THE WORLD OF DREAMS
What exactly is a dream? This question is more complex and
controversial than you might guess. The conventional view is that
dreams are mental experiences during REM sleep that have a storylike
quality, include vivid visual imagery, are often bizzare, and are regarded
as perceptually real by the dreamer. However, theorists have begun to
question virtually every aspect of this characterization. Decades of
research on the contents of dreams have shown that dreams are not as
bizarre as widely assumed. In recent years, there has been renewed
interest in the fact that dreams are not the exclusive property of REM
sleep. Moreover, studies that have focused on dream reports from non-
REM stages of sleep have found that dreams appear to be less vivid and
storylike than REM dreams. And work on reflective awareness in
dreams suggests that dreamers realize they are dreaming more often
than previously thought. Thus, the concept of dreaming is undergoing
some revision in scientific circles.
What do people dream about? Overall, dreams are not as existing
as advertised. Perhaps, dreams are seen as exotic because people are
more likely to remember their more bizarre nighttime dramas. After
analyzing the contents of more than 10,000 dreams, Calvin Hall (1966)
concluded that most dreams are relatively mundane. They tend to
unfold in familiar settings with a cast of characters dominated by family,
friends, and colleagues, with a sprinkling of strangers. Researchers have
found that certain themes are more common than others in dreams.
For example, people dream quite a bit about sex, aggression, and
misfortune. According to Hall, dreams tend to center on classic sources
of internal conflict, such as the conflict between taking chances and
playing it safe. Hall was struck by how little people dream about public
affairs and current events. Typically, dreams are very self-centered;
people dream mostly about themselves.
Though dreams seem to belong in a world of their own, what people
dream about is affected by what is going on in their lives. If you.re
struggling with financial problems, worried about an upcoming exam,
or sexually attracted to a classmate, these themes may very well show
up in your dreams. Freud noticed long ago that the contents of waking
life tend to spill into dreams. He labeled this spillover the day residue.
The connection between a person.s real world and his or her dream
world probably explains why thematic continuity can be found among
successive dreams occurring in different REM periods on a given night.
On occasion, the contents of dreams can also be affected by external
stimuli experienced while one is dreaming.
Date: 2015-01-29; view: 510