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Dream Theories Unraveled

Navigating the Enigmatic Realms of Wish Fulfillment, Memory, Healing, and Problem-Solving

By Shelby AndersonPublished 5 months ago 6 min read
Dream Theories Unraveled
Photo by Johannes Plenio on Unsplash

reword and have a kind voice make more then 700 words- In the third millenium BCE, Mesopotamian kings recorded and interpreted their dreams on wax tablets. A thousand years later, Ancient Egyptians wrote a dream book listing over a hundred common dreams and their meanings. And in the years since, we haven't paused in our quest to understand why we dream. So, after a great deal of scientific research, technological advancement, and persistence, we still don't have any definite answers, but we have some interesting theories. We dream to fulfill our wishes. In the early 1900s, Sigmund Freud proposed that while all of our dreams, including our nightmares, are a collection of images from our daily conscious lives, they also have symbolic meanings, which relate to the fulfillment of our subconscious wishes. Freud theorized that everything we remember when we wake up from a dream is a symbolic representation of our unconscious primitive thoughts, urges, and desires. Freud believed that by analyzing those remembered elements, the unconscious content would be revealed to our conscious mind, and psychological issues stemming from its repression could be addressed and resolved. We dream to remember. To increase performance on certain mental tasks, sleep is good, but dreaming while sleeping is better. In 2010, researchers found that subjects were much better at getting through a complex 3-D maze if they had napped and dreamed of the maze before their second attempt. In fact, they were up to ten times better at it than those who only thought of the maze while awake between attempts, and those who napped but did not dream about the maze. Researchers theorize that certain memory processes can happen only when we are asleep, and our dreams are a signal that these processes are taking place. We dream to forget. There are about 10,000 trillion neural connections within the architecture of your brain. They are created by everything you think and everything you do. A 1983 neurobiological theory of dreaming, called reverse learning, holds that while sleeping, and mainly during REM sleep cycles, your neocortex reviews these neural connections and dumps the unnecessary ones. Without this unlearning process, which results in your dreams, your brain could be overrun by useless connections and parasitic thoughts could disrupt the necessary thinking you need to do while you're awake. We dream to keep our brains working. The continual activation theory proposes that your dreams result from your brain's need to constantly consolidate and create long-term memories in order to function properly. So when external input falls below a certain level, like when you're asleep, your brain automatically triggers the generation of data from its memory storages, which appear to you in the form of the thoughts and feelings you experience in your dreams. In other words, your dreams might be a random screen saver your brain turns on so it doesn't completely shut down. We dream to rehearse. Dreams involving dangerous and threatening situations are very common, and the primitive instinct rehearsal theory holds that the content of a dream is significant to its purpose. Whether it's an anxiety-filled night of being chased through the woods by a bear or fighting off a ninja in a dark alley, these dreams allow you to practice your fight or flight instincts and keep them sharp and dependable in case you'll need them in real life. But it doesn't always have to be unpleasant. For instance, dreams about your attractive neighbor could actually give your reproductive instinct some practice, too. We dream to heal. Stress neurotransmitters in the brain are much less active during the REM stage of sleep, even during dreams of traumatic experiences, leading some researchers to theorize that one purpose of dreaming is to take the edge off painful experiences to allow for psychological healing. Reviewing traumatic events in your dreams with less mental stress may grant you a clearer perspective and enhanced ability to process them in psychologically healthy ways. People with certain mood disorders and PTSD often have difficulty sleeping, leading some scientists to believe that lack of dreaming may be a contributing factor to their illnesses. We dream to solve problems. Unconstrained by reality and the rules of conventional logic, in your dreams, your mind can create limitless scenarios to help you grasp problems and formulate solutions that you may not consider while awake. John Steinbeck called it the Committee of Sleep, and research has demonstrated the effectiveness of dreaming on problem-solving. It's also how renowned chemist August Kekule discovered the structure of the benzene molecule, and it's the reason that sometimes the best solution for a problem is to sleep on it. And those are just a few of the more prominent theories. As technology increases our capability for understanding the brain, it's possible that one day we will discover the definitive reason for them. But until that time arrives, we'll just have to keep on dreaming.

