us not forget the role dreams play in human evolution! Dreaming has an adaptive function and threat stimulation theories abound. Consider all that dreams do here: Dreams help us adapt to current life situations and circumstances; Dreams provide an opportunity to perceive and avoid threats; From a social aspect, dreams allow for practice and even the strengthening of social bonds. It is not necessary to recall every dream because much of this takes place below conscious awareness. Have you ever wondered how dreams might aid in the processing of emotions? Hartmann’s contributions towards emotional processing theories are worthy of attention. Did you know that dreams help us to process emotional experiences and even adapt to them? Dreams partly do this because they integrate recent emotional experiences with other past experiences – ie they’re very associative. Furthermore, dreams can help us to solve problems in that way (though more emotional problems/conflicts in life). On a personal note, my dreams have been very valuable for such reasons.
Transpersonal psychology has something to say about dreaming as well. Images and symbols are part of us and reveal the dynamics of our inner life. Dreams show us, in symbolic form, all of the different personalities that interact within us and make up our total self.
Last, but not least, are perspectives on dreaming that emerge from traditional ways of knowing and indigenous cultures around the world. Here, we acknowledge soul and spirit, and the interconnectedness of all beings. Dreams serve to guide and offer spiritual sustenance. When we dream, our soul may travel. These perspectives are more fluid. There is little or no separation among waking and dreaming states, or those in between.
So, are you recalling your dreams lately? If so, I hope you are keeping a dream diary! When reflecting on your dreams, refer to this article as often as you like. There are several perspectives to consider! Consider one or all of them when determining the meaning of your dreams.
If you’d like to take a deep dive, and have a blast doing so, you may want to attend my October dream retreat in Mexico. Information can be found here: https://consciouschimera.com/retreats/
I wish you a rich dream life,