Everyone dreams. EHumans spend the third part of their life sleeping and, from this third part, at least another third get to dream, so for much of our life we live in a real dream world.
Both the question of why we dream like the interpretation of dreams they have been a fascinating subject for mankind since ancient times, and have always been surrounded by an atmosphere of mystery, for a definitive theory on this creative process of our subconscious has not yet been reached.
The first interpretations of dreams in history
In Mesopotamia, the Babylonians believed that dreams considered “good” were sent by gods and “bad” ones sent by demons. They had a dream goddess named Mamu to which the priests prayed and tried to please to prevent bad dreams from coming true.
The Assyrians also interpreted dreams as signals. They believed bad dreams were a warning and required action to correct the problem that arose while sleeping. They believed that the person who had had a nightmare should follow any advice he interpreted from his sleep.
On the other hand, the ancient Egyptians believed that the gods were revealed in their dreams. They thought these visions cause real things that can’t be controlled or interpreted by consent. They wrote their dreams on papyrus and differentiated between three types of dream experience: those in which the gods demand an act from which they dream, those that contain warnings or revelations, and dreams in which one arrived. by a ritual. The three types of dreams served as a means of knowing the messages of the gods, in the form of oracles.
Since the best way to receive divine revelation was through a dream, the Egyptians induced sleep in people who they demanded answers from the gods. They went to shrines or sacred places to fall asleep, sleep and dream in the hope of receiving guidance, healing or consolation from the gods.
Why We Dream: Approaches to Psychology
Psychology is no stranger to this interest and has approached the dream world from various disciplines (anthropology, neurosciences, psychology, literature …), even if the reasons why we dream remain mysterious. there are a number of interesting hypotheses and theories and the most relevant trying to explain why we dream.
1. Satisfaction of desires
One of the first and most prominent dream specialists was Sigmund Freud, Who analyzed several patients and even used their own dreams as examples to prove their theory. He proposed that dreams represent the fulfillment of a wish by the dreamer in a real or symbolic way, even nightmares.
According to Freud, dreams are seen as a collection of images from our conscious lives that have symbolic meanings. related to our subconscious desires.
For Sigmund Freud, all dreams are interpretable and the dream should not be a totally real desire, but a symbol of something we want to happen, so he proposed that all dreams be interpretable.
2. Side effects
J. Allan Hobson and Robert McClarley in 1977 they developed the theory of activation-synthesis. According to this theory, in the REM phase of sleep, brain circuits are activated, resulting in the activation of areas of the limbic system (including the amygdala and hippocampus) involved in emotions, sensations, and memories.
The brain tries to interpret these signals and dreams are the subjective interpretation of the signal generated by the brain while we sleep. However, the theory does not imply that dreams are meaningless, but suggests that it is our most creative state of consciousness.
3. Keep the brain active
Psychiatrist Jie Zhang proposed the theory of continuous dream activation, with dreams being the result of our brain’s constant need for create and consolidate long-term memories for proper functioning.
When we sleep our brain automatically triggers the generation of data from memory stores and this data is not displayed as feelings or thoughts but we experience it in our dreams. According to this theory, our dreams are like some sort of random “screen saver” that our brains start not to shut down completely.
4. Forget: mental cleansing
Neuroscientist Francis CrickIn 1983, together with the mathematician Graeme Mitchiso, developed the theory of reverse learning.
The theory states that we dream of getting rid of connections and associations built up in our brain that we don’t need to store. This is why we dream of forgetting as a kind of mental evacuation, as if dreaming is a method of garbage collection or mental cleansing.
5. Consolidation of learning
At the end of the 19th century, the German psychologist Hermann Ebbinghaus after several experiences and observations indicated that dreams serve to consolidate what we have learned during the day. However, this theory was rejected by the scientific community because it considered that the brain is not active while we are sleeping.
In the fifties, Aserinsky and Nathaniel Klietman discovered in several experiments that the brain continues to function while we sleep and is engaged in process everything you have acquired during the day. It reviews newly formed reports, analyzes them and rejects those that are irrelevant, improving and qualifying those that may be useful. However, how the brain accomplishes this task remains a mystery.
6. Defense mechanism
The dream could be related to a defense mechanism. When we dream, the brain behaves the same as when we are still awake the dopaminergic system associated with movement is not active. This tonic immobility or becoming dead could therefore be considered a defense mechanism.
Dreams usually include threatening and dangerous situations. The Finnish philosopher and pseudoscientist Antti Revonusuo suggested the primitive instinct theory of the test whereby the function of dreams would be simulate threatening events or situations and rehearse the perception of these threats in order to avoid them.
This theory holds that the content of sleep makes a lot of sense for its purpose. Moreover, not all dreams are threatening or unpleasant can serve as a practice or rehearsal for other situations as well.
8. Problem solving
Deirdre Barret, suggests that dreams are a way of solving problems. Author John Steinbeck calls this the “committee of dreams”. As if it were a theater in the absence of the rules of conventional logic and the restrictions of reality, the mind can create in dreams all kinds scenarios that solve problems more effectively than when we are awake. This is why we tend to think that the best solution to a problem is obtained after sleeping.
9. Dream Darwinism
Psychologist Mark Blechner says dreams function as a natural selection of ideas that would serve to generate new ideas. Some research suggests that in the different situations that we dream of, we try to select the most useful reaction to successfully deal with those situations.
Dreams present useful variations of psychic life and internal narratives, Would produce variations to generate new types of thinking, imagination, self-awareness and other psychic functions
10. Treatment of painful emotions
Finally, dreams could be considered as a kind of evolutionary therapy in which in dreams we do not select the best emotion or behavior, but serve as relief by associating certain emotions with symbols that appear in dreams.
These are just a few of the highlights, as advancements in technology and research will increase our ability to understand the brain and it is possible that one day we will discover the ultimate reason why we dream. Today, despite everything we know about sleep physiology, dream thoughts remain an enigmatic and controversial area.