Dreams Essay, Research Paper
ts 10:00 p.m. and you are in your bed feeling relaxed and sleepy. You had a long day at work and all you can think about is getting rest for the next day. Its now 10:30 p.m. and you start to doze off, you feel like you are sinking into your bed, and you start to feel as if in some way you are out of your own body. Now, you have finally fallen asleep.
ts now, 1:30 a.m. and you are tossing and turning, you feel frightened and all sweaty, all of a sudden your eyes you are wide awake and your gasping for air because you just had a nightmare of drowning in water. Why did this dream happen? And, what does this dream mean? A lot of people believe that dreams do have a significant meaning in our lives. The question that this paper will answer, is what are dreams, and what do they mean?
Definition of Dreams
reams are ordinararly spontaneous and representative of subconscius meanings. Your mind may be thinking or feeling a certain way, and your body may not even realize it .You may have certain likes or fears that you don t ever think about, or may not even be aware of, that come out while you are asleep. Dreams may also be a psychological release of tension. The mind is acting out in ways that may not possible to do in ordinary life. Since dreams are often portrayed in symbolism, it is important to record your dreams and periodically relate them to your real life surroundings. There may be a relationship to things that are happening in your life, to the stories that are being told in your mind at night.
Questions That Are Frequently Asked
Are all dreams meaningful?
To answer this question, while some dreams seem to be more powerful and provocative than others it is said that dreams do hold their own individual meaning. Each dream is an exam for possible meanings that are occuring in your current life time, and concerns about your personality.
Does everyone dream, even if they can t remember any dreams?
Normally everyone dreams throughout the night. Some people with various forms of mental or brain damage may dream less than the norm, but they still have dreams every night just like the rest of us. The use of drugs and alcohol may impair the dream process as well. The ability to recall dreams is not abnormal, and may be associated with reduced sleeping time and rapid awakening in the morning.
Do animals dream?
With a few exceptions, all mammals do go through the same dreaming cycle. This means that they are having physiological thoughts that match the human dreaming process. When we see our pets moving their paws and making sounds, it very much seems that they are experiencing some kind of dream.
t must be made clear from the start that anyone who is interested in remembering their dreams, and understanding them, are free to do so. You are not required to posses any psychic abilities, or prestigious degrees! Interpreting dreams can be done by anyone willing to simply learn how. It is not very hard to do and does not require much time, nor is there any real intense study to do. This outline for you is one of the easiest and effective ways to remember and analyze your own dreams. There is nothing spooky or ritualistic to do, in fact it is quite logical. Dreams are a vehicle in which your mind communicates ideas, warnings, health issues, and even communicate the future! Just bear in mind that your own perceptions take precedence over any definitions in dream dictionaries. (www.sleeps.com)
he first step is to get a notebook. Many people do not like the idea of writing down everything you dream about, but it is necessary. There is an alternative; get a small cassette recorder known as a Dictaphone that you will speak into. This may be better because you can speak faster than you can write, you can say more detailed accounts, you can analyze your own tone of voice, and you do not have to concentrate as much. Although you have a recorder, you still need a notebook to transfer what you said and make notes. When a dream is important enough that you feel it in your bones, you know you should record it. (www.sleeps.com)
he second step is learning how to sleep properly. Relaxation is necessary. This can be done simply with peace and quit. You want to follow good steady sleeping habits as well. When you do not get enough sleep it is almost impossible to remember your dreams because you sleep so deep when you finally get a chance to sleep. Next, pay attention to the main issues in your mind. Then, give yourself a suggestion to remember your dream. You have to want to remember your dream in order to do so on a regular basis. Also, plan to wake up slowly and peacefully. You do not want to wake up by an alarm or by someone else, but you do not want to oversleep. Lastly, your health is very important. Eating a well balanced diet and taking your vitamins daily will increase your chances of recalling your dreams. (www.sleeps.com)
