Thursday, June 28, 2012

Brief Overview Of Dreams

The concept of dreaming has long perplexed and fascinated the human race, and still to this day despite scientific leaps are we any closer to finding the true meaning behind dreams. One reason for this could possibly be that the experience of a dream is so unique and different for each person that it is simply impossible to sum it up as one general experience for all. Although our dreams still keep us in the dark and thus fascinating us so, many psychologists have created bold and thorough theories behind the unique experience humans have when they close their eyes for sleep each night.
Clearly the most profound and well known theory of dreams was by psychoanalyist Sigmund Freud. In his theory, titled simply "Interpretation of Dreams," Freud discusses how he believed that dreams arose from the subconscious mind. What you dream about is said to be your manifest dream content, which is what you remember when you wake up in the morning. The latent dream content is what you were really dreaming about. A highly simplified example of this would be if a person had a dream that they were at their father's house. One must ask what that house represents, and in order to interpret this dream you must look at all of the values in the dream. It became apparent to Freud that childhood memories as well as the day's residue can affect dreams too. Freud believed that dreams represented the emergence of the subconscious's hidden desires, traumas, and fantasies, and that dreams influenced the way a person acts, how they make decisions, etc.
Another very popular theory of dreams is by psychologist Carl Jung. The Jungian interpretation of dreams is that your unconscious is trying to advise you with messages of encouragement, support, etc. Jung believed that when a person had a dream, they were to write it down immediately upon waking with four simple steps. Title- treat it like a story, theme, what the affect/emotion was, and question- what is it asking you? In a situation such as a recurring dream, Jung theorized that a person has either ignored the message being presented or has a Freudian issue pressing. In a scary dream in which you wake up in the middle of it, one approach would be to continue the dream once you're awake and see what would happen, thus taking the anxiety out of them.
A final concept on dreams that I would like to discuss is the theory of lucid dreaming, or awakening in your dreams. Lucid dreaming simply means dreaming while being FULLY aware that you are doing so. You realize that the entire dream world is your own creation- and with this awareness comes the freedom to explore not only your nightly slumbers, but your subconscious and conscious mind, ultimately gaining a deeper understanding of yourself as a whole. This unique state of consciousness can be utilized for creative inspiration, emotional healing, insight into your awakened reality, and overcoming fears and anxiety. There are three main steps in order to learn how to properly lucid dream: adequate motivation, correct practice of effective techniques, and excellent dream recall. Clearly, this may take time and practice for majority of people wishing to achieve this higher state of consciousness, but there will always be the select few who lucid dream without instruction. Whichever type you are, it is a truly rewarding and beneficial experience to give a try.
In the first two theories I discussed, I find Carl Jung's more relatable simply because he explains the meaning behind every TYPE of dream- whether it be a nightmare, a recurring dream, or perhaps even a lucid dream. Although I find Sigmund Freud's to be ingenius and I do agree that a lot of a person's subconscious comes into play, I feel that Freud simply blames everything in a person's life on the subconscious desires and traumas and lumps things together without giving any aspect of said life its own personality. When it comes to the topic of lucid dreaming, I absolutely believe it is possible and I truly do believe it can heal both emotional and mental wounds. If a person has the power to control their own dreams, this ultimately leads to them controlling their own nightmares and thus conquering their fears.
Although I believe science has come a long way in aiding the human race with knowledge on a plethora of subjects in life, I believe some things are simply meant to be a mystery. Dreams would definitely be one of those things. Perhaps it is up to each individual to decide for themselves what they truly believe their own dreams mean, while always keeping an open mind to the ideas of science and psychology as well.

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