Dream

Dream

Overview
Dreams are successions of image
Image
An image is an artifact, for example a two-dimensional picture, that has a similar appearance to some subject—usually a physical object or a person.-Characteristics:...

s, idea
Idea
In the most narrow sense, an idea is just whatever is before the mind when one thinks. Very often, ideas are construed as representational images; i.e. images of some object. In other contexts, ideas are taken to be concepts, although abstract concepts do not necessarily appear as images...

s, emotions, and sensations that occur involuntarily in the mind
Mind
The concept of mind is understood in many different ways by many different traditions, ranging from panpsychism and animism to traditional and organized religious views, as well as secular and materialist philosophies. Most agree that minds are constituted by conscious experience and intelligent...

 during certain stages of sleep
Sleep
Sleep is a naturally recurring state characterized by reduced or absent consciousness, relatively suspended sensory activity, and inactivity of nearly all voluntary muscles. It is distinguished from quiet wakefulness by a decreased ability to react to stimuli, and is more easily reversible than...

. The content and purpose of dreams are not definitively understood, though they have been a topic of scientific speculation, philosophical intrigue and religious interest throughout recorded history. The scientific study of dreams is called oneirology
Oneirology
Oneirology is the scientific study of dreams. Current research seeks correlations between dreaming and current knowledge about the functions of the brain, as well as understanding of how the brain works during dreaming as pertains to memory formation and mental disorders...

. Science has proven to an extent that all mammals dream.
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Encyclopedia
Dreams are successions of image
Image
An image is an artifact, for example a two-dimensional picture, that has a similar appearance to some subject—usually a physical object or a person.-Characteristics:...

s, idea
Idea
In the most narrow sense, an idea is just whatever is before the mind when one thinks. Very often, ideas are construed as representational images; i.e. images of some object. In other contexts, ideas are taken to be concepts, although abstract concepts do not necessarily appear as images...

s, emotions, and sensations that occur involuntarily in the mind
Mind
The concept of mind is understood in many different ways by many different traditions, ranging from panpsychism and animism to traditional and organized religious views, as well as secular and materialist philosophies. Most agree that minds are constituted by conscious experience and intelligent...

 during certain stages of sleep
Sleep
Sleep is a naturally recurring state characterized by reduced or absent consciousness, relatively suspended sensory activity, and inactivity of nearly all voluntary muscles. It is distinguished from quiet wakefulness by a decreased ability to react to stimuli, and is more easily reversible than...

. The content and purpose of dreams are not definitively understood, though they have been a topic of scientific speculation, philosophical intrigue and religious interest throughout recorded history. The scientific study of dreams is called oneirology
Oneirology
Oneirology is the scientific study of dreams. Current research seeks correlations between dreaming and current knowledge about the functions of the brain, as well as understanding of how the brain works during dreaming as pertains to memory formation and mental disorders...

. Science has proven to an extent that all mammals dream. The scientific approach to dreams has been conducted through the discovery of REM sleep.

Dreams mainly occur in the rapid-eye movement (REM) stage of sleep—when brain activity is high and resembles that of being awake. REM sleep is revealed by continuous movements of the eyes during sleep. At times, dreams may occur during other stages of sleep. However, these dreams tend to be much less vivid or memorable. Dreams can last for a few seconds, or as long as twenty minutes. A person is more likely to remember the dream if he or she is awakened during the REM phase.

Dreams are a connection to the human subconscious
Subconscious
The term subconscious is used in many different contexts and has no single or precise definition. This greatly limits its significance as a definition-bearing concept, and in consequence the word tends to be avoided in academic and scientific settings....

. They can range from normal and ordinary to the overly surreal
Surrealism
Surrealism is a cultural movement that began in the early 1920s, and is best known for the visual artworks and writings of the group members....

 and bizarre. Dreams can at times make a creative
Creativity
Creativity refers to the phenomenon whereby a person creates something new that has some kind of value. What counts as "new" may be in reference to the individual creator, or to the society or domain within which the novelty occurs...

 thought occur to the person or give a sense of inspiration
Artistic inspiration
Inspiration refers to an unconscious burst of creativity in a literary, musical, or other artistic endeavour. Literally, the word means "breathed upon," and it has its origins in both Hellenism and Hebraism. The Greeks believed that inspiration came from the muses, as well as the gods Apollo and...

. Dream imagery is often absurd and unrealistic, and the events in dreams are generally outside the control of the dreamer, with the exception of lucid dreaming
Lucid dreaming
A lucid dream is a dream in which one is aware that one is dreaming. The term was coined by the Dutch psychiatrist and writer Frederik van Eeden . In a lucid dream, the dreamer can actively participate in and manipulate imaginary experiences in the dream environment. Lucid dreams can seem real and...

. Dreamers are usually not self-aware in their dreams; thus the dreams seem as reality. Dreams can have varying natures, such as frightening
Fear
Fear is a distressing negative sensation induced by a perceived threat. It is a basic survival mechanism occurring in response to a specific stimulus, such as pain or the threat of danger...

, exciting, magical, melancholic, adventurous, or sexual.

The opinions about the meaning of dreams has varied and shifted through time and culture. Dream interpretations date back to 5000
5th millennium BC
The 5th millennium BC saw the spread of agriculture from the Near East throughout southern and central Europe.Urban cultures in Mesopotamia and Anatolia flourished, developing the wheel. Copper ornaments became more common, marking the Chalcolithic. Animal husbandry spread throughout Eurasia,...

-4000 BC, where they were documented on clay tablet
Clay tablet
In the Ancient Near East, clay tablets were used as a writing medium, especially for writing in cuneiform, throughout the Bronze Age and well into the Iron Age....

s. The earliest recorded dreams were acquired from materials dating back approximately 5000 years, in Mesopotamia
Mesopotamia
Mesopotamia is a toponym for the area of the Tigris–Euphrates river system, largely corresponding to modern-day Iraq, northeastern Syria, southeastern Turkey and southwestern Iran.Widely considered to be the cradle of civilization, Bronze Age Mesopotamia included Sumer and the...

. In some of the earliest societies, the dream world was regarded as an extension of reality
Reality
In philosophy, reality is the state of things as they actually exist, rather than as they may appear or might be imagined. In a wider definition, reality includes everything that is and has been, whether or not it is observable or comprehensible...

. In the Greek
Ancient Greece
Ancient Greece is a civilization belonging to a period of Greek history that lasted from the Archaic period of the 8th to 6th centuries BC to the end of antiquity. Immediately following this period was the beginning of the Early Middle Ages and the Byzantine era. Included in Ancient Greece is the...

 and Roman
Ancient Rome
Ancient Rome was a thriving civilization that grew on the Italian Peninsula as early as the 8th century BC. Located along the Mediterranean Sea and centered on the city of Rome, it expanded to one of the largest empires in the ancient world....

 periods, dreams were seen through a religious lens. The people believed that they were direct messages from the gods or from the dead. The people of that time relied on their dreams for solution
Solution
In chemistry, a solution is a homogeneous mixture composed of only one phase. In such a mixture, a solute is dissolved in another substance, known as a solvent. The solvent does the dissolving.- Types of solutions :...

s on what to do, or what course of action to take. They also believed dreams forewarned and predicted the future
Prediction
A prediction or forecast is a statement about the way things will happen in the future, often but not always based on experience or knowledge...

. Throughout history, people have sought meaning in dreams
Dream interpretation
Dream interpretation is the process of assigning meaning to dreams. In many ancient societies, such as those of Egypt and Greece, dreaming was considered a supernatural communication or a means of divine intervention, whose message could be unravelled by people with certain powers...

 or divination through dreams
Oneiromancy
Oneiromancy is a form of divination based upon dreams; it is a system of dream interpretation that uses dreams to predict the future.-Ancient Egyptian:...

. Dreams have also been described physiologically as a response to neural processes during sleep; psychologically as reflections of the subconscious
Subconscious
The term subconscious is used in many different contexts and has no single or precise definition. This greatly limits its significance as a definition-bearing concept, and in consequence the word tends to be avoided in academic and scientific settings....

; and spiritually
Spirituality
Spirituality can refer to an ultimate or an alleged immaterial reality; an inner path enabling a person to discover the essence of his/her being; or the “deepest values and meanings by which people live.” Spiritual practices, including meditation, prayer and contemplation, are intended to develop...

 as messages from the Soul, from a god
God
God is the English name given to a singular being in theistic and deistic religions who is either the sole deity in monotheism, or a single deity in polytheism....

 or from the deceased, or as predictions of the future. Some cultures practice dream incubation
Dream incubation
Dream incubation is a practiced technique of learning to "plant a seed" in the mind, in order for a specific dream topic to occur, either for recreation or to attempt to solve a problem. For example, a person might go to bed repeating to themselves that they will dream about a presentation they...

 with the intention of cultivating dreams that are prophetic or contain messages from the divine
Divinity
Divinity and divine are broadly applied but loosely defined terms, used variously within different faiths and belief systems — and even by different individuals within a given faith — to refer to some transcendent or transcendental power or deity, or its attributes or manifestations in...

. Some of these interpretations remain today embedded in the minds of individuals. The randomness or hidden meaning of dreams remains disputable.

The most prolific dream theories and interpretations were developed by Sigmund Freud
Sigmund Freud
Sigmund Freud , born Sigismund Schlomo Freud , was an Austrian neurologist who founded the discipline of psychoanalysis...

, the Austrian neurologist who developed the discipline of psychoanalysis
Psychoanalysis
Psychoanalysis is a psychological theory developed in the late 19th and early 20th centuries by Austrian neurologist Sigmund Freud. Psychoanalysis has expanded, been criticized and developed in different directions, mostly by some of Freud's former students, such as Alfred Adler and Carl Gustav...

. He explained dreams were manifestations of our deepest desires and anxieties. During sleep, dreams would manifest childhood repressed memories and obsessions. In The Interpretation of Dreams
The Interpretation of Dreams
The Interpretation of Dreams is a book by psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud. The first edition begins:.The book introduces Freud's theory of the unconscious with respect to dream interpretation...

, Freud developed a psychological technique to interpret dreams and devised a series of guidelines to understand the symbols and motifs that appear in our dreams.

Ancient history


The Sumerians in Mesopotamia left evidence of dreams dating back to 3100 BC. According to these early recorded stories, gods and kings, like the 7th century BC scholar-king Assurbanipal, paid close attention to dreams. In his archive of clay tablets, some amounts of the story of the legendary king Gilgamesh
Gilgamesh
Gilgamesh was the fifth king of Uruk, modern day Iraq , placing his reign ca. 2500 BC. According to the Sumerian king list he reigned for 126 years. In the Tummal Inscription, Gilgamesh, and his son Urlugal, rebuilt the sanctuary of the goddess Ninlil, in Tummal, a sacred quarter in her city of...

 were found. In this epic
Epic (genre)
An epic is traditionally a genre of poetry, known as epic poetry. However in modern terms, epic is often extended to other art forms, such as novels, plays, films, and video games where the story is centered on heroic characters, and the action takes place on a grand scale, just as in epic poetry...

 poem—one of the earliest known stories—Gilgamesh reported his recurring dreams to his goddess
Goddess
A goddess is a female deity. In some cultures goddesses are associated with Earth, motherhood, love, and the household. In other cultures, goddesses also rule over war, death, and destruction as well as healing....

-mother Ninsun
Ninsun
In Sumerian mythology, Ninsun or Ninsuna is a goddess, best known as the mother of the legendary hero Gilgamesh, and as the tutelary goddess of Gudea of Lagash. Her parents are the deities Anu and Uras.-Myths:...

, who made the first known recorded dream interpretation.

Gilgamesh's dreams were thought of as a prophecy
Prophecy
Prophecy is a process in which one or more messages that have been communicated to a prophet are then communicated to others. Such messages typically involve divine inspiration, interpretation, or revelation of conditioned events to come as well as testimonies or repeated revelations that the...

, where he used to control the actions in the waking world. These philosophies recorded in the Gilgamesh epic gave a valuable source of information about ancient dream beliefs. The Mesopotamians believed that the soul, or some part of it, moves out from the body of the sleeping person and actually visits the places and persons the dreamer sees in his sleep. Sometimes the god of dreams is said to carry the dreamer.

Babylonians divided dreams into "good," which were sent by the gods, and "bad," sent by demons. In Assyria
Assyria
Assyria was a Semitic Akkadian kingdom, extant as a nation state from the mid–23rd century BC to 608 BC centred on the Upper Tigris river, in northern Mesopotamia , that came to rule regional empires a number of times through history. It was named for its original capital, the ancient city of Assur...