ow that you have the proper steps in getting started, you want to identify the main theme or concept of the dream. The most important part about dream analysis is to identify the basic theme because it sets the tone for the interpretation. After writing or recording the dream, you want to look at it from a different perspective. Take all the details away and look at it as a whole. Remember the theme is not the whole interpretation, but it does point you in the right direction. There are two very important things to remember, themes help you find the big picture, but are to vague to be useful as a whole interpretation. The secret behind themes, are to take away all the details, names, things, places, etc. and leave only the action. (www.sleeps.com)
t is time to match the theme or concept to a specific area in your life. Dreams are usually selfish, meaning that they are about you specifically about 90% of the time. You should be able to tie the theme with a part of your life. Instead of asking what does this dream mean ask what specific area of your life is this about. You will arrive at a conclusion faster if you realize you are the own that made the theme in the first place. A real good sign that you thought up the right area in your life is when you get the “Ah HaH,THAT’S IT!” feeling. Sometimes your sleeping mind can arrive at conclusions far better than your normal thinking processes. Our emotions play the biggest role in tying the theme to a part of your life. Our lives are sometimes so complicated that we have so many things that could fit the theme. That is why it is important to pat strict attention to your emotional state while in your dream. (www.sleeps.com)
ow that you have developed good sleeping habits, learned how to relax, staying healthy, and frequently telling yourself to remember your dreams, you are ready to look at the symbols (www.sleeps.com). The images in your dream may appear strange, but they are all deliberate parts of a meaningful story about you and your life. Nothing appears in your dream accidentally, every part presents valuable information. (Lifetreks)
ince the time of the ancient Babylonians, scholars have studied the meaning of dream symbols and theorized about their meaning using the culture beliefs of their age. While almost every theory about dreams has a kernel of truth to teach us, the translations of symbolism from bygone eras have often been difficult to understand and limited in their application to current dreams and life experiences. Because symbols arise from the ground of current experience and cultural influences, many of the images in modern dreams are very different from those of ancient civilizations. Today we may have dreams about shopping malls, condoms, and e-mail that were not as common years ago. Understanding what these and other images represent to modern dreamers provides an excellent opportunity to get to the heart of what your own dream means. (Lifetreks)
ymbols and images do not necessarily stand out immediately when someone records or re-reads a dream. In fact, they may seem insignificant, even to people who are well aware that all elements in a dream may be quite meaningful. One of the easiest ways to highlight what is special and significant about an image is to contrast it with another image that is in the same logical subset. If the symbol in the dream differs vastly from what you would expect in waking life, you expect the difference to be relevant. If someone dreams of chopping firewood with a butter knife, you may ask them how it would be different from cutting with an axe or saw. Only then, you will realize that they have taken on an impossible task in their life. (Lifetreks)
here is a certain amount of symbols that seem to always mean the same thing for people all the time. It would be a good idea to write these down, memorize, or at the very least, bear in mind while interpreting your own dreams. Animals symbolize our own traits, good and bad. When you see an animal doing something in your dreams it usually represents a bad trait. As it is far easier to accept and watch an animal doing something negative than to take credit for it ourselves. Automobiles or vehicles that you ride in usually reflect two things; the direction you are heading in your life, and your body. This may vary if you are a mechanic or designer of vehicles. The condition of a vehicle might give you an idea of your health. A child represents to most of us, something new, different, and joyous. It is easy to see why a child represents a new phase in your life or a new project as well. How well the child gets along and fares in the dream is an indication as to how well what it represents is doing. In addition, a child symbolizes innocent parts of you sometimes and at other times, immaturity and childishness. Clothing best symbolizes your mood, attitude, or state of mind. Attitudes and moods are similar to clothing in this regard because they are the camouflage we hide behind. Look at what you, or other people in your dream are wearing to get more clues to the meaning. You should also take note of the style and condition the clothes are in. Death in any situation refers to change. Most all the time the change is dramatic and major. It can be changed in your life attitude or emotional balance. Death dreams can also symbolize confronting fear, usually