From the five cardinal features of dreams (intense emotion, illogical content,
sensory impression, uncritical acceptance, difficulty of recalling) and their
similarities to mental illness, Hobson derives a theory of dreams as a theory
of mental illness. Hobson thinks that dreams need not be interpreted:
their meaning is transparent.
The function of dreams is to derive crucial action patterns from the genetic program of the individual.
Hobson builds a model of the brain-mind which specifies which brain cells and molecules trigger REM sleep and dreaming and the dynamics of their interaction. His "activation-synthesis" hypothesis (periodic activation of the brain by the brain stem and synthesis provided by the forebrain) assumes that dreams are meaningful: the mind makes a synthetic effort to provide meaning to the signals that are generated internally (during a dream memory is even "hypermnesic", i.e. is intensified). Wishes are not the cause of the dreaming process, although, once dreaming has been started by the brain stem, wishes may be incorporated in the dream. Dreams are generated by internal signals.
Hobson interprets dreams within the realm of neurophysiology.