The most accurate definition of a dream is an experience of the mind while in the sleeping state that involves the sequence of different or similar emotions, sounds, and images. Interest and speculation in what dreams consist of and their overall purpose has existed for years throughout history.
Oneirology is the study of the dreams and with the aid of technology has helped scientists come closer to what they feel the answers to their curiosity are. Dreaming is an important aspect to most individual’s lives because it is the way they escape from the harsh realities of the world to enter one that generally feels better whether they are aware or unaware of any of it happening. What is the meaning of this life experienced outside of a person’s external life? What is the purpose behind dreaming? For many, those curiosities come into question as well. And for those many, here are some popular ideas given for the phenomenon that is dreaming.
Physiology, dreams are considered to be a reaction to the neural processes emitted while the body is asleep. Psychologically, dreams are thoughts of reflections of the mind subconsciously that fill the psyche. Spiritually, dreams are depicted as a message or messages either sent from a high power, those who have passed away, or predictions of what is to come in the future, either near or far. Several more hypotheses on dreams include viewing dreams as a way to test and select mental schemas, dreams being the result of disassociated imagination, and dreams acting as an adaptive function for survival.
The purpose of dreams is also suggested to be the mind’s way of allowing repressed parts to reach a level of satisfaction by indulging in fantasy while prohibiting the mind’s conscious state from feeling thoughts that could force the body into a sudden state of being awake. Jewish Austrian neurologist Sigmund Freud believed that nightmares were the brain’s way of allowing the subconscious to exercise and eventually gain control of emotions that stem from experiences of a distressful nature. Swisspsychiatrist Carl Jung believed that dreams creates balance for attitudes of a one-sided nature that are held while conscious and awake.
Hungarian psychoanalyst Sándor Ferenczi believed that dreams are a way that people can communicate in their dream state what they cannot say in their waking state. Dreams are suggested to regulate mood. What may or may not be realized is that dreams can very well be a result of all of these hypotheses and suggestions put together.
While life is lived one way, a dream is lived in another. It is meant to act as a place where thoughts are safe, the dreamer is safe, and those experiences that may be difficult to face in actual life. Although the meaning of dreams is not definitive, it can definitely be defined as a place where the bad things cannot touch you, a place where only you can go, and a place that you may want to visit regularly for those reasons.