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Essay: Analysis of study on dreaming during pregnancy

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  • Published: 15 November 2019*
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  • Words: 813 (approx)
  • Number of pages: 4 (approx)

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This report was based on a study of 40 pregnancies, consisting of 20 healthy and 20 at risk pregnancies. The overall objective was to see if collectively, the dreams of the different groups differed in such a way that it was measurable. The way they categorized the areas of difference was from unpresentable to representable, from dependency to reciprocal relationships, and from undifferentiated to different. It is noted that pregnancy is a time of change for both mother and baby, which includes but is not limited to: changes in sleep patterns and dream activity. The new dream patterns include ones that are either positive or negative but extreme in either direction. For example, during the first trimester it is common to lack no deep, refreshing sleep. Another example is during the 3rd trimester when there’s an increase in a dysphoric-type (profound state of uneasiness) of sleep which normally contains extreme negative content and feelings of terror. Noticeable high dream activity is also a side effect. In medical terms, this is called hypersomnia which is induced to the biological and psycho-physical rollercoasters that come along with pregnancy. A specific characterization of pregnancy is determined by an increase in primary thinking. Along with the increase in primary thinking, the development of “psychological digestion”, which is when a woman’s dreams transform from “normal” to ones concerning everything about her pregnancy, arise and are profound enough that she can recall them from memory.

In 1953, Freud drew the conclusion that “dreams are the guardians of sleep”. And in 1962, Bion came along and focuses on the changes of state and the development of the alpha function. By definition, the alpha function is the “abstraction used to describe the capacity of the mind to transform the sensorial impressions and emotions into unusable data for the construction of dream thought and unconscious waking thinking”.  During the periods of intense research that these people did, it was concluded that the mother’s ability to dream could possibly contribute to the child’s ability, or lack thereof, to dream after birth. Because dreams make connections through emotions, it is thought that dreams themselves could actually be therapeutic in the case of trauma. Simply due to the fact that they present the issue at hand but in a more passive way, eventually it helps the emotions caused by the trauma to fade over time. It is believed that pregnancy has the same effect with slight variation on the mother and child. Concerning the risk factors of pregnancy, the major parts that this research was based on were the reproductive risks and then those were subdivided into localized factors (such as, reproductive system issues or complications in previous pregnancies).

During the actual research part of this experiment, the subjects were patients at the Outpatient and Mother and Baby Units in Naples and Providence of Naples in Italy. It was conducted through the span of 2012. The minimum age of the pregnant mothers was 18 and the maximum was 35. Any mothers that had history of mental health disorders, were over or under the age limits previously set, or had other previous/existing complications not involving the reproductive system and fetus were excluded from the study. The software that was used to determine the correlation between the groups and different subunits of categorization was called the “T-Lab”. This mechanism is a qualitative – quantitative software that takes the important words that the mothers gave verbatim from their dreams, placed them into the categories and decided which was the most popular for each of the categories.

In the end, the hypothesis was correct: if the women were having a complication during pregnancy, the dreams would one way or another reflect this issue; almost as if the baby was trying to nonverbally tell its mother that there was a problem. It is also confirmed that healthy pregnancies have representable dreams and at-risk ones have unpresentable ones. The data shows that the healthy pregnancy dreams had an elaborate function compared to the risk factor pregnancies whose dreams were difficult to construct a representational space (overview paragraph).  If this study was reciprocated, broadening the research to include different risk conditions such as a history of previous miscarriages would be a good alternative.

Overall, I found this article interesting. I was completely unaware that pregnant mothers had different dreams than non-pregnant females. The research in the article is comprehensive enough to show that even the dreams between the different pregnancy conditions are quite different. It’s almost as if, depending on how healthy the pregnancy is, depends on how smoothly the pregnancy goes. In the article, it states that pregnancy is normally seen as a time of happiness and joy but I feel like if it’s a complicated pregnancy, this statement would be extremely incorrect. As I have never experienced a pregnancy term myself, all of the information in this article is new but fascinating.

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