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Rosenthal, W. (1978). American Journal of Psychiatry. CXXXIV, 1977: The Neurobiological Origins of Psychoanalytic Dream Theory. Robert W. McCarley and J. Allan Hobson. Pp. 1211-1221.. Psychoanal Q., 47:654-655.
Psychoanalytic Electronic Publishing: American Journal of Psychiatry. CXXXIV, 1977: The Neurobiological Origins of Psychoanalytic Dream Theory. Robert W. McCarley and J. Allan Hobson. Pp. 1211-1221.
The Brain as a Dream State Generator: An Activation-Synthesis Hypothesis of the Dream Process. J. Allan Hobson and Robert W. McCarley. Pp. 1335-1348.
In the first of these two highly complex articles, the authors differentiate modern neurophysiologic concepts from the concepts in Freud's Project for Scientific Psychology and discuss the implications of the differences for psychoanalytic dream theory. They group these differences into four categories: (1) neurons serving for energy storage versus neurons serving for information transmission; (2) neurons as conduits for energytransmission from outside the CNS versus sensory receptor neurons as transducers; (3) neurons as passive acceptors and donors of energy versus neurons as spontaneously active; and (4) neurons as exclusively excitatory elements versus neurons that also serve as inhibitory elements. The most salient difficulty in Freud's model is an energy economy based on a false conception of neurons and synapses. In Freud's model, energy can only be diverted or stored, but it retains its power forever—a threat to the organism's comfort, even though restrained for the moment. This derives mainly from Freud's lack of knowledge of inhibitory neuron systems and his conception of the CNS as a "large signal" nervous system as compared to a "small signal" system requiring small amounts of electrical energy to stimulate potentials. There is no experimental support whatsoever for Freud's theory of dream generation; modern investigation points to autochthonous periodic and motivationally neutral activation of pontine generator neurons as a cause of the D-state. Day residuematerial or motivationally important themes may enter dream content; neither is a causal factor in the dream process. The driving force for D-sleep is a biologically determined and motivationally neutral activation of cells in the pons, rather than a repressed wish.
In the second article, the authors discuss dream physiology (D-state sleep) and characterize it by the following properties: activation of the brain, relative exclusion of external input, generation of some internal input which the activated forebrain then processes as information, and blocking of motor output except for the ocular motor pathway. The implications of their findings include dreaming as an automatically preprogrammed brain event and not a response to exogenous (day residue) or endogenous (visceral) stimuli: the dream state generator mechanism is periodic and can be visualized as a neurobiological clock. The pontine brainstem is the generator zone for the D-sleep state. The primary motivating force for dreaming is not psychological, but physiological, since time of occurrence and duration of dreaming sleep are constant, suggesting a preprogrammed neurally determined genesis. Specific stimuli for the dreamimagery appear to arise intracerebrally, but from the pontine brainstem and not in cognitive areas of the cerebrum. The dream process is seen as having its origin in sensory motor systems, with little or no primary ideational, volitional, or emotional concepts. They are viewed as possibly "providing a frame into which ideational, volitional
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or emotional content may be projected to form the integrated dreamimage, but this frame is itself conflict-free."
These articles are informative, provocative, and certain to stimulate controversy.
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Rosenthal, W. (1978). American Journal of Psychiatry. CXXXIV, 1977. Psychoanal. Q., 47:654-655