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Why do we dream?

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Introduction

Why do we dream? There have been several different theories put forward as to the reasons why we dream. One of the most famous was put forward by 'Freud' [1901]. Freud argued that a dream is a psychic safety valve, that harmlessly discharges otherwise unacceptable feelings. According to Freud, a dreams manifest content is a censored symbolic version of its deeper x-rated, latent content, which consists of drives and wishes that would be threatening if expressed directly. ...read more.

Middle

Although Freud considered dreams the key to understanding the individual's inner conflicts. Many of his critics believe that dream interpretation leads down a blind alley. Some say that even if dreams are symbolic, they can be interpreted almost any way a person wishes. Others say that there is nothing hidden in dreams. Several alternatives to Freud's theory of dreams have been offered. One of these sees dreams in terms of 'information processing' functions. ...read more.

Conclusion

Perhaps dreams or the associated physiological activity of REM sleep provides the sleeping brain with periodic stimulation. The theory makes sense from a developmental point of view, because infants, whose neural networks are just developing, spend most of their time in REM sleep. Other physiological theories propose that dreams are triggered by neural activity that spreads upwards from the brainstem. In summary, a need for dreaming has been established through REM deprivation studies, but there are rival theories concerning exactly what psychological or physiological requirement this need fulfils. The study of dreaming, like the study of sleep continues to pose many questions. [363 words] ...read more.

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