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Dream theories Freud, activation synthesis hypothesis

Video transcript

- [Voiceover] Let's look at our gentleman in the middle. He is lying down and he is dreaming. That raises the question, do our dreams have a meaning? So if he's thinking about money, relationships, even weird and wonderful things like monsters chasing him down the road, what does that mean? Where are all these dreams coming from? Now, along came Sigmund Freud, a prominent neurologist and psychoanalyst, and what Freud said in his theory of dreams is that dreams really represent our unconscious wishes, urges and feelings. That dreams are a way of understanding things that are typically hidden. Now how do we understand that? Well, let's take this iceberg, and let's say that the bit of the iceberg above the water represents conscious wishes, urges, feelings and these are the things we actually know about and that we experience and that we consciously are aware of. But what you can see here underneath the water, there's plenty more iceberg. And that actually represents, the unconscious. Our unconscious wishes, urges and feelings. And it's these unconscious elements that come out in our dreams. Now Freud actually went a little bit further and said we can break down dreams into two key components. The first one being, what is actually happening in our dreams. And this is actually referred to as the Manifest Content. So, if you dream of monsters chasing you, the manifest content is very much, monsters chasing you. The second part of Freud breaking down dreams is what is the hidden meaning behind a dream? And this is something that he termed, Latent Content. So the monsters chasing you, does that refer to you, being potentially chased out of your job or feeling insecure in your job because other people are getting a promotion? What is the hidden meaning? That's how he broke down dreams. Into the manifest and latent content. So, according to Freud, dreams very much have a meaning on our lives. Dreams and the interpretation of dreams, trying to understand what the dreams mean, can really help us to identify and resolve conflict. Now, on the flip side of this, I've got this picture of this brain here. And one the things that was also hypothesized to happen, is that in the brain, we get a lot of electrical impulses, neurons firing in this area called the brain stem. And these electrical impulses are sometimes interpreted by the "thinking" part of the brain, the frontal part of the brain. That may try to understand or make sense of all these kind of random impulses that keep firing and keep occurring during this period of REM sleep And REM stands for Rapid Eye Movement sleep. It's the time or part of sleep that our eyes are rapidly moving and we experience dreaming. So during REM sleep, we get these brain circuits, this brain activity in the brain stem. And then the cerebral cortex and frontal part of the brain, has to interpret that and make sense of that. So we can turn the brain stem activity as being activation, and the cerebral cortex trying to understand what's happening as being, as trying to synthesize meaning, and this is very much a hypothesis, and if we put all of those together, we get the activation, synthesis hypothesis. Which is what this is really called. And what I mentioned is that dreams are simply our brain is trying to find meaning in these random signals from the brain stem. So really, the dreams may not have any prominent meaning. So this is very much a way that we can split up these two key theories. On one side, Freud feels that dreams indeed have a meaning and important to helping us to resolve hidden conflicts and understand unconcious feelings, desires, impulses, and that's his theory of dreams. On the other hand, we have this activation synthesis hypothesis. that suggest that dreams are simply a part of our brain, the frontal part of the cerebral cortex, that more generalized thinking part of our brain, trying to make sense of these electrical impulses in the brain stem. So two, really contrasting ideas about the importance of dreams. There are some other theories, these are just two of them, but two of the more important ones that you should be aware of.