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Lawrence Michaels

Dreaming and the REM State

Posted by Lawrence Michaels

1370 Days Ago

People have always been fascinated and mystified by dreaming and fairly recent groundbreaking research by the psychologist Joe Griffin has shed an interesting light on the purpose of dreaming.

It has been well documented that we dream when we enter the REM state during sleep, and now we have a greater understanding of the link between the REM state and the connection with learning and instinctual programming. This is in part due to the discovery that the highest percentage of REM activity is experienced as a foetus, when instinctual patterns are laid down ready for birth. It has also been established that the ‘context’ of our dreams are less important because for most of us we dream using metaphor based on events and experiences we have been exposed to from the day before we dream.

With this understanding Joe then discovered the most valuable function of dreaming; that dreaming de-activates unfulfilled emotional arousal. In other words dreaming acts as an emotional detox so that if we go to sleep with emotionally arousing thoughts or expectations which are unsatisfied or incomplete, even if we are not fully aware of this emotional arousal, they are then ‘flushed out’ of the emotional centres of the brain or de-activated, by the metaphorical expression of dreaming. After the emotional expression of the dreaming has been fulfilled we are left free to be better prepared to deal with the following day and any additional emotionally arousing experiences.

As mentioned above the metaphors and symbolism in dreams can usually be attributed to and ‘borrowed’ from things we experienced or were exposed to on the previous day, no matter how insignificant. However it is the feeling we have in a dream that is more significant and relevant in understanding what emotionally arousing experience we are attempting to resolve. The feelings we have in dreams are typically exaggerated versions of feelings from the emotionally arousing issue that caused the dream. So if we have a dream where we have a feeling of terror, it is likely that there is something in our life at that time that is causing us anxiety or fear. The fact that the dream might have involved a member of family or had an underwater scene is more likely due to unrelated thoughts around that member of family from the previous day or just before sleep, or in the second example from watching a film involving a lot of underwater scenes!

Ref: Dreaming Reality: How dreaming keeps us sane, or can drive us mad by Joe Griffin and Ivan Tyrell. HG Publishing

lawrence Michaels

Article written by Lawrence Michaels - Hove

I'm a qualified Solution Focussed Psychotherapist and Hypnotherapist and NLP Practitioner, specialising in anxiety related concerns. I have been practising since 2008 and have also worked extensively with clients who have eating, weight and body image concerns in addition to a large number of other life issues. I hold a current... [read more]


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