fear of death or change. Death dreams should never be ignored and sometimes really do signify death. Buildings usually point directly to a specific area in your life. Dreaming of being in an office complex, or factory can pertain to your working environment. A bathroom may pertain to your general health and hygiene habits, and a kitchen might be about your eating and nutrition. Dreams of great buildings like cathedrals and large churches usually indicate great meaning, and should be taken seriously. People in dreams usually reflect on our own personality traits. These traits are the ones that need to be enhanced or developed, or if negative, work on eliminating or reducing. You should ask yourself which traits you like and dislike in the characters in your dream. Then see if these traits match up with your own. (www.sleeps.com)
ow does one know what something means and how do we decode the symbols? You can start through association. A traditional psychological method of looking at something and taking note of the first thing it reminds you of. On the other hand, you could try amplification. Instead of associating, you list what each symbol means to you. Symbol defining is very easy, and you know when you hit the mark when you get that feeling. One factor you should keep in mind is the laziness factor. You must devote some time and thought to the analysis of your dream to get a clear picture. For best results, go about it in a serious manner and do not rely solely on dream dictionaries to do symbol defining because you will lose the exact meaning your dream was trying to share. (www.sleeps.com)
EXAMPLES OF DREAM INTERPRETATION
Death of A Loved One
A loved on has just died. You are shocked and overwhelmed, and you must inform other family members what has happened. You do what has to be done with a sense of unreality.
Most Common Meaning: Death of a loved one is most often associated with some kind of change the loved one is going through. There is also a strong possibility that the dreamer’s relationship to the loved one has changed in an irreversible way. Parents whose children are going off to college or getting married often dream their child has died. In the metaphorical language of dreams, the child has died, and will not return home as the same child they once were. In other cases the loved one symbolizes an aspect of the dreamer’s personality. Thus your father dying may deal with neglect of your fatherly role, so that it might be said the father in you has all but died.
Is your loved one going through a period of change or transition; or preparing for a new life?
Has your own identity changed recently regarding the role your loved one usually held in your family?
If you can identify the end of a chapter for your loved one or yourself, can you also recognize the new beginning? (Lifetreks)
You are involved with a well-known person. This dream lover may be a movie star, a musician, politician, or entertainer. This person is likely at the top of their profession; their name synonymous with what they do, but they may not even be your type. In fact, although you are drawn to them in your dream, you shake your head once you wake up. What in the world were you doing sleeping with them?
Most Common Meaning: The subconscious can use the image of sexual union to depict union or connection of any kind. If you are developing a talent, ability or skill in yourself you may dream of having a fling with someone famous. Budding writers dream of sleeping with best-selling authors, struggling athletes dream of marrying well-known Olympians, and fledging public speakers dream of sleeping with famous broadcasters.
What qualities do you associate with the celebrity?
Is there any sense in which you are coming to develop those qualities in yourself?
Is there an aspect of yourself, or an aspect of your partner that reminds you of the celebrity?
We tend to project our talents onto others and enjoy their performance. Can you acknowledge the same traits in yourself that you admire and desire in others? (Lifetreks)
Not Enough Credits to Graduate
You are in an important part of your life right now, and you don’t need this. Somehow your high school has discovered that you never took algebra, even though it was required. Your high school diploma is being recalled, which in turn makes your college diploma void. This turn of events disqualifies you for the job you’ve been holding for years. You have to immediately go back to high school and attend an algebra class or your life will grind to a halt.
Most Common Meaning: This dream often accompanies a rite-of-passage in waking life. The person who gets a promotion, takes on greater responsibility or begins to gain peer recognition for achievements or contributions is quite prone to this theme. Many of us are assailed with a sense of fraudulence when others begin to acknowledge our efforts, regardless of how deserving we may be. This dream seems to exaggerate and make ridiculous the subjective sense many have of being “unqualified” to “take credit” for our accomplishments.
Have you recently stepped into an arena of greater visibility?
