Tag: why do we dream

Dream Theories: Why Do We Dream

Dream Theories: Why Do We Dream

Dreams have fascinated philosophers for thousand years, but recently the dream became subject for empirical research and for focused scientific studies. It’s likely to be aroused often trying to solve the mystery of dream or perhaps we wonder why we dream…

Let’s start by answering a basic question – What is a dream? Dream includes the amount of images, thoughts and emotions experienced during sleep. Dreams can be extremely intense or very vague; full of positive emotions or frightening representations; focused or easy to understand; clear or unclear.

Why do we dream? What is the purpose of dreams? While many theories have been advanced, none has reached a consensus. Since most of us spend time dreaming, the researchers still don’t understand the purpose of these dreams. It is important to be aware that science has not yet discerned the exact purpose and functions of sleeping.

Some researchers suggest that dreams don’t serve specific purposes, while others believe that dreams are essential for mental, emotional and physical well – being. Ernest Hoffman, director of the Center for Sleep Disorders Newton Wellesley Hospital in Boston, suggests that “…a possible (not proved) function of dreams would be to weave a new material for their new central system to reduce both emotional stress and to help us to cooperate better with future trauma or stressful events”.

Psycho – Analytical Theories About Dreams

According to psycho-analytical perspective, the Freud’s dream theory suggests that dreams are a representation of desires, thought and motivations of the subconscious. According to psycho-analytical vision of Freud’s personality, people are ruled by aggressive and sexual instincts, which are suppressed by our consciousness. In Freud’s conception, forbidden desires lose control on conscious during awaken state and take control during dream thus seeking to enter consciousness.

In his famous book “The Interpretation of Dreams”, Freud wrote that dreams are “… disguised fulfillments of repressed desires”. He describes also 2 different components of dreams: manifest and latent content. Manifest content is what the subject remembers upon awakening. There is a latent content that causes the dream. The manifest content is the result of labor, a process that engages the emotions and unconscious impulses.

Freud distinguishes three types of dreams that are based on differentiation depending on the degree of rationality and the reliability of the content. In the first category lay simple or clear dreams which are specific for children and inspired by physiological needs. In the second category are located reasonable dreams that have some logical coherence, in the third category are located obscure dreams, incoherent and absurd, which psychoanalysts are interested in.

Freud’s theory has contributed to increase popularity of dream interpretation, which remains popular today. However, research has failed to demonstrate that the manifest content hide real psychological significance of a dream.

Many other theories have been developed in order to make clear the appearance and significance of dreams. Here are some:

A theory suggests that dreams are the result of our brain trying to interpret external stimulus during sleep. For example: sounds from radio can be incorporated into the content of a dream.

Another theory uses a computerized metaphor to analyze dreams. According to it, dreams serves to “clean” clutter of our minds, like a cleaning operation of a computer, up-dating mind and set it ready for the next day.

Another model proposes that dreams function as a form of psychotherapy. In this theory, the dreamer is able to make connections between different thoughts and emotions in a safe environment.

A modern theory of dreams combines elements of previous theories. Extensive connections between brain activation create thoughts and ideas, which are guided by the emotions of our dream.

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Eight things you don’t know about dreams

Eight things you don't know about dreams

Your first dream each night lasts about 5 minutes; the final one can take an hour.

Everyone dreams—every single night—and yet we tend to know so little about our dreams. Where do they come from? What do they mean? Can we control them and should we try to interpret them? We spoke to the dream experts to bring you nine surprising facts about dreams.

1. Dreaming can help you learn.

If you’re studying for a test or trying to learn a new task, you might consider taking a nap or heading to bed early rather than hovering over a textbook an hour longer. Here’s why: When the brain dreams, it helps you learn and solve problems, say researchers at Harvard Medical School. In a study that appeared in a recent issue of Current Biology, researchers report that dreams are the brain’s way of processing, integrating and understanding new information. To improve the quality of your sleep—and your brain’s ability to learn—avoid noise in the bedroom, such as the TV, which may negatively impact the length and quality of dreams.

