Boag, S. (2017). On dreams & motivation: comparison of Freud’s & Hobson’s Views. Front. Psychol. 7:2001. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2016.02001
The merits of Freudian dream theory continue to be debated and both supporters and critics appeal to empirical evidence to support their respective positions. What receives much less attention is the theoretical coherency of either Freudian dream theory or alternative perspectives. This paper examines Freudian dream theory and J. Allan Hobson’s alternative position by addressing the role of motivation in dreams. This paper first discusses motivation in Freudian theory and its relation to dreams and disguise-censorship. The role of motivation in Hobson’s theory is then considered. Hobson’s claim that dream plot and content selection is random and based on design error and functional imbalance is then discussed in relation to the protoconsciousness theory proposal that dreams serve an adaptive function. While there are apparent inconsistencies in Hobson’s position, his appeal to emotions and instincts provides a preliminary platform for understanding the role of motivation in dreams that is consonant with the Freudian position.
Claudio Colace and I have published two new papers discussing the theoretical and evidential status of Freudian dream theory:
- Colace, C. & Boag, S. (2015). Persisting myths surrounding Sigmund Freud’s dream theory: a reply to Hobson’s critique of the scientific status of psychoanalysis. Contemporary Psychoanalysis, 51, 107-125.
- Colace, C. & Boag, S. (2015). The empirical study of infantile wish-fulfillment dreams: a reply to response of Allan J. Hobson. Contemporary Psychoanalysis, 51, 132-134.
Find copies of the papers here:
Colace & Boag 2015a and Colace & Boag 2015b
This article replies directly to the two cornerstones of Hobson’s legendary transposition of Freud’s dream theory, that is, the theory’s presumed empirical untestability and its scientific obsolescence or replaceability in the scientific arena. After an outline of Freudian dream theory, empirical data coming from two research paradigms (“children’s dreams” and “drug dreams”) are reported. From a theoretical-epistemological point of view, the studies show that Freud’s dream theory includes clear “potential falsifiers,” that is, in Popper’s terms, certain events, which if found to be true, would unequivocally show Freud to be wrong. This challenges Hobson’s accusation concerning the empirical untestability of Freud dream theory. From an empirical viewpoint, these studies show that Freudian dream theory is not even remotely scientifically outdated and obsolete. The results of these studies are consistent with the cornerstones of Freudian dream theory (e.g., the hypothesis of dreams as wish-fulfillment, the disguise-censorship model) and suggest the viability and worth of further investigation in this arena. Indeed, Freud’s dream theory is alive and useful in explaining the phenomenon of dreams in various fields of application. These authors believe that J. A. Hobson’s dismissal of Freudian dream theory is thus misguided and premature because, to date, the findings indicate that Freud was essentially correct.
These two papers involve a dialogue with J. Allan Hobson’s critique of Freudian dream theory. Our first paper is a response to J. Allan Hobson’s paper:
- Hobson, J. A. (2013). Ego Ergo Sum: Toward a Psychodynamic Neurology. Contemporary Psychoanalysis, 49(2), 142-164.
He then replied to our response:
- Hobson, J. A. (2015). Dreams and consciousness: response to Colace and Boag. Contemporary Psychoanalysis.
What is interesting about the discussion is that in many respects Hobson agrees with much of Freudian dream theory. The sticking point, however, appears to be the contribution of repression to dreaming.
Congratulations to Claudio Colace for his excellent new book examining the relevance of drug dreams for understanding and assessing Freudian dream theory (see here for further details). This follows up his other excellent book on psychoanalysis and children’s dreams that he published back in 2010 (see here for further details).
Colace Book Drug Dreams
“Drug dreams”, or the dreams in which drug-dependent patients use or attempt to use the drugs that they are addicted to, are a well-documented clinical phenomenon in various forms of drug addiction. Authors have highlighted their clinical, prognostic and therapeutic usefulness, since they provide information about the patients’ “drug craving”, their ability to cope with it, and their motivation to stay clean and sober. However, the study of drug dreams also reveals several implications and inspiration for general dream research and theory, especially with respect to the recent neuropsychology of dreaming, the emotional adaptive theories of dream, and the classical Freudian theory of dreams.
This book is aimed at providing a systematic and comprehensive discussion on drug dreams by considering the various perspectives involved (such as therapy in drug addiction, the neurobiology of drug craving, affective neuroscience, dream research) and, ideally, at suggesting future clinical applications for therapists (counsellors, psychotherapists, clinicians) in charge of treating drug-addicted patients, as well as providing input for dream researchers. The book draws from the author’s clinical and research experience on drug dreams among heroin-addicted patients, as well as from the scientific literature in this field. The book is composed of three parts: the phenomenology of drug dreams, their clinical and therapeutic aspects, and their implications for the dream research and theory.