, people believed that their dreams were omens. One of the earliest recorded dreams was found written on a clay tablet in Nineveh
Nineveh
Nineveh was an ancient Assyrian city on the eastern bank of the Tigris River, and capital of the Neo Assyrian Empire. Its ruins are across the river from the modern-day major city of Mosul, in the Ninawa Governorate of Iraq....

. This dream dated back to the reign of King Ashurbanipal (669-626 BC). The tablet concluded that if a man flies repeatedly in his dreams, then all that he owns will be lost. Assyrians believed that dreams involving sexual content or adultery
Adultery
Adultery is sexual infidelity to one's spouse, and is a form of extramarital sex. It originally referred only to sex between a woman who was married and a person other than her spouse. Even in cases of separation from one's spouse, an extramarital affair is still considered adultery.Adultery is...

 were thought of as diseases caused by evil demons rising from the under worlds to attack people.

In ancient Egypt
Ancient Egypt
Ancient Egypt was an ancient civilization of Northeastern Africa, concentrated along the lower reaches of the Nile River in what is now the modern country of Egypt. Egyptian civilization coalesced around 3150 BC with the political unification of Upper and Lower Egypt under the first pharaoh...

, people believed gods showed themselves in dreams. They believed that dreams were caused by real things that were beyond interpretation or control by the conscious mind. As back as 2000 BC, the Egyptians wrote down their dreams on papyrus
Papyrus
Papyrus is a thick paper-like material produced from the pith of the papyrus plant, Cyperus papyrus, a wetland sedge that was once abundant in the Nile Delta of Egypt....

. People with vivid and significant dreams were thought blessed and were considered special. Ancient Egyptians distinguished three main types of dreams: those in which the gods demanded some devotional act, those that contained warnings or revelations, and those that came about through ritual
Ritual
A ritual is a set of actions, performed mainly for their symbolic value. It may be prescribed by a religion or by the traditions of a community. The term usually excludes actions which are arbitrarily chosen by the performers....

.

Ancient Egyptians believed that dreams were like oracles, bringing messages from the gods. They thought that the best way to receive divine revelation was through dreaming and thus they would induce (or "incubate") dreams. Egyptians would travel to a sanctuary or shrine
Shrine
A shrine is a holy or sacred place, which is dedicated to a specific deity, ancestor, hero, martyr, saint, daemon or similar figure of awe and respect, at which they are venerated or worshipped. Shrines often contain idols, relics, or other such objects associated with the figure being venerated....

, such as the famous temple at Memphis, Egypt
Memphis, Egypt
Memphis was the ancient capital of Aneb-Hetch, the first nome of Lower Egypt. Its ruins are located near the town of Helwan, south of Cairo.According to legend related by Manetho, the city was founded by the pharaoh Menes around 3000 BC. Capital of Egypt during the Old Kingdom, it remained an...

, to lie down on special "dream beds" in hope of receiving advice, comfort, or healing from the gods.

Religious history


The ancient Hebrews
Hebrews
Hebrews is an ethnonym used in the Hebrew Bible...

 connected their dreams heavily with their religion, though the Hebrews were monotheistic and believed that dreams were the voice of one god alone. Hebrews also differentiated between good dreams (from God) and bad dreams (from evil spirits). The Hebrews, like many other ancient cultures, incubated dreams in order to receive divine revelation. For example, the Hebrew prophet Samuel, would "lie down and sleep in the temple at Shiloh before the Ark and receive the word of the Lord."

Christians mostly shared their beliefs with the Hebrews and thought that dreams were of the supernatural element because the Old Testament
Old Testament
The Old Testament, of which Christians hold different views, is a Christian term for the religious writings of ancient Israel held sacred and inspired by Christians which overlaps with the 24-book canon of the Masoretic Text of Judaism...

 had frequent stories of dreams with divine inspiration. The most famous of these dream stories was Jacob's dream
Jacob's Ladder
Jacob's Ladder is a "ladder to heaven", described by biblical Jacob in the Book of GenesisJacob's Ladder may also refer to:* Ladder of Jacob, a pseudepigraphic text of the Old Testament...

 that stretched from Earth
Earth
Earth is the third planet from the Sun, and the densest and fifth-largest of the eight planets in the Solar System. It is also the largest of the Solar System's four terrestrial planets...

 to Heaven
Heaven
Heaven, the Heavens or Seven Heavens, is a common religious cosmological or metaphysical term for the physical or transcendent place from which heavenly beings originate, are enthroned or inhabit...

. Many Christian
Christian
A Christian is a person who adheres to Christianity, an Abrahamic, monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth as recorded in the Canonical gospels and the letters of the New Testament...

 men preached that God talked to his people through their dreams.

Classical history


In Chinese history, people wrote of two vital aspects of the soul of which one is freed from the body during slumber to journey a dream realm, while the other remained in the body. Although, this belief and dream interpretation was questioned since early time, such as by the philosopher Wang Chong
Wang Chong
Wang Chong , courtesy name Zhongren , was a Chinese philosopher active during the Han Dynasty. He developed a rational, secular, naturalistic and mechanistic account of the world and of human beings and gave a materialistic explanation of the origin of the universe. His main work was the Lùnhéng...

 (27-97). The Indian text Upanishads, written between 900 and 500 BC, emphasize two meanings on dreams. The first says that dreams are merely expressions of inner desires. The second is the belief of the soul leaving the body and being guided until awakened.

The Greeks shared their beliefs with the Egyptians on how to interpret good and bad dreams, and the idea of incubating dreams. Greek legend states that the god Hypnos
Hypnos
In Greek mythology, Hypnos was the personification of sleep; the Roman equivalent was known as Somnus. His twin was Thánatos ; their mother was the primordial goddess Nyx . His palace was a dark cave where the sun never shines. At the entrance were a number of poppies and other hypnogogic plants...

 made the people sleep by touching them with his magic wand or by fanning them with his wings. Morpheus
Morpheus (mythology)
Morpheus in Greek mythology is the god of dreams, leader of the Oneiroi. Morpheus has the ability to take any human form and appear in dreams...

 also sent warnings and prophecies to those who slept at shrines and temples. The earliest Greek beliefs of dreams was that their gods physically visited the dreamers, where they entered through a keyhole, and exiting the same way after the divine message was given.

Dreams also helped their practice of medicine, sending sick people to particular temples. Sick Greeks visited these temples to perform various religious rites, sleep, and hope to have a dream that assured a return to good health
Health
Health is the level of functional or metabolic efficiency of a living being. In humans, it is the general condition of a person's mind, body and spirit, usually meaning to be free from illness, injury or pain...

. They slept for many days, sometimes trying for weeks or months until they had the "right" dream. Antiphon
Antiphon
An antiphon in Christian music and ritual, is a "responsory" by a choir or congregation, usually in Gregorian chant, to a psalm or other text in a religious service or musical work....

 wrote the first known Greek book on dreams in the 5th century BC. In that century, other cultures influenced Greeks to developed the belief that souls left the sleeping body.

Hippocrates
Hippocrates
Hippocrates of Cos or Hippokrates of Kos was an ancient Greek physician of the Age of Pericles , and is considered one of the most outstanding figures in the history of medicine...

 (469-399 BC) had a simple dream theory: during the day, the soul receives images; during the night, it produces images. Greek philosopher, Aristotle
Aristotle
Aristotle was a Greek philosopher and polymath, a student of Plato and teacher of Alexander the Great. His writings cover many subjects, including physics, metaphysics, poetry, theater, music, logic, rhetoric, linguistics, politics, government, ethics, biology, and zoology...

 (384-322 BC) believed dreams caused physiological activity. He thought dreams could analyse illness
Illness
Illness is a state of poor health. Illness is sometimes considered another word for disease. Others maintain that fine distinctions exist...

 and predict diseases. In the Hellenistic times, the main interest in dreams centred around their ability to heal. Greeks of that period believed that dreams offered vital clues that could help healers diagnose the dreamer. Galen
Galen
Aelius Galenus or Claudius Galenus , better known as Galen of Pergamon , was a prominent Roman physician, surgeon and philosopher...

, a Greek physician
Physician
A physician is a health care provider who practices the profession of medicine, which is concerned with promoting, maintaining or restoring human health through the study, diagnosis, and treatment of disease, injury and other physical and mental impairments...

 born in 129 AD, said that people should carefully observe dreams for clues to healing
Healing
Physiological healing is the restoration of damaged living tissue, organs and biological system to normal function. It is the process by which the cells in the body regenerate and repair to reduce the size of a damaged or necrotic area....

. He was so convinced of dream messages that he performed operations on the basis of dream interpretations.

Post-Classic/Medieval history


Some Indigenous American
Indigenous peoples of the Americas
The indigenous peoples of the Americas are the pre-Columbian inhabitants of North and South America, their descendants and other ethnic groups who are identified with those peoples. Indigenous peoples are known in Canada as Aboriginal peoples, and in the United States as Native Americans...

 tribes and Mexican
Mexico
The United Mexican States , commonly known as Mexico , is a federal constitutional republic in North America. It is bordered on the north by the United States; on the south and west by the Pacific Ocean; on the southeast by Guatemala, Belize, and the Caribbean Sea; and on the east by the Gulf of...

 civilizations believe that dreams are a way of visiting and having contact with their ancestors.

The Middle Ages
Middle Ages
The Middle Ages is a periodization of European history from the 5th century to the 15th century. The Middle Ages follows the fall of the Western Roman Empire in 476 and precedes the Early Modern Era. It is the middle period of a three-period division of Western history: Classic, Medieval and Modern...

 brought a harsh interpretation of dreams. They were seen as evil
Evil
Evil is the violation of, or intent to violate, some moral code. Evil is usually seen as the dualistic opposite of good. Definitions of evil vary along with analysis of its root motive causes, however general actions commonly considered evil include: conscious and deliberate wrongdoing,...

, and the images as temptations from the devil
Devil
The Devil is believed in many religions and cultures to be a powerful, supernatural entity that is the personification of evil and the enemy of God and humankind. The nature of the role varies greatly...

. Many believed that during sleep, the devil could fill the human mind with corrupting and harmful thoughts. Martin Luther
Martin Luther
Martin Luther was a German priest, professor of theology and iconic figure of the Protestant Reformation. He strongly disputed the claim that freedom from God's punishment for sin could be purchased with money. He confronted indulgence salesman Johann Tetzel with his Ninety-Five Theses in 1517...

, founder of Protestantism
Protestantism
Protestantism is one of the three major groupings within Christianity. It is a movement that began in Germany in the early 16th century as a reaction against medieval Roman Catholic doctrines and practices, especially in regards to salvation, justification, and ecclesiology.The doctrines of the...

, believed dreams were the work of the Devil. However, Catholics such as St. Augustine
St. Augustine
-People:* Augustine of Hippo or Augustine of Hippo , father of the Latin church* Augustine of Canterbury , first Archbishop of Canterbury* Augustine Webster, an English Catholic martyr.-Places:*St. Augustine, Florida, United States...

 and St. Jerome claimed that the direction of their life were heavily influenced by their dreams.

Freudian view of dreams


In the early 19th century, many thought dreams had no meaning at all, that they were just caused by anxiety
Anxiety
Anxiety is a psychological and physiological state characterized by somatic, emotional, cognitive, and behavioral components. The root meaning of the word anxiety is 'to vex or trouble'; in either presence or absence of psychological stress, anxiety can create feelings of fear, worry, uneasiness,...

, family issues, or even by upset stomachs. Later in the 19th century, psychotherapist Sigmund Freud
Sigmund Freud
Sigmund Freud , born Sigismund Schlomo Freud , was an Austrian neurologist who founded the discipline of psychoanalysis...

 argued for the importance of dreams and their significance for psychology. He created a great vogue for the study of dreams. In 1899 he published Die Traumdeutung. In English it was called The Interpretation of Dreams.

Freud theorized that wish fulfillment
Wish fulfillment
Wish fulfillment in psychology is the satisfaction of a desire through such involuntary thought processes such as dreams, daydreams, an neurotic symptoms. In Freudian psychoanalysis, it is when desires of the unconscious are unacceptable to the ego and superego because of feeling of guilt or...

 was behind most dreams. His interpreted dreams as a reflection of the dreamer's deepest desires, going back to their childhood
Childhood
Childhood is the age span ranging from birth to adolescence. In developmental psychology, childhood is divided up into the developmental stages of toddlerhood , early childhood , middle childhood , and adolescence .- Age ranges of childhood :The term childhood is non-specific and can imply a...

