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There are many other hypotheses about the function of dreams, including:
- Dreams allow the repressed parts of the mind to be satisfied through fantasy while keeping the conscious mind from thoughts that would suddenly cause one to awaken from shock.
- Freud suggested that bad dreams let the brain learn to gain control over emotions resulting from distressing experiences.
- Jung suggested that dreams may compensate for one-sided attitudes held in waking consciousness.
- Ferenczi proposed that the dream, when told, may communicate something that is not being said outright.
- Dreams regulate mood.
- Hartmann says dreams may function like psychotherapy, by "making connections in a safe place" and allowing the dreamer to integrate thoughts that may be dissociated during waking life.
Psychoanalytic Theory of Dreams
Consistent with the psychoanalytic perspective, Sigmund Freud’s theory of dreams suggested that dreams were a representation of unconscious desires, thoughts and motivations. According to Freud’s psychoanalytic view of personality, people are driven by aggressive and sexual instincts that are repressed from conscious awareness. While these thoughts are not consciously expressed, Freud suggested that they find their way into our awareness via dreams.
Activation-Synthesis Model of Dreaming
The activation-synthesis model of dreaming was first proposed by J. Allan Hobson and Robert McClarley in 1977. According to this theory, circuits in the brain become activated during REM sleep, which causes areas of the limbic system involved in emotions, sensations and memories, including the amygdala and hippocampus, to become active. The brain synthesizes and interprets this internal activity and attempts to find meaning in these signals, which results in dreaming. This model suggests that dreams are a subjective interpretation of signals generated by the brain during sleep.
Other Theories of Dreams:
Many other theories have been suggested to account for the occurrence and meaning of dreams. The following are just of few of the proposed ideas:
- One theory suggests that dreams are the result of our brains trying to interpret external stimuli during sleep. For example, the sound of the radio may be incorporated into the content of a dream.
- Another theory uses a computer metaphor to account for dreams. According to this theory, dreams serve to 'clean up' clutter from the mind, much like clean-up operations in a computer, refreshing the mind to prepare for the next day.
- Yet another model proposes that dreams function as a form of psychotherapy. In this theory, the dreamer is able to make connections between different thoughts and emotions in a safe environment.
- A contemporary model of dreaming combines some elements of various theories. The activation of the brain creates loose connections between thoughts and ideas, which are then guided by the emotions of the dreamer.
I think dreams may well be a "parallel" existence - I don't accept the yawn-worthy theory of synaptic 'discharge' or 'junk jettisoning'. Also, I rarely dream about current events in my life -