In order to fully fathom the idea of this paper, the reader must picture a dream they have recently had while they were asleep. Next, some questions must be taken into account. Some of these include: What was the dream like? Has the reader had this dream before? If so, how often has the dream occurred? What were the emotional states felt in this dream? Dreams are possessions that everyone has which are entirely their own.
Everyone dreams, yet the reasons for these dreams are what differ between individuals.
There may be something going on in a person’s life that allows them to then dream about while sleeping. Sometimes dreams have the capability to depict a human’s deepest desires, based on natural instincts. Many strange events can happen in a dream. The dreamer could be getting married, or might even develop super- natural powers, such as flying or reading someone’s mind. With all of these basic dream situations in mind, one could only wonder what dreams really are.
The biology and science of dreams are actually quite simple to explain. According to Lawrence J. Wichlinski, a Ph.D., Associate Professor of Psychology at Carleton College, states that dreams are a result of brain activity. All brain activity is produced by electrical waves that scientists measure using an electroencephalograph (Wichlinski).
These waves occur whether a person is asleep or awake, and can vary in shape, size, or speed (Wichlinski). When the brain waves are moving at a rapid speed in smaller strands, the person is experiencing a stage in sleep called Rapid Eye Movement (REM) (Wichlinski).
With this information in mind, one could infer that it is during REM sleep that dreams are at their most active.
American physiologist Nathaniel Kleitman agrees with this statement, believing that dreams only occur during REM sleep (Policoff 71). However, Stephen Policoff, author of The Dreamer’s Companion, disagrees, and instead believes that people dream throughout the entire night. Dreams occur several times throughout the night, even though the dreamer is not necessarily aware of it (Policoff 2).
Additionally, Policoff explains that dreams that occur during REM sleep are, in fact, more vivid with a more story-like quality that can more easily be remembered than dreams produced through non-REM dreaming. Non-REM dreams appear quicker and more rapid, in a sort of snap- shot type of view (Policoff 71-72). As one can see, dreams are natural occurrences that happen on a nightly basis. One could infer that they happen both whether the individual is awake or asleep. Determining what these dreams mean is a different mystery.
Many have tried to determine why dreams happen and what purpose they have. While it is still unsure why dreams happen, many have given personal opinions and beliefs in determining dreams purpose. Sigmund Freud, world famous psychologist, who is considered to be the “Father of Modern Psychology,” believed that dreams are based off of human nature’s natural desires, while Carl Jung, a co-worker of Freud, believed that dreams held a more spiritual purpose (Parker 20). Jung believed in the idea of self-actualization, in which each person possesses a belief to strive for being the best person they can be (Parker 14).
Jung also believed in individuality, and believed that in order to interpret one’s dream is solely based on that person’s specific life’s journey or path (Parker 14). Jung was not the only person to believe in this individuality. Stephen Policoff agreed that dreams are owned by the individual, and that no one else has that individual’s exact same dream. Policoff explains that the dreamer might have a dream with common situations, such as flying or falling or being chased by a monster, but the exact details of the dream have specific, personal details that only the dreamer can relate to (Policoff 3-4). There are many different theories and reasons for dreams to occur. One interesting reason is the theory that dreams have the capability to reveal the future.
Psychic energy has been studied and debated throughout centuries of history. Skye Alexander, author of 10-Minute Crystal Ball, believes that everyone carries some sense of psychic energy. Some might call this sense of psychic energy “gut feelings” or “intuition,” in which Alexander describes as giving one a sense of guidance coming from within (Alexander). From this information, it is possible to determine that these feelings of guidance can be reached through the process of dreaming. Ancient seers have said to have gotten most of their information about the future from dreams (Alexander). Analyzing this, one can see that there have been many records in history of dreams that have been used to tell the future.
One famous event of dreams being interpreted to predict the future was of Joseph from the Bible in the book of Genesis. First, Joseph interpreted the royal cupbearer’s dreams, which involved a vine with three branches that blossomed into ripe grapes. In the dream, the cupbearer then squeezed the grape juice into the royal cup, and presented it to the Pharaoh (New International Version Gen. 40: 9-11).
