Our dreams combine verbal, visual and emotional stimuli into a sometimes broken, nonsensical but often entertaining story line. We can sometimes even solve problems in our sleep. Or can we? Many experts disagree on exactly what the purpose of our dreams might be. Are they strictly random brain impulses, or are our brains actually working through issues from our daily life while we sleep -- as a sort of coping mechanism? Should we even bother to interpret our dreams? Many say yes, that we have a great deal to learn from our dreams.
Here, we will talk about the major dream theories, from Freud's view to the hypotheses that claim we can control our dreams. We'll find out what scientists say is happening in our brains when we dream and why we have trouble remembering these night-time story lines. We'll talk about how you can try to control your dreams -- both what you're dreaming about and what you do once you're having the dream. We'll also find out what dream experts say particular scenarios signify. Finding yourself at work naked may not mean at all what you think it does!
People in primal cultures as well as in other cultures often consider the world seen in dreams to be as real, or even more real than the waking world, although they do distinguish between waking and dreaming realities. What is considered real and unreal in any society is determined by that society's religious and scientific believes.
For example, Aristotle believed that the movement of blood in our sense organs causes certain images to arise in dreams and wrote that the first symptoms of an impending illness might make themselves known through dreams. Shamans are skilled with dreams, claiming to enter the dream world through trance states or their own dreams, and recover lost souls, fight evil spirits, contact ancestors, and discover meaning on behalf of the dreamer. Among American Plains Indian tribes, it wad common practice for young men at puberty to fast and sleep in a special place, and to pray for a dream or vision that would reveal to them their role or mission in the tribe. The Yolngu, aboriginal Austrailians, believe that a part of the dreamer, the soul or the shadow, leaves the physical body in dreams. Sleeping persons are softly and slowly awakened in order to give their mali, which could be dreaming outside the body, time to return to it.
Researchers continue to toss around many theories about dreaming. Those theories essentially fall into two categories:
The idea that dreams are only physiological stimulations
The idea that dreams are psychologically necessary
Let's take a closer look at these theories.