Home Personal Psychology Sleeping/Dreaming Dreamer Beware: The Insightful Dreams of Sarah, Dan and Katherine

Dreamer Beware: The Insightful Dreams of Sarah, Dan and Katherine

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The following summary is offered (Barrett, 2001, p. 184):

“For centuries, creativity was seen as beyond man, a gift from the gods. If dreams played a role, they were considered divine messages. In the nineteenth century, Goethe and Schiller connected creation with the unconscious. Though still mysterious; the process was now viewed as internally arising rather than externally imposed. Freud’s emphasis on dreaming as “the royal road to the unconscious” brought it into this same realm.

Twentieth-century psychologists divide problem solving into four stages: “preparation,” “frustration,” “inspiration,” and “verification.” Inspiration cannot be accessed at will, and creativity is most essential here. This is where dreams typically play their role. Any break from concentrated problem solving may allow a misleading assumption to dissipate. But the sleeping mind abandons conventional logic most completely to pursue novel approaches.

How does the Committee do this? Neurology suggests that dreaming is simply the mind thinking in a different biochemical mode. Throughout this emotional, visual, hallucinatory state, we continue to worry about personal, practical, or artistic problems and occasionally we solve them. Freud wrote of a “dream censor” keeping unacceptable sex and aggression at bay. But as a gatekeeper for novel solutions to problems, the Committee is more liberal than any daytime censor.”

Barrett (2001, p. 189) concludes her analysis of dream functioning by proposing—like Fromm—that we pay attention to the representation of problems in our dreams—for “above all [dreaming is] a time when the unheard parts of ourselves are allowed to speak—we would do well to listen.”

Dreams and Cultures

Erich Fromm goes further in making the case for dreams being beneficial. Like Deirdre Barrett, Fromm offers a brief history of dreams in human societies. Follows in the tradition of Carl Jung, Fromm also offers brief history of many other human enterprise that offer comparable benefits. Many insightful and beneficial products are to be found in all culture (Fromm, 1951, p. 32):

“. . . .the evidence that cultural influences are beneficial to us seems almost overwhelming. What differentiates us from the world of animals is our capacity to create culture. What differentiates the higher from the lower stages of human development is the variation in cultural level. The most elementary element of culture, language, is the precondition for any human achievement. Man has been rightly called a symbol­making animal, for without our capacity to speak, we could hardly be called human. But every other human function also depends on our contact with the outside world. We learn to think by observing others and by being taught by them. We develop our emotional, intellectual and artistic capacities under the influence of contact with the accumulation of knowledge and artistic achievement that created society. We learn to love and to care for others by contact with them, and we learn to curb impulses of hostility and egoism by love for others, or at least by fear of them.”

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