Are people beginning to acknowledge you or your work in a new way?
Do you experience a mixture of pleasure and concern that you may be “discovered” to be flawed or having inadequate credentials? (Lifetreks)
or every viewpoint on dream interpretation, there is an opposing one. According to various psychologists, researchers, and psychoanalysts dreams serve different purposes. The spectrum of viewpoints varies from one extreme to the other. Some believe that dreams are a way to connect with people, some believe dreams are signs of direction and messages from God Xpredictions of the future. Many believe dreams are associated with physiological benefits, some attest to healing psychologically and that you can learn from your dreams. Yet some conclude that dreams are simply unwanted material at the end of the day, that the process is valuable, but the content is mostly irrelevant.
oday you would be hard-pressed to find a psychotherapist who didn t believe in the therapeutic potential of dreams (Gregory 1). This is not novel, however. The interpretation of dreams can be traced to ancient times. The Egyptians and Greeks believed that dreams were messages from God. Pepsi ToGar, Ph.D., who teaches dream interpretation at the Seminar Center in New York City, says, Most religions had considerable respect for dreams, and the Old Testament of the Bible is full of them. She elaborates by saying, Biblical figures such as Daniel, Joseph and Jeremiah were dream interpreters by profession. Every king had a dream interpreter on hand.
he ancients also took dreams as divine prophecies. To learn the future, one only had to interpret a dream s elements correctly. One night when Alexander the Great was just about ready to give up on his siege of the stubborn city of Tyre, he dreamed of a dancing styr. Aristander, the dream interpreter traveling with the army, told Alexander his dream foretold the conquest of Tyre. Aristander figured out the dream by splitting the word Satyros into the two words sa Turos XGreek for thine is Tyre. Alexander, fortified by the interpretation, attacked and conquered the city (Boxer 1).
Dreams And Future Predictions
imilarly, in modern times, Dr. Gillian Holloway says that seeing snapshots of the future is almost inevitable for people who make a habit of recording and studying dreams, and that they could broaden your perception of how dreams can assist you (Holloway, Yes 2). She tells a story of a student who told her she dreamed of driving down a darkened road when a horse dashed out in front of her car. Startled, she awakened just before she could react to the situation. A few months later, while driving to pick up her daughter from a visit with friends, something about the darkened country road she traveled struck her familiar. A nearby horse pasture reminded her of the dream she d had. Thoughtfully she slowed the car, and noticed the fence to the pasture was down. Just then a horse bolted from the shoulder right into the road. Had she not remembered the dream, she might indeed have hit the horse. Thanks to the eerie feeling of familiarity she had slowed down enough so that a collision was averted (Holloway, Yes 1).
Freud s View
t the beginning of this century Freud tried to revive the old idea, but with a new twist. He said the dream hides not a divine message but a wish from the dreamer s unconscious. A dream is formed when the unconscious wish seeks release in the dreamer s conscious mind (Boxer 1). According to Freud, his interpretation of Alexander s dream would be not a tricky way for the gods to tell Alexander he would conquer Tyre, but an elliptical expression of Alexander s wish to conquer Tyre. Alexander s successful siege was not the fulfillment of divine prophecy but simply a wish come true (Boxer 1).
igmund Freud called dreams the royal road to the unconscious (Morris 155). Believing that dreams represent wishes that have not been fulfilled in reality, he asserted that people’s dreams reflect the motives guiding their behavior Xmotives of which they may not be consciously aware. Freud distinguished the content of dreams from their latent Xthe hidden, unconscious thoughts or desires that he believed were expressed indirectly through dreams. In dreams, according to Freud, people permit themselves to express primitive desires that are relatively free of moral controls (Morris 156). For example, someone who is not consciously aware of hostile feelings toward a sister may dream about murdering her. However, even in a dream, such hostile feelings may be censored and transformed into a highly symbolic form. For instance, the desire to do away with one s sister may be recast into the dream image of seeing her off at a train terminal. This process of censorship and symbolic transformation accounts for the highly illogical nature of many dreams (Morris 156).
