Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

Date of Award

Fall 2017

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Psychology (PsyD)


Department of Graduate Psychology


Gregg Henriques

Kenneth Critchfield

Anne Stewart


Henriques (2011) proposed a new unified theory of psychology (UT) which he argued could assimilate and integrate divergent lines of thought into a coherent whole. An implication of this claim is that the system can be applied to phenomena that was not addressed in the original work and the current work tests this proposition. Specifically, the current work utilized the UT and its components to examine the dream literature, especially psychodynamic, physiological and evolutionary approaches. Following a brief introduction, the project reviews the various lines of research and interpretations of why we dream and what they may mean for us. Then, the UT is introduced, specifically, the four components, which include: 1) The Tree of Knowledge System; 2) the Justification Hypothesis; 3) Behavioral Investment Theory; 4) the Influence Matrix. The UT framework is designed to transpose the language systems from different theoretical perspectives and map their overlapping and distinctive qualities onto human functioning, and is thus a model that should excel at organizing the fragmented and elusive psychological construct of dreaming. The primary thrust of this work is demonstrating the utility of this organizational scheme. Specifically, the UT allows us to understand that dreams can be understood as serving the function of processing emotional and relational themes to foster problem solving. It also informs us regarding the complicated role of self-consciousness, both in terms of how the rational, justifying portion of consciousness is normally shut off in dreams, and how it sometimes, in rare cases, comes on line in the form of “lucid” dreaming.

In addition to providing a framework for knitting together a number of different threads, the UT also sets the stage for new angles on dream interpretation. This work explores Freud’s famous dream, “Irma’s Injection,” as a test-case to show the potential utility of Behavioral Investment Theory and the Influence Matrix to offer meaningful and accurate interpretations of dream content. Via the meta-theoretical perspective afforded by the UT, we argue one can delineate key boundaries in Freud’s method of interpretation, which can usefully be divided intooperating at two levels of analysis. We then showed that there is theoretical support for the validity of Freud’s “level 1” analysis, which is comprised of determining the basic affective and relational meaning of dream content. Freud’s level 2 analysis, by contrast, was comprised of his attempts to justify all dream content through the lens of his classicdual-drive theory of human motivation, which is seen both by the UT and mainstream modern approaches as misguided. Ultimately, this paper shows strong promise for the development of a UT approach to dream analysis, both in terms of organizing our current knowledge and in terms of pointing the way toward future directions



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