After, the dream was described, Joseph concluded that in three days, the cupbearer will be brought out of jail and restored to his honored position (New International Version Gen. 40: 12-13). Joseph then interpreted the royal baker’s dream, which the baker explained that in the dream there were three baskets of bread on his head. The bread was meant for the Pharaoh, but the birds had eaten it all (New International Version Gen. 40: 16- 17). Joseph concluded that the baker will be put to death in three days (New International Version Gen. 40: 18-19). After these dreams were interpreted, within three days time, the events that Joseph had predicted had come true (New International Version Gen. 40: 21-22).
Later, the Pharaoh had been having recurring and troubling dreams that no one could seem to interpret. The dreams involved seven sickly cows devouring seven full-grown, healthy cows, as well as seven dried out crops devouring seven healthy crops (New International Version Gen. 41: 17-24). Joseph interpreted these dreams as predicting a future of seven good years of crops, followed by seven years of famine.
After these predictions, everything that Joseph said had come true, and Joseph was then put in charge of the land of Egypt (New International Version Gen. 41: 40). Knowing this, one could infer that there have been many examples in the Bible, other than the story of Joseph, in which dreams have interpreted the future. Adding to that, Skye Alexander explains that dreams can even contain the psychic ability to connect people with each other through their dreams.
Dreams can provide information that the dreamer might not have been aware of before falling asleep. This experience can be similar to an Internet connection where communication between other people, even if that person might not even be alive, is in fact possible (Alexander). What Alexander is saying is that it is possible for a person’s subconscious to connect with another, and they can communicate with each other, allowing that person to develop information and experience the dreamer can use in his or her life.
However, Professor Mark Blagrove at the University of Swansea, Wales, disagrees. Specifically, he states that couples cannot share dreams, despite the popular belief that two people who hold a close relationship share dreams as a continuation of their relationship (Parker 10). This is simply a statement, based on research Blagrove has done, that goes against the general norm of popular belief. However, Sasha Fenton, author of An Illustrated Guide to Dream Meaning, seems to agree that it is possible to connect with someone who has died through the dreams of that person (Fenton 12).
Fenton also believes that the affects of déjà vu occurs when the dreamer looks into a past life through his or her dreams. This can be a possible warning that something is happening in that person’s real life that should be taken into serious consideration (Fenton 12). Amber Wadley, an elementary school counselor for Springfield Public Schools, agrees that dreams can hold answers to problems, but states that one cannot force the answer to come through a dream.
She also states that it is not possible for people to connect with the dead through one’s dreams, but that there is sort of a spiritual connection in dreams that can hold the answers to solving problems that the dreamer might not have known he or she had (Wadley). What she means by saying this is if one prays for an answer, it is possible for God, or any religion’s deity, to help solve the question in order to improve the dreamer’s life in some way.
However, she also says that dreams are not something to completely rely on when a problem is residing in a person’s life. If there is a problem, that person needs to seek help in any shape and form that person might find it, depending on what that person believes in (Wadley). Knowing this, it is still possible to assume that dreams can help change a person’s life, and has the ability to even provide inspiration in developing the necessary creative juices needed for an artist’s life project.
Many artists have gotten their inspiration from dreams. Steven King, one of the world’s most famous authors, gets most of the inspiration for his novels through dreams (Wadley). Mary Shelley, the author behind the world-famous novel, Frankenstein, admits that that the inspiration for the novel, along with many other of her childhood stories she had written, came from dreams (Shelley). Even inventors developed the idea for their now quite necessary inventions through dreams.
One example being Elias Howe, the inventor of the lockstitch sewing machine, received his idea through a dream, in which cannibals pointed spears at him. That is when he noticed the holes in the pointed ends of the spears, which ultimately led to the idea of his invention (Alexander). Knowing this, one can assume that dreams can have many different affects on a person’s life. They can mean the difference between a successful career, or even an emotional state of depression for a considerable amount of time. Children’s dreams are extremely important for parents to take into consideration, because they hold a vital role in a child’s psychological state.
