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Psychology in Action

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their waking hours (Van de Castle, 1971). The first dreams of the night contained many red images which did not appear in the later dreams of the night. Many people believe that the onset of a dream is stimulated by environmental events such as the sound of an alarm or telephone. Studies indicate this is not so (Van de Castle, 1971). REM dreaming is caused by the initiation of the REM state which depends upon the sleep rhythms. External stimulations affect dream content only if one is already dreaming; then, the stimulus events may become part of the plot. If water is dripped on the forehead of a sleeper in both REM and NREM sleep, it has no effect on dream content unless the subject is in the REM period. Dream content remains a fascinating area for most people. Today, as in earlier periods of civilization, people want to know what their dreams mean. They expect to uncover hidden parts of their personality or solutions to emotional problems. Thus, they are quite ready to believe that Freud’ assertion that important, unconscious material surfaces through dreams. Others have suggested that dream content and interpretation rest upon personal preference. What one dreams about has been fairly well documented through extensive surveys (Hall, 1974). Almost all dreams are based on visual images (excluding children who are blind from an early age), although sound and touch may be involved. The normal rules of logic do not apply. The dreamer may be in one location and then abruptly be translocated to another place. Most dreams occur in some sort of dwelling; the majority of the times this is not one's home. The most often reported room of the house for a dream is the living room. Work place is seldom mentioned. In many dreams, the dreamer is alone; however, the most frequent scenario is the dreamer plus two other people. Contrary to popular belief, famous people seldom appear in dreams. The vast majority of people dream about people who are significant to them, especially if there is an ongoing conflict. Mundane or routine actions seldom occur--one does not brush one's teeth or wash dishes in a dream. Dreams tend not to be happy events. The three most common emotions are fear, anger, and sadness. There are also male-female differences in the content of dreams (Van De Castle, 1971). Men dream more of the outdoors and of strangers. Women report dreams containing people with whom they have significant close relationships and the location tends to be indoors. Men dream more often of other men; women dream equally of both sexes. In other words, the male spends less time than the female dreaming of the opposite sex. Physical aggression appears more often in male dreams, and the aggressor is most often male for both male and female dreamers. Females are more often the victim during dreams of aggression.
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