2. The most common dream? Your spouse is cheating.

If you’ve ever woken up in a cold sweat after dreaming about your husband’s extramarital escapade with your best friend, you’re not alone, says Lauri Quinn Loewenberg, a dream expert, author and media personality. “The most commonly reported dream is the one where your mate is cheating,” she says. Loewenberg conducted a survey of more than 5,000 people, and found that the infidelity dream is the nightmare that haunts most people—sometimes on a recurring basis. It rarely has anything to do with an actual affair, she explains, but rather the common and universal fear of being wronged or left alone.

3. You can have several—even a dozen—dreams in one night.

It’s not just one dream per night, but rather dozens of them, say experts—you just may not remember them all. “We dream every 90 minutes throughout the night, with each cycle of dreaming being longer than the previous,” explains Loewenberg. “The first dream of the night is about 5 minutes long and the last dream you have before awakening can be 45 minutes to an hour long.” It is estimated that most people have more than 100,000 dreams in a lifetime.

4. You can linger in a dream after waking.

Have you ever woken up from such a beautiful, perfect dream that you wished you could go back to sleep to soak it all up (you know, the dream about George Clooney?)? You can! Just lie still—don’t move a muscle—and you can remain in a semi-dreamlike state for a few minutes. “The best way to remember your dreams is to simply stay put when you wake up,” says Loewenberg. “Remain in the position you woke up in, because that is the position you were dreaming in. When you move your body, you disconnect yourself from the dream you were just in seconds ago.”

5. Even bizarre dreams can be interpreted.

While it can be hard to believe that an oddball dream about your mother, a circus and a snowstorm can have any bearing on real life, there may be symbolism and potential meaning to be mined in every dream—you just have to look for it, says Harvard-trained psychotherapist Jeffrey Sumber. “The meaning of our dreams oftentimes relates to things we are needing to understand about ourselves and the world around us,” he says.

Instead of shrugging off strange dreams, think about how they make you feel. “We tend to dismiss these dreams due to the strange components, yet it is the feeling we have in these dreams that matters most,” he explains. “Sometimes the circus and the snowstorm are just fillers that allow us to process the range of emotions we feel about our mother and give us the necessary distraction so we can actually experience that spectrum of emotion.”

6. Recurring dreams may be your mind’s way of telling you something.

Do you have the same nightmare over and over again? Loewenberg suggests looking for underlying messages in recurring dreams so that you can rid yourself of them. For example, a common recurring nightmare people have involves losing or cracking their teeth. For this dream, she recommends that people think about what your teeth and your mouth represent. “To the dreaming mind, your teeth, as well as any part of your mouth, are symbolic of your words,” she says. “Paying attention to your teeth dreams helps you to monitor and improve the way you communicate.”

7. You can control your dreams.

The premise of the new movie Inception is that people can take the reins of their dreams and make them what they want them to be. But it may not just be a Hollywood fantasy. According to the results of a new survey of 3,000 people, dream control, or “lucid dreaming” may be a real thing. In fact, 64.9 percent of participants reported being aware they were dreaming within a dream, and 34 percent said they can sometimes control what happens in their dreams. Taking charge of the content of your dreams isn’t a skill everyone has, but it can be developed, says Kelly Bulkeley, PhD, a dream researcher and visiting scholar at the Graduate Theological Union in Berkley, California.

The technique is particularly useful for people who suffer from recurring nightmares, he says. Dr. Bulkeley suggests giving yourself a pep talk of sorts before you go to sleep by saying: “If I have that dream again, I’m going to try to remember that’s it’s only a dream, and be aware of that.” When you learn to be aware that you are dreaming—within a dream—you not only have the power to steer yourself away from the monster and into the arms of Brad Pitt, for instance, but you train your mind to avoid nightmares in the first place. “Lucid dreaming enhances your ability to learn from the dream state,” says Dr. Bulkeley.

8. You don’t have to be asleep to dream.

Turns out, you can dream at your desk at work, in the car, even at your kid’s soccer game. Wakeful dreaming—not to be confused with daydreaming—is real and somewhat easy to do, says Dr. Bulkeley; it just involves tapping into your active imagination. The first step is to think about a recent dream you had (preferably a good one!). “Find a quiet contemplative place and bring a dream that you remember back into your waking awareness and let it unfold,” he says. “Let the dream re-energize.” Wakeful dreaming can be used as a relaxation tool, but Dr. Bulkeley says it can also help your mind process a puzzling dream. “It creates a more fluid interaction between unconscious parts of the mind and wakeful parts of the mind,” he says.

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