Dreams have to come from SOMEWHERE

From: M. E. Smith (mesmith@rocketmail.com)
Date: Tue May 16 2000 - 15:49:50 MDT

Considering that I've long been of the opinion that
most of Freud's theories were wrong, it's kind of
ironic to be adding my voice to those supporting
him, but anyway....

In particular, the comment to the effect that dreams
are not a "royal road" to the unconscious raised my
hackles, as it sounds like the author was referring
to a philosophically invalid idea that became
popular about a decade ago, but is being discredited
more recently.

I won't be able to be detailed because I'm not an
expert and I don't remeber the researchers names.

About a decade ago, when certain brain researchers
concluded that dreams were caused when certain
systems in the brain attempts to interpret random
firing of neurons during sleep, many concluded
(illogically) that this completely invalidated
dream interpretation. The argument was that, since
dreams are merely a knee-jerk attempt by the brain
to interpret as meaningful signals which were
in fact random and meaningless, then dreams therefore
are meaningless.

First of all, I believe that more recent brain
has raised doubt about this theory as to the physical
cause of dreams. However, that doesn't matter.

Even if dreams ARE only the result of systems in the
brain attempting to interpret random firings, it does
not follow that dreams are meaningless. This should
be obvious. Our dreams are not completely random;
they aren't like tuning a TV to a dead channel. They
can often be pretty muddled and incoherent, but on the
other hand, dreams often involve describable things
happening, and people doing this or that, etc.

It's as if somebody discovered that the ink blots
used in Rorshack (sp?) tests were created by a random
process, ("We have discovered that they are merely
ink blots") and therefore Rorshack tests are useless.
But, of course, the whole point of using ink blots is
that they ARE random. Since the ink blots contain
no information, the subject undergoing the test is
forced to put something of himself or herself into
the description of them.

Likewise, if dreams are due to an attempt to interpret
neuronal "noise", the content of the dream still
has to come from SOMEWHERE. From where else, if not
from the mind of the dreamer?

Put another way, if someone tells you about a dream
he had about George Washington crossing the Delaware,
you HAVE learned something about that person, if only
that he has heard of George Washington and knows
that he crossed the Delaware*. The content of the
dream has given you information about the person.
Although I have used a trivial example, this is,
in a nutshell, dream interpretation.

Dreams have content. That content must come from
somewhere. A given theory of dream interpretation
might be total rubbish, but it is obvious that
the content of dreams reflect in some way the content
of the mind of the dreamer.

Regardless of how kooky his theories might have been,
Freud was a pioneer in that he attempted to apply
a scientific spirit to the interpretation of dreams
to learn something about the unconscious contents
of the mind.

-- M. E. Smith

* If the dreamer HADN'T heard of Washington and
his crossing of the Delaware, you'd have to start
wondering about that collective unconscious stuff.

** *** ***** ******* ***********
M. E. Smith
** *** ***** ******* ***********

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