June 23, 2024

Dreams have been both a mystery and a point of interest to humans since the beginning of time. Scholars, men of faith and more have always found great interest in dreams.

In 1899 Sigmund Freud published his book “The Interpretation of Dreams,” leading to years of psychological research on the topic of dreams and the unconscious. Despite the secularization of the study of dreams led by Freud, religious circles still believe in an element of spirituality in the interpretation of dreams.

Marina Leso, junior psychology major, shared the history of psychological dream interpretation as well as her personal experience with the spiritual elements of dreams.

“When thinking about dreams in terms of psychology, my mind goes to the Sigmund Freud theory of dreams,” Leso said. She explained Freud argued the function of dreams is to allow the “unconscious mind (to) act out desires and actions that (are) not being fulfilled in waking life.” Leso also mentioned Carl Jung’s theory that states that “dreams are an individual’s unconscious mind expressing itself through symbols and metaphors.”

Leso asserted that a proper view of dreams in relation to the unconscious mind would be “a blend of both Freud and Jung theories.” Leso defines the unconscious mind as “a place where feelings, thoughts and memories that aren’t expressed reside in.”

Additionally, Leso said: “The unconscious is a place where strong emotions such as fears, pain, sadness, conflicts and desires that people don’t want to surface (are held).”

Leso shared that while there is a psychological element to dreams, she believes there is a spiritual element as well.

“I do believe that it is possible for spiritual forces to affect our dreams. I believe (this) because when I think about or miss my grandma (who has) passed away, I ended up seeing her in my dreams. I feel like it is God letting me know that she is doing OK and that she is safe (and) happy,” said Leso.

Allyse Bocka, junior psychology major, shared her academic knowledge in regard to the topic.

“Although there has been so much research attributed to finding out why we dream, there has been no clear reason,” said Bocka. “There are a lot of assumptions like dreams are just used for your brain to practice certain events or situations that could potentially happen.”

Bocka shared what she said she believes to be the best definition of the unconscious mind according to the field of psychology.

“Psychology has varying views on what exactly the unconscious mind is,” Bocka said. “(According to an online) article, the most used definition amongst those in the psychological field (is) ‘the unconscious mind is still viewed by many psychological scientists as the shadow of a ‘real’ conscious mind, though there now exists substantial evidence that the unconscious is not identifiably less flexible, complex, controlling, deliberative or action-oriented than is its counterpart.” Bocka said she also believes there is evidence of a spiritual element in dreams.

“On multiple occasions, God utilized dreams to speak directly to specific humans, mainly to prophesize,” said Bocka.

However, Bocka’s personal opinion is that God is not as active in the dream realm as he was in biblical times, but both God and satanic forces may still be an influential force on our dream life.

“God can still use dreams but does not to the extent (he did) in the Bible. I also feel dreams could be used by demons to cause chaos and sin in a person’s life,” Bocka said. “I think of all the unconscious things that happen in a dream that you can’t control, like lustful dreams or dreams where you hurt another person or wake up angry and with distrust of someone, that could be attributed to demons and our desire to sin.”

Dr. Angela Deulen, professor of psychology, defines the function of dreams as a means of the unconscious mind answering lingering questions.

“Think of dreams as the mind’s way of answering a question you probably haven’t even figured out consciously how to ask yet,” Deulen said. She partially rejects the common clinical psychology definition of the unconscious mind.

“There are several variations of clinical or psychological definitions of the unconscious mind. Most of them include some notion that the unconscious mind is made of thoughts, emotions and instincts that are either completely automatic in nature or perhaps even inaccessible to the conscious self.

“I do not completely take that position. I think of the content of our unconscious as a blind spot. Some blind spots are bigger than others, but we all have one.”

Deulen shared her advice on how individuals can be more in tune with their blind spots.“However, the more we practice the spiritual disciplines, and the more we address our own sanctification through introspection, the more aware we can become of the unconscious, effectively shrinking our blind spots,”

Deulen said. She said she believes that dreams are spiritually influenced, both positively and negatively.

“Aside from wonderful examples of God speaking to people in dreams in Scripture, I have been a witness to this in both my personal and professional life,” Deulen said.

Though there are many different takes on dream interpretations, biblical views impact the way we think about dreams.

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