Are Dreams Really A Mystery Essay, Research Paper
Are Dreams Really a Mystery
In the middle of the night, I was taking a walk through the woods. I could hear owls hooting and animals scattering under leaves. From the vague sound of water trickling over rocks, I knew my destination was coming soon. As I was walking, the heel of my foot got wedged between a stump and a rock. I started to sway and my heart stopped. Slowly I could feel my body fall towards the ground. Not knowing when I would fall, where I would land, what I would fall on or what might fall on me, made my heart start racing. My body shook and I opened my eyes. I looked around and noticed I was lying in my bed underneath my warm blanket. I had just had a dream but I am now safe in my bed. My heart settled down, with a sigh of relief, then I laid back down.
Almost everyone has had a similar dream as mine, feeling as if you were falling, then awoke. Dreams are caused by your sleeping habits and events that occur throughout your life which you may not be consciously aware of. Your reaction to these happenings may affect the way your brain functions, also affecting your sleeping cycles. This is the reason why some dreams occur and the mood the dreams appear as.
Can dreams mean something to you? Will they help you handle situations you are involved in? How can dreams show a series of events that you may come into contact with? Some of these questions, including many more, people will think about but mysteriously may never be answered. Through research, dreams are not as mysterious as you may believe.
Your brain is made up of two hemispheres. The left sided hemisphere is more dominant than the right side. The left side of your brain organizes your actions, reactions, and experiences in a logically,
linearly manor. This order of time and space appears in an ?expressible language?. The dominant side controls your ?waking life? or reality. While dreaming, it is hypothesized or guessed that the right, nondominant side, comes to life, therefore now becoming the dominant side. Our creative/empathic side is then released into a dream. We experience this at more of a ?feeling level? than a cause and effect or a time and space level. We learn skills from the two and become dependent to manage the two different worlds.
Dreams are the products of an unconscious mind. The controlling parts of your mind, your conscious, becomes relaxed and all your thoughts and feelings get stored up, in your unconscious mind. It obeys its own logic and describes things in its own way. Word pictures are used as a chain of connections. This is why in dreams people do impossible things or shift quickly from scene to scene. Dreams are often unusually vivid in their mood or in what you see. Sometimes the feelings produced from dreams are so strong that they affect the dreamer?s mood for the next day. This is known as, ?waking up on the wrong side of the bed?.
Many people wonder what dreams are for. The unconscious mind has a method of straightening out experiences. While the conscious part of the mind is in active, the unconscious or your subconscious, will find new facts, situations, worries, fears, desires, and more. All of this new information draws up emotions of your mind and memory. Visual and emotional images of these feelings are shown to you in a dream. For example, you may have a certain problem in which you are thinking about, but consciously putting it aside. This problem goes into your unconscious, and more than likely, will appear to you in a dream.
Sometimes dreams can offer possible solutions to your problem and advise you in different directions.
Modern understandings of the nature of sleeping began over forty years ago. In 1952 a researcher noticed sometime during a period of sleep, eyes of the sleeper were seen moving all around their closed eyelids as if watching moving objects. These motions are called ?rapid eye movements? or REM periods. REM periods appear in phases of sleep in which the sleeper is dreaming. Three years later, two scientists, Eugene Aserinsky and Nathan Klietman, found many different characteristics, in the human body which occur during REM sleep. A couple of characteristics found during REM phases include the flow of the blood and the body temperature increases.
A machine known as an electroencephalogram, EEG, is used to test brain wave activity. During sleep, four types of EEG?s are being studied: Beta, Alpha, Theta, and Delta waves. The brain is animated or anxious during the Beta waves. These waves are the fastest of the four. Alpha waves are shown in the periods of meditation or relaxation. Drowsiness and light sleepers can be shown up in Theta waves. During deep sleeps, the Delta appears. Delta waves are the slowest waves of the four.
We enter sleep cycles when we fall asleep. These cycles are repeatedly used several times. The first stage is going from being completely awake to fallen asleep. The second stage is your ?normal sleep? or lightly sleeping. The third stage is when you have sunk into deep sleep, known as transition. The last and forth stage is your deepest possible sleep.
Very quickly, someone will fall into the forth stage of sleep, known as ?non rapid eye movement? or NREM. An hour later, as you enter the REM stage, your dreams will climb through the first three stages, lasting about ten minutes. This will last up to and including eighty up to ninety minutes. The four cycles are repeated and the REM sleep become longer and can last up to an hour. During an eight-hour sleeping period, we spend around six hours in NREM and about two in REM, or your ?dream time?.