Neurophysiologist s View
europhysiologists offer quite a different explanation for the illogical, disjointed nature of so many dreams. Allan Hobson, M.D. and Robert W. McCarley, M.D., Harvard University Medical School proposes that dreams are generated by random outbursts of nerve-cell brain activity. In responding to these internal stimuli Xmany of which involve brain cells used in vision and hearing Xthe brain attempts to make sense of them by drawing on memory to create the images and scenes we experience as dreams (Morris 156). Hobson disagrees with Freud by stating that; A dream does not begin with an unconscious wish rising from the unconscious. Rather, it begins when the brain stem sends some meaningless signal to the cerebral cortex. He goes on to say, If a dream is meaningful at all, it is transparently meaningful. If some of it looks like gibberish, it probably is. You can try to interpret it if you want to, but why would you want to when there is so much information that is clearly meaningful? (Boxer 2).
ome researchers suggest that the bizarre content of dreams reflect the brain s effort to free itself of irrelevant, repetitious thoughts or associations during sleep so that it will be more open to new information during waking consciousness (Crick & Mitchison 111-114). Yet, the opposing view to that is that in dreams we reprocess information, gathered during the day, as a way of strengthening the memory of information that is crucial to our survival (Morris 156). How does this work? At the neurophysiological level, REM may be related to brain restoration and growth (Oswald 1973), and researchers have indeed confirmed that protein synthesis proceeds at a faster rate during REM sleep than NREM sleep. Other research has demonstrated not only that both human and nonhuman subjects spend more time in REM sleep after learning difficult material but also that interfering with REM sleep in the days immediately after subjects initially learn something severely disrupts their memory for the newly learned material (Morris 157).
reams can have an effect on our waking mood too according to Rosalind Cartwright, Ph.D., director of the Sleep Research Center at Rush-Presbyterian St. Luke s Medical Center in Chicago. Her research finds that dreams allow our brains to repair our moods X the brain goes to work right away on negative dream material at the beginning of the night so the bad mood has dissipated by the end of the night (Dreaming). Subjects who were generally not depressed but went to bed in a bad mood reported feeling much better after a good night s sleep. I can definitely relate to this from my own experience. I always feel better after a good night s sleep.
Learning From Your Dreams
reams can also be helpful, extremely informative and important to decipher, especially recurring dreams, according to Gillian Holloway, Ph.D. Your subconscious mind has gone to a great deal of trouble to send the same dream telegram several times, and it will generally continue to do so until you recognize the insight being offered, or outgrow the issue being addressed. Often these dreams recur for a discrete period of time, such as during childhood, adolescence, college years, or during a specific relationship or period of employment. If you outgrow or move away from a certain lifestyle you may stop having the recurring dream, unless something in your current situation strikes a similar emotional chord from your past; then the dream may resurface, like an emotional home movie of certain feeling and moods (Holloway, Recurring 1).
n many recurring dreams we are attempting to resolve a problem; these attempts may help slightly, be laughably ineffectual, or make matters worse. These attempted solutions often reflect the manner in which we are trying to go about matters in waking life. It is important to identify the part of your life that is being reviewed in the dreams, but it is also important to examine the way you respond during the dream action. You may notice that you are waiting in a line where you will never be served, or that you are zealously trying to chop wood with a butter knife. Recurring dreams shed light on things we re missing while we are awake; sometimes we can see we are barking up the wrong tree, and other times we are given clues toward a more workable solution (Holloway,Recurring.1)
egardless of which viewpoint or interpretation that you may believe the only person that you can really trust is your own feeling on the matter. Take a look at what is going on in your life at the present time, or you may even have to take a look in the past, because sometimes your mind may play tricks on you. There may be hidden secrets that are planted in your mind that you are trying to forget, possibly with a little dream interpretation you may be able to free your mind of any untold stories.