Practical applications of the theory
The validity of the expectation fulfilment theory is being born out every day by the practical use it has in psychotherapy. No other dream theory has produced practical applications but in this case a new school of psychotherapy — the human givens approach — has grown up around it.
The organising idea that drives this approach is that we are all born with essential physical and emotional needs and the resources to help us fulfil them. It has been shown that when our emotional needs are met well and our resources are intact and being used properly, we do not suffer mental illness.
These needs and resources are innate in us, having evolved over millions of years. They are our common biological inheritance, whatever our cultural background — and it is because of this that they are called ‘human givens’.
Thanks to Joe Griffin's insights, we now know, of course, that one of the important resources we have is that we dream each night to dearouse the autonomic nervous system. In other words, dreaming keeps us sane by reducing our stress levels.
Such insights have been tremendously beneficial in therapeutic practice. For example, because human givens (HG) therapists understand that depressed people wake up tired and unmotivated every day as a result of excessive dream sleep and reduced slow-wave sleep, they are able to speed up psychological treatment of depression.
The theory and its ramifications have also led to an important insight into the nature of psychotic symptoms with implications for treatment.
And it has also opened up a new line of enquiry that explains hypnosis and the connection between trance and the REM state, learning and daydreaming.
To find out more about how people are using these ideas see:
Human Givens: A new approach to emotional health and clear thinking and An Idea in Practice: Using the human givens approach.
How to interpret your own dreams >
A full account of the history of Joe Griffin's research appears in Why we dream: the definitive answer (pages 21-48: 'An experimental adventure').
Human givens therapists are trained by Human Givens College.
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