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Dream On: Theories About Dreams

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posted on Jul, 22 2013 @ 07:22 AM

Why do we Dream?

It's a question that has fascinated people for thousands of years. Religious scholars, philosophers, mystics and even scientists have tried diligently to address the nature of Dreams and why we have them. There are countless websites dedicated to Dream exploration and analysis. While we still don't have any definitive answers, there are a range of interesting theories out there that may provide some insight. Remember that these are all theories, so feel free to share your own unique ideas!

There are many other hypotheses about the function of dreams, including:

- Dreams allow the repressed parts of the mind to be satisfied through fantasy while keeping the conscious mind from thoughts that would suddenly cause one to awaken from shock.
- Freud suggested that bad dreams let the brain learn to gain control over emotions resulting from distressing experiences.
- Jung suggested that dreams may compensate for one-sided attitudes held in waking consciousness.
- Ferenczi proposed that the dream, when told, may communicate something that is not being said outright.
- Dreams regulate mood.
- Hartmann says dreams may function like psychotherapy, by "making connections in a safe place" and allowing the dreamer to integrate thoughts that may be dissociated during waking life.


Psychoanalytic Theory of Dreams

Consistent with the psychoanalytic perspective, Sigmund Freud’s theory of dreams suggested that dreams were a representation of unconscious desires, thoughts and motivations. According to Freud’s psychoanalytic view of personality, people are driven by aggressive and sexual instincts that are repressed from conscious awareness. While these thoughts are not consciously expressed, Freud suggested that they find their way into our awareness via dreams.


Activation-Synthesis Model of Dreaming

The activation-synthesis model of dreaming was first proposed by J. Allan Hobson and Robert McClarley in 1977. According to this theory, circuits in the brain become activated during REM sleep, which causes areas of the limbic system involved in emotions, sensations and memories, including the amygdala and hippocampus, to become active. The brain synthesizes and interprets this internal activity and attempts to find meaning in these signals, which results in dreaming. This model suggests that dreams are a subjective interpretation of signals generated by the brain during sleep.


Other Theories of Dreams:

Many other theories have been suggested to account for the occurrence and meaning of dreams. The following are just of few of the proposed ideas:

- One theory suggests that dreams are the result of our brains trying to interpret external stimuli during sleep. For example, the sound of the radio may be incorporated into the content of a dream.

- Another theory uses a computer metaphor to account for dreams. According to this theory, dreams serve to 'clean up' clutter from the mind, much like clean-up operations in a computer, refreshing the mind to prepare for the next day.

- Yet 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 contemporary model of dreaming combines some elements of various theories. The activation of the brain creates loose connections between thoughts and ideas, which are then guided by the emotions of the dreamer.


* * * * * *

Some useful links:

- About Dream Theories
- Oneirology - Wikipedia
- Dreams - Wikipedia
- Dream Moods
- Dream Doze
- Lucid Consciousness

(Please add to this list if you have some intriguing websites to share.)

edit on 22/7/2013 by Dark Ghost because: formatting

posted on Jul, 22 2013 @ 07:56 AM
I've read many articles on theories associated with dreaming. I like the theories that have brain scan evidence to back them. The one I prefer is that when first going to sleep, the mind takes what you learned during the day and compares it to our subconscious and translates what it finds important to our primordial knowledge. Then it makes long term memories out of it. This means that our memories formed may not be real but an interpretation of what we learned when we were young grafted by occams razor to what we have learned during the day. This translation causes events to be visualized to translate them sometimes which may not seem pertinent to what we learned that day. According to this theory, things are worked out in this time. I'll have to sleep on it is a good phrase, that way you have no regrets later to your actions since you have evaluated it a lot more than you could possibly evaluate it when awake. This theory seems to fit reality. I go to sleep thinking about something I couldn't figure out and when I wake up I know what to do. I have done this all my life, I feel this is a real theory.

The section above applies to dreams before and after the hour or so of Deep sleep. During our deepest sleep the body is supposed to evaluate itself and stimulate repair of things, causing chemistry changes to fix things that need fixing. Some people are more efficient at this than others so they need less deep sleep. If you do not need to evaluate much from the day, you may need less sleep than if you needed to translate and configure a lot of brain cells. From other articles I read it appears that long term memories are formed in sleep, that is if proper chemistry is in place. Adequate glutamate levels are necessary from what I see, as well as proper glutamine levels. Another words either proper gut fluora to process tyrosines to tyramines is necessary or else we need to consume some bound glutamates to make memories. Free glutamates may taste good but they will do little for the formation of memories after the deep sleep time since they are not available. The ability to properly metabolize fat stores is necessary also, your mind needs a lot of energy to do all of this. Sugar/ carbs are often gone within a couple hours after eating.

