Reading Report On “The Purpose of Dreams” By William Domhoff

For thousands of years, dreams have always fascinated people—big and small and old and young alike. As a matter of fact, the events experienced in dreams are too vivid and real to be ignored. In one of its publications, the New York Times writes, “Dreams are so rich and have such an authentic feeling that scientists have long assumed they must have a crucial psychological purpose” (‎) or “functions such as consolidating emotional memories and processing experiences or problems” (Lin Edwards).

Because these are thoughts, images, or emotions occurring during sleep, “dreams have in recent years been subjected to empirical research and concentrated scientific study” (Kendra Cherry, Guide). While some researchers suggest that dreams serve no real purpose, there are those who believe that dreaming is essential to mental, emotional, and physical well-being (Nasir Ahmed). In light of these fascinating thoughts or views, George William Domhoff, a research professor in psychology and sociology at the University of California, Santa Cruz, wrote an article, discussing the purpose of dreams. To read the article in full, click on this link:!

While space may not permit us to give a detail report of our study on this subject, below is our reading report of Domhoff’s article, which includes a short reflective summary and a helpful commentary. Our intention here is to lay bare the facts as we understand from the Scriptures with some inferences so that others can draw some valuable lessons from the discussion.

Reflective Summary

First and foremost, William Domhoff’s article The Purpose of Dreams is a little informative but lacks fluidity. According to Domhoff, “Dreams are so compelling and they often seem so weird and strange.” What is of particular interest is the arguments, evidences, claims and counter-claims made by famous theorists, who talked about dreams that were mentioned in the article. Some of the theorists claim that dreams do have one or another purpose; others disagree on just what those functions are; yet, others suggest that dreams probably have no purpose. While Domhoff in his writing expresses that dreams have meanings and uses, and are very revealing of what is on our minds, the concluding part of the article suggests that dreams may not necessarily be important, and not worth remembering unless one finds it “fun, intellectually interesting, or artistically inspiring.

Overall, the article, in our opinion, is not encouraging and not well-presented. Probably, the most basic and permeating weakness of the author, is sometimes his confusing arguments and conclusions. The author could have done much better, since this is an issue of concern to many.

Helpful Commentary

The information Domhoff provided in his article does not overwhelmingly convince one of his arguments. Yet, he does a fairly good job of explaining the logic of his argument based on his personal perception of the issue.

While we understood and appreciated what he had to say in this article, we could not support his conclusions. In our personal studies on this issue, we have found that the understanding of dream symbols did not come from research or by natural human ability, and therefore, do not support the secular approach to interpretation of dreams. As said earlier, while dreams are thoughts, images, or emotions occurring during sleep, they have always fascinated people, and the events experienced in them are sometimes too vivid and real to be ignored.

As Christians, we believe that dreams play important part in the lives of God’s people. Right from the Old Testament days, people of God have always believed that God communicated in dreams. For example, God used dreams to protect His servants (see Genesis 20), and to reveal Himself to people in a special way (Genesis 28:12). He also provided guidance in specific events (see Genesis 31:10-13), warned about personal future events (see Genesis 37:5-20), and would speak to His prophets (see Numbers 12:6).

Dreams were also used to predict the history of what will happen in nations (Genesis 40-41) and to foretell the four great successive world empires that would be replaced by God’s eternal kingdom (Daniel 4:19-27). See also Daniel 2:31-45, where God gave Nebuchadnezzar an overview of future world history; and Judges 7:13-15, where the Lord revealed to Gideon that He would defeat the Midianites.

We also see in the New Testament how specific dreams emphasize the divine care and protection of the baby Jesus (see Matthew 1:18-23; 2:12-23), and how specific dream also prompted Pilate’s wife to warn her husband, “Having nothing to do with that just man” (Matthew 27:19).

The above passages gives us insight on how the wise men were instructed in a dream not to tell Herod where Jesus was living (Matthew 2:12). Jesus was further protected from jealous King Herod by the dream that told Joseph to flee to Egypt with Mary and the child (Matthew 12:13). On Herod’s death, Joseph was divinely advised in a dream to return home from Egypt (Matthew 12:20). Finally, God warned Joseph to avoid Judea, where Herod’s evil son Archelaus reigned, and to settle in Galilee instead (Matthew 12:22).

There is no doubt God has always communicated in dreams. He gives the dreams when, where, and to whom He pleases—a truth painfully learned by King Saul (see 1 Samuel 28:6, 15), and King Nebuchadnezzar, when the king received a prediction of his temporary insanity from God (see Daniel 4). In fact, the Old Testament saints knew that a dream was a “vision of the night” (Job 33:15). It revealed the spiritual realm (see Job 20:8; Psalms 73:20; 126:1; Isaiah 29:7-8). These are all facts that would not be supported by these theorists mentioned in Domhoff’s article.

Notwithstanding, we believe that everyone dreams, and that “dream stems from the subconscious into the conscious mind.” Of course our mental capacity is different; and with regard to cognition, we process information differently. Some of us remember the total dream and others remember parts of a dream.

We also believe that dreams can be used as excuses to communicate an underlining cause, and equally as lies or just small talk. Nevertheless, it is up to the listener to question the dreamer before a conclusion is reached. If a person does not remember his or her dream then it’s not meant to be remembered. If the dream is positive he or she should cherish the dream. If it is a negative dream then he or she can investigate in detail about the dream and or possibly use the idea of transference of positive thinking.

In the main, this article in our opinion does negate Scriptures. While it was written purely from psychological point of view, it was intended for spiritual rebuff and was clearly directed towards adults, teens, and religion in general.

See also, Ilumina Gold: Parents & Teachers Edition (Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House, 2004), Encyclopedia, ‘Dream.’


Ike Ozuome
© 2013-2017 . Ike Ozuome Ministries . All Rights Reserved.


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