. To Freud, dreams were images that held important meanings. Freud's theory distinguishes two layers of dream content: manifest and latent. Manifest (superficial) content had no significant meaning but was a mask for underlying issues of the dream. Latent content was those underlying issues; it expressed unconscious wishes or fantasies. Freud believed most dreams were of a sexual nature. From Freud's time forward, many no longer considered dreams divine
Divinity
Divinity and divine are broadly applied but loosely defined terms, used variously within different faiths and belief systems — and even by different individuals within a given faith — to refer to some transcendent or transcendental power or deity, or its attributes or manifestations in...

 or demonic, but a valid mode for collecting information on an unconscious level. Freud called dreams the "royal road to the unconscious." In his earlier writings, Freud viewed the vast majority of dreams as sexual in nature, but he later shied away from this categorical position, and in Beyond the Pleasure Principle, considered trauma and aggression as other possible causes of dreams. He also considered supernatural origins in Dreams and Occultism, a lecture published in New Introductory Lectures on Psychoanalysis
Freud's, and by extension, other psychoanalytic views of dreams, have been attacked by, among others, Hans Eysenck, who wrote a book discrediting them called Decline and Fall of the Freudian Empire.

Jungian and other anti-Freudian dissident view of dreams


Carl Jung
Carl Jung
Carl Gustav Jung was a Swiss psychiatrist and the founder of Analytical Psychology. Jung is considered the first modern psychiatrist to view the human psyche as "by nature religious" and make it the focus of exploration. Jung is one of the best known researchers in the field of dream analysis and...

, a student of Freud who later turned against him, also believed that dreams related to the dreamer's wishes, which enables them to realize things they unconsciously desire, and that the dreams help them to fulfill their wishes. Jung believed dreams were messages to the dreamer and that dreamers should pay attention for their own good. Carl Jung came to believe that dream contents present the dreamer with revelations that uncover and help to resolve emotional issues, problems, religious issues and fears.

Jung believed that recurring dreams are a proof that the dreamer is neglecting an issue, thus it shows up repeatedly in dreams to demand attention. He believed that many of the symbols or images from these dreams return with each dream. Jung also said that dreams are not only important to the dreamer's life, but that they are all parts of "one great web of psychological factors." Such things as events, movies and people seen the previous day also play a role in dreaming. These memories leave impressions for the unconscious to deal with when the ego is at rest. The unconscious re-enacts these glimpses of the past, in the form of a dream. Jung called this a day residue.

Another student of Freud's who turned against him, Alfred Adler, believed dreams simply represented aggression. Freudian psychotherapy and psychoanalysis today have fallen out of fashion. Most modern psychologists regard Freud as being of primarily historical interest.

The Neurobiology of dreaming



There is not a universally accepted biological definition of dreaming. In 1952, Eugene Aserinsky
Eugene Aserinsky
Eugene Aserinsky , a pioneer in sleep research, was a graduate student at University of Chicago in 1953 when he discovered REM sleep. He made the discovery after hours spent studying the eyelids of sleeping subjects...

 identified and defined rapid eye movement (REM) sleep while working in the surgery of his PhD adviser. He noticed that the sleepers' eyes fluttered beneath their closed eyelids. Later he used a polygraph
Polygraph
A polygraph measures and records several physiological indices such as blood pressure, pulse, respiration, and skin conductivity while the subject is asked and answers a series of questions...

 machine to record the sleepers' brainwaves
EEG
EEG commonly refers to electroencephalography, a measurement of the electrical activity of the brain.EEG may also refer to:* Emperor Entertainment Group, a Hong Kong-based entertainment company...

 during the periods of this activity of their eyes. In one session, he awakened a subject who was wailing and crying out during REM and confirmed his suspicion that dreaming was occurring. In 1953, Aserinsky and his advisor published the ground-breaking study in Science
Science (journal)
Science is the academic journal of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and is one of the world's top scientific journals....

.

Accumulated observation has shown that dreams are strongly associated with rapid eye movement sleep, during which an electroencephalogram (EEG) shows brain activity that, among sleep states, is most like wakefulness. Participant-remembered dreams during NREM sleep are normally more mundane in comparison. During a typical lifespan, a person spends a total of about six years dreaming (which is about two hours each night). Most dreams only last 5 to 20 minutes. It is unknown where in the brain dreams originate, if there is a single origin for dreams or if multiple portions of the brain are involved, or what the purpose of dreaming is for the body or mind.

During REM sleep, the release of the neurotransmitter
Neurotransmitter
Neurotransmitters are endogenous chemicals that transmit signals from a neuron to a target cell across a synapse. Neurotransmitters are packaged into synaptic vesicles clustered beneath the membrane on the presynaptic side of a synapse, and are released into the synaptic cleft, where they bind to...

s norepinephrine
Norepinephrine
Norepinephrine is the US name for noradrenaline , a catecholamine with multiple roles including as a hormone and a neurotransmitter...

, serotonin
Serotonin
Serotonin or 5-hydroxytryptamine is a monoamine neurotransmitter. Biochemically derived from tryptophan, serotonin is primarily found in the gastrointestinal tract, platelets, and in the central nervous system of animals including humans...

 and histamine
Histamine
Histamine is an organic nitrogen compound involved in local immune responses as well as regulating physiological function in the gut and acting as a neurotransmitter. Histamine triggers the inflammatory response. As part of an immune response to foreign pathogens, histamine is produced by...

 is completely suppressed. As a result, motor neuron
Motor neuron
In vertebrates, the term motor neuron classically applies to neurons located in the central nervous system that project their axons outside the CNS and directly or indirectly control muscles...

s are not stimulated, a condition known as REM atonia. This prevents dreams from resulting in dangerous movements of the body.

According to a report in the journal Neuron, rat brains show evidence of complex activity during sleep, including the activation in memory of long sequences of activity. Studies show that various species of mammals and birds experience REM during sleep, and follow the same series of sleeping states as humans.

Despite their power to bewilder, arouse, frighten or amuse, dreams can often be ignored in mainstream models of cognitive psychology. As methods of introspection were replaced with more self-consciously objective methods in the social sciences in 1930s and 1940s, dream studies dropped out of the scientific literature. Dreams were neither directly observable by an experimenter nor were subjects' dream reports reliable, being prey to the familiar problems of distortion due to delayed recall, if they were recalled at all. According to Sigmund Freud
Sigmund Freud
Sigmund Freud , born Sigismund Schlomo Freud , was an Austrian neurologist who founded the discipline of psychoanalysis...

, dreams are more often forgotten entirely, perhaps due to their prohibited character. Altogether, these problems seemed to put them beyond the realm of science.

The discovery that dreams take place primarily during a distinctive electrophysiological state of sleep, rapid eye movement (REM) sleep, which can be identified by objective criteria, led to the rebirth of interest in this phenomenon. When REM sleep episodes were timed for their duration and subjects woken to make reports before major editing or forgetting could take place, it was determined that subjects accurately matched the length of time they judged the dream narrative to be ongoing to the length of REM sleep that preceded the awakening. There is no "time dilation" effect; a five-minute dream takes roughly five minutes of real time to play out. This close correlation of REM sleep and dream experience was the basis of the first series of reports describing the nature of dreaming: that it is a regular nightly, rather than occasional, phenomenon, and a high-frequency activity within each sleep period occurring at predictable intervals of approximately every 60–90 minutes in all humans throughout the life span.

REM sleep episodes and the dreams that accompany them lengthen progressively across the night, with the first episode being shortest, of approximately 10–12 minutes duration, and the second and third episodes increasing to 15–20 minutes. Dreams at the end of the night may last as long as 15 minutes, although these may be experienced as several distinct stories due to momentary arousals interrupting sleep as the night ends. Dream reports can be reported from normal subjects on 50% of the occasion when an awakening is made prior to the end of the first REM period. This rate of retrieval is increased to about 99% when awakenings are made from the last REM period of the night. This increase in the ability to recall appears related to intensification across the night in the vividness of dream imagery, colors, and emotions.

Dreams in animals


REM sleep and the ability to dream seem to be embedded in the biology of many organisms that live on Earth. All mammals experience REM. The range of REM can be seen across species: dolphins experience minimum REM, while humans remain in the middle and the opossum and the armadillo are among the most prolific dreamers.

Studies have observed dreaming in monkeys, dogs, cats, rats, elephants and shrews. There have also been signs of dreaming in certain birds and reptiles.Sleeping and dreaming are intertwined. Scientific research results regarding the function of dreaming in animals remain disputable, however, the function of sleeping in living organisms is increasingly clear. For example, recent sleep deprivation experiments conducted on rats and other animals have resulted in the deterioration of physiological functioning and actual tissue damage of the animals.

In 1954 the theta rhythm
Theta rhythm
A theta rhythm is an oscillatory pattern in EEG signals recorded either from inside the brain or from electrodes glued to the scalp. Two types of theta rhythm have been described...

 was discovered by two scientists at the University of California at Los Angeles when experimenting with rabbits, shrews, moles and rats. The theta rhythm is the oscillatory pattern of electric activity in the brain. This discovery lead to a commentary published in 1972 that explained differences in Theta Rhythm where defined by respective animal behaviors. Awake animals showed high Theta Rhythm when behaving in ways that where crucial to their survival, for example: eating and reproducing. This apparently was a response to a changing environment. The theta rhythm occurs during REM and studies suggest it "reflected a neural process whereby information that is essential to the survival of the species" is gathered throughout the day and is "reprocessed into memory during REM sleep". In conclusion: "dreams may reflect a memory-processing mechanism inherited from lower species".

Some scientists argue that humans dream for the same reason other mammals do. From a Darwinian perspective dreams would have to fulfill some kind of biological requirement or provide some benefit for natural selection to take place. Antti Revonsuo, a professor at the University of Turku in Finland, claims that centuries ago dreams would prepare humans for recognizing and avoiding danger by presenting a simulation of threatening events. This threat-simulation theory was presented in 2000.

Activation synthesis theory


In 1976 J. Allan Hobson and Robert McCarley
Robert McCarley
Robert W. McCarley, MD, is Chair and Professor of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and the VA Boston Healthcare System. He is also Director of the Laboratory of Neuroscience located at the Brockton VA Medical Center and the McLean Hospital...

 proposed a new theory that changed dream research, challenging the previously held Freudian view of dreams as subconscious wishes to be interpreted. Activation synthesis theory asserts that the sensory experiences are fabricated by the cortex as a means of interpreting chaotic
Chaos theory
Chaos theory is a field of study in mathematics, with applications in several disciplines including physics, economics, biology, and philosophy. Chaos theory studies the behavior of dynamical systems that are highly sensitive to initial conditions, an effect which is popularly referred to as the...

 signals from the pons
Pons
The pons is a structure located on the brain stem, named after the Latin word for "bridge" or the 16th-century Italian anatomist and surgeon Costanzo Varolio . It is superior to the medulla oblongata, inferior to the midbrain, and ventral to the cerebellum. In humans and other bipeds this means it...

. They propose that during REM sleep, the ascending cholinergic
Cholinergic
The word choline generally refers to the various quaternary ammonium salts containing the N,N,N-trimethylethanolammonium cation. Found in most animal tissues, choline is a primary component of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine and functions with inositol as a basic constituent of lecithin...

 PGO (ponto-geniculo-occipital) waves stimulate higher midbrain and forebrain cortical structures, producing rapid eye movements. The activated forebrain then synthesizes the dream out of this internally generated information. They assume that the same structures that induce REM sleep also generate sensory information.

Hobson's 1976 research suggested that the signals interpreted as dreams originated in the brain stem during REM sleep. However, research by Mark Solms
Mark Solms
Mark Solms is a psychoanalyst and a lecturer in neurosurgery at the St. Bartholomew’s and Royal London School of Medicine; chair of neuropsychology, University of Cape Town, South Africa and director of the Arnold Pfeffer Center for Neuro-Psychoanalysis at the New York Psychoanalytic Institute...

 suggests that dreams are generated in the forebrain, and that REM sleep and dreaming are not directly related. While working in the neurosurgery department at hospitals in Johannesburg
Johannesburg
Johannesburg also known as Jozi, Jo'burg or Egoli, is the largest city in South Africa, by population. Johannesburg is the provincial capital of Gauteng, the wealthiest province in South Africa, having the largest economy of any metropolitan region in Sub-Saharan Africa...

 and London
London
London is the capital city of :England and the :United Kingdom, the largest metropolitan area in the United Kingdom, and the largest urban zone in the European Union by most measures. Located on the River Thames, London has been a major settlement for two millennia, its history going back to its...

