Online course - Free

Why do we dream?

Joe Griffin reviews past theories and new research findings (which add further evidence for his own theory) as he tells the riveting story of how he solved the mystery of our dreams…

Course Factfile

Why do we dream?

Read reviews
  • Price: FREE – Life-long access


Why does Nature select certain experiences to be the subject of our dreams? Why do they feel so meaningful to us? And what purpose do they serve?

Fascinating - makes a lot of sense!

Support Worker

Why take this course

The renowned Irish psychologist Joe Griffin’s illuminating lecture answers these questions and many more as he takes us through the story of how he solved the mystery of why we dream – and discovered at the same time the significance of dreaming for our mental health.

In the 20 years since Griffin first published his hypothesis, every new piece of dream and sleep research has substantiated it – none has contradicted it.

In this talk, he examines the evidence and explains why other dream theories fail to come up with satisfactory answers. (His own 12 year research project was prompted by the realisation that the discovery of the REM state in 1953 meant Freudian and Jungian dream theories were ‘dead in the water’.)

Whilst describing his own experiments and the key ‘light bulb’ moments which finally helped him solve this age-old mystery, he takes us on a fasincating exploration of the significance of various scientific findings in the field – some previously overlooked – before demonstrating how his expectation fulfilment theory of dreams succinctly pulls them together into a powerful explanation that makes absolute evolutionary and common sense. Nature, as ever, has been clever and economical.

I appreciated how such a complex theory was expressed in a way that anyone could relate to and understand. Many Thanks


What you will learn

  • The auto-symbolic process
  • Why all dreams have to be metaphorical to prevent false memories building up
  • Metaphorical pattern-matching
  • Why we evolved to suppress emotions
  • Why dreaming was Nature’s way of conserving energy
  • Why dreaming evolved to maintain the integrity of mammalian instincts
  • The connection between unfulfilled emotional expectations and nightmares
  • Dream predictions
  • Why all mammals dream
  • and more…

Who is this course suitable for?

  • If you deal professionally with members of the public in difficult, stressful circumstances, this course – presented without jargon – is for you
  • If you counsel or treat angry people, this training is for you
  • If anger is affecting you personally – or you would simply like to deepen your understanding of anger and its effects – this course will be of benefit to you too
Find out more

Find out more

If you’ve found this talk interesting, you might like to find out more:

The many insights and practical applications that have stemmed from Griffin’s highly original work intro why we dream have huge significance for us all – and they have been quietly revolutionising the successful treatment of mental health and behavioural problems for years through the human givens approach to psychology, psychotherapy and education, co-founded by Joe Griffin and Ivan Tyrrell.

(You can read more about the new insights stemming from the approach here.)

Reviews for this course

4.7/5 (33 Reviews)
  1. Liz Crawford, Counsellor in a secondary school and also adult counsellor.

    I have read a lot about sleep generally, but this course was fascinating and gave me a totally new understanding of dreams. I feel much more confident supporting my clients when they want to talk about their dreams now; in fact I used the information with a client today! Thank you so much. 😊

  2. Lindi, Counsellor in Training

    Fascinating and informative! An inviting introduction to exploring more about dreaming and counselling.

  3. Vicky Reed, Outdoor Developement Coordinator

    Really interesting and informative. As I listened and watched I analysed the vivid and very specific dream I had last night along side your theory, and it made complete sense with the explanations outlined. I will try it against some of the other theories to see if they stand up, but at first look they don’t.

  4. David, Human Psychology enthusiast

    Thank you Joe and Ivan.
    Very interesting and informative, anyone from any walk of life will benefit from doing this course.

  5. Fiona

    Very informative webinar how we dream and rem

  6. Priscila Katchuian, Pshycologist

    I really enjoyed this course. I just graduated as a pshycologist and I think this kind of information should be more explored than it actually is. The course gave a point o f view that open our minds to research more. The teacher is excellent.

  7. Tina

    Excellent, thank you very much. Very interesting

  8. Joyce

    It made so much sense. It started out haltingly – I’m always disappointed when I see expert reading from slides, but as soon as he left the slides behind and spoke passionately about his interest he had me hooked. It’s useful information, a theory which makes sense to me and connects some dots. You’ve made it easy to access, and that’s helpful too.

  9. Caroline Marie

    Great talk – worth watching

  10. Sara-Jane

    Interesting course

  11. Niki

    I appreciated how such a complex theory was expressed in a way that anyone could relate to and understand. Many Thanks

  12. Fauzia

    It was good.

  13. Gary

    Excellent Presentation. I wish you had included more information related to lucid dreams.

  14. Sarah

    This session was incredibly informative. It was both well paced and comprehensive with just enough humour and personality to really leave one feeling like Joe Griffin had an absolute love of his vocation and great scientific and psychotherapy knowledge that one could rely on. Much of his work I’m already aware of and it was a great delight to hear him speak personally. Many thanks to him and to the human givens team for providing this short lecture.

  15. Elizabeth

    Some interesting stuff.

  16. Dawn

    It is always a pleasure to listen to Joe and this was no exception. He makes everything seem so ‘everyday’.

  17. Dora

    The course was very interesting.

  18. Josephine

    I like Joe’s down-to-earth approach rooted in discoveries prompted by everyday experiences. Also the mini-summaries which reinforced learning. There was so much learning in it, I only wish the overview was matched to specific time frames for ease of reference.

