Refocusing the Neurocognitive Approach to Dreams: A Critique of the Hobson Versus Solms Debate


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Abstract

This article examines the ongoing debate between activation-synthesis theorist J. Allan Hobson and psychoanalytic theorist Mark Solms about the nature of dreaming and dream content. After discussing their neurophysiological disagreements, it argues that they are more similar than different in some important ways, especially in talking about dreams in the same breath as psychosis and in drawing conclusions about dream content on the basis of their neurophysiological assumptions, without any reference to the systematic findings on the issue. Evidence from inside and outside the sleep laboratory on the coherent nature of most dreams is presented to demonstrate that neither theorist is on solid ground in his main assertions. Dreaming is usually a far more realistic and understandable enactment of interests and concerns than the 2 researchers assume. In addition, several of Hobson's and Solms's claims concerning the neural basis of dreaming are challenged on the basis of neurophysiological evidence.

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