A Brief Look at Dreams
I guess this is an introduction to dreams really. While writing this I have to wonder though if this website really needs such a thing, I mean we all dream don't we? We all have dreams and you wouldn't be reading this if you weren't interested in dreams in the first place. We've all heard and read the usual: we spend one third of our life asleep, have five or six dreams per night etc etc bla bla bla.
Anyway, with the above cliché facts out of the way, we have to wonder why we dream. Our latest dream theory, that pretty much everyone subscribes to these days, is that dreams are a way of making sense of our day to day lives, sorting out our emotions and so on. I even say as much on the front page. However, it is only a theory and, like all good science, can be modified and improved upon over time. The real and only truth is, we have do not fully understand or know why we dream and no one can be one hundred percent certain that our dreams mean anything significant at all.
What We Do Know About Dreams
No one would argue that everyone's dreams are different, they are a very personal experience. It is the one place we go to in life why we are alone, no one outside ourselves can experience our dreaming world unless we tell them about it, and even then they are only experience a second hand, verbal or written account of our dream world. Our dream world is vividly visual, often better than any film at the cinema we could imagine and no matter how hard we try we can never fully convey the brilliance of our dreams with mere words or even pictures.
Of course, it is obvious that our dreams are made in part from our daily experiences, memories, hopes and fears because we recognize the connections ourselves fairly regularly. They are also made from our imaginations, just the same as stories we write and things we draw. It's because of this dichotomy that forces us to wonder whether or not we should pay attention to these seemingly bizarre events we experience during sleep. Are they the workings of bored, imaginative brain lacking the usual stimuli of the conscious world, or are they subconscious attempts to sort through or conscious thoughts?
Whatever you believe there are various scientific studies being carried out on a regular basis that analyze sleep and dreams and their effect on our lives. Universities all over the world have setup sleep labs and clinics both for study and to aid people who have difficulty in sleeping. They analyze patients' brainwaves while they sleep, or attempt to sleep, and make notes of readings during R.E.M. (Rapid Eye Movement) stages of sleep, which are thought by many to be the times when we are dreaming, still only a theory though.
Only a few decades ago the area of sleep and dreams was thought to have no scientific value, that there was nothing new to learn from studies of this type. Today, however, sleep study is a highly regarded area of scientific study and is used by doctors in relation to narcolepsy, insomnia, sleep apnea and various sleep disorders.
Why Are Dream So Interesting?
Another silly question perhaps, you could answer ‘because they are!' For a start there is a huge entertainment value to dream, we often awake feeling amazed that we've experienced such vivid film-like dreams with many plot twists and complexities, often beyond which we thought ourselves capable. With these types of dreams we are frequently bursting to tell something and, the person you tell is often nearly as enthusiastic about hearing your dream and will perhaps reply by telling you about their dream. It's like you both went to the cinema to watch two totally different, yet entertaining films and you want to tell each other all about them. There's also the ‘I'm not alone' factor in hearing other people's bizarre dream.
Like love, birth and death, dreams have been a subject that has been on our minds since the dawn of civilization and before. Throughout the ages people have tried to interpret their dreams, with their power and meanings evolving throughout the centuries.
Kings and queens of the past would pay greatly for someone who could interpret their dreams, therefore these dream specialist could command a great deal of power in their time, from being wealthy and also by influencing the thought processes of rulers. In some cases wars and battles have been started or avoided on the say so of dream interpreters.
However, by the time of the Age of Reason and the Victorian era the interpretation of dreams had become a fanciful parlour amusement. It wasn't until the early twentieth century and mainly due to the like of Freud and Jung that dreams were again taken serious, but no longer as good or ill omens of old but rather indicators of one's psychological state.
With this and with more modern twenty-first century studies on dreams and sleep we have abandoned (for the most part) the wishy washy magazine style of dream interpretation and come to the stage where dream interpretation is more about empowering the self and coming to a deeper understanding of the human mind.