Why we evolved to dream
Back in the 1980s the Irish psychologist, Joe Griffin, co-founder of the human givens approach, was fascinated by the age-old puzzle of why we dream. Nature is always efficient in her design, he reasoned, so he set about to discover its true purpose.
His extensive published research (carried out over 12 years) resulted in the first comprehensive, scientifically consistent theory of why we evolved to dream – his expectation fulfilment theory of dreaming. This has led, through his work with Ivan Tyrrell (who was one of the first to realise the huge implications of Joe's research), to huge improvements in the treatment of depression, addiction, psychological trauma and the early stages of psychosis.
His discovery, which has significantly advanced our understanding of the causes of mental health and emotional problems, was satisfyingly simple, easy to test ourselves – and consistent with all scientific dream and sleep research to date. No new research has contradicted it. (You can read more here)
Griffin's important work has also thrown invaluable light on the little-appreciated importance of the REM state – which has to do with a lot more than just dreaming.
You can read more about his work and watch Joe giving a lecture about it here, where he also shows how new research continues to back up his theory,
And the book, which covers the story of his discovery and the research findings that corroborate it, is full of dream descriptions which are convincingly explained – including a new analysis of Freud's famous 'Dream of Irma's injection':
by Joe Griffin and Ivan Tyrrell
Explore our articles and interviews
It took millions of years for the human mind to evolve into the self-forming creature we can now become. We have reached a watershed where exciting recent discoveries about how the mind/body system works enable us to understand the processes by which the human nature of a new child can successfully unfold to create an effective and fulfilled individual.
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Last night, while you slept, you went into the REM state and dreamed. You probably don't remember because, for a very good reason, we evolved not to. However all normal humans go into the REM state and dream every night and most mammals show evidence of this brain pattern too.
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The Human Givens Institute (HGI) was one of the six organisations, along with BACP, UKCP and NCS, involved in developing the SCoPEd framework,
As you may be aware, after 26 years as editor of the Human Givens Journal, Denise Winn will be stepping down at the end of 2023. Despite advertising for a successor last year, we have been unable to find any one person who could fulfil the role.
Date posted: 13/04/2023