Toward an understanding of dreams as mythological and cultural-political communication

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Thesis type
(Thesis) Ph.D.
Date created
Author: Hughes, John
The central argument of this dissertation is that the significance of both myths and dreams, as framed by cultural politics, is not reducible to polarities of truth or falsehood, or superstition in opposition to science. It is the socio-political webs that myths and dreams often weave that this dissertation explores. Along the way, it addresses an absence of literature that unburdens myths and dreams of the conventional requirement of being true. The dissertation ultimately contributes to a more complete comprehension of the capacity of these phenomena to act as largely unconscious catalysts for cultural political developments. To support my argument, I tell a story about the relationships between dreams and myth as they affect cultural politics. This story can be told in many different ways; in fact I found that multiple iterations were required to demonstrate the connection. The narrative also needs supporting elements to tell it coherently. In this spirit, the introduction and opening chapter sketch historical approaches to the study of dreams and myth, before providing an overview of these phenomena as they affected people living in Berlin during the Nazi seizure of power. Also included are adumbrations of psychological frameworks required to make sense of this process. With the table thus set, the method of telling the story involves several steps. The first is to show a relationship between dreams and cultural politics. Chapter Two does this from the perspectives of Holy Grail literature, shamanism, Nazism, and psychoanalysis. The next step requires demonstrations of cultural political connections to myth; Chapter Three accomplishes this in its examination of the Thousand Year Reich, Voodoo, and digital technology. The diversity of these examples is deliberate, setting the stage for Chapter Four, which shows that, even in the opposing keys of religion and science, dreams have connected to myth and this connection has, in turn, influenced cultural politics. Having established the link between dreams, myth and cultural politics, the last portion of the dissertation details the apparently prognostic dreams of Germans living under Nazi oppression, connecting their visions to Nazi myth and subsequent political developments. I then refer these dreams to the psychological frameworks introduced in the first chapter as a means of analyzing the visions, and of answering the question of the dreams’ ability to prognosticate. The dissertation concludes with a review of evidence and establishes the value of understanding dreams and myths in upholding prevailing culture patterns.
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Supervisor or Senior Supervisor
Thesis advisor: McCarron, Gary
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