Why we evolved to dream

Psychologist Joe Griffin woke up one morning with an insight into why we dream. He immediately decided to change the direction of his post graduate research and started comparing people’s dreams with the emotional content of events in their waking lives the day before. The research programme lasted twelve long years and his findings produced the first holistic synthesis, a recognition of the interdependence of the biological and the psychological, that explained the origin, function and meaning of dreams. His work has enormous implications for our understanding of how the brain works and, consequently, the future of psychology and psychotherapy. Now we know why we evolved to dream we can understand what causes depression, trauma, psychosis and explain more about how the brain learns.

This programme, why we evolved to dream, is a television recording of a lecture given by Joe Griffin to an audience of scientists, health professionals and interested academics. In the lecture he explains the background to current thinking about what dreams do for us and then explores his findings that show how dreaming evolved to preserve the integrity of our instincts by discharging unresolved emotional arousal from the previous day that would otherwise build up to the point where it would disable us. He also explains the link between the REM state and the programming in of our genetic endowment of instinctive behaviours, and why this new knowledge can improve the delivery of psychological interventions for disabling emotional problems such as depression, anger, phobia and trauma. 

Why we evolved to dream is the first in the Radical Psychology Television series of lectures on new ideas in psychology and psychotherapy – other titles now in production include breaking the cycle of depression, an explanation of why excessive emotional arousal can overload the dreaming process, leading to excess REM sleep, lack of motivation and depression; and fish out of water, a new evolutionary explanation of the roots of autism.  What people have said about Joe Griffin's pioneering work