Dreams- messages of our subconsciousness or data garbage Part 1 of 3

09.12.2012

Why are we dreaming? Why do we see images and hear sounds while we are sleeping? Some people remember vivid dreams; some swear they cannot remember dreaming at all. Some dream in black and white; most people dream in color. However, one thing is for sure, everyone dreams. From the time we are babies until the day we die, our minds constantly produce dreams while our bodies are at rest. But, what exactly are dreams, and why do we have them? Is dreaming a symbolic language designed to communicate your inner wisdom to you while you are asleep? Is it a part of your subconscious that processes dreams – your dream self – that sends messages as symbols and images, which in turn convey ideas or situations in a visual language? Or is it true that dreams are illusions we should not care about at all? Let’s see what dream psychology says about it.


What do psychologists say about dreams?

Dreams are highly associated with human psychology. Research shows that on average, humans spend about six years in a dreaming state during their lives, which equals around two hours every night, if we remember it or not.

One of the greatest psychologists Sigmund Freud proposed that dreams are a way for one's unconscious wishes to be expressed. He claimed that everybody had `forbidden´ wishes in their unconscious and that people could simply not give in to the urge to fulfill those wishes consciously because it would not be socially accepted. Fulfilling these wishes or even becoming consciously aware of them would result in distress, because people would feel embarrassed in front of others and even themselves. This would often be very shocking and therefore lead to distress. However, dreams do not have to be justified to anybody, not even to oneself. Hereby, people can fulfill their `forbidden´ wishes without feeling distressed. Especially dreams with problematic content often don't make it into our memory, we can't remember them mostly.

Carl Gustav Jung, a Swiss psychologist and student of Freud suggested later that dreams were specifically based around the dreamer. Each image and character seen within a dream represents something inside the individual. Through this, Jung theorized that dreams support development and psychological growth. He believed the individual dreamer had as much ability to decode meaning within a personal dream as a trained professional.

Psychologists of our times have differing opinions obout dreams. Some believe like Freud that dreams are kinds of valves for oppressed feelings that are floating from our subconscious into our semi-consciousness and display themselves in our dreams. Others think that dreams are only the databanks of what we have seen and heard during the day – a kind of data reorganization.

And some believe in different categories of dreams. They divide dreams into five to ten different types.

10 types of dreams with different functions

1. Psychological Healing Dreams– Healing dreams are not as common as other types of dreams. Healing dreams are considered to originate from the unconscious. You may be consciously involved with the medical condition of loved ones or yourself to look at the situation only rationally to understand it better. Therefore, you may not hear what your subconscious is trying to tell yourself. A healing dream could be meant for resolving this issue and for finding a solution to the problem. These dream images may come to you with information that will help you to find the right words to say or write to someone or to go into the right direction of healing.

2. Belief Dreams – Dreams have played a part in shaping religions and belief systems across the planet. For a long time there was the belief that many dreams are encoded messages from gods and demons. Often they would be seen as prophecies or oracles. E.G. the persian king Xerxes (519-465 before Christ) believed he could only win the battle, if the oracle would speak to him in his dreams.

Many belief dreams are also found in the bible. Multiple examples for messages and Revelations transported while asleep are found in the Old Testament. We could list here: the dreams of the Pharaohs, of the Babylonian king Nebukadinezar II. (605-563 before Christ) as well as the dreams of Jacob from the Jacob's ladder and the promise of the holy land. But also Mohammed’s dreams in the Quran and Buddhas’ dreams were inspiring them to their spiritual missions.(Vgl. http://www.planet-wissen.de/alltag_gesundheit/schlaf/traeume/index.jsp) 27/09/2012)

As a consequence of this, functions of dreams in different religions has resulted in dream interpretation and analysis becoming an ingrained component of humanity.

3. Problem-Solving Dreams – These dreams are designed to convey a message to the sleeper that will aid them in overcoming a problem in their conscious life. It is said that very often such messages are delivered by a messenger whose identity is of utmost importance. It's not rare that people find the answer to their problems while dreaming. The Mathematician Srinivasa Ramanujan, for example, solved mathematical problems within dreams. A Hindu goddess named Namakkal would appear in his dreams and present him with mathematical formulas. Albert Einstein (1879-1955) – inventor of the theory of relativity, Nobel prize winner all-round -genius said that his whole work was motivated by the following dream: In the middle of the night he went sledging with full speed down the hill and became faster and faster. When he almost reached the speed of light, the stars above him shined in spectra of colors that he had never seen before. He remembered this dream his whole life long, he said. (http://www.balkanforum.info/f16/beruehmte-persoenlichkeiten-geschichte-traeume-31794/) 30.11.12

4.Physiological Dreams– Some dreams are said to be direct reflections of our needs in the conscious world. For example, a dream where the sleeper is shivering in the snow may simply mean that the dreamer is cold and an extra blanket would be appreciated.

5. Dreams of Daily Life – Dreams that incorporate familiar faces and places do not necessarily reveal hidden symbolic messages from the subconscious. They are simply reflections of everyday life. Here we can remember the thesis that dreams only rearrange some over the experiences collected over the day. These types of dreams can also incorporate activities going on while we are sleeping. For example, a phone ringing may initiate a dream about fire alarm or something similar.

6. Compensatory Dreams – Some dreams reveal the `dark side´ of our personality. This does not infer evil; it refers to what Jung described as the shadow-self. Wishes or impulses of ourselves that we suppress. An example might be a Nun who dreams she is promiscuous. Such dreams are designed to balance our personality and give vent to emotions we would not usually seek to experience.

7. Recurring Dreams – When a dream repeats itself, it is likely that a problem is still unsolved and we are probably not paying attention to the message given through the dream. As such, ignoring the messages can lead to unresolved issues in our waking lives. The subconscious may have tried numerous other attempts before implementing the dream that will be repeated to make us pay attention to the problem or to give us the chance to try different ways to solve it while dreaming.

8. Lucid Dreams – Such dreams have been the subject of much research. In these dreams the sleeper is actually aware that he is in a dream state. The dream is so vivid it seems real, although events and characters will often be greatly exaggerated. Due to the sleeper being aware of dreaming he or she will often manipulate the outcomes. As such, it is thought that these dreams do not contain messages of deep symbolic value. However they can enable you to break with old patterns or to try consciously new ways of dealing with problems in your dream.

9. Psychic Dreams – Psychic dreams can predict the future, but not all dreams are predictive. Most dreams are reflections of your state of mind at that point in time. However, there are theories which support the existence of something called precognitive dreams. Theorists say that having precognitive dreams is a rare ability some people have. The question that rises is thus, why do precognitive dreams happen? Perhaps it is part of the survival mechanism that seeks to warn of events yet to occur. E.G. Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865) dreamed of a funeral and asked a attending soldiers whose funeral it was. The soldier answered that the president was killed by an assasin. He talked about his dream with his wife Mary and his lifeguard. Three days later he was assassinated.

Some consider there to be no such thing as psychic, including prophetic dreams. These are explained as merely the subconscious absorbing information from the conscious world and making assumptions about likely behavior. When these behaviors are played out at a later date the conscious individual perceives they have predicted the future in a dream.

10. Nightmares – These are the most emotional of all dreams. They represent major issues in our waking lives that the subconscious forces the sleeper to acknowledge through fear. A great portion of people however ignore the cues and focus on the terror. It must be remembered that all dreams, even nightmares, are designed by the subconscious to help us.

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