Many have wondered if a child’s dream could be different from that of an adult. Many have also wondered what a child even dreams of, and what causes them to happen. Amber Wadley, the children’s counselor, mentioned earlier, from Delaware Elementary, believes that in a child’s dream, the child has little control on what might be happening. The child can seem stuck at the time, due to a lack of fully understanding the situation (Wadley). With this statement in mind, one could infer that this could be caused by the fact that children’s dreams are considered less vivid and complex as adult dreams.
In adult dreams, the person dreaming has more control and has more opportunity to comprehend what is happening in the dream and, as a response, act on it (Wadley). One might infer that this means that dreams between adults and children are similar to “real life” situations between adults and children. In real life, adults have more power over certain situations, while children have very little power to control anything (Wadley).
From this, one can infer that this lack of power in dreams could also be a result of the lack of experience on the child’s part. Since an adult has had many years of life experiences, they are able to handle situations and react to them; while a child can often times feel stuck and not know what to do. Additionally, Wadley explains that this is why it is important for children to dream, because then they at least have some opportunity to act out on their own situations and experiences.
Jennifer Parker, the author of Dreams and Nightmares, agrees that it is important for children to dream. She states that many psychologists, who study unborn sleeping babies, conclude that REM sleep is crucial for a baby’s brain development (Parker 34). This chapter of the book summarizes that from the day the baby is born, throughout his or her entire life, he or she will dream while sleeping (Parker 34-35). Parker states that under the age of 3, the child will most likely not be able to recall what the dream was about (Parker 35).
However, one can assume that the reason for this is obviously due to the fact that the child is too young to comprehend the idea that he or she is dreaming. There is also the fact that even if that child would be able to understand the concept of dreaming, that child would most likely not be able to communicate such psychological events in a way that is comprehensible to adults, due to the fact that they are still mere infants.
David Foulkes, a psychologist at the University of Wyoming and the Georgia Mental Health Institute, has conducted one of the most famous studies of children’s dreams beginning in 1967 (Parker 34). He concluded that after the age of 3 years, the child starts developing a sense of understanding of the dream process, however the dreams appear as snapshots, and it is still very difficult for the child to recall the dream. That is, until the age of 5 years, when a child’s dreams begins to develop a sequence of events that the child gradually begins to engage in, becoming more the actor, than the recipient.
By the age of 12, a child’s dream begins to form into the more creative interactions of adult dreams, and allows the child to demonstrate his or her creativity and problem-solving skills (Parker 35). In other words, an important part of children’s brain development, is dreaming. One can presume that this is because dreams allow children to further develop a sense of knowledge building, through engaging in methods of creativity and problem-solving, which is considered completely necessary in the learning process. With this in mind, it is possible to conclude that dreams hold the key to a child’s mental state, and while it is important to be able to interpret those ever- important dreams, it can oftentimes be difficult to remember such strange adventures.
Remembering dreams is a common problem that many people have once they wake up. People will often find that they were aware that they were just dreaming, but will completely loose the entire story-line of what happened in their dream. A person might remember how the dream felt, either excited or scared or simply wondering what happened, but it is difficult to recall the actual events of the dream (Wadley). Nearly all specialists suggest that in order to remember a dream, the best way to remember that dream is to write it down. Meditation is also another method of remembering dreams.
Dreams can happen for many reasons. Strange things happen within them that many scientists have struggled for centuries to explain. Some believe that dreams are just fillers that occur in our minds for no apparent reason at all. Others believe that dreams mean something; such as subconscious feelings that someone might have repressed for different reasons. Others believe that dreams are used to change a person’s life for better or worse. It is also believed that dreams are messages sent from past loved ones, or even God or His angels.
No one will ever really know why people dream, but it is sad to think of a world where sleep contains nothing but a blank mind with no color or activity. Humanity would not grow if its citizens did not dream. Dreams are one of life’s most thrilling adventures where the imaginable becomes real, and the illogical is accepted because there is no logic. Dreams hold the key to a person’s inner-most feelings, and allow that person to let these feelings out without harming anyone or anything. What would the world be like if we did not dream? There would be very little art, or literature, and some of the necessary tools that are used today may not even exist. Dreams give us the chance to make our deepest desires become true, allowing us to grow in the process.