Nightmares And Dreamscapes

Me and my wife were having a discussion the other night about whether or not dreams mean anything or not.  It’s a discussion we have had before in the past.  There are a lot of different opinions on this matter.  Some believe your dreams/nightmares have a meaning behind them and can be interpreted, some believe they mean absolutely nothing at all.  Others believe it is your brain or subconscious trying to make sense of something seen or heard either during your day, week, or any time in your life, it doesn’t really mean anything it just can’t figure out what it was so it projects it in your dreams which is why you can be dreaming and think “this is weird” or wake up and say “That was a weird ass dream”.  I personally believe it is a combination of things.

Sometimes your dreams make no sense at all, others seem to follow recurring themes and visit us at night on a regular basis.  Most of the time we are being threatened in a dream and we cannot scream.  Another common theme is falling or tripping over.  Sometimes things that happen today will take place in our childhood home.  Even Sigmund Freud was fascinated with dreams and wrote “The Interpretation of Dreams.”

Researchers at the Queensland University of Technology in Australia discovered that dreams can be significant but do not hold the answers to life’s problems, according to their research.  They studied 270 recent divorcees to see if dreams were useful in assisting with the trauma of the divorce.

They concluded most dreams were a continuation of waking thought but served no real purpose in solving everyday difficulties.  Basically if we do not or can not deal with pressing problems we dream about them at night.  If we deal with them then we less need to dream.  Recurrent dreams on recurring themes may be an indication of unresolved issues in our lives.

While Carl Jung shared some commonalities with Freud, he felt that dreams were more than an expression of repressed wishes.  Jung suggested that dreams revealed both the personal and collective unconscious and believed that dreams serve to compensate for parts of the psyche that are underdeveloped in waking life.  However, later research by Hall discovered that the traits people exhibit while they are awake are also expressed in dreams.

Jung also suggested that archetypes such as the anima, the shadow and the animus are often represented symbolic objects or figures in dreams.  These symbols, he believed, represented attitudes that are repressed by the conscious mind.  Unlike Freud, who often suggested that specific symbols represents specific unconscious thoughts, Jung believed that dreams can be highly personal and that interpreting these dreams involved knowing a great deal about the individual dreamer.

Calvin S. Hall proposed that dreams are part of a cognitive process in which dreams serve as ‘conceptions’ of elements of our personal lives.  Hall looked for themes and patterns by analyzing thousands of dream diaries from participants, eventually creating a quantitative coding system that divided the content of dreams into a number of different categories.

According to Hall’s theory, interpreting dreams requires knowing:

  • The actions of the dreamer within the dream
  • The objects and figures in the dream
  • The interactions between the dreamer and the characters in the dream
  • The dream’s setting, transitions and outcome

The ultimate goal of this dream interpretation is not to understand the dream, however, but to understand the dreamer.

10 Facts About Dreams

1.  Everybody Dreams:  Men do it.  Women do it.  Even babies do it.  We all dream, even those of us who claim not to.  In fact, researchers have found that people usually have several dreams each night, each one lasting for between 5 to 20 minutes.  During a typical lifetime, people spend an average of six years dreaming!

2.  But You Forgot Most Of Your Dreams:  According to estimates by dream researcher J. Allan Hobson, as much as 95 percent of all dreams are quickly forgotten shortly after waking.  Why are our dreams so difficult to remember?  According to one theory, the changes in the brain that occur during sleep do not support the information processing and storage needed for memory formation to take place.  Brain scans of sleeping individuals have shown that the frontal lobes, the area that plays a key role in memory formation, are inactive during REM sleep, the stage in which dreaming occurs.

3.  Not All Dreams Are In Color:  While approximately 80 percent of all dreams are in color, there are a small percentage of people who claim to only dream in black and white.  In studies where dreamers have been awakened and asked to select colors from a chart that match those in their dreams, soft pastel colors are those most frequently chosen.

4.  Men And Women Dream Differently:  Researchers have found a number of differences between men and women when it comes to the content of their dreams.  In one study, men reported more instances of dreaming about aggression than women did.  According to dream researcher William Domhoff, women tend to have slightly longer dreams that feature more characters.  When it comes to the characters that typically appear in dreams, men dream about other men twice as often as they do about women, while women tend to dream about both sexes equally.

5.  Animals Probably Dream:  Have you ever watched a sleeping dog wag its tail or move its legs while asleep?  While it’s hard to say for sure whether the animal is truly dreaming, researchers believe that it is likely that animals do indeed dream.  Just like humans, animals go through sleep stages that include cycles of REM and NREM sleep.  In one study, a gorilla was taught sign language as a means of communication.  At one point, the gorilla signed “sleep pictures,” possibly indicating the experience of dreaming.

