Dreams

dream

dream, mental activity associated with the rapid-eye-movement (REM) period of sleep. It is commonly made up of a number of visual images, scenes or thoughts expressed in terms of seeing rather than in those of the other senses or in words. Electroencephalograph studies, measuring the electrical activity of the brain during REM sleep, have shown that young adults dream for 11/2 to 2 hours of every 8-hour period of sleep. Infants spend an average of 50% of their sleep in the REM phase (they are believed to dream more often than adults) a figure which decreases steadily with age. During dreams, blood pressure and heart rate increase, and breathing is quickened, but the body is otherwise immobile. Studies have shown that sleepers deprived of dream-sleep are likely to become irritable and lose coordination skills. Unusually frightening dreams are called nightmares, and daydreams are constructed fantasies that occur while the individual is awake. Studies have demonstrated the existence of lucid dreaming, where the individual is aware that he is dreaming and has a degree of control over his dream.

Sigmund Freud, in his pioneering work The Interpretation of Dreams (1900, tr. 1913), was one of the first to emphasize dreams as keys to the unconscious. He distinguished the manifest content of dreams—the dream as it is recalled by the individual—from the latent content or the meaning of the dream, which Freud saw in terms of wish fulfillment. C. G. Jung held that dreams function to reveal the unconscious mind, anticipate future events, and give expression to neglected areas of the dreamer's personality. Another theory, which PET scan studies appear to support, suggests that dreams are a result of electrical energy that stimulates memories located in various regions of the brain.

See J. A. Hobson, The Dreaming Brain (1988); M.-L. von Franz, Dreams (1991).

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright© 2013, The Columbia University Press.

Selected full-text books and articles on this topic

Temporarily FREE! Dreams and Nightmares: The Origin and Meaning of Dreams
Ernest Hartmann.
Perseus Publishing, 2001
An Introduction to the Psychology of Dreaming
Kelly Bulkeley.
Praeger, 1997
Dreams and History: The Interpretation of Dreams from Ancient Greece to Modern Psychoanalysis
Daniel Pick; Lyndal Roper.
Routledge, 2004
An Evolutionary Psychology of Sleep and Dreams
Patrick McNamara.
Praeger, 2004
Dreams
C. G. Jung; R.F.C Hull.
Princeton University Press, 2010
Basic Psychoanalytic Concepts on the Theory of Dreams
Humberto Nagera; S. Baker; A. Colonna; R. Edgcumbe; A. Holder; L. Kearney; M. Kawenoka; C. Legg; D. Meers; L. Neurath; K. Rees.
Maresfield Library, 1990
Dreams That Turn over a Page: Paradoxical Dreams in Psychoanalysis
Jean-Michel Quinodoz; Philip Slotkin.
Brunner-Routledge, 2002
Cognitive Therapy and Dreams
Rachael I. Rosner; William J. Lyddon; Arthur Freeman Edd.
Springer, 2004
Dreaming in the World's Religions: A Comparative History
Kelly Bulkeley.
New York University Press, 2008
Dreaming Souls: Sleep, Dreams, and the Evolution of the Conscious Mind
Owen Flanagan.
Oxford University Press, 2000
The Neuropsychology of Dreams: A Clinico-Anatomical Study
Mark Solms.
Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 1997
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