In many ways, dream analysis was our first stab at psychology. The ancient kings of Mesopotamia received dreams as divine counsel, as evidenced by the reconstruction of the temple of Ninurta, which occurred only after Gudea, of the House Lagash, was allegedly told to do so in a sleep vision. The Ancient Egyptians were said to believe that their Gods used dreams as a way of communicating with them. For those with no spiritual or religious affiliations, Sigmund Freud or Carl Jung might more readily come to mind. These two are often credited with introducing dream interpretation as a serious psychological consideration in western society.
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Today, there are several credible schools of thought dedicated to the prospect that dreams are, or at least can be, tenable philosophical functions, though not everyone is sold on it.
To sleep perchance to dream
Michael Schredl and Kelly Bulkeley recently published a new study in the Journal of Dream Research, that explores the 21st-century attitude toward dreams. The study was enacted in the form of an online survey of 5, 225 American adults. These participants were asked about their demographic background, in addition, to be asked if they agreed or disagreed with the following six statements:
1. Some dreams are caused by powers outside the human mind.
2. Dreams are a good way of learning about my true feelings.
3. Dreams can anticipate things that happen in the future.
4. Dreams are random nonsense from the brain.
5. I am too busy in waking life to pay attention to my dreams.
6. I get bored listening to other people talk about their dreams.
Basically, the researchers wanted to determine exactly how many respondents felt that dreams were “real” “powerful” and “valuable” and how many believed dreams to be ultimately “unreal” or “insignificant.”
The data found that African-Americans by and large felt more positively about dreams than white participants did. Participants that received higher education, were more likely to be bored by having to listen to other people’s dreams. However, the most reliable determinant for how valuable or invaluable a respondent perceived dreams to be was most certainly religious affiliation.
Atheist and agnostics were much more likely to disagree with any positive associations with dreams while agreeing with the “random nonsense” statements. Catholics and Protestants were more likely to agree with the “power outside the human mind” and “anticipating the future” statements. Despite this, participants that did not identify as atheist or agnostic, but rather religiously as “something else” were found to evidence the most positive attitude toward dreams of all the groups, suggesting dreams have become coopted by the spiritual community. Young women, that identify as “spiritual” seem to be the most intensely engaged with dreaming more than most.
Bulkeley,concludes, “These are broad tendencies with lots of individual variation, but they do suggest a deeper connection between certain clusters of demographic qualities and how people relate to their dreams in the present-day United States.”
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