, Solms had access to patients with various brain injuries. He began to question patients about their dreams and confirmed that patients with damage to the parietal lobe
Parietal lobe
The parietal lobe is a part of the Brain positioned above the occipital lobe and behind the frontal lobe.The parietal lobe integrates sensory information from different modalities, particularly determining spatial sense and navigation. For example, it comprises somatosensory cortex and the...

 stopped dreaming; this finding was in line with Hobson's 1977 theory. However, Solms did not encounter cases of loss of dreaming with patients having brain stem damage. This observation forced him to question Hobson's prevailing theory, which marked the brain stem as the source of the signals interpreted as dreams.

Solms viewed the idea of dreaming as a function of many complex brain structures as validating Freudian dream theory, an idea that drew criticism from Hobson. In 1978, Solms, along with partners William Kauffman and Edward Nadar, undertook a series of traumatic-injury impact studies using several different species of primates, particularly howler monkeys, in order to disprove Hobson's postulation that the brain stem
Brain stem
In vertebrate anatomy the brainstem is the posterior part of the brain, adjoining and structurally continuous with the spinal cord. The brain stem provides the main motor and sensory innervation to the face and neck via the cranial nerves...

 played a significant role in dream pathology
Pathology
Pathology is the precise study and diagnosis of disease. The word pathology is from Ancient Greek , pathos, "feeling, suffering"; and , -logia, "the study of". Pathologization, to pathologize, refers to the process of defining a condition or behavior as pathological, e.g. pathological gambling....

. Unfortunately, Solms' experiments proved inconclusive, as the high mortality rate
Mortality rate
Mortality rate is a measure of the number of deaths in a population, scaled to the size of that population, per unit time...

 associated with using a hydraulic impact pin to artificially induce brain damage
Brain damage
"Brain damage" or "brain injury" is the destruction or degeneration of brain cells. Brain injuries occur due to a wide range of internal and external factors...

 in test subjects meant that his final candidate pool was too small to satisfy the requirements of the scientific method
Scientific method
Scientific method refers to a body of techniques for investigating phenomena, acquiring new knowledge, or correcting and integrating previous knowledge. To be termed scientific, a method of inquiry must be based on gathering empirical and measurable evidence subject to specific principles of...

.

Continual-activation theory


Combining Hobson's activation synthesis hypothesis with Solms' findings, the continual-activation theory of dreaming presented by Jie Zhang proposes that dreaming is a result of brain activation and synthesis; at the same time, dreaming and REM sleep are controlled by different brain mechanisms. Zhang hypothesizes that the function of sleep is to process, encode and transfer the data from the short-term memory
Short-term memory
Short-term memory is the capacity for holding a small amount of information in mind in an active, readily available state for a short period of time. The duration of short-term memory is believed to be in the order of seconds. A commonly cited capacity is 7 ± 2 elements...

 to the long-term memory
Long-term memory
Long-term memory is memory in which associations among items are stored, as part of the theory of a dual-store memory model. According to the theory, long term memory differs structurally and functionally from working memory or short-term memory, which ostensibly stores items for only around 20–30...

, though there is not much evidence backing up this so-called "consolidation." NREM
NREM
Non-rapid eye movement, or NREM is, collectively, sleep stages 1 – 3, previously known as stages 1 – 4. Rapid eye movement sleep is not included. There are distinct electroencephalographic and other characteristics seen in each stage. Unlike REM sleep, there is usually little or no eye movement...

 sleep processes the conscious-related memory (declarative memory), and REM sleep processes the unconscious related memory (procedural memory).

Zhang assumes that during REM sleep the unconscious part of a brain is busy processing the procedural memory; meanwhile, the level of activation in the conscious part of the brain descends to a very low level as the inputs from the sensory are basically disconnected. This triggers the "continual-activation" mechanism to generate a data stream from the memory stores to flow through the conscious part of the brain. Zhang suggests that this pulse-like brain activation is the inducer of each dream. He proposes that, with the involvement of the brain associative thinking system, dreaming is, thereafter, self-maintained with the dreamer's own thinking until the next pulse of memory insertion. This explains why dreams have both characteristics of continuity (within a dream) and sudden changes (between two dreams).

Dreams as excitations of long-term memory


Eugen Tarnow suggests that dreams are ever-present excitations of long-term memory
Long-term memory
Long-term memory is memory in which associations among items are stored, as part of the theory of a dual-store memory model. According to the theory, long term memory differs structurally and functionally from working memory or short-term memory, which ostensibly stores items for only around 20–30...

, even during waking life. The strangeness of dreams is due to the format of long-term memory, reminiscent of Penfield
Wilder Penfield
Wilder Graves Penfield, OM, CC, CMG, FRS was an American born Canadian neurosurgeon. During his life he was called "the greatest living Canadian"...

 & Rasmussen's findings that electrical excitations of the cortex
Cerebral cortex
The cerebral cortex is a sheet of neural tissue that is outermost to the cerebrum of the mammalian brain. It plays a key role in memory, attention, perceptual awareness, thought, language, and consciousness. It is constituted of up to six horizontal layers, each of which has a different...

 give rise to experiences similar to dreams. During waking life an executive function interprets long-term memory consistent with reality checking. Tarnow's theory is a reworking of Freud's theory of dreams in which Freud's unconscious is replaced with the long-term memory system and Freud's "Dream Work" describes the structure of long-term memory.

Dreams for strengthening of semantic memories


A 2001 study showed evidence that illogical locations, characters, and dream flow may help the brain strengthen the linking and consolidation of semantic memories
Semantic memory
Semantic memory refers to the memory of meanings, understandings, and other concept-based knowledge unrelated to specific experiences. The conscious recollection of factual information and general knowledge about the world is generally thought to be independent of context and personal relevance...

. These conditions may occur because, during REM sleep, the flow of information between the hippocampus
Hippocampus
The hippocampus is a major component of the brains of humans and other vertebrates. It belongs to the limbic system and plays important roles in the consolidation of information from short-term memory to long-term memory and spatial navigation. Humans and other mammals have two hippocampi, one in...

 and neocortex
Neocortex
The neocortex , also called the neopallium and isocortex , is a part of the brain of mammals. It is the outer layer of the cerebral hemispheres, and made up of six layers, labelled I to VI...

 is reduced. Increasing levels of the stress
Stress (medicine)
Stress is a term in psychology and biology, borrowed from physics and engineering and first used in the biological context in the 1930s, which has in more recent decades become commonly used in popular parlance...

 hormone cortisol
Cortisol
Cortisol is a steroid hormone, more specifically a glucocorticoid, produced by the adrenal gland. It is released in response to stress and a low level of blood glucocorticoids. Its primary functions are to increase blood sugar through gluconeogenesis; suppress the immune system; and aid in fat,...

 late in sleep (often during REM sleep) cause this decreased communication. One stage of memory consolidation
Memory consolidation
Memory consolidation is a category of processes that stabilize a memory trace after the initial acquisition. Consolidation is distinguished into two specific processes, synaptic consolidation, which occurs within the first few hours after learning, and system consolidation, where...

 is the linking of distant but related memories. Payne and Nadal hypothesize these memories are then consolidated into a smooth narrative, similar to a process that happens when memories are created under stress.

Dreams for removing junk


Robert (1886), a physician from Hamburg, was the first who suggested that dreams are a need and that they have the function to erase (a) sensory impressions that were not fully worked up, and (b) ideas that were not fully developed during the day. By the dream work, incomplete material is either removed (suppressed) or deepened and included into memory. Robert's ideas were cited repeatedly by Freud in his Die Traumdeutung. Hughlings Jackson (1911) viewed that sleep serves to sweep away unnecessary memories and connections from the day. This was revised in 1983 by Crick and Mitchison's "reverse learning
Reverse learning
Reverse learning is a neurobiological theory of dreams. In 1983, in a paper published in the famous science journal Nature, Crick and Mitchison's reverse learning model likened the process of dreaming to a computer in that it was "off-line" during dreaming or the REM phase of sleep...

" theory, which states that dreams are like the cleaning-up operations of computers when they are off-line, removing (suppressing) parasitic nodes and other "junk" from the mind during sleep. However, the opposite view that dreaming has an information handling, memory-consolidating function (Hennevin and Leconte, 1971) is also common. Dreams are a result of the spontaneous firings of neural patterns while the brain is undergoing memory consolidation while sleeping.

Dreams as resonance in neural circuits


During sleep the eyes are closed, so that the brain to some degree becomes isolated from the outside world. Moreover all signals from the senses (except olfaction
Olfaction
Olfaction is the sense of smell. This sense is mediated by specialized sensory cells of the nasal cavity of vertebrates, and, by analogy, sensory cells of the antennae of invertebrates...

) must pass through the thalamus
Thalamus
The thalamus is a midline paired symmetrical structure within the brains of vertebrates, including humans. It is situated between the cerebral cortex and midbrain, both in terms of location and neurological connections...

 before they reach the brain cortex
Neocortex
The neocortex , also called the neopallium and isocortex , is a part of the brain of mammals. It is the outer layer of the cerebral hemispheres, and made up of six layers, labelled I to VI...

, and during sleep thalamic activity is suppressed. This means that the brain mainly works with signals from itself. A well-known phenomenon in dynamical physical system
Physical system
In physics, the word system has a technical meaning, namely, it is the portion of the physical universe chosen for analysis. Everything outside the system is known as the environment, which in analysis is ignored except for its effects on the system. The cut between system and the world is a free...

s where the level of input and output from the system is low is that oscillation
Oscillation
Oscillation is the repetitive variation, typically in time, of some measure about a central value or between two or more different states. Familiar examples include a swinging pendulum and AC power. The term vibration is sometimes used more narrowly to mean a mechanical oscillation but sometimes...

 makes spontaneous resonance
Resonance
In physics, resonance is the tendency of a system to oscillate at a greater amplitude at some frequencies than at others. These are known as the system's resonant frequencies...

 patterns to occur. Hence, dreams may be the simple consequence of neural oscillation.

Dreams for testing and selecting mental schemas


Coutts describes dreams as playing a central role in a two-phase sleep process that improves the mind's ability to meet human needs during wakefulness. During the accommodation phase, mental schemas self-modify by incorporating dream themes. During the emotional selection
Emotional selection
Emotional Selection is a psychological theory of dreaming introduced in 2008 by Richard Coutts and refined in 2010.Emotional selection describes a process that executes a set of dreams during non-REM sleep with content that is tentatively accommodated by mental schemas...

 phase, dreams test prior schema accommodations. Those that appear adaptive are retained, while those that appear maladaptive are culled. The cycle maps to the sleep cycle, repeating several times during a typical nights sleep. Alfred Adler
Alfred Adler
Alfred Adler was an Austrian medical doctor, psychotherapist, and founder of the school of individual psychology. In collaboration with Sigmund Freud and a small group of Freud's colleagues, Adler was among the co-founders of the psychoanalytic movement as a core member of the Vienna...

 suggested that dreams are often emotional preparations for solving problems, intoxicating an individual away from common sense toward private logic. The residual dream feelings may either reinforce or inhibit contemplated action.

Evolutionary psychology theories of dreams


Numerous theories state that dreaming is a random by-product of REM sleep physiology and that it does not serve any natural purpose. Flanagan claims that "dreams are evolutionary epiphenomena
Epiphenomenon
An epiphenomenon is a secondary phenomenon that occurs alongside or in parallel to a primary phenomenon.-Medicine:...

" and they have no adaptive function in the least. "Dreaming came along as a free ride on a system designed to think and to sleep." Hobson, for different reasons, also considers dreams epiphenomena. He believes that the substance of dreams have no significant influence on waking actions, and most people go about their daily lives perfectly well without remembering their dreams.

Hobson proposed the activation-synthesis theory, which states that "there is a randomness of dream imagery and the randomness synthesizes dream-generated images to fit the patterns of internally generated stimulations". This theory is based on the physiology of REM sleep, and Hobson believes dreams are the outcome of the forebrain reacting to random activity beginning at the brainstem. Overall, this theory has obtained broad support for a while because it corresponds to physiological data and its explanation of dreaming applies to a majority of peoples’ random dream experiences. The activation-synthesis theory hypothesizes that the peculiar nature of dreams is attributed to certain parts of the brain trying to piece together a story out of what is essentially bizarre information.

