Media Effects -or- The Influencing Machine and Visual Culture

Everyday Flow of Television Programming -or- Socialization and Mass Media

One of the main findings of the International Institute for Dream Research (IIDR) is the influence of media on dreams. One modern form of media is the television. Raymond Williams "Television: Technology and Cultural Form" discusses the idea that television has become part of the cultural process of socialization. The dream interpretation "American Dreams, Television Networks and the Culture Industries" testifies to the ongoing subliminal influence of the TV on dreams and dreaming.

Williams coined the concept of "flow" where TV networks and channels attempt to hold the attention of their audience from program to program. With the technological changes that brought the VCR, DVD, DVR, Video-on-demand and Netflix, the last 30 years have seen a social transformation in the viewing audience landscape of the TV medium. These new technologies have disrupted the visual cultural flow of network programming strategies. According to media experts the network goal today is to keep people from turning off (disrupting the flow) the TV. Is there evidence for this idea found in our dreams? The answer is yes. Here is the dream;

Janet, 19 American

Hi, sometimes i have this dream about not being able to turn off the television no matter how many times or how hard i press the off button on the remote. I even try to go up to the tv and turn it off with the button on the set but that doesn't work so I unplug it and it still stays on and for some reason I always find this scary and i never know what is showing on the tv it usually seems like something unimportant. What does this mean?

The Television as an Influencing Machine -or- It's Alive!

Viktor Tausk's "On the Origin of the ‘Influencing Machine' in Schizophrenia" presents the psychological idea of a "diabolical machine" that is beyond the technical comprehension of the individual who is confronted by its existence. Even when Janet "unplug"(s), the TV mysteriously stays on. As Doctor Frankenstein says in the film "Frankenstein", "It's Alive!".

Let us not forget that the story of Frankenstein by Mary Shelley was inspired by a waking dream. Shelley's story addresses the psychological dangers of the Industrial Revolution and scientific technology. The "scary" aspect found in the dream is "supernaturally" echoed in the more recent film "1408" based on a Stephen King short story by the same name, staring John Cusack (as Mike Enslin). As a psychological horror film, 1408 features hallucinations, dream visions and sounds, of the evidently supernatural feel of technology in the clock radio, the laptop, the telephone, and the tape recorder.

Below are other dreams that feature the influence of the TV, or telescreens (in Noreen's dream). The dreams illustrate the pervasive influence of media. Seen in this light, some have argued for the abolition of TV. What I believe is sorely needed is social psychological research into the psychological and behavioural economic effects of media on dreams. Then government policies to protect the public can be created to psychodynamically regulate the medium and the message. If we do not start to research media effects on dreams, then our society will as Aldous Huxley pointed out many years ago become a "Brave New World" (read IIDR interpretations "Sleep Learning" and "Welcome to the Machine").

Alison, 35

My dream was about an actress on tv was my best friend and she died and I totally freaked out and cried my head off.

Johnny, 25

hello a few days ago i had a dream where i was being chased threw underground sewers by skeletons that were on fire and after i destroyed them i came to some stairs and went up the stairs and i was inside a barn where the car from the tv show the Dukes of Hazard was parked and i was dressed as a cowboy so i looked around and seen more stairs so i went up them and i came to where some people were and we started talking and then all of a sudden there were more skeletons that were on fire chasing me so i jumped from the second story and made it to the street and i started running and i came to a house and i ran inside to where a lady was and the skeletons followed me inside and the lady stuck aerosol cans in the flaming skeletons mouths and then the flames went out and the skeletons died and that was the end of the dream.

Noreen, 23

This dream I am about to explain to you has zero color, just black and white.  The actual events in the dream I do not remember much.  Just it was a normal day of me doing various in which I do on a regular basis.  I felt like I was watching myself on TV but I was sitting in a dark room watching my dream on a huge screen.  But the screen was spinning non stop.  I woke up doing the dream multiple times with nausea (feeling like I had to vomit).  I had to focus on one point until I felt better.  Once I closed my eyes and drifted off again the spinning seemed worse, growing faster and faster.  I was extremely upset at this point, sweating and felt soo sick I did not go back to sleep.

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