  19. Sinead


  20. Marcella

    I am very interested in dream for personal reasons. I had lucid dreams very interesting in special moments of my life (death of a young brother and other horrible problems in family) , and many other experiences concerning strange state of consciousness, that made me wonder about meanings, looking for biological and psycological, even simbolic and esoteric explanations. Dr Griffin is one of the few people that give me very intelligent and sostaineble keys to understanding. Ithank you for this great opportunity of knowledge. Just I suggest to improuve your video with english subtitle, so italian speakers like me could be listen easily. I wonder what about “Princess Leia brain wave”, recently discovered by SALK Institute and what about the function of mirror neurons. My idea is that integration between mirror and normal neurons could be something to further investigate in order to give the idea of dr Griffin some more puzzle tiles.

  21. Jennifer

    This was a really interesting and thought provoking lecture.

  22. Jane

    Just a quick word regarding the dream I had last night after watching the talk ‘why do we dream’. I had been thinking intermittently over the last few, perhaps ten days or so, “must get a new tooth brush”. I had set intentions more than once, then found myself back at home with the shopping minus a new brush. My reasoning was not because the current brush was looking particularly tired, rather, my mind’s wonderings about what may be lurking in the bristles. If one spends a moment or three pondering one can’t help but conclude they are pretty disgusting bits of human kit. I had also wondered about what kind of infections or tummy upsets we could attribute to the apparatus and the process of teeth cleaning. (Clearly I need to get out and about more) My dream: I am searching for my toothbrush. I have in my hand a blue hand brush, the sort that pairs with a dustpan. In fact, I have such a brush and pan in blue which lives happily in the cupboard under the sink in the kitchen, it was definitely mine. As I peer down into the bristles, somehow the brush becomes huge or I become small – not sure which, don’t suppose it matters it’s metaphor after all. I can see from a great height, way down the bristles to the bottom where there is thick black slimy gunk. The bristles themselves don’t look too clean either but nothing like the filthy floor of the brush. My suspicions are confirmed. “I know” I declare, and using my grandmothers cure for ants nests, particularly when they were swarming, pored boiling water over the brush. I watched with relief, the gunk slide off the bristles and the base and satisfactorily vanish down the sink hole. You probably have enough dream stories to fill a swimming pool and giving you one more is probably not warranted. However, it has started me on an experiment of my own for the next month and seem to be off to a good start.Thank you once more for the enlightenment. Regards Jane

  23. Síle Uí Chiaráin

    At the risk of sounding dramatic, may I say that my life is honestly changed forever having digested the content of this course. I will never underestimate the pivotal role that sleep hygiene plays in my life and that of my loved ones again. I am so impressed by the enthusiasm with which Joe delivers this course content, his broad knowledge base and passion for this subject matter are palpable and infectious in fact. Understanding Why we Dream does much more than it says on the tin… This course is satiating brain food for the aspirant HG therapist because it seamlessly scaffolds all aspects of the huge importance of Dreaming from the discovery of its significance in 1953 to how it helps us maintain balance and good mental health and the energy conservation tool that it in fact is; evolution wearing its Sunday best!! Referencing the other respected theories on Why we Dream and blowing them out in one fell swoop was both entertaining and informative in equal measure. The content of this course is clearly Joe Griffin’s baby and he delivers with the passion of a proud parent. Joe’s dedication to bringing his Dream Theory over the line has been a lifetime’s work, a labour of love. In the short term I’m very grateful for the opportunity to be able to do a number of Diploma modules online from a convenience perspective; work and family commitments. I am however so looking forward to being free and ready to attend courses and tap into more aspects of this great organising idea in a face to face setting. The whole concept of Human Givens and all that it has evolved to encompass, embrace and propose, is phenomenal. The online presence of HG, the extensive reading and audio material and the ever expanding range of courses offered are quite MIND BLOWING. I’m delighted to be a student of HG and I’m thoroughly enjoying the journey towards being a HG therapist in the not too distant future. ‘Sleep that knits up the ravell’d sleave of care, The death of each day’s life, sore labour’s bath, Balm of hurt minds, great nature’s second course, Chief nourisher in life’s feast’ Shakespeare Macbeth (2.2.46-51)

  24. Jolanta

    A very concise course providing explanation and answers to the question why we dream. Thank you very much for all your incredible work and dedication, Dr Griffin and my appreciation to the Human Givens Institute for the provided access to this source of knowledge.

  25. Felicity

    Completely fascinating. Humbly and warmly presented, scientifically compelling, makes a whole lot of sense. I have rarely concentrated so intently on a lecture!

  26. Andrew


  27. Lisa

    I found this really interesting – Joe obviously spent a lot of time researching his ideas which have major implications for our understanding of the human mind – everything has a purpose in Nature, and this explanation of the role dreaming plays is the best I’ve heard. And the proof is in how much else his theory explains, eg. the profound link with depression. I recommend this lecture.

  28. Emma

    Very interesting, informative, a great instead to the minds and dreams , will definitely be looking at more courses going forward, Joe is very easy to listen to and everything was explained in a clear and precise manner, thoroughly enjoyed this

  29. Patrizia

    Interesting, captured my attention. The lecturer definitely knew a lot about the topic and was inspiring. The power point looked old fashioned and not inspiring.

  30. Elaine

    A great introduction which leaves me wanting to know more! I enjoyed the layout and found the film engaging.

  31. Syd


  32. Richard

    Absolutely fascinating!

  33. Louise

    Enjoyed the varied research and also hearing about the experiments carried out to understanding why we dream and the metaphorical aspect.

Write a review

Your review will be sent for moderation and published at the discretion of Human Givens. We do not guarantee to publish every review we receive. Your email address will not be published.

Please complete all fields.

You may also like

Lady sleeping - why do we dream
Why do we dream?
Back to top