However, evolutionary psychologists believe dreams serve some adaptive function for survival. Deirdre Barrett
Deirdre Barrett
Deirdre Barrett, Ph.D. is an author and psychologist who teaches at Harvard Medical School. She is known for her research on dreams, hypnosis, and imagery and has written on evolutionary psychology. Barrett is a Past President of The International Association for the Study of Dreams and of the...

 describes dreaming as simply "thinking in different biochemical state" and believes people continue to work on all the same problems—personal and objective—in that state. Her research finds that anything—math, musical composition, business dilemmas—may get solved during dreaming, but the two areas especially likely to help are 1) anything where vivid visualization contributes to the solution, whether in artistic design or invention of 3-D technological devices and 2) problem where the solution lies in "thinking outside the box"—i.e. the person is stuck because conventional wisdom on how to approach the problem is wrong. In a related theory, which Mark Blechner terms "Oneiric Darwinism," dreams are seen as creating new ideas through the generation of random thought mutations. Some of these may be rejected by the mind as useless, while others may be seen as valuable and retained.

Finnish psychologist Antti Revonsuo posits that dreams have evolved for "threat simulation" exclusively. According to the Threat Simulation Theory he proposes, during much of human evolution physical and interpersonal threats were serious, giving reproductive advantage to those who survived them. Therefore dreaming evolved to replicate these threats and continually practice dealing with them. In support of this theory, Revonsuo shows that contemporary dreams comprise much more threatening events than people meet in daily non-dream life, and the dreamer usually engages appropriately with them. It is suggested by this theory that dreams serve the purpose of allowing for the rehearsal of threatening scenarios in order to better prepare an individual for real-life threats.

A more extensive view of ‘dreaming as play’ is proposed by Humphrey who proposes we dream to practice many different physical, intellectual and social skills, not just to evolve past threats.

The main competitors against this kind of theory regard dreaming as a necessary by-product of random cortical activation, which occurs for other reasons. Crick and Mitchison believe that "cortical neural networks become overloaded during learning and that the function of REM sleep is to remove superfluous connections by randomly flooding them". In other words this theory believes we dream so that we can forget.

Psychosomatic theory of dreams


Y.D. Tsai developed in 1995 a 3-hypothesis theory that is claimed to provide a mechanism for mind-body interaction and explain many dream-related phenomena, including hypnosis
Hypnosis
Hypnosis is "a trance state characterized by extreme suggestibility, relaxation and heightened imagination."It is a mental state or imaginative role-enactment . It is usually induced by a procedure known as a hypnotic induction, which is commonly composed of a long series of preliminary...

, meridians in Chinese medicine, the increase in heart rate and breathing rate during REM sleep, that babies have longer REM sleep, lucid dreams, etc.

Dreams are a product of "dissociated imagination," which is dissociated
Dissociation
Dissociation is an altered state of consciousness characterized by partial or complete disruption of the normal integration of a person’s normal conscious or psychological functioning. Dissociation is most commonly experienced as a subjective perception of one's consciousness being detached from...

 from the conscious self and draws material from sensory memory for simulation, with feedback resulting in hallucination. By simulating the sensory signals to drive the autonomous nerves, dreams can affect mind-body interaction. In the brain and spine, the autonomous "repair nerves," which can expand the blood vessels, connect with compression and pain nerves. Repair nerves are grouped into many chains called meridians
Meridian (Chinese medicine)
The meridian is a path through which the life-energy known as "qi" is believed to flow, in traditional Chinese medicine. There is no physically verifiable anatomical or histological basis for the existence of acupuncture points or meridians.- Main concepts :...

 in Chinese medicine. When some repair nerves are prodded by compression or pain to send out their repair signals, a chain reaction spreads out to set other repair nerves in the same meridian into action. While dreaming, the body also employs the meridians to repair the body and help it grow and develop by simulating very intensive movement-compression signals to expand the blood vessels when the level of growth enzymes increase.

Other hypotheses on dreaming


There are many other hypotheses about the function of dreams, including:
  • Dreams allow the repressed parts of the mind to be satisfied through fantasy
    Fantasy
    Fantasy is a genre of fiction that commonly uses magic and other supernatural phenomena as a primary element of plot, theme, or setting. Many works within the genre take place in imaginary worlds where magic is common...

     while keeping the conscious mind from thoughts that would suddenly cause one to awaken from shock.
  • Freud
    Sigmund Freud
    Sigmund Freud , born Sigismund Schlomo Freud , was an Austrian neurologist who founded the discipline of psychoanalysis...

     suggested that bad dreams let the brain learn to gain control over emotions resulting from distressing experiences.
  • Jung
    Carl Jung
    Carl Gustav Jung was a Swiss psychiatrist and the founder of Analytical Psychology. Jung is considered the first modern psychiatrist to view the human psyche as "by nature religious" and make it the focus of exploration. Jung is one of the best known researchers in the field of dream analysis and...

     suggested that dreams may compensate for one-sided attitudes held in waking consciousness.
  • Ferenczi
    Sándor Ferenczi
    Sándor Ferenczi was a Hungarian psychoanalyst, a key theorist of the psychoanalytic school and a close associate of Sigmund Freud.-Biography:...

     proposed that the dream, when told, may communicate something that is not being said outright.
  • Dreams regulate mood.
  • Hartmann says dreams may function like psychotherapy, by "making connections in a safe place" and allowing the dreamer to integrate thoughts that may be dissociated during waking life.
  • More recent research by psychologist Joe Griffin, following a twelve-year review of data from all major sleep laboratories, led to the formulation of the expectation fulfilment theory of dreaming, which suggests that dreaming metaphorically completes patterns of emotional expectation in the autonomic nervous system and lowers stress levels in mammals.

Dream content


From the 1940s to 1985, Calvin S. Hall
Calvin S. Hall
Calvin S. Hall is an American psychologist who studied in the field of dream interpretation and analysis. He began his systematic research on dreams in the 1940s, and from there he wrote many books, “The Primer of Freudian Psychology” and “The Primer of Jungian Psychology” being the most...

 collected more than 50,000 dream reports at Western Reserve University. In 1966 Hall and Van De Castle published The Content Analysis of Dreams in which they outlined a coding system to study 1,000 dream reports from college students. It was found that people all over the world dream of mostly the same things. Hall's complete dream reports became publicly available in the mid-1990s by Hall's protégé William Domhoff, allowing further different analysis.
Personal experiences from the last day or week are frequently incorporated into dreams.

Visuals


The visual nature of dreams is generally highly phantasmagoric; that is, different locations and objects continuously blend into each other. The visuals (including locations, characters/people, objects/artifacts) are generally reflective of a person's memories and experiences, but often take on highly exaggerated and bizarre forms.

Emotions


The most common emotion experienced in dreams is anxiety
Anxiety
Anxiety is a psychological and physiological state characterized by somatic, emotional, cognitive, and behavioral components. The root meaning of the word anxiety is 'to vex or trouble'; in either presence or absence of psychological stress, anxiety can create feelings of fear, worry, uneasiness,...

. Other emotions include abandonment, anger, fear, joy, happiness, etc. Negative emotions are much more common than positive ones.

Sexual themes


The Hall data analysis shows that sexual dreams occur no more than 10% of the time and are more prevalent in young to mid-teens. Another study showed that 8% of men's and women's dreams have sexual content. In some cases, sexual dreams may result in orgasm
Orgasm
Orgasm is the peak of the plateau phase of the sexual response cycle, characterized by an intense sensation of pleasure...

s or nocturnal emission
Nocturnal emission
A nocturnal emission involves either ejaculation during sleep for a male, or lubrication of the vagina for a female. It is also called a wet dream, and is sometimes considered a type of spontaneous orgasm....

s. These are colloquially known as wet dreams.

Recurring dreams


While the content of most dreams is dreamt only once, many people experience recurring dreams—that is, the same dream narrative or dreamscape is experienced over different occasions of sleep.

Color vs. black and white


A small minority of people say that they dream only in black and white.

Dream interpretations


Dreams were historically used for healing (as in the asclepieion
Asclepieion
In ancient Greece and Rome, an asclepeion was a healing temple, sacred to the god Asclepius....

s found in the ancient Greek
Ancient Greece
Ancient Greece is a civilization belonging to a period of Greek history that lasted from the Archaic period of the 8th to 6th centuries BC to the end of antiquity. Immediately following this period was the beginning of the Early Middle Ages and the Byzantine era. Included in Ancient Greece is the...

 temples of Asclepius
Asclepius
Asclepius is the God of Medicine and Healing in ancient Greek religion. Asclepius represents the healing aspect of the medical arts; his daughters are Hygieia , Iaso , Aceso , Aglæa/Ægle , and Panacea...

) as well as for guidance or divine inspiration. Some Native American
Indigenous peoples of the Americas
The indigenous peoples of the Americas are the pre-Columbian inhabitants of North and South America, their descendants and other ethnic groups who are identified with those peoples. Indigenous peoples are known in Canada as Aboriginal peoples, and in the United States as Native Americans...

 tribes used vision quest
Vision quest
A vision quest is a rite of passage in some Native American cultures.In many Native American groups, the vision quest is a turning point in life taken before puberty to find oneself and the intended spiritual and life direction. When an older child is ready, he or she will go on a personal,...

s as a rite of passage, fasting and praying until an anticipated guiding dream was received, to be shared with the rest of the tribe upon their return.

During the late 19th and early 20th centuries, both Sigmund Freud
Sigmund Freud
Sigmund Freud , born Sigismund Schlomo Freud , was an Austrian neurologist who founded the discipline of psychoanalysis...

 and Carl Jung
Carl Jung
Carl Gustav Jung was a Swiss psychiatrist and the founder of Analytical Psychology. Jung is considered the first modern psychiatrist to view the human psyche as "by nature religious" and make it the focus of exploration. Jung is one of the best known researchers in the field of dream analysis and...

 thought of dreams as an interaction between the unconscious
Unconscious mind
The unconscious mind is a term coined by the 18th century German romantic philosopher Friedrich Schelling and later introduced into English by the poet and essayist Samuel Taylor Coleridge...

 and the conscious. They also assert together that the unconscious is the dominant force of the dream, and in dreams it conveys its own mental activity to the perceptive faculty. While Freud felt that there was an active censorship against the unconscious even during sleep, Jung argued that the dream's bizarre quality is an efficient language, comparable to poetry and uniquely capable of revealing the underlying meaning.

Fritz Perls
Fritz Perls
Friedrich Salomon Perls , better known as Fritz Perls, was a noted German-born psychiatrist and psychotherapist of Jewish descent....

 presented his theory of dreams as part of the holistic nature of Gestalt therapy
Gestalt therapy
Gestalt therapy is an existential/experiential form of psychotherapy that emphasizes personal responsibility, and that focuses upon the individual's experience in the present moment, the therapist-client relationship, the environmental and social contexts of a person's life, and the self-regulating...

. Dreams are seen as projections of parts of the self that have been ignored, rejected, or suppressed
Thought suppression
Thought suppression is the process of deliberately trying to stop thinking about certain thoughts . It is often associated with obsessive–compulsive disorder, in which a sufferer will repeatedly attempt to prevent or "neutralize" intrusive distressing thoughts centered around one or more obsessions...

. Jung argued that one could consider every person in the dream to represent an aspect of the dreamer, which he called the subjective approach to dreams. Perls
Fritz Perls
Friedrich Salomon Perls , better known as Fritz Perls, was a noted German-born psychiatrist and psychotherapist of Jewish descent....

 expanded this point of view to say that even inanimate objects in the dream may represent aspects of the dreamer. The dreamer may, therefore, be asked to imagine being an object in the dream and to describe it, in order to bring into awareness the characteristics of the object that correspond with the dreamer's personality.

Dream interpretation can be a result of subjective ideas and experiences. A recent study conducted by the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology concluded that most people believe that "their dreams reveal meaningful hidden truths". The study was conducted in the United States, South Korea and India. 74% Indians, 65% South Koreans and 56% Americans believe in Freud’s dream theories. Furthermore, the studies of Phycologists Michael Norton of Harvard University and Carey Morewedge of Carnegie Mellon University reflect that humans are irrational about dreams because they try to put together unrelated information to convey a meaning. According to these series of studies, we are irrational about dreams they same way we are irrational in our every day decisions. In their search for meaning, humans can turn to dreams in order to find answers and explanations. The studies find that dreams reflect the human trait of optimistic thinking since the results depict that humans tend to focus more on dreams where good things take place.

Relationship with medical conditions


There is evidence that certain medical conditions (normally only neurological conditions) can impact dreams. For instance, some people with synesthesia
Synesthesia
Synesthesia , from the ancient Greek , "together," and , "sensation," is a neurologically based condition in which stimulation of one sensory or cognitive pathway leads to automatic, involuntary experiences in a second sensory or cognitive pathway...

 have never reported entirely black-and-white dreaming, and often have a difficult time imagining the idea of dreaming in only black and white.