If one is awakened during REM sleep, he/she could vividly remember dreams. NREM sleep is really ?unconscious?. These dreams are remembered but seem to be less real. Half of sleepers wake up only from NREM sleep. This is why some say they never dream. Some psychologists say people unconsciously awake themselves at a time when they are not dreaming to repress what their dreams are saying.
There is a difference in the need for NREM sleep and REM sleep. During NREM sleep, the body rests to recreate themselves. Someone will appear tired, clumsy, and sluggish if no NREM sleep is produced. Having no REM sleep, will make someone overly sensitive, unable to concentrate, and cause a person to obtain a bad memory. REM helps someone to cope with stress. For a person having NREM will be temporarily inconvenient but not having REM will be disturbing. Sleeping tablets and other sedatives, effect REM. From the stimulation, someone can go into too deep of a REM state. This will leave the body delirious when woken up.
Age effects someone?s sleeping habits. As a baby, most of their sleeping cycles involve dreaming. As a child gets older their cycle shifts. Adults have regular sleeping cycles. Their first period
follows after sleeping for almost ninety minutes and will last up to ten minutes, continuing in ninety-minute sessions. The final dream can last as long as forty minutes.
If someone becomes blind but at one time was able to see, the REM state will visualize scenes of events which took place when the dreamer was able to see. Then these visual pictures will slowly diminish. Dreams at this stage will show a REM consisting of touch, smell, sound, and sense of motion. This is how individuals who are born blind dream.
Everything in a dream is important to remember for understanding the dream?s importance. Vivid colors or repeated colors may show information in meanings due to a reaction they are involved with. Most dreams contain vague color that will fade fast once the person is awoken.
When a problem comes around, everyone has something that will help he/she to handle the situation. In dreams, we can find and reform the resource through a present problem without knowing. These forms are shown through archetypes, symbols, and images.
Archetypes are ?secret codes,? forming a language to form a hidden meaning of dreams. These archetypes make dreams mysterious to the common eye. A different form of archetypes known as archetypal symbols show a more sensible meaning which occur time and time again. For example, in the ?Garden of Eden?, Eve was not supposed to eat that particular piece of fruit. It was understood she should not eat it. In this situation the ?Forbidden Fruit? was the symbol.
To someone not aware of the studies in dreaming, they may mistake symbols and images as having similar meanings when really they are totally different. A symbol will say something to everyone and can be
grasped by all people everywhere. A few examples would be: ?Merlin the Magician? or ?Wizard of Oz?. They were known as being ?magic men?. ?The Garden of Paradise?, this is known to be pleasant and wonderful. ?A ship sailing over an empty ocean?, this involves a man?s progression through life. Other symbols can be universal and are found in art cultures, myths, or religion, besides dreams. These symbols are very basic. For example snake symbolizes medicine, water as the source of life, fire differentiating a friend or a foe. An image, however takes an idea, thought, or a feeling and turn it into an exact picture to present to you while you sleep. For instance if you think of someone as being, ?up in the clouds? than you may have a dream of that person actually sitting upon clouds.
Real events can be replayed in dreams. The importance if these events actually go beyond limits if their literal meaning. Dreams explain more than what actually meet the eye. Sometimes they show unrealized possibilities in the dreamer?s life. In our dreams, you can actually ask for help and your dream will explain things a little more clearly. However you must remind yourself that dreams can be too ?ambiguous?. Dreams can even take people places or to situations in which the wish to be included at. Medard Boss put dreams more correct by saying ?it dreamt me?.(Magill)
Waking reality is the relationship of reality in dreams compared to living reality. A dream has realities of its own. We are the same people asleep as we are awake, the only difference is how we experience ourselves and the world outside. This distinguishes self-awareness while awake.(Ullman)
Carl Jung found two different characteristics known as the persona and the shadow. These two parts can appear in your dreams as a symbolic form. The persona is a character on the image you show to others. This person is not your actual self. The shadow is not necessarily the worst part about you but a secret you may have that you will not allow anyone else to know about you. An example of both the persona and the shadow would be, ?Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde?. This idea came from the author in his dreams.(Ullman)
Not only is someone in their own dream, but can take other forms such as, any other person, inanimate/animate object, or as an animal. For example, say in your dream, you dream of a chair with three broken legs and only one strong leg is supporting the other three. Is it possible that you are the sole supporter of your family or any other important group? A different example, say you are brushing your dog. With each stroke, a clump of his fur falls out. This dream may be trying to tell you that you are working too hard and are staring to wear yourself out.