6.  You Can Control Your Dreams:  A lucid dream is one in which you are aware that you are dreaming even though you are still asleep.  During this type of dream, you can often “direct” or control the content of the dream.  Approximately half of all people can remember experiencing at least one instance of lucid dreaming, and some individuals are able to have lucid dreams quite frequently.

7.  Negative Emotions Are More Common In Dreams:  Over a period of more than forty years, researcher Calvin S. Hall collected more than 50,000 dream accounts from college students.  These reports were made available to the public during the 1990s by Hall’s student William Domhoff.  The dream accounts revealed that many emotions are experienced during dreams including joy, happiness, and fear.  The most common emotion experienced in dreams was anxiety, and negative emotions in general were much more common than positive ones.

8.  Blind People Dream:  While people who lost their eyesight prior to age five usually do not have visual dreams in adulthood, they still dream.  Despite the lack of visuals, the dreams of the blind are just as complex and vivid as those of the sighted.  Instead of visual sensations, blind individuals’ dreams typically include information from the other senses such as sound, touch, taste, hearing and smell.

9.  You Are Paralyzed During Your Dreams:  REM sleep, the stage of sleep during which dreaming occurs, is characterized by paralysis of the voluntary muscles.  Why?  The phenomenon is known as REM atonia and prevents you from acting out your dreams while you’re asleep.  Basically, because motor neurons are not stimulated, your body does not move.

In some cases, this paralysis can even carry over into the waking state for as long as ten minutes, a condition known as sleep paralysis.  Have you ever woken up from a terrifying dream only to find yourself unable to move?  While the experience can be frightening, experts advise that it is perfectly normal and should last only a few minutes before normal muscle control returns.

10.  Many Dreams Are Universal:  While dreams are often heavily influenced by our personal experiences, researchers have found that certain themes are very common across different cultures.  For example, people from all over the world frequently dream about being chased, being attacked or falling.  Other common dream experiences include school events, feeling frozen and unable to move, arriving late, flying and being naked in public.

Nightmares can cause terror in children and adults.  In some cases the same scene occurs over and over never giving the dreamer any relief or a chance to rest.  Many children go through times in their development when nightmares can become a real problem.  Sometimes, even for adults, nightmares become so intense they believe they are interacting with evil from outside themselves.  Nightmares can also signify deeply rooted psychological problems.  Individuals who have been abused as children will suppress memories at the time of the abuse only to dream of them years later.  When individuals begin dreaming of the trauma of the past, it is usually an indicator that there conscious mind is getting ready to remember it.  In cases like these individuals should try to seek counseling to help them get through the trauma.  If this isn’t possible, they should try reading books on child abuse to give them an insight into their situation.

This is also indicative of individuals suffering from other forms of post traumatic stress disorder. It is common for them to be haunted by nightmares as they relive the traumatic event.  It is advisable for individuals suffering from these kinds of nightmares to get counseling to help them work through the trauma. For some children the root of the nightmare could be caused by a tragedy occurring in their real lives. This could be as a result of abuse or neglect. If parents cannot find a way to help their child, professional help should be sought.

As for my own personal opinions, I believe that there are some dreams that do have a meaning behind them, dreams that can be interpreted and tell you why you dreamed it and what is going on in your mind.  With that said, I also believe that there are also times when dreams are nothing more than your subconscious mind trying to make sense of something that happened or something that you saw or heard that you just couldn’t understanding while awake.  That is why you will sometimes have a dream that is just totally weird and makes absolutely no sense at all.  Sex dreams I believe are your minds way of trying to fulfill your bodies sexual desires and urges.   Maybe they aren’t being 100 percent fulfilled or maybe there are some things you would like to try that you weren’t consciously aware of.  Some people have even been known, during lucid dreaming to orgasm during their sex dream.  Are they bad or something to be ashamed of?  No absolutely not.

Really there is no right or wrong answer to dream interpretation and if they mean anything or not.  There are opinions on both sides.  So it is up to you to decide what you believe.

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9 thoughts on “Nightmares And Dreamscapes

  1. Shannygirl

    Very good blog baby. I do know those nightmares well but I have found on a few rare occasions I can control them. I tell myself it is a dream and it’s not real and to wake up and I usually do wake up.

    Reply
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  5. Kitt Crescendo

    Oddly enough I’m sure I dream, but I rarely remember them. (The last dream I remember happened about a month ago…the only reason I remember? Scott Speedman had a starring role. ;-)) I figured it was a character sketch manifesting itself in my sleep.

    Reply

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