Essay, Research Paper
The Destruction of the Dreamscape
Critical Analysis of the Concept of Dreams
Throughout the length of humanity?s existence on earth, we have wondered about dreams. Do they have a purpose? Are they a message from above? Or is it something for your brain to do while you?re snoozing? Cato once said, ?Take no heed of dreams? Maybe, Cato was right.
From what science knows of dreams, they occur in REM (rapid eye movement) sleep and are a series of images, ideas, emotions, and sensations occurring involuntarily in the mind. When REM sleep was first discovered, it was thought that dreams only occurred during that stage of sleep. This led to many functional theories about dreaming that were based on alleged functions for REM sleep. There now is reason to believe that plenty of dreams happen in non-REM (NREM) sleep, especially late in the sleep period.
But before scientific knowledge about dreams came about, people had their own idea on what dreams meant or were for. In a great many societies, dreams are used by shamans to diagnose illness and to enter the spiritual world. In that sense, shamans were the first psychoanalysts, and Freud and Jung are modern-day shamans. In some societies, dreams are used to find game, predict the weather, or prophesy about the future. In the early to mid 20th century, however, they have been used in psychotherapy, although not as much in recent years when the emphasis is on short-term therapy and on thinking sensible thoughts. Dreams can be an “occasion” for a reticent patient to talk more personally, especially when we note that people do not take as much personal responsibility for their dreams as they do most of their other thoughts, making dreams easier to talk about. In our society, dreams are also an excuse to say something intimate to someone, maybe a tentative way to see if a deeper relationship is possible, as in “I had this great dream about you last night.”
Finally, the phrase “I had this dream last night…” is a platform to say whatever nonsense, lie, or fantasy someone might have on his or her mind, because there’s no way to determine if the claim is true or not. Now, we have every reason to believe that people are honest when they are reporting their dreams. But, when the popular dream hustlers tell you of their amazing dreams and promise that you can have similarly amazing dreams if you buy their book or attend their workshops, then hold on to your hat, and your wallet.
But back to Cato, if you had mentioned any of the following things to him, he probably would have scoffed at you for mentioning such a thing. And in most respects, he?s probably right. There are many people throughout history who have had dreams about talking to God on a two-way radio and being handed a quest or have been abducted by aliens or other pageantry. Most likely, these pursuits are futile and will just fall flat. This isn?t to say they have no meaning at all. They just are as far-fetched as otherwise proposed. To the contrary, dreams correlate with age, gender, culture, and personal preoccupations, as evidence on this site and in many research studies suggests. So they are useful for looking inward, but they aren?t from an outer source.
Cato once said, ?Take no heed of dreams.? In most respects, this made perfect sense, those aliens aren?t real, and you aren?t the new prophet for mankind. You?re still you, and I?m still me. But with dreams, we can discover things about ourselves, which can be the most rewarding journey of all.