Therapy for recurring nightmares (often associated with posttraumatic stress disorder) can include imagining alternative scenarios that could begin at each step of the dream.

Dreams and psychosis


A number of thinkers have commented on the similarities between the phenomenology of dreams and that of psychosis
Psychosis
Psychosis means abnormal condition of the mind, and is a generic psychiatric term for a mental state often described as involving a "loss of contact with reality"...

. Features common to the two states include thought disorder, flattened (i.e. diminished) or inappropriate affect (emotion), and hallucination
Hallucination
A hallucination, in the broadest sense of the word, is a perception in the absence of a stimulus. In a stricter sense, hallucinations are defined as perceptions in a conscious and awake state in the absence of external stimuli which have qualities of real perception, in that they are vivid,...

s. Among philosophers, Immanuel Kant
Immanuel Kant
Immanuel Kant was a German philosopher from Königsberg , researching, lecturing and writing on philosophy and anthropology at the end of the 18th Century Enlightenment....

, for example, wrote that "the lunatic is a wakeful dreamer." Arthur Schopenhauer
Arthur Schopenhauer
Arthur Schopenhauer was a German philosopher known for his pessimism and philosophical clarity. At age 25, he published his doctoral dissertation, On the Fourfold Root of the Principle of Sufficient Reason, which examined the four separate manifestations of reason in the phenomenal...

 said: "A dream is a short-lasting psychosis, and a psychosis is a long-lasting dream." In the field of psychoanalysis
Psychoanalysis
Psychoanalysis is a psychological theory developed in the late 19th and early 20th centuries by Austrian neurologist Sigmund Freud. Psychoanalysis has expanded, been criticized and developed in different directions, mostly by some of Freud's former students, such as Alfred Adler and Carl Gustav...

, Sigmund Freud
Sigmund Freud
Sigmund Freud , born Sigismund Schlomo Freud , was an Austrian neurologist who founded the discipline of psychoanalysis...

 wrote: "A dream then, is a psychosis," and Carl Jung
Carl Jung
Carl Gustav Jung was a Swiss psychiatrist and the founder of Analytical Psychology. Jung is considered the first modern psychiatrist to view the human psyche as "by nature religious" and make it the focus of exploration. Jung is one of the best known researchers in the field of dream analysis and...

: "Let the dreamer walk about and act like one that is awake and we have the clinical picture of dementia praecox
Dementia praecox
Dementia praecox refers to a chronic, deteriorating psychotic disorder characterized by rapid cognitive disintegration, usually beginning in the late teens or early adulthood. It is a term first used in 1891 in this Latin form by Arnold Pick , a professor of psychiatry at the German branch of...

."

McCreery
Charles McCreery
Charles Anthony Selby McCreery is a British psychologist and author, best known for his collaboration with Celia Green on work on hallucinatory states in normal people.- Biography :...

 has sought to explain these similarities by reference to the fact, documented by Oswald, that sleep can supervene as a reaction to extreme stress and hyper-arousal
Arousal
Arousal is a physiological and psychological state of being awake or reactive to stimuli. It involves the activation of the reticular activating system in the brain stem, the autonomic nervous system and the endocrine system, leading to increased heart rate and blood pressure and a condition of...

. McCreery adduces evidence that psychotics are people with a tendency to hyper-arousal, and suggests that this renders them prone to what Oswald calls "microsleeps" during waking life. He points in particular to the paradoxical finding of Stevens and Darbyshire that patients suffering from catatonia
Catatonia
Catatonia is a state of neurogenic motor immobility, and behavioral abnormality manifested by stupor. It was first described in 1874: Die Katatonie oder das Spannungsirresein ....

 can be roused from their seeming stupor by the administration of sedatives rather than stimulants.

Griffin and Tyrrell go so far as to say that "schizophrenia is waking reality processed through the dreaming brain."

Incorporation of reality


During the night, many external stimuli may bombard the senses, but the brain often interprets the stimulus and makes it a part of a dream to ensure continued sleep. Dream incorporation is a phenomenon whereby an actual sensation, such as environmental sounds, are incorporated into dreams, such as hearing a phone ringing in a dream while it is ringing in reality or dreaming of urination
Urination
Urination, also known as micturition, voiding, peeing, weeing, pissing, and more rarely, emiction, is the ejection of urine from the urinary bladder through the urethra to the outside of the body. In healthy humans the process of urination is under voluntary control...

 while wetting
Bedwetting
Nocturnal enuresis, commonly called bedwetting, is involuntary urination while asleep after the age at which bladder control usually occurs. Nocturnal enuresis is considered primary when a child has not yet had a prolonged period of being dry...

 the bed. The mind can, however, awaken an individual if they are in danger or if trained to respond to certain sounds, such as a baby crying. Except in the case of lucid dreaming, people dream without being aware that they are doing so.

The term "dream incorporation" is also used in research examining the degree to which preceding daytime events become elements of dreams. Recent studies suggest that events in the day immediately preceding, and those about a week before, have the most influence.

Apparent precognition of real events


According to surveys, it is common for people to feel their dreams are predicting subsequent life events. Psychologists have explained these experiences in terms of memory biases, namely a selective memory for accurate predictions and distorted memory so that dreams are retrospectively fitted onto life experiences. The multi-faceted nature of dreams makes it easy to find connections between dream content and real events.

In one experiment, subjects were asked to write down their dreams in a diary. This prevented the selective memory effect, and the dreams no longer seemed accurate about the future. Another experiment gave subjects a fake diary of a student with apparently precognitive dreams. This diary described events from the person's life, as well as some predictive dreams and some non-predictive dreams. When subjects were asked to recall the dreams they had read, they remembered more of the successful predictions than unsuccessful ones.

Lucid dreaming


Lucid dreaming is the conscious perception of one's state while dreaming. In this state a person usually has control over characters and the environment of the dream as well as the dreamer's own actions within the dream. The occurrence of lucid dreaming has been scientifically verified.

Oneironaut is a term sometimes used for those who lucidly dream.

Dreams of absent-minded transgression


Dreams of absent-minded transgression (DAMT) are dreams wherein the dreamer absentmindedly performs an action that he or she has been trying to stop (one classic example is of a quitting smoker having dreams of lighting a cigarette). Subjects who have had DAMT have reported waking with intense feelings of guilt
Guilt
Guilt is the state of being responsible for the commission of an offense. It is also a cognitive or an emotional experience that occurs when a person realizes or believes—accurately or not—that he or she has violated a moral standard, and bears significant responsibility for that...

. One study found a positive association between having these dreams and successfully stopping the behavior.

Recalling dreams


The recall of dreams is extremely unreliable, though it is a skill that can be trained. Dreams can usually be recalled if a person is awakened while dreaming. Women tend to have more frequent dream recall than men. Dreams that are difficult to recall may be characterized by relatively little affect
Affect (psychology)
Affect refers to the experience of feeling or emotion. Affect is a key part of the process of an organism's interaction with stimuli. The word also refers sometimes to affect display, which is "a facial, vocal, or gestural behavior that serves as an indicator of affect" .The affective domain...

, and factors such as salience
Salience (neuroscience)
The salience of an item – be it an object, a person, a pixel, etc – is the state or quality by which it stands out relative to its neighbours...

, arousal
Arousal
Arousal is a physiological and psychological state of being awake or reactive to stimuli. It involves the activation of the reticular activating system in the brain stem, the autonomic nervous system and the endocrine system, leading to increased heart rate and blood pressure and a condition of...

, and interference play a role in dream recall. Often, a dream may be recalled upon viewing or hearing a random trigger or stimulus. A dream journal
Dream journal
A dream journal is a journal in which dream experiences are recorded. A dream journal might include a record of nightly dreams, personal reflections and waking dream experiences. It is often used in the study of dreams and psychology. Dream journals are also used by people trying to lucid dream....

 can be used to assist dream recall, for psychotherapy
Psychotherapy
Psychotherapy is a general term referring to any form of therapeutic interaction or treatment contracted between a trained professional and a client or patient; family, couple or group...

 or entertainment purposes.

For some people, vague images or sensations from the previous night's dreams are sometimes spontaneously experienced in falling asleep. However they are usually too slight and fleeting to allow dream recall. At least 95% of all dreams are not remembered. Certain brain chemicals necessary for converting short-term memories into long-term ones are suppressed during REM sleep. Unless a dream is particularly vivid and if one wakes during or immediately after it, the content of the dream is not remembered.

Déjà vu


One theory of déjà vu attributes the feeling of having previously seen or experienced something to having dreamt about a similar situation or place, and forgetting about it until one seems to be mysteriously reminded of the situation or the place while awake.

Sleepwalking


Sleepwalking
Sleepwalking
Sleepwalking, also known as somnambulism, is a sleep disorder belonging to the parasomnia family. Sleepwalkers arise from the slow wave sleep stage in a state of low consciousness and perform activities that are usually performed during a state of full consciousness...

 was once thought of as "acting out a dream", but that theory has fallen out of favour.

Daydreaming


A daydream
Daydream
A daydream is a visionary fantasy, especially one of happy, pleasant thoughts, hopes or ambitions, imagined as coming to pass, and experienced while awake. There are many types of daydreams, and there is no consistent definition amongst psychologists. The general public also uses the term for a...

 is a visionary fantasy
Fantasy (psychology)
Fantasy in a psychological sense is broadly used to cover two different senses, conscious and unconscious. In the unconscious sense, it is sometimes spelled "phantasy".-Conscious fantasy:...

, especially one of happy, pleasant thoughts, hopes or ambitions, imagined as coming to pass, and experienced while awake. There are many different types of daydreams, and there is no consistent definition amongst psychologists. The general public also uses the term for a broad variety of experiences. Research by Harvard psychologist Deirdre Barrett
Deirdre Barrett
Deirdre Barrett, Ph.D. is an author and psychologist who teaches at Harvard Medical School. She is known for her research on dreams, hypnosis, and imagery and has written on evolutionary psychology. Barrett is a Past President of The International Association for the Study of Dreams and of the...

 has found that people who experience vivid dream-like mental image
Mental image
A mental image is an experience that, on most occasions, significantly resembles the experience of perceiving some object, event, or scene, but occurs when the relevant object, event, or scene is not actually present to the senses...

s reserve the word for these, whereas many other people refer to milder imagery, realistic future planning, review of past memories or just "spacing out"--i.e. one's mind going relatively blank—when they talk about "daydreaming."

While daydreaming has long been derided as a lazy, non-productive pastime, it is now commonly acknowledged that daydreaming can be constructive in some contexts. There are numerous examples of people in creative
Creativity
Creativity refers to the phenomenon whereby a person creates something new that has some kind of value. What counts as "new" may be in reference to the individual creator, or to the society or domain within which the novelty occurs...

 or artistic careers, such as composers, novelists and filmmakers, developing new ideas through daydreaming. Similarly, research scientist
Scientist
A scientist in a broad sense is one engaging in a systematic activity to acquire knowledge. In a more restricted sense, a scientist is an individual who uses the scientific method. The person may be an expert in one or more areas of science. This article focuses on the more restricted use of the word...

s, mathematician
Mathematician
A mathematician is a person whose primary area of study is the field of mathematics. Mathematicians are concerned with quantity, structure, space, and change....

s and physicist
Physicist
A physicist is a scientist who studies or practices physics. Physicists study a wide range of physical phenomena in many branches of physics spanning all length scales: from sub-atomic particles of which all ordinary matter is made to the behavior of the material Universe as a whole...

s have developed new ideas by daydreaming about their subject areas.

Hallucination


A hallucination
Hallucination
A hallucination, in the broadest sense of the word, is a perception in the absence of a stimulus. In a stricter sense, hallucinations are defined as perceptions in a conscious and awake state in the absence of external stimuli which have qualities of real perception, in that they are vivid,...

, in the broadest sense of the word, is a perception
Perception
Perception is the process of attaining awareness or understanding of the environment by organizing and interpreting sensory information. All perception involves signals in the nervous system, which in turn result from physical stimulation of the sense organs...

 in the absence of a stimulus
Stimulus (physiology)
In physiology, a stimulus is a detectable change in the internal or external environment. The ability of an organism or organ to respond to external stimuli is called sensitivity....

. In a stricter sense, hallucinations are perceptions in a conscious and awake state, in the absence of external stimuli, and have qualities of real perception, in that they are vivid, substantial, and located in external objective space. The latter definition distinguishes hallucinations from the related phenomena of dreaming, which does not involve wakefulness.

