For a long time, there has been a common belief that thoughts suppressed during daytime are likely to be dreamt during the night. This is according to the research done on the suppressed thoughts and their influence on the dreams at the University of Texas, San Antonio (Wegner, Wenzlaff and Kozak, 2004). The purpose of this research article is to find whether suppressed thoughts have an influence on what is being dreamt by an individual.
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In this regard, the research questions were as follows. Do suppressed thoughts have an influence on dreams? Are there explainable theories behind suppressed thoughts and dreams? What is the connection between surprised thoughts and mental control?
The research hypothesis is based on the theory that suppressed thoughts can be accessed through dreams. Brain activities evidenced by rapid eye movement (REM) are an indication of brain activity in trying to access suppressed thoughts. Pre-sleep waking thoughts also influences dreams.
However, this is only known as a psychological theory and its factual statement is yet to be tested. The access of suppressed thoughts has recurrently been explained in the theory of ironic processes of mental control (Wegner, Wenzlaff and Kozak, 2004). Basically, the suppressing of thoughts and then activating them later in dreams have been viewed by psychologists as a way of controlling mental states.
For this to happen, there must be a conscious process that tries to access the desired state of mind. In addition, this process is also supplemented by an unconscious process that automatically tries to access the contents of the desired state of mind. An example of such interactions is given by an individuals desire not to think about eating a chocolate bar.
In such a process, a person will be forced to suppress his or her thoughts towards other important issues such as dieting and dangers of cholesterol. According to theory of ironic processes, suppressed theories are more likely to be evidenced in dreams compared to immediate thoughts before sleeping or waking. Psychologists allege that such can be evidenced by rapid eye movement (REM) exhibited in a person during sleep.
Basically, the rapid eye movement is a sign that certain memory functioning is taking place, preferably the deactivation of suppressed memories. Dreaming of past events such as traumatizing events are viewed as suppressed thoughts and are sometimes deactivated through dreams.
The research methodology used the following design and procedure. First, the research participants were undergraduates sampled from the University of Texas, San Antonia. The research sampled 202 women and 128 men. The sample population had a mean age of 20.36 years. Moreover, the participants were required to have at least attended the psychology introduction course offered at the university. Other important aspects of the research participation and design included offering the sample population with the following condition.
3 (instructions: suppression, expression, mention) × 2 (instruction target: crush vs. non-crush) design.
The research procedure was as follows. The research participants or sample population were given some materials in envelopes and were only allowed to open them before they got to bed that very night.
The first procedure involved thinking about two previous crush experiences they have had before and one non-crush experience. In this case, the material described a crush as a person one thinks romantically about, but has never had any romantic contact with. A non-crush is a person one thinks fondly about, without romantic feelings.
These crush and non-crush people were to be identified by initials. Another procedural task was to suppress the above thoughts for at least 5 minutes, and later think anything beside the initial thoughts. The participants were then required to record their afterwards consciousness as target thoughts. Basically, the participants were to record every detail of the target thoughts and sleep. The same procedure was to be repeated upon waking in the morning by recording all dreams.
The following morning the research findings were that 16 of the total participants dreamt about alcohol drinking. Nonetheless, the dreams of all participants were to be rated for further analysis.
Basically, the rate analysis had to consider the conditions, hypothesis on consciousness streaming and reports on crush and non-crush targets. In addition, the rate analysis also considered emotional intensity, eroticism of dreams and the valence aspect. From the research findings, it was evidenced that reliability of the ratings was a significant 0.93 in all the test variables among 19 participants.
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The results of the research found that the concept of manipulation effectiveness were to be passed by emotional response among the participants, when they thought about the targets. The aspect of dream–self ratings was also used to assess participants dream content and the influence of pre-sleep task on dreams. Finally, the dream reports were used to assess the coded report by participants on emotional intensity, eroticism and emotional valence.
The discussion of the research article agrees with the research experiment that pre-sleep task have an influence on dreams. For example, the participants dreamt with their pre-sleep suppression thoughts about their crush and non-crush person. However, dreaming of a crush experience did not necessarily mean that a person was emotionally attached to the crush.
According to the research, it is also possible that any rebound dreams that occurred were as a result of changes in brain activation. This could be evidenced by REM as the participants slept. It also means that REM and other brain activities can cause rebound dreams.
The research on suppression of thoughts and their association with dreams is well thought. In fact, the research is essential in giving insightful information regarding dream theories. Although, the research is not lengthy and only involves a simple concept of the dream theory.
The research is a foundation to an in-depth analysis on rebound dreams. The strength of this research is the inclusion of a target thought in analyzing the impact of suppressed thoughts in dreams. A thought on a crush is psychologically involving and is part of a crucial process in growth and development of young people. In this aspect, thoughts of emotional attachment to another person are a good example of some of the suppressed thoughts. This makes the research non-ambiguous and objective.
However, the research on suppressed thoughts association with dreams is non-conclusive. In fact, the current research provides a lot of generalization about dreams and does not describe how dreams are formed. The science behind the activation of suppressed thoughts as evidenced by the REM is non-convincing.
There are other reason that could result in brain activation and REM, and the results on the research could as well be imagined. In fact, the REM activity is an indication that there are mental processes, which are yet to be known. Therefore, this research could focus its research on theories that explain the ironic monitoring processes, the science behind brain activation and stress simulation theory.
In this regard, the research on activation-synthesis theory is significant in interpreting brain processes. Therefore, more research modification on the same and updating of activation-information-mode theory is critical. These theories are integral in interpreting and describing formation of dreams, as the fundamental principles behind suppressed thoughts and even rebound dreams.
In conclusion, this research raises other important aspects of the same research. For example, the concept of threat stimulation theory and other brain activities while sleep raises more question on the influence of suppressed thoughts on dreams. Therefore, this research requires further analysis and improvement on the same.
Wegner, M. D., Wenzlaff, M. R., & Kozak. M. (2004). Dream rebound: The return of suppressed thoughts in dreams. Psychological Science, 15(4), 232-236.