In the midnight hour : systems theory and dreaming

Roberts, Ron (1986) In the midnight hour : systems theory and dreaming. (PhD thesis), University of Leicester, .


The thesis begins with an examination of current problems in the nature and application of scientific method. Particular difficulties are encountered when dealing with experiences whose only criterion of existence are verbal reports and in those circumstances in which a complex array of variables are interacting to produce the observed events. Both of these difficulties are paramount in the study of dreams. It is suggested that Systems Theory offers an alternative and more fruitful method of investigating dreams in comparison to traditional scientific method. Systems thinking provides the use of a substantive methodology for approaching the field of enquiry and a set of concepts for aiding the development of theory in that field. Systems theory has been used to this effect as a critical tool in the appraisal of existing work in the psychology of dreaming. Dreaming itself has been construed as the outcome of a hierarchically organized multilevelled network of interconnecting processes which requires for its understanding a network of interconnecting models each focusing at different 'levels of resolution' and addressing limited domains of dream experience. This hierarchical process it is postulated can be found reflected in an hierarchy present in dream content --- Dream; Scenel Recurrent images and Unique images. The hierarchical scheme is extended to include issues concerning the social construction and meaning of dreams (recal1, interpretation etc). Several experiments exploring these ideas are reported and discussed with tentative suggestions offered as to how the set of processes operating at the different levels combine into a dynamic interplay.

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