Nightmares



A nightmare
Nightmare
A nightmare is an unpleasant dream that can cause a strong negative emotional response from the mind, typically fear or horror, but also despair, anxiety and great sadness. The dream may contain situations of danger, discomfort, psychological or physical terror...

 is an unpleasant dream that can cause a strong negative emotional response from the mind, typically fear
Fear
Fear is a distressing negative sensation induced by a perceived threat. It is a basic survival mechanism occurring in response to a specific stimulus, such as pain or the threat of danger...

 and/or horror, but also despair, anxiety
Anxiety
Anxiety is a psychological and physiological state characterized by somatic, emotional, cognitive, and behavioral components. The root meaning of the word anxiety is 'to vex or trouble'; in either presence or absence of psychological stress, anxiety can create feelings of fear, worry, uneasiness,...

 and great sadness
Sadness
Sadness is emotional pain associated with, or characterized by feelings of disadvantage, loss, despair, helplessness, sorrow, and rage. When sad, people often become outspoken, less energetic, and emotional...

. The dream may contain situations of danger, discomfort, psychological or physical terror. Sufferers usually awaken in a state of distress and may be unable to return to sleep
Sleep
Sleep is a naturally recurring state characterized by reduced or absent consciousness, relatively suspended sensory activity, and inactivity of nearly all voluntary muscles. It is distinguished from quiet wakefulness by a decreased ability to react to stimuli, and is more easily reversible than...

 for a prolonged period of time.

Night terrors


A night terror
Night terror
A night terror, also known as a sleep terror, incubus attack, or pavor nocturnus, is a parasomnia disorder that predominantly affects children, causing feelings of terror or dread, typically occur in the first few hours of sleep during stage 3 or 4 NREM sleep...

, also known as a sleep terror or pavor nocturnus, is a parasomnia
Parasomnia
For the 2008 horror film, see Parasomnia Parasomnias are a category of sleep disorders that involve abnormal and unnatural movements, behaviors, emotions, perceptions, and dreams that occur while falling asleep, sleeping, between sleep stages, or during arousal from sleep...

 disorder
Sleep disorder
A sleep disorder, or somnipathy, is a medical disorder of the sleep patterns of a person or animal. Some sleep disorders are serious enough to interfere with normal physical, mental and emotional functioning...

 that predominantly affects children, causing feelings of terror or dread. Night terrors should not be confused with nightmare
Nightmare
A nightmare is an unpleasant dream that can cause a strong negative emotional response from the mind, typically fear or horror, but also despair, anxiety and great sadness. The dream may contain situations of danger, discomfort, psychological or physical terror...

s, which are bad dreams that cause the feeling of horror or fear.

Fugue states


A fugue state
Fugue state
A fugue state, formally dissociative fugue or psychogenic fugue , is a rare psychiatric disorder characterized by reversible amnesia for personal identity, including the memories, personality and other identifying characteristics of individuality...

, formally "dissociative fugue" or "psychogenic fugue" (DSM-IV Dissociative Disorders 300.13), is a rare psychiatric disorder characterized by reversible amnesia
Amnesia
Amnesia is a condition in which one's memory is lost. The causes of amnesia have traditionally been divided into categories. Memory appears to be stored in several parts of the limbic system of the brain, and any condition that interferes with the function of this system can cause amnesia...

 for personal identity, including the memories, personality
Personality psychology
Personality psychology is a branch of psychology that studies personality and individual differences. Its areas of focus include:* Constructing a coherent picture of the individual and his or her major psychological processes...

 and other identifying characteristics of individuality. The state is usually short-lived (hours to days), but can last months or longer. Dissociative fugue usually involves unplanned travel or wandering, and is sometimes accompanied by the establishment of a new identity. After recovery from fugue, previous memories usually return intact, but there is complete amnesia for the fugue episode. Additionally, an episode is characterized as a fugue if it can be related to the ingestion of psychotropic substances, to physical trauma, to a general medical condition, or to psychiatric conditions such as delirium, dementia, bipolar disorder or depression. Fugues are usually precipitated by a stressful episode, and upon recovery there may be amnesia for the original stressor ("Dissociative Amnesia").

In culture



In art


Dreams and dark imaginings are the theme of Goya's etching The Sleep of Reason Produces Monsters
The Sleep of Reason Produces Monsters
The Sleep of Reason Produces Monsters is an etching made by the Spanish painter and printmaker Francisco José de Goya y Lucientes...

. There is a painting by Salvador Dalí
Salvador Dalí
Salvador Domènec Felip Jacint Dalí i Domènech, Marquis de Púbol , commonly known as Salvador Dalí , was a prominent Spanish Catalan surrealist painter born in Figueres,Spain....

 that depicts this concept, titled Dream Caused by the Flight of a Bee around a Pomegranate a Second Before Awakening
Dream Caused by the Flight of a Bee around a Pomegranate a Second Before Awakening
Dream Caused by the Flight of a Bee Around a Pomegranate a Second Before Awakening is a surrealist painting by Salvador Dali. A short, alternate title for the painting is Sting Caused by the Flight of a Bee. It was painted in 1944, while Dalí and his wife, Gala, were living in...

(1944). Rousseau's last painting was The Dream. Le Rêve
Le Rêve (painting)
Le Rêve is a 1932 oil painting by Pablo Picasso, then 50 years old, portraying his 24-year-old mistress Marie-Thérèse Walter. It is said to have been painted in one afternoon, on 24 January 1932...

("The Dream") is a 1932 painting by Pablo Picasso
Pablo Picasso
Pablo Diego José Francisco de Paula Juan Nepomuceno María de los Remedios Cipriano de la Santísima Trinidad Ruiz y Picasso known as Pablo Ruiz Picasso was a Spanish expatriate painter, sculptor, printmaker, ceramicist, and stage designer, one of the greatest and most influential artists of the...

.

In literature


Dream frames were frequently used in medieval allegory to justify the narrative; The Book of the Duchess
The Book of the Duchess
The Book of the Duchess, also known as The Deth of Blaunche, Encyclopædia Britannica, 1910. Accessed March 11, 2008. is the earliest of Chaucer’s major poems, preceded only by his short poem, "An ABC," and possibly by his translation of The Romaunt of the Rose...

and Piers Plowman
Piers Plowman
Piers Plowman or Visio Willelmi de Petro Plowman is the title of a Middle English allegorical narrative poem by William Langland. It is written in unrhymed alliterative verse divided into sections called "passus"...

are two such dream vision
Dream vision
A dream vision is a literary device in which a dream is recounted for a specific purpose. While dreams occur frequently throughout the history of literature, the dream vision emerged as a poetic genre in its own right, and was particularly popular in the Middle Ages. This genre typically follows a...

s.

They have also featured in fantasy
Fantasy
Fantasy is a genre of fiction that commonly uses magic and other supernatural phenomena as a primary element of plot, theme, or setting. Many works within the genre take place in imaginary worlds where magic is common...

 and speculative fiction
Speculative fiction
Speculative fiction is an umbrella term encompassing the more fantastical fiction genres, specifically science fiction, fantasy, horror, supernatural fiction, superhero fiction, utopian and dystopian fiction, apocalyptic and post-apocalyptic fiction, and alternate history in literature as well as...

 since the 19th century. One of the best-known dream worlds is Wonderland
Wonderland (fictional country)
Wonderland is the setting for Lewis Carroll's 1865 children's novel Alice's Adventures in Wonderland.-Geography:In the story, Wonderland is located underground, and Alice reaches it by travelling down a rabbit hole, possibly on the banks of the Thames between Folly Bridge and Godstow...

 from Lewis Carroll
Lewis Carroll
Charles Lutwidge Dodgson , better known by the pseudonym Lewis Carroll , was an English author, mathematician, logician, Anglican deacon and photographer. His most famous writings are Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and its sequel Through the Looking-Glass, as well as the poems "The Hunting of the...

's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland
Alice's Adventures in Wonderland
Alice's Adventures in Wonderland is an 1865 novel written by English author Charles Lutwidge Dodgson under the pseudonym Lewis Carroll. It tells of a girl named Alice who falls down a rabbit hole into a fantasy world populated by peculiar, anthropomorphic creatures...

, as well as Looking-Glass Land
Looking-Glass Land
Looking-Glass Land is the setting for Lewis Carroll's 1871 children's novel Through the Looking-Glass.-Geography:The entire country is divided into squares by a series of little brooks with hedges growing perpendicular to them.-Government:...

 from its sequel, Through the Looking-Glass
Through the Looking-Glass
Through the Looking-Glass, and What Alice Found There is a work of literature by Lewis Carroll . It is the sequel to Alice's Adventures in Wonderland...

. Unlike many dream worlds, Carroll's logic is like that of actual dreams, with transitions and flexible causality.

Other fictional dream worlds include the Dreamlands of H. P. Lovecraft
H. P. Lovecraft
Howard Phillips Lovecraft --often credited as H.P. Lovecraft — was an American author of horror, fantasy and science fiction, especially the subgenre known as weird fiction....

's Dream Cycle
Dream Cycle
The Dream Cycle refers to a series of stories by author H. P. Lovecraft. These stories concern themselves with "The Dreamlands": a vast, alternate dimension that can be entered via dreams.-Geography:The Dreamlands is apparently divided into four regions:...

and The Neverending Story
The Neverending Story
The Neverending Story is a German fantasy novel by Michael Ende, first published in 1979. The standard English translation, by Ralph Manheim, was first published in 1983...

s world of Fantasia, which includes places like the Desert of Lost Dreams, the Sea of Possibilities and the Swamps of Sadness. Dreamworlds, shared hallucinations and other alternate realities feature in a number of works by Phillip K. Dick, such as The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch
The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch
The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch is a 1965 novel by US science fiction writer Philip K. Dick. It was nominated for the Nebula Award for Best Novel in 1965....

and Ubik
Ubik
Ubik is a 1969 science fiction novel by American writer Philip K. Dick. Critic Lev Grossman described it as "a deeply unsettling existential horror story, a nightmare you'll never be sure you've woken up from."-Plot synopsis:...

. Similar themes were explored by Jorge Luis Borges
Jorge Luis Borges
Jorge Francisco Isidoro Luis Borges Acevedo , known as Jorge Luis Borges , was an Argentine writer, essayist, poet and translator born in Buenos Aires. In 1914 his family moved to Switzerland where he attended school, receiving his baccalauréat from the Collège de Genève in 1918. The family...

, for instance in The Circular Ruins
The Circular Ruins
"The Circular Ruins" is a fantasy short story by Argentine writer and poet Jorge Luis Borges. Published in the literary journal Sur in December 1940, it was included in the 1941 collection The Garden of Forking Paths and then in part one of the 1944 collection Ficciones...

.

In popular culture


Modern popular culture
Popular culture
Popular culture is the totality of ideas, perspectives, attitudes, memes, images and other phenomena that are deemed preferred per an informal consensus within the mainstream of a given culture, especially Western culture of the early to mid 20th century and the emerging global mainstream of the...

 often conceives of dreams, like Freud, as expressions of the dreamer's deepest fears and desires. In films such as Spellbound
Spellbound (1945 film)
Spellbound is a psychological mystery thriller film directed by Alfred Hitchcock in 1945. It tells the story of the new head of a mental asylum who turns out not to be what he claims. The film stars Ingrid Bergman, Gregory Peck, Michael Chekhov and Leo G. Carroll. It is an adaptation by Angus...

(1945), The Manchurian Candidate
The Manchurian Candidate
The Manchurian Candidate , by Richard Condon, is a political thriller novel about the son of a prominent US political family who is brainwashed into being an unwitting assassin for the Communist Party....

(1962) and Inception
Inception
Inception: The Subconscious Jams 1994-1995 is a compilation of unreleased tracks by the band Download.-Track listing:# "Primitive Tekno Jam" – 3:23# "Bee Sting Sickness" – 8:04# "Weed Acid Techno" – 8:19...

(2010), the protagonists must extract vital clues from surreal dreams.

Most dreams in popular culture are, however, not symbolic, but straightforward and realistic depictions of their dreamer's fears and desires. Dream scenes may be indistinguishable from those set in the dreamer's real world, a narrative device that undermines the dreamer's and the audience's sense of security and allows horror movie protagonists, such as those of Carrie (1976), Friday the 13th
Friday the 13th
Friday the 13th occurs when the thirteenth day of a month falls on a Friday, which superstition holds to be a day of bad luck. In the Gregorian calendar, this day occurs at least once, but at most three times a year...

(1980) or An American Werewolf in London
An American Werewolf in London
An American Werewolf in London is a 1981 British-American horror film, written and directed by John Landis. It stars David Naughton, Jenny Agutter, and Griffin Dunne....

