weexx023: October 2011 Archives

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We have been learning about the psychology of dreams and the implantation of false memories. All this new information has made me reflect on the movie Inception, where a lot of these concepts play a significant role in the plot's premise and development- I think it would be interesting to examine the scientific plausibility of infiltrating a person's mind via his or her dreams. We should all recognize that in order to enjoy the film, it is necessary to suspend our belief and appreciate that the movie is a fictional tale that takes liberties with scientific facts.

In actual life, dreams only occur during the REM stage and only 25% of our entire night's worth of sleep is at the REM stage of the sleep cycle, if at all (Lilienfeld). It usually takes a while for normal humans to reach REM stage, with the majority of sleep being in stage 2. However, in the film, after attaching the necessary wires, people immediately fall asleep and being dreaming.

When we rest and go to sleep, our brains partially shut down and become inactive so that it can heal itself. REM sleep is characterized by active suppression of motor activity and presynaptic inhibition of sensory signals (Squire et al 2008). In the scene where DiCaprio introduces Ellen Page to the dream state, the dreamers display a highly advanced level of cognition, awareness, and memory that contradicts neuroscience. The wide-ranging inactivation of prefrontal brain regions during REM sleep would not allow for such a dream to occur.

The purpose of entering someone else's dreams is to implant an idea into the person's mind. Based on what we discussed in discussion, this could possible occur. Our memories are malleable and suggestible and we oftentimes believe things that never actually ever happened before (Loftus). The businessman may actually believe that his father told him to divide the company.



Schadenfreude is a term used to describe pleasure taken from other people's pain. It is a feeling that we all have experienced, me especially, when celebrities have highly publicized break-ups, and in children's cartoons when one of the characters is involved in a dynamite explosion or trips on a banana peel.

According to the article, "Malicious Pleasure: Schadenfreude at the Suffering of Another Group ," "John Heider (1958) argued that schadenfreude is malicious because pleasure is a "discordant" reaction to another's misfortune. Unlike the "concordant" reaction of sympathy, schadenfreude establishes an antagonistic relationship to the unfortunate other. For this reason Heider saw schadenfreude as harmful to social relations." In other words, where we should feel sympathy for other people when they suffer, we instead feel glee and happiness.
One of the hypotheses for the cause of schadenfreude is that of perceived identity and inferiority. An experiment conducted in 1996 by RH Smith et al included a male subject who was portrayed as being much superior/inferior to an experimental group. The male subject then suffered the misfortune of being denied admission into medical school. The group who perceived themselves inferior felt more pleasure at his suffering. The study suggested that feeling inferior to the successful peer is what led to schadenfreude in response to the adversity.
When people feel threatened by another group, schadenfreude tends to increase in between groups. An example of this is apparent in the world of sport. One researcher studied German and Dutch football fans. The threat of the Netherlands's chronic inferiority in football increased Dutch schadenfreude toward Germany's loss in the world cup. To make it more relevant to us, Packers and Viking fans experience joy when the other team makes a fumble or suffers a penalty.

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