The interpretation of dreams developed by Dr. Sigmund Freud is a theory that is still believed by many. Freud thought the function of dreaming was to allow the discharge of repressed instinctual impulses in such a way as to preserve sleep. He also believed the instigating force behind dreams was always an instinctual and unconscious wish. Dr. Freud considered these wishes to be predominantly sexual in nature. In “Introductory Lectures on Psycho-Analysis,” he wrote: “Though the number of symbols is large, the number of subjects symbolized is not large. In dreams those pertaining to sexual life are the overwhelming majorityThey represent the most primitive ideas and interests imaginable.” Every dream according to Freud, is created by an instigating force/ unconscious wish, that sexual or otherwise is a meaningful message in disguise. The fact that dreams so regularly contained sexual and other unacceptable wishes explained why dreams are so regularly and so easily forgotten. This is why many dreams that contain repressed and unacceptable wishes remain in the unconscious (according to Freud’s theory).
In 1977, Drs. Allen Hobson and Robert McCarley of Harvard University presented a neurophysiological model of the dream process called: The Activation- synthesis Model of Dreaming. This paper published in the American Journal of Psychiatry suggested that the occurrence of dreaming sleep is physiologically determined by a “dream state generator” located in the brain stem. The main emphasis of the Activation-synthesis theory is dreaming is not psychological but physiological. This totally contradicts all that Freud preached, however he was absolutely correct about one aspect of dreaming, which is every stage involves sexual arousal. Hobson/ McCarley’s extensive research proves dreaming to be physiological on the basis of the predictability of dreaming sleep. The duration of dreaming sleep is also constant, which suggests the dreaming process as not only automatic and periodic but metabolically determined. This find contradicts the classic Freudian theory of a driving force behind all dreams. Hobson and McCarley see our poor ability to recall our dreams as reflecting “a state-dependent amnesia, since a carefully effected state change, to waking, may produce abundant recall even of highly charged dream material.” So with that logic in mind if you are rapidly awakened out of REM sleep, you are likely to remember dreams that you would otherwise forget.
Dr. Freud’s theory sounds wonderful; the fact that even a small amount of it has remained legitimate and even proven fact is amazing. However Hobson and McCarley through research and modern technology have proven the other 90% of Freud’s theory basically wrong. I believe the materialistic ways of Hobson and McCarley doesn’t sit well with average people, because most want to believe dreams have psychological significance. I think the main problem with people in the research field is they tend to extract all that separates people from animals or plants right out of us. On the other hand, where would we be with out such people?