A new theory just published in the international peer-reviewed journal Neuro-Psychoanalysis suggests that a modified version of Freud’s dream theory describes not only how dreams are generated but how they are related to our memory. The strangeness of dreams is hypothesized not to come from a censor being turned on during sleep, but from daily perceptions and thought being forced at the time of storage to conform to a brain structure largely frozen in childhood and then interpreted with the executive function turned off. According to the theory, when turned on, the executive function transforms the memories back from the primitive memory structure into real daily perceptions and thought. The article, authored by Dr. Eugen Tarnow, a researcher in New Jersey, also removes the hitherto rigid boundaries between memory and dream research, and reaffirms the importance of the old Penfield Rasmussen findings (they were looking for memory, and found dreams — because memory is stored in dream format.)
The theory summarized:
Perceptions and thought are conjectured to be stored in the brain according to what is already stored. The brain structure of a human being is largely frozen during childhood. Freud’s dream work, which can be thought of as a list of mnemonic devices, describes how perception and thought is transformed at the time of storage to conform to the childhood brain structure. Dreams are proposed to be focused versions of ever present excitational responses to new perception. It is believed they only become conscious when the executive function ceases. The existence of a consciousness pointer is proposed, to help to explain why dreams are relatively focused to a single storyline rather than consisting of unfocussed masses of parallel storylines.
Irwin Feinberg. Chief of the Sleep Research Laboratory at UC Davis, one of the researchers who discovered that REM sleep is not dream sleep, says of the theory: “It is very interesting. I have no problems with it.”
The author concludes that Freud’s mysterious “unconscious,” previously thought to only be accessible by psychoanalysts via dream interpretation, is really long term memory accessible also by memory researchers. Dreams, previously ignored by memory researchers, become another tool to probe our memory structure.
Now, if they’d just get people like me into a dream study . . . I have all sorts of parallel, unrelated dreams, and also have seen radical changes in how my dreams occur as I’ve healed various psychological and emotional traumas. Interesting stuff!