Hobson and Solms Are Like Thelma and Louise, Except They Hate Each Other, They Don’t Drive Off the Grand Canyon, and They Happen to Be Psychiatrists
Freud’s ideas have managed to spark a number of arguments and debates in the world of psychoanalysis. While some experts believe that his findings should be thrown out entirely, others believe he was absolutely correct in his theories. The rest call for serious revamping of past concepts to allow them to fit in better with more up-to-date research.
Two experts in dream science, Hobson and Solms, are especially energetic in their vocalization of their disagreement on the subject. The main point of argument is Freud’s belief that the Id produced dreams that were sexual and primitive in nature, as well as a byproduct of infantile repressions. Freud also believed that the Ego cushioned these hard truths and even went so far as to censor and direct our conscious awareness away from the more disturbing truths of our Id.
The Conflicting Theories of Hobson and Solms
Now, thanks to Hobson and Solms, there are two dominating neuropsychological theories concerning the interpretation of dreams. The first is Hobson’s activation synthesis theory. Solms’ neuropsychoanalytic theory is the other, and was developed more recently.
Hobson is the one against Freudian theories. Specifically, he opposes those that concentrate on internal wishes, subconscious censorship, etc. According to his own study on REM (Rapid Eye Movement) and NREM sleep (dreaming and non-dreaming stages of sleep), Hobson has found that the regularity and alterations between REM and NREM don’t support Freud’s claims.
Solms, a staunch Freud supporter, says otherwise. According to Solms, not only was Freud correct, his research also left avenues open for exploration. This particular avenue is called neuropsychoanalysis. Solms claims that Freud’s preoccupation with the sexual connotations present in dreams is backed by the seeking system. This means that dreams are, indeed, motivated by the desire for sex and particularly, misplaced sexual energy.
Similarities Between Dreams and Psychoses
Hobson believes that the presence or absence of certain chemicals during certain moments of REM and NREM cycles proves his theory, while Solms is also under the impression that the same evidence can support his claim.
The Hobson and Solms theories are similar in a couple of surprising ways. Both men believe that dreaming is just another form of psychosis. Other than agreeing that dreaming is a type of psychosis, however, Hobson and Solms can’t seem to agree on what type of psychosis dreaming is more like.
Solms found, in research pertaining to frontal lobotomies, that dreaming shares similarities with schizophrenia because both stimulate the brain in almost exactly the same way. Hobson, on the other hand, believes that dreaming is a type of delirium.
Delirium isn’t a form of psychosis that gets a lot of recognition, so here’s a breakdown of what those suffering from it can experience. It’s an organic brain disease that causes disorientation, hallucinations (sometimes both visual and auditory), scattered or illogical thoughts, memory loss, and confabulation (which is an awesome word). Since dreamers can experience all of those symptoms and more, it’s easy to see the basis for Hobson’s argument.
Whether dreaming is schizophrenic or delirious, the concept is one that is new to many dream experts. The idea that dreaming can be considered a form of mental instability is a theory that sets both Hobson and Solms apart from their peers, while concreting their own arguments against one another.
Also, if you’re wondering what it is about Hobson and Solms that makes their debate so interesting, look no further. The fact that both men are of the belief that the content of dreams is the byproduct of highly bizarre, and therefore exotic, forms of brain activity makes their findings that much more interesting to the public.
The thought of suffering from schizophrenia or delirium may be daunting in most cases, but dreams are safe places to be a little ‘crazy,’ so people don’t mind as much. The fact that Hobson and Solms have proof that the dream process is similar to psychosis is enough to make their findings fascinating, but not alarming.
Dreams from a Neurological Standpoint
Another thing that Hobson and Solms have in common is that they often dismiss the content of the dreams themselves. Instead, they focus on the neurological aspect of dreaming.
The questions that concern them are things like: Which chemicals go where during the sleep process and how much is needed of each one before dreaming is induced? What sort of signals does the brain set off when dreaming occurs? Are the chemicals and neurological signals different for a nightmare and a regular dream? What part of the brain is the most active during the dreaming process and why?
Solms was even able to explain away Freud’s ‘mistakes’ concerning the censorship and symbolism of dreams. The entire explanation is very involved and a little pompous, so if you’re interested in a long-winded explanation that’s filled with phrases like ‘unconstrained parietal-lobe mechanisms operating in reverse,’ then be my guest and look the guy up.
One of the most important similarities that Hobson and Solms seem to share is the need to use one another as supporting arguments for their own theories. Hobson, the anti-Freudian, wouldn’t have much fun (or media coverage) if there were no pro-Freudians to argue with. Likewise, Solms can’t bemoan the decline of valid Freudian theories without a non-Freudian that he can point to and say ‘look, that’s what’s wrong with the system today’.
The two men need each other and support one another in ways that only Freud can understand, which is probably why you’ll never see one name mentioned without the other.
- The Mind at Night: The New Science of How and Why We Dream (ISBN 9780465070695): Andrea Rock
- Embodiment: Creative Imagination in Medicine, Art and Travel (ISBN 9780415404341): Robert Bosnak
- Soul, Psyche, Brain: New Directions in the Study of Religion and Brain-Mind Science (ISBN 9781403965097): Kelly Bulkeley
- Children’s Dreams: From Freud’s Observations to Modern Dream Research (ISBN 9781855756366): Claudio Colace
- Dream Debate: Hobson Vs. Solms – Should Freud’s Dream Theory Be Abandoned?: David Chalmers, Stuart Hameroff, Stanley Krippner, Stephen LaBerge, and Jaak Panksepp Sue Blackmore, Stuart Hameroff Maurizio Benazzo, David Chalmers, Allan J. Hobson, Mark Solms (DVD)
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