There is a lot more to it but, this is long enough. I see that they are finally learning more about this process of sleep since they got rid of the notion that dreams were just fantasy and started researching what is happening. Their belief that dreams are just dreams was severely flawed. They all have meaning but the only one who could interpret their meaning is you yourself, using childhood memories to do this. This requires getting in communication with our subconscious, something meditation can help to accomplish. S&F for bringing this thread to light.
edit on 22-7-2013 by rickymouse because: (no reason given)

posted on Jul, 22 2013 @ 08:40 AM
I think that our dreams are a simulation program designed by our subconscious to train us for whatever we have to do the next day ie interview or singing in front of a huge audience. We could also be living in the matrix and when we are sleeping we are actually awake. We are all living in a dream world till we find the truth :-).

posted on Jul, 22 2013 @ 09:21 AM
reply to post by Dark Ghost

I don't quite remember where I heard it, but I liked the idea that dreams are a remnant of our distant past, meaning dreams are our thought unfettered by modern tastes and sensibilities, how distant ancestors used to think before developing language, memory and knowledge. But it may make more sense that dreams are thought unchained from the senses, which sleep silently nearby.

posted on Jul, 22 2013 @ 09:31 AM
reply to post by Dark Ghost

I've often wondered why I don't dream about things I've actually done. It's like my brain takes all of my experiences and uses them to write its own story. Definitely one of mankind's greatest mysteries.

posted on Jul, 22 2013 @ 11:17 AM

Dreaming releases tension

On the neurological level, I believe dreaming is integrally tied to the act of sleep. Sleeping and dreaming cannot be extricated from one another, as the former state subserves the latter.

Recent neurological research (see the front cover of the latest Scientific American) into sleep see's sleeping as a mechanism for the brain to "release" excess synaptic activity. This is different from the earlier assumption that sleep strengthens synaptic connections.

If sleep helps loosen the charged activity of synapses, it's plausible that dreams do the same thing for the limbic system. Everyday we take in and experience hundreds of emotions of varying strengths; some of these emotions are particularly stressful for the person. Perhaps dreaming is the subjective mechanism that unloads this acquired stress?

Perhaps dreams can have more than one meaning?

Sometimes, it seems, this more or less random process can contain personal significance for the dreamer. Unconscious desires are often present, but sometimes, dreams can be unusually mystical, and the information one can extract seems to possess some interesting suggestions. In other words, sometimes, its seems your unconscious is wiser than you are, and indeed, might be trying to rightly guide you.

posted on Jul, 22 2013 @ 11:51 AM
oh, you guys got it all backwards.
the dreaming body dreams the physical one.
it may seem kinda backwards but hey, what isn't these days!

posted on Jul, 23 2013 @ 10:26 AM
Very cool thread, OP! S/F

Dreaming is one of my VERY FAVORITE "activities" (is it okay to call it an 'activity'? I'm very active in my dreams - not so much anymore in the midst of my 6th decade
), and I'm ALWAYS interested in finding out more about what we're discovering about dreaming, sleep, and the brain/mind.

I've had a theory of my own for a while that we go into another dimension while our bodies regenerate (sleep) - I have very vivid, realistic dreams - all five senses 'work' - and I dream about the same places with so much frequency that I could (and have done) produce maps of the area.

It's not an area that I live in now, or ever - but it's very familiar to me in my dreams - with certain characters showing up from time to time, and at other times, new characters will enter.

I think dreams may well be a "parallel" existence - I don't accept the yawn-worthy theory of synaptic 'discharge' or 'junk jettisoning'. Also, I rarely dream about current events in my life -

plus, as an added delight, my dad, who died in Aug 2010, frequently 'visits' or 'shows up' at the various places I hang out in my dreams. I wish I could invite people to my dream world, to share it with them....

Do you know anything about stimulating "mutual dreams"?

posted on Jul, 23 2013 @ 01:21 PM
reply to post by wildtimes

I think dreams may well be a "parallel" existence - I don't accept the yawn-worthy theory of synaptic 'discharge' or 'junk jettisoning'. Also, I rarely dream about current events in my life -

Just because sleep and dreams help dispense energy from neurons, that doesn't mean they couldn't be that plus more.

This goes to the heart of the question "what is consciousness"? Synaptic discharge during sleep may help prepare the body and mind for the next day, but where is this discharge going? Physically, it's being absorbed by glia cells and passed into the blood stream; this is the how brain gets rid of neural waste products. But this is still too simplistic an explanation - it's only describing the physical side of the process. The mental side - the other side of the naturalistic coin - has our minds basking in unconscious splendor.

How does the mind release excess energy? If parallel dimensions exist - and they are mental in character - than while our physical bodies release pent up stress via physical processes, our minds might be paralleling this release in a multidimensional sense.

Dreaming seems to be "more" simply because consciousness seems to be more. So long as consciousness remains a mystery, so will dreaming - and the dreamscapes we experience.

So do not fear, physical explanations like "synaptic discharge - which has been EMPIRICALLY demonstrated, shouldn't be disregard simply because they're boring sounding. They merely speak of what seems to be happening at the physical level. At the mental level, a similar release is occurring in another dimension.

And as I wrote in my post above, there's no reason why dreams can't be used as springboards for genuine mystical or spiritual insight

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