Thursday, May 18, 2023

  • 05/18/2023 - 12:00pm to 1:00pm
    In his seminal book, The Interpretation of Dreams, Freud (1900) claimed that dreams are an attempt to fulfil primitive, emotionally-charged wishes that become disinhibited during sleep, and that they do so in order to preserve the state of sleep. He claimed that this is achieved because dreaming entails a diversion of motivational impulses away from the motor systems (which are paralysed during sleep) and a regression of them onto the perceptual systems. This gives rise to a fulfilment of the wish in hallucinatory fashion – that is, in virtual reality, instead of actual reality. Freud claimed also that the hallucinatory wish-fulfilment is disguised and censored, the purpose of which is also to protect sleep (to prevent anxiety, etc.). After Freud’s death in 1939, a succession of discoveries between the 1950s and 1970s about the brain basis of dreaming called all of these assertions into serious question. However, a second wave of discoveries starting in the 1990s and continuing to the present day, suggest that Freud might have been right after all. This talk will summarise the neuroscientific evidence for and against Freud’s dream theory, and conclude that we seem to owe Freud an apology.