In the vast expanse of the third millennium BCE, Mesopotamian monarchs etched the landscapes of their nightly reveries onto wax tablets, weaving a tapestry of dreams that puzzled and intrigued. A millennium later, the ancient Egyptians meticulously cataloged over a hundred common dreams and their meanings in a dream book. Through the ages, our fascination with the enigma of dreams has persisted, driving us to probe their depths with relentless scientific curiosity and technological innovation. Despite our earnest endeavors, definitive answers remain elusive, but a myriad of intriguing theories have emerged.

One such theory, proposed by Sigmund Freud in the early 1900s, suggests that dreams serve as a conduit for wish fulfillment. Freud postulated that beyond being a mere montage of daily experiences, dreams harbor symbolic meanings linked to the gratification of subconscious desires. According to him, the images remembered upon waking are symbolic representations of our primal thoughts, urges, and longings. By decoding these elements, Freud believed one could unveil the unconscious content, addressing and resolving psychological issues rooted in repression.

Dreams also play a role in memory consolidation and performance enhancement. A study in 2010 revealed that subjects who dreamt about a complex 3-D maze before attempting it exhibited remarkable improvement, surpassing those who only thought about the maze while awake. This suggests that certain memory processes occur during sleep, with dreams signaling the active engagement of these cognitive mechanisms.

Interestingly, dreams are not only about remembering but also about forgetting. Neurobiological theories, such as reverse learning from 1983, propose that during REM sleep cycles, the brain reviews and discards unnecessary neural connections. This unlearning process, manifested in dreams, prevents the brain from being overwhelmed by superfluous connections, ensuring optimal functionality when awake.

The continual activation theory posits that dreams are essential for maintaining the functionality of the brain. When external stimuli drop below a certain threshold during sleep, the brain generates data from memory storages, presenting them as the thoughts and feelings experienced in dreams. Essentially, dreams act as a kind of random screen saver preventing the complete shutdown of the brain during rest.

Dreams also serve as a rehearsal space for our instincts and reactions. The primitive instinct rehearsal theory suggests that dreams featuring threatening situations allow us to practice and sharpen our fight or flight instincts. Whether facing a bear in the woods or confronting a ninja in a dark alley, these scenarios contribute to the honing of our survival instincts. Even dreams about attractive neighbors may provide practice for reproductive instincts.

The healing power of dreams comes to light through the diminished activity of stress neurotransmitters in the brain during the REM stage of sleep. Even dreams recounting traumatic experiences may serve the purpose of taking the edge off painful memories, facilitating psychological healing. Individuals with mood disorders and PTSD, often grappling with sleep difficulties, underscore the potential link between dreaming and mental well-being.

Dreams extend their influence to problem-solving as well. Unbound by the constraints of reality, the mind in the dream state can concoct limitless scenarios to help comprehend problems and devise solutions not readily apparent while awake. Renowned chemist August Kekule's discovery of the benzene molecule structure and John Steinbeck's "Committee of Sleep" both exemplify the profound impact of dreaming on creative problem-solving.

As our technological prowess advances, there remains hope that we may one day unearth the definitive reason behind our nocturnal narratives. Until that moment unfolds, the captivating enigma of dreams continues to beckon, urging us to explore the uncharted realms of the mind while we slumber. In the intricate dance between consciousness and the subconscious, dreams persist as both a mystery and a source of boundless fascination.


About the Creator

Shelby Anderson

I like writing about many things

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Comments (3)

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  • gbert274555 months ago

    I never knew about this information! very useful information

  • This was so fascinating! Very thought provoking as well!

  • Shirley Belk5 months ago

    "We dream to fulfill our wishes." "We dream to remember" "We dream to forget" "reverse learning" "We dream to rehearse" "facilitating psychological healing" "influence to problem-solving" I loved your article. I love a good sleep and I wish I could remember my dreams. When I do remember, I take them very seriously because they have a story to tell me. I'm grateful our Creator made us with this function. A human needs peace. I also love knowing about the reverse learning capacity that goes on. Sometimes, I think mine has just dumped the whole contents...maybe that's why I can't remember a lot of my dreams??? Thank you for the lovely work. I get so much out of your articles.

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