According to Sigmund Freud, dream is the way in which a person’s spirit gets liberated from the external pressure and it is also a way by which the soul gets detached from the attachment to material. He also stated that dreams are camouflaged fulfillments of our subdued wishes. Dreams are nothing but images, thoughts, voices and other sounds, and many more subjective sensations one experiences when asleep (Bryant). One often dreams about known people, strangers, places one had been to, places one had never been to or never even heard of. Many a time, a dream is as common as recollecting some events that happened during the day. Dreams could also be one’s deepest fears and darkest secrets or most intimate fantasies. In fact, there is no limit to what a human being can dream about. Often, the stresses man feels in his daily life are manifested in dreams either plainly or in disguise. For instance, a dangerous tiger chasing someone in a dream could be as a result of the stress he or she feels at the workplace or concerning the individual’s relationships with a close relative or friend. Also, a recurring dream about a person missing a train or flight might mean the individual’s feelings of disappointment embedded deep in the mind about missed opportunities in the past. Thus, dreams serve as an outlet to vent man’s inner most fears and secrets for his physical, mental and emotional well being.
It is said that on an average people do spend six years of their life dreaming (Cherry). The first interpretation to dreams in recent history was given by Sigmund Freud through his published work “The interpretation of dreams,” which was published in the year 1900. According to Freud, dreams are manifestations of human desires and urges that are kept suppressed in the subconscious (Freud and Joyce, p. 154). Freud says that our inner desires include many things we do not want to admit ever in our lives including our sexual urges. Because of our inner urges, things related to our desires like objects, places and peculiar human behaviors like flying symbolically appear in our dreams repeatedly. Freud suggests that if man could unravel the relationship of the corresponding objects and symbols with the problems in his real life, he can very well understand his subconscious desires. Carl Jung, famous Swiss psychologist, criticized the theory of Freud as having too much thoughtful about sexual desires. Jung fine tuned the theory by stating that dream is a way by which man communicates and gets acquainted with his subconscious. Dreams in no way try to conceal one’s actual feelings from the mind in its awakening form, rather dreams serve as windows to one’s unconscious mind and guide the waking mind to achieve fullness and offer solutions to problems faced by the waking mind (Dream theorists).
In contrast to both Freud and Jung, during the second half of the twentieth century, a new movement in psychology evolved, taking a different view and approach to dreams from the perspectives of neurophysiology. This approach attempts to decode the activities taking place in human nervous system and brain while dreaming (Aoyama). Allan Hobson, Professor Emeritus, Harvard Medical School is regarded as an important front-runner in this field during the recent time. According to Professor Hobson, the theories of both Freud and Jung do not have any scientific validity. Hobson focused on the working of the brain as against the contents of the dreams the earlier theories relied upon. Hobson’s theory put forward during the 1970s affirms that when a man enters Rapid Eye Movement sleep (REM sleep), the condition in which man mostly dreams, a signal sent out from the brain stem positioned down below the brain activates an area accountable for visual sensitivity. While asleep, we cannot input information taken from the outside world, and hence the brain takes memory in fragments and tries to piece them together to create its own story, which we call a dream. However, at this point of time, the area of the brain that is responsible for handling caution and decision making ceases to be fully active. That is why most our dreams are meaningless, says Hobson (Aoyama).
However, during the late 1990s, Mark Solms, Professor, University of Cape Town, put forward a new theory about dreams. Even though Solms believed Hobson’s theory to the core in the beginning, he changed his views later when he happened to study people with brain injuries. Solms’ theory had many aspects to view the theory as a remedy of Freudian thinking. Solms studied people with brain injuries and found that some people continued to dream even after sustaining brain stem injuries, disproving Hobson’s findings that a switch in the brain stem activated dreams. Solms also discovered that people cease to dream on getting injury in the frontal brain area that controls urges. Thus, Solms concluded that dreams start with an urge to do something (Aoyama). In other words, as Freud stated, dreams are only manifestations of inner human urges.
Nonetheless, modern day psychologists have accepted the fact that dreaming is more closely linked with one’s imagination than perception. Even then, it is not possible to fully analyze the contents of human dreams, as often asserted by Freud. This is due to the fact that the process of analyzing the contents of dreams is rather cumbersome because it has to rely on a person’s testimony about his dream, which is all the more subjective. However, everyone would these days accept the fact that dreams manifest human urges and are indicative of our mental state.
Aoyama, Naoatsu. "What Are Dreams? Psychology, Neuroscience Try to Explain Them."The Asahi Shimbun. 26 Aug. 2012. Web. 26 Apr. 2015. <http://ajw.asahi. com/article/globe/feature/dream/AJ201208260022>.
Bryant, Charles W. "What Are Dreams?" How Stuff Works. 1 Jan. 2015. Web. 26 Apr. 2015. <http://science.howstuffworks.com/life/what-are-dreams.htm>.
Cherry, Kendra. "Ten Facts about Dreams." About Education. 1 Jan. 2015. Web. 26 Apr. 2015. <http://psychology.about.com/od/statesofconsciousness/tp/facts-about-dreams.htm>.
"Dream Theorists." Dream Moods. 2 June 2014. Web. 26 Apr. 2015. <http://www.dreammoods. com/dreaminformation/dreamtheory/jung.htm>.
Freud, Sigmund, and Joyce Crick. The Interpretation of Dreams. Oxford: Oxford UP, 1999. Print.