Experts Find New Answers to Meaning of Dreams

October 27, 1998 - 0:0
HAMBURG For thousands of years man has sought an answer to the meaning of dreams with modern researchers rediscovering the wisdom of dreams and its therapeutic values. Every person dreams between one and two hours each night irrespective of what is remembered. In a lifetime that adds up to a total of four years. During this century numerous scientists like Sigmund Freud (1856- 1939) have carried out research on the subject.

Freud's thesis that dreams are disguised or distorted images of suppressed desires is now largely being discarded. Other theories have meanwhile also been rejected as unsatisfactory or partially inaccurate. It is interesting to compare what the German magazine Psychologie Heute (psychology today) wrote on the subject seven years ago and its position today. It previously held that there were indications of a connection between physical and psychological dream events and placed emphasis on neurophysiological research which it said demystified dreams.

U.S. psychiatry Professor Allan Hobson regarded dreams as biological brain sequences, the activation of nerve connections and programs. According to Hobson, these events occurred so frequently because they were vital for the cognitive development and habit repertoire of man. Dreams served the purpose of activating first and foremost the instinctive side of man, he said. Psychologie Heute in its latest edition said dream physiology is now finding its way back to dream psychology.

That many neurophysiologists review their positions is illustrated by recent lectures held by Hobson and his colleagues at seminars. Physiological factors are now only being used to understand the differences between the state of dreaming and that of being awake. The actual content of the dream is, however, regarded as psychologically important and individual in nature. American Harry Fiss, pioneer of experimental dream research, says: The dream is a multi-functional life phenomenon.

The widespread view that the dream is an absurd or coincidental appearance has become doubtful. Latest research proves that our experiences during dreams are similar to those we have while awake. Studies carried out by psychologist Philip Zimbardo of Stanford University show that our feelings, thoughts and knowledge during dreams are very similiar to what we feel, think and know when we are fully awake.

Dream consciousness like day consciousness is highly complex and full of reflective self-criticism and choice options. Dream research shows that dreams have a therapeutic function and are good for us. Experts such as Michael Schredl from the Sleep Laboratory at the Mannheim Central Institute for Mental Health believe that there is a growing understanding of the wisdom of dreams. Experiments in dream workshops, he says, reveal that working with dreams nearly always has a positive effect and contributes to further development and healing of the person seeking assistance.

In an interview with Psychologie Heute Schredl says: Dreams are experiences. Despite all the strange aspects our dreams - as long as we dream - are for us just as real as all experiences in our daily life. Understanding dreams and the wakened state as continuous forms of consciousness is not a new view. But it is a real breakthrough that this view has been confirmed in such a way by experimental dream research, Schredl says.

The real message from dream psychology, Schredl says, is that we are all our own best dream experts in the sense that we try to link what we have experienced in our dreams to our daily lives. (DPA)