According to Freud, dreams are the perfect space to carry out all the things you wouldnt dare do while awake. But is this really true?
All good dreams are crazy and fascinating, we all love sharing our dreams, but for some strange reason, the moment one of our friends begins their own rambling story about that weird dream they had last night, we just zone out until the conversation dies out and we're forced to ask, “wow, what do you think it means?” Dreams are the perfect cypher and like all curious beings, we can't help but want to crack it open and peer into the murky depths of our minds. Dreams are a parallel life we lead and when the people in our waking live manifest themselves in them, they take on different personalities and even appearances. So what does it really mean when a ghost from the past comes gliding into your dream?
According to Freud, dreams are all about hidden desires. In dreams, we give ourselves the chance to act out what we wouldn't dare do while awake. But is this the only explanation? Psychologists and scientists have explored different avenues and have seen that the interpretation of dreams is a little bit more complicated than unfulfilled desires. The neurobiological theory called “Activation-Synthesis Hypothesis,” states that dreams are essentially nonsense. When we dream about someone, our electrical brain impulses create an arbitrary story with a confusing mixture of elements, and those elements are likely to be the last things we thought about before falling asleep or things that made an impact during the day.
The "dreams are nonsense theory" doesn't kill our curiosity, on the contrary, it opens to door to more unanswered questions since it doesn’t explain how that person we dreamt about made an impact or why we were thinking about them late at night. Jungian analysts like Doctor Vocata George go for the middle ground and say dreams are symbolic. This explains why dreams mean different things to people. So if you want to pin down the meaning behind your ex waltzing into your dream, you need to remember what the person was doing in your dream, how you were feeling at the moment and what the person means to you at that moment.
Dreams are created by us and we are never in control. We're the writer, director, producer, and spectator of the show. So what are we trying to tell ourselves? What lessons are we trying to learn? Perhaps we’re sad, and we’re so busy during the day so we don’t even notice our own sadness. That's why maybe we dream of a cheerful person we always at work crying their eyes out on the streets. Maybe we’re giving ourselves the chance to process our own feelings through someone else's experiences.
I know it doesn’t sound very scientific, but we’re slowly learning more and more about the real function of dreams, and research has found links between dreams and emotional processing. For instance, a study from the Sleep and Neuroimaging Lab at UC Berkeley showed that a lack of REM sleep reduces our emotional intelligence.
So, yes, even if we cannot explain clearly why we keep dreaming about a certain person, their presence in our dreams is helping us process something. So instead of thinking your dream is a prophesy with hidden gems waiting to be decoded, there are experiences and untaped emotions lurking beneath the surface that can only manifest themselves when your head touches the pillow.
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