If someone wants to interpret their dreams, every symbol should be acknowledged. Mood, atmosphere, and any animals shown are important symbols to become aware of. If no mood comes to knowledge, than whatever mood you were in, in your dream, will be the mood you are in when you first awake. Whether being scared, happy, upset, observative, aggravated, etc.. Sometimes the mood can carry throughout the day, if strong enough. The atmosphere will tell what kind of state your emotions are in and any feelings in a current situation. Your body temperature can tell you how you will be handling certain situations: if hot, than you are passionate; if cold, than you are being cold to
others; if you are wet, than you are becoming powerful; or if you are sunburned than the dream is trying to warn you about taking risks.(Parker)
In a dream, animals represent instincts, urges and needs. In dreams, they take form of people we know or that are around us. Sometimes they represent emotions such as fear or jealousy. Anyone can become an animal in a dream. Finding out what an animal means to someone is an important link to the dream?s meaning. Usually a pun is played in the interpretation. Such as, if you dream yourself as of pig, or dream of pigs, than you are being greedy lately.(Parker)
The most common dreams are repeated dreams, lucid dreams, nightmares or the fear of falling. Repeated dreams happen in areas in which we are most vulnerable. If a situation is very emotional, it may be difficult to forget. A dream shows us how we are related in a problem. If no progression is made in that area, than he/she will encounter the same problem again in his/her life and will repeatedly have the same dream over and over until the problem is resolved. The dream will state a problem and resolve it. Then he/she can reuse those solutions to express themselves in similar situations.
A lucid dream is when you know you are in a dream state while you are still dreaming. During this state, the dreamer observes and witnesses all actions taking place. After realizing he/she is watching and reacting they are sleeping and some people will be able to shape the course of their dream, making a fun exercise in a fantasy. Some dreamers, after this controlling state are able to take an additional step and make an ?out of body? experience. One can actually feel themselves separate from their body and physically watch themselves
sleep. From this point it is possible for him/her to travel distances and leave the body. This is still being researched in laboratories to find the reason of this. The control of lucid dreams will obtain only to certain limits.
Dreaming in a series of dreams, for example, men you will de dreaming about one thing and in a minute later you are somewhere else doing something different. Series of dreams will show progression in thinking. If you have some kind of problem, such as not getting along with someone, a series of dreams play out alternatives to that problem. Alternatives can be love, hate or even submissive feelings. What may be difficult to notice in one dream may be easier in any of the following dreams.(Kennett)
Nightmares are severe anxiety dreams leading to awakening in fear. One will awake after certain actions are shown in a nightmare that is too ?overwhelming to be contained in a dream?. After awakening, little or vague memory of the scare should be known. In a night terror, after being awoken, it will remain difficult or challenging to shake off the reality of it all.
The actual body twitch in a falling dream, is set off by, a ?dip in blood pressure?, ?movement of fluid in the middle ear?, or ?a limb dangling off of the bed?. Some psychologists say people dream back to when the dreamer was a child or infant and are taking shaky footsteps. ?Sensation imprints the brain with metaphors for security.? Dreams of falling are powerful images that lead to many interpretations.(Editors of …)
Dated back from ancient times people were impressed by mystery and power of the dreams. They were thought to be messages from God to
warn or advise everyone. Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung have found the ideas that are used today for the analysis of dreams. The basis of thought and theory, upon experiments and observations, were derived from these psychologists to form statements about dreams today. Through more observations, maybe in the future more clarity on dreams and their analysis will be discovered. Until then, studying dreams may stay a mystery.
Work Cited List
Kennett, Frances. How to Read Your Dreams. New York: Marshall Cavendish, 1975.
Gottlieb, Annie. ?How Your Dreams Heal You?. McCall?s July 1994: p.84-89.
Editors of Time-Life Books. Mysteries of the Unknown. Dreams and Sleeping. VA.
Parker, Julia and Derek. Parkers? Complete Book of Dreams. London: Dorsling Kinderly Limited, 1995.
Magill, Frank N. Survey of Social Sciences Psychology Series. Salem: Sale Press, 1993.
Ullman, Montague M.D., and Nan Zimmerman. Working With Dreams. New York: Eleanor Friede, 1979.