Why do we dream?
There are various theories to explain why one dreams. But there is no consensus among them. It is very difficult for science to explain the reasons for dreaming when the function of sleep itself is still baffling. A fairly curious subject for medical as well as psychological experts, dreams are one interesting fact to talk and discuss about any time.
According to Ernest Hoffman, the director of Sleep disorders center in Boston, a dream lets out the emotions and helps people to cope-up with stressful events or trauma. According to Sigmund Freud, dreams represent the unconscious desires, motivations and thoughts. He says dreams are “… disguised fulfillments of repressed wishes” and describes two aspects of dreams: manifest and latent content. Manifest content includes real thoughts, images and content whereas the latent content symbolizes the concealed psychological meaning of the dream. Freud’s interpretation of dreams is quite famous even today.
Theories behind dream phenomenon
As per the theory suggested by J. Allan Hobson and Robert McClarley, the circuits in the brain get activated while in the state of REM (Rapid Eye Movement) of sleep. It activates the areas of the limbic system which are involved with sensations, emotions and memories. The brain combines and understands this activity and while attempting to comprehend the meaning of these signals, thereby resulting in dreaming. This theory proposes that the subjective interpretation of the signals that are generated by the brain during sleep can be termed as dreams.
Hobson, another scientist says that “…. Our most creative conscious state, one in which the chaotic, spontaneous recombination of cognitive elements produces novel configurations of information called “new ideas”. While these ideas may be nonsensical, if even a few of its fanciful part is are truthfully useful, we can say that our dream time shall not have been wasted”.
It is also believed that dreams help brain to recollect everything it has accumulated during the day time. Brain encounters thousands of inputs during the course of a day. Some may be very minor issues but some other inputs may be strong enough to influence the brain. While the person is sleeping, brain ploughs the information to decide what to retain and what to forget.
Some scientists suggest that during night time the body metabolism slows down. We do not focus on anything in particular while sleeping. The brain keeps making loose relationships. Whatever emotions the person feels during the day, the same reflects in the dream in another form. For example if the person worries about losing the job because of downsizing, in the dream the person may dream that he has become a tiny person in front of giants or he roams around in a barren desert aimlessly.
Another theory about dream says that when our brain tries to understand the external stimuli during sleep it may result in dreams.
One more model suggests that dreams act like a form of psychotherapy. Person who dreams can make connections amidst various emotions and thoughts in a safe surrounding.
As per a contemporary theory which mingles several theories states that while dreaming the person’s brain gets activated and it makes loose relationship between ideas and thoughts and these are guided by the dreamer’s emotions.
According to the Indian medicine practice of Ayurveda, dreams are manifestation of the imbalances of the five elements namely air, fire, water, earth and ether or space in the body and result in dreams related to these elements.
Various astrologers and fortune tellers do believer that dreams are an indication of near future. Dreams are an uncut part of what one experiences or is going to experience in near future that can influence his normal life. It can be love, tension or even a big presentation that can make someone nervous.
Historical approaches to dreams do reveal people’s interaction with God or foreseeing any calamity that happen in near future. A number of mythological incidences derive their origin from dream of either protagonist or antagonist.
Dreams have always fascinated the mankind. The study of the reasons behind these dreams is still in nascent stages. Sometimes we remember the dreams very well. But at times they are very vague. In fact dreams depict our inner thoughts and emotions which are stored in the subconscious mind. Research on dreams is diverse and varied and there are no common agreements among them. It is a dynamic subject and several researches are still going on all over the world.