(1981) to be suddenly attacked by dark forces while resting in seemingly safe places.

In speculative fiction
Speculative fiction
Speculative fiction is an umbrella term encompassing the more fantastical fiction genres, specifically science fiction, fantasy, horror, supernatural fiction, superhero fiction, utopian and dystopian fiction, apocalyptic and post-apocalyptic fiction, and alternate history in literature as well as...

, the line between dreams and reality may be blurred even more in the service of the story. Dreams may be psychically invaded or manipulated (Dreamscape
Dreamscape (film)
Dreamscape is a 1984 science fiction horror film directed by Joseph Ruben and written by David Loughery, with Chuck Russell and Ruben co-writing...

, 1984; the Nightmare on Elm Street
A Nightmare on Elm Street (franchise)
A Nightmare on Elm Street is an American horror franchise that consists of nine slasher films, a television show, novels, and comic books. The franchise began with the film series created by Wes Craven. The franchise is based on the fictional character Freddy Krueger, introduced in A Nightmare on...

films, 1984–1991; Inception
Inception
Inception: The Subconscious Jams 1994-1995 is a compilation of unreleased tracks by the band Download.-Track listing:# "Primitive Tekno Jam" – 3:23# "Bee Sting Sickness" – 8:04# "Weed Acid Techno" – 8:19...

, 2010) or even come literally true (as in The Lathe of Heaven
The Lathe of Heaven
The Lathe of Heaven is a 1971 science fiction novel by Ursula K. Le Guin. The plot revolves around a character whose dreams alter reality. The story was first serialized in the American science fiction magazine Amazing Stories. The novel received nominations for the 1972 Hugo and the 1971 Nebula...

, 1971). Peter Weir's 1977 Australian movie "The Last Wave" makes a simple and straightforward postulate about the premonitory nature of dreams (from one of his Aboriginal characters) that "...dreams are the shadow of something real". Such stories play to audiences' experiences with their own dreams, which feel as real to them.

One of the earliest newspaper comic strips, recounting Little Nemo
Little Nemo
Little Nemo is the main fictional character in a series of weekly comic strips by Winsor McCay that appeared in the New York Herald and William Randolph Hearst's New York American newspapers from October 15, 1905 – April 23, 1911 and April 30, 1911 – July 26, 1914; respectively.The...

's adventures in Slumberland
Little Nemo
Little Nemo is the main fictional character in a series of weekly comic strips by Winsor McCay that appeared in the New York Herald and William Randolph Hearst's New York American newspapers from October 15, 1905 – April 23, 1911 and April 30, 1911 – July 26, 1914; respectively.The...

, had a dream world theme.

Graphic novel
Graphic novel
A graphic novel is a narrative work in which the story is conveyed to the reader using sequential art in either an experimental design or in a traditional comics format...

ist Neil Gaiman
Neil Gaiman
Neil Richard Gaiman born 10 November 1960)is an English author of short fiction, novels, comic books, graphic novels, audio theatre and films. His notable works include the comic book series The Sandman and novels Stardust, American Gods, Coraline, and The Graveyard Book...

 was tasked with re-imagining a Golden Age character, "The Sandman". In his version, the Sandman becomes Dream
Dream (comics)
Dream is the fictional protagonist of DC Comics' Vertigo comic book series The Sandman, written by Neil Gaiman. One of the seven Endless, inconceivably powerful beings older and greater than gods, Dream is both lord and personification of all dreams and stories, all that is not in reality...

, the Lord of Dreams (also known, to various characters throughout the series, as Morpheus
Dream (comics)
Dream is the fictional protagonist of DC Comics' Vertigo comic book series The Sandman, written by Neil Gaiman. One of the seven Endless, inconceivably powerful beings older and greater than gods, Dream is both lord and personification of all dreams and stories, all that is not in reality...

, Oneiros
Oneiroi
In Greek mythology, the Oneiroi were, according to Hesiod, sons of Nyx , and were brothers of Hypnos , Thanatos , Geras and other beings, all produced via parthenogenesis...

, the Shaper, the Shaper of Form, Lord of the Dreaming, the Dream King, Dream-Sneak, Dream Cat, Murphy, Kai'ckul, and Lord L'Zoril), who is essentially the anthropomorphic personification of dreams. At the start of the series, Morpheus is captured by an occult ritual and held prisoner for 70 years. Morpheus escapes in the modern day and, after avenging himself upon his captors, sets about rebuilding his kingdom, which has fallen into disrepair in his absence.

Aboriginal beliefs


The Dreaming
Dreaming (spirituality)
The Dreaming is a common term within the animist creation narrative of indigenous Australians for a personal, or group, creation and for what may be understood as the "timeless time" of formative creation and perpetual creating....

 is a common term within the animist creation narrative of indigenous Australians
Indigenous Australians
Indigenous Australians are the original inhabitants of the Australian continent and nearby islands. The Aboriginal Indigenous Australians migrated from the Indian continent around 75,000 to 100,000 years ago....

 for a personal, or group, creation and for what may be understood as the "timeless time" of formative creation and perpetual creating.

In addition, the term applies to places and localities on indigenous Australian traditional land (and throughout non-traditional Australia) where the uncreated creation spirits and totem
Totem
A totem is a stipulated ancestor of a group of people, such as a family, clan, group, lineage, or tribe.Totems support larger groups than the individual person. In kinship and descent, if the apical ancestor of a clan is nonhuman, it is called a totem...

ic ancestors, or genius loci
Genius loci
In classical Roman religion a genius loci was the protective spirit of a place. It was often depicted in religious iconography as a figure holding a Cornucopia, patera and/or a snake. There are many Roman altars found in Western Europe dedicated in whole or in part to the particular Genius Loci...

, reside. No one English word covers the concept; for example, Anangu
Anangu
Anangu, more accurately "Aṉaŋu" or "Arnangu" is a word found in a number of eastern varieties of the Western Desert Language , an Australian Aboriginal language of the Pama–Nyungan family, spoken in the desert regions of western and central Australia. Before the arrival of non-Aboriginal people in...

who speak Pitjantjatjara use the word Tjukurpa and those who speak Yankunytjatjara
Yankunytjatjara language
Yankunytjatjara is an Australian Aboriginal language. It is one of the Wati languages, belonging to the large Southwest branch of the Pama–Nyungan family...

use Wapar, but neither means dreaming in the English sense.

Dreams and philosophical realism



Some philosophers have concluded that what we think of as the "real world" could be or is an illusion (an idea known as the skeptical hypothesis about ontology
Ontology
Ontology is the philosophical study of the nature of being, existence or reality as such, as well as the basic categories of being and their relations...

).

The first recorded mention of the idea was by Zhuangzi
Zhuangzi
Zhuangzi was an influential Chinese philosopher who lived around the 4th century BCE during the Warring States Period, a period corresponding to the philosophical summit of Chinese thought — the Hundred Schools of Thought, and is credited with writing—in part or in whole—a work known by his name,...

, and it is also discussed in Hinduism
Hinduism
Hinduism is the predominant and indigenous religious tradition of the Indian Subcontinent. Hinduism is known to its followers as , amongst many other expressions...

, which makes extensive use of the argument in its writings. It was formally introduced to Western philosophy by Descartes in the 17th century in his Meditations on First Philosophy
Meditations on First Philosophy
Meditations on First Philosophy is a philosophical treatise written by René Descartes and first published in 1641 . The French translation was published in 1647 as Méditations Metaphysiques...

. Stimulus, usually an auditory one, becomes a part of a dream, eventually then awakening the dreamer.

See also


  • Cognitive neuroscience of dreams
    Cognitive neuroscience of dreams
    Scholarly interest in the process and functions of dreaming has been present since Sigmund Freud’s interpretations in the 1900s. The neurology of dreaming has remained misunderstood until recent distinctions, however. The information available via modern techniques of brain imaging has provided new...

     
  • Dimethyltryptamine
    Dimethyltryptamine
    N,N-Dimethyltryptamine is a naturally occurring psychedelic compound of the tryptamine family. DMT is found in several plants, and also in trace amounts in humans and other mammals, where it is originally derived from the essential amino acid tryptophan, and ultimately produced by the enzyme INMT...

  • Dream art
    Dream art
    Dream art is any form of art directly based on material from dreams, or which employs dream-like imagery.-History:References to dreams in art are as old as literature itself: the story of Gilgamesh, the Bible, and the Iliad all describe dreams of major characters and the meanings thereof...

  • Dream dictionary
    Dream dictionary
    A dream dictionary is a tool made for interpreting images in a dream. Dream dictionaries tend to include specific images which are attached to specific interpretations...

  • Dream pop
    Dream pop
    Dream pop is a subgenre of alternative rock that originated in the United Kingdom in the mid-1980s, when bands like The Passions, Dif Juz, Lowlife and A.R. Kane began fusing post-punk and ethereal experiments with bittersweet pop melodies into dreamy, sensual soundscapes. The term was almost...

  • Dream sequence
    Dream sequence
    A dream sequence is a technique used in storytelling, particularly in television and film, to set apart a brief interlude from the main story. The interlude may consist of a flashback, a flashforward, a fantasy, a vision, a dream, or some other element. Commonly, dream sequences appear in many...

  • Dream speech
    Dream speech
    In 1906 the famous German psychiatrist Emil Kraepelin published a monograph titled Über Sprachstörungen im Traume . In his psychiatry textbook Kraepelin used the shortcut Traumsprache to denote language disturbances occurring in dreams...

  • Dream world (plot device)
    Dream world (plot device)
    Dream world is a commonly used plot device in fictional works, most notably in science fiction and fantasy fiction. The use of a dream world creates a situation whereby a character is placed in a marvellous and unpredictable environment and must overcome several personal problems to leave it...

  • Dream Yoga
    Dream yoga
    Dream Yoga or Milam — the Yoga of the Dream State are a suite of advanced tantric sadhana of the entwined Mantrayana lineages of Dzogchen...

  • Dreamcatcher
    Dreamcatcher
    Dreamcatcher is a Native American cultural object.Dreamcatcher may also refer to:-Entertainment:* Dreamcatcher , a 2001 novel by Stephen King** Dreamcatcher , based on the Stephen King novel...

  • Dreamwork
    Dreamwork
    Dreamwork differs from classical dream interpretation in that the aim of dreamwork is to explore the various images and emotions that a dream presents and evokes, while not attempting to come up with a single, unique dream meaning. In this way the dream remains "alive" whereas if it has been...

  • Ethereal being
    Ethereal being
    Ethereal beings, according to some belief systems and occult theories, are mystic entities that usually are not made of ordinary matter. Despite the fact that they are believed to be essentially incorporeal, they do interact in physical shapes with the material universe and travel between the...

  • Incubus
    Incubus
    An incubus is a male demon that has sexual intercourse with sleeping women.Incubus may also refer to:- Film :* Incubus , a film in Esperanto starring William Shatner* Incubus , a horror film starring Tara Reid...

  • Lilith
    Lilith
    Lilith is a character in Jewish mythology, found earliest in the Babylonian Talmud, who is generally thought to be related to a class of female demons Līlīṯu in Mesopotamian texts. However, Lowell K. Handy notes, "Very little information has been found relating to the Akkadian and Babylonian view...

    , a Sumerian dream demon
  • List of dream diaries
  • List of dreams
  • Lucid Dream
  • Mara (folklore)
    Mara (folklore)
    A mare or nightmare is a spirit or goblin in Germanic folklore which rides on people's chests while they sleep, bringing on bad dreams . The mare is attested as early as in the Norse Ynglinga saga from the 13th century, but the belief itself is likely to be considerably older...

  • Morpheus (mythology)
    Morpheus (mythology)
    Morpheus in Greek mythology is the god of dreams, leader of the Oneiroi. Morpheus has the ability to take any human form and appear in dreams...

  • Oneiromancy
    Oneiromancy
    Oneiromancy is a form of divination based upon dreams; it is a system of dream interpretation that uses dreams to predict the future.-Ancient Egyptian:...

  • Spirit spouse (in dreams)
  • Succubus
    Succubus
    In folklore traced back to medieval legend, a succubus is a female demon appearing in dreams who takes the form of a human woman in order to seduce men, usually through sexual intercourse. The male counterpart is the incubus...

  • Veridical dream
    Veridical dream
    The veridical dream is the dream which is afterwards fulfilled.* In Book XIX of the Odyssey, Penelopē said that "dreams ... which issue forth from the gate of polished horn bring true issues to pass, when any mortal sees them." * Likewise, Herodotos distinguished /oneiros/ as "the prophetic,...



External links