Psychotherapy Services in South West London

Dream mind and brain

Rossi and Ribeiro argue the value of dreams and the dreaming process. Positive psychological experiences can facilitate gene expression, problem solving and healing. Rossi cites research that shows that when experimental animals experience novelty, environmental enrichment and physical exercise, zif-268, a learning –related gene, is expressed in their REM dream sleep, leading to growth and change in the very structure of the pathways in the mind-brain. The plasticity of the brain in response to the experiences of the day is central to an understanding of the value of dreams. While the biological mechanisms underlying sleep dependent insight still remain unknown, the available subjective reports of the phenomenon point to an important role of dreams. The function of dreams is to time and shape the memories acquired during waking, in a cyclic process of creation, selection and generalization of conjectures about the world. Riberio describes dreams as hyper associative strings of fragmented memories that stimulate past events and future expectations. Jung reminds us that the evolutionary stratification of the psyche is more clearly discernible in the dream than in the conscious mind. In the dream the psyche speaks in images, and gives expression to instincts that derive from the most primitive levels of nature. Through the assimilation of unconscious contents the momentary life of consciousness can once more be brought into harmony with the law of nature and the patient can be led back to the natural law of his own being. Fonagy comments that it is now widely recognised that there is a critical transferential aspect to the interpretation of dreams. Dreams are not produced in isolation but are rather dreamt with the analyst in mind.

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