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“A dreamer is one who can only find his way by moonlight, and his punishment is that he sees the dawn before the rest of the world.”

– Oscar Wilde

“Dreams are illustrations… from the book your soul is writing about you.”

– Marsha Norman

I’ve been studying dream science lately, just for fun. 

I am a big dreamer and I mean that in the most literal sense. Every night I dream and every time I nap I dream. I remember HUGE amounts of detail in my dreams and I sometimes dream long convoluted plot lines with a beginning, middle and end. My husband claims that he never dreams (which science tells us is actually impossible, it’s only that some people never remember their dreams) which is insanely foreign to me. I feel sorry for him because it seems to me that people that don’t remember dreaming miss out on a lot from my perspective. I cannot imagine a world where I don’t dream while asleep.

Dreams have fascinated and perplexed us since the dawn of time. In earliest civilizations they were considered a well of information on both the individual and the tribe, or society as a whole. The classical Greeks developed a system for using them to diagnose and treat disease even developing a system of “dream hospitals” across the Mediterranean called Asklepion sanctuaries. In the 19th century dream research was considered a science of aristocrats. Modern dream research was thrust forward into hard science with the discovery REM or Rapid Eye Movement sleep in 1953 by Nathaniel Kleitman and his student Eugene Aserinsky at the University of Chicago.

Dreams are used throughout the Bible in both the old and new testament by God to talk to his people when something important came up. All religions have their own dream interpretations and you can pick up a dream dictionary in any Book store of consequence. You can find them online too, naturally. There is a theoretical explanation for every central image (the theme, or the most vivid memory of the dream after waking up).  People who dream about teeth are said to be worried about their appearance and/or have low self esteem. Oranges are a sign of good health and onions are a symbol of hard work (heck if I know why.) I personally dream frequently about dinosaurs trying to eat me, which some say is a sign that I am being plagued by old issues coming back to haunt me but, as far as I can tell they are so buried I’m not aware of them consciously or in my own opinion, I’m just mortally terrified of being delicious.   

Psychoanalyst such as Sigmund Freud  claimed each dream held a secret wish the dreamer wanted fulfilled and claimed most of them were sexual. Carl Jung, the man who gave us  intro and extrovert psychology and Freuds only true rival in psychoanalysis of their era says instead that they are the body and minds way of natural healing and wholeness that lead each of us towards our individuation.

Then there is the Gestalt movement. Developed in the 1960’s a whole set of techniques, from taking every part of the dream as a piece of one’s self to putting the dream on an empty chair and asking it directly what it was about. You can’t forget about the postmodern movement, largely based on Jung and Gestalt theories.

All of that above is just the tip of the iceberg really. There are books out there on how to induce lucid dreaming where the dreamer becomes aware 1) that they are dreaming, 2) controls the elements in the dream like a chest of toys. 

Most scientist hold that dreams are a mish mash of the days events being processed by the brain:

1. To restore our body and mind.
2. To help with learning and memory.
3. To keep the brain at the right level of awareness/rest during sleep.
4. To allow the mind to handle disturbances in the night without waking up.
5. To keep our sense of self and wholeness through sleep.
6. To allow ourselves some time to explore new and unusual areas of ourselves.
7. To resolve conflicts that occur during the day.
8. To contextualize emotions from waking.

It is true that the way we dream evolves from childhood to adulthood. Just as our brain is evolves as we grow in the way we understand the world and process the overload of information it gives us. 

It’s interesting to note that children below the age of 4 have never been recorded as being aware of self during their dreams in any study. Only after the age of 4 or 5 do most children begin to “star” in their own dreams the way full grown people do. Children dream in pictures, like flipping through a book until between 5 and 8 when the story formate starts to kick in and it’s not until 11 that nearly all take an active role in their dreaming “story.” By 13 dreaming is near the same as adults would dream being shaped to a greater degree by the individuals personality. It’s thought to happen at this age because now in their waking life they make more choices on their own, as apposed to younger childhood, when adults shaped decisions for them.

Another weird fact: Women as individuals tend to dream longer then men and studies show that they dream about both genders equally (50% 50%) where as when men dream 67% of the “characters” in the dream will be male. It seems even gender lends a hand in shaping what we see while asleep.

Just some stuff to think about, I’m going to be doing a Part 2 since this is getting quite long already and I’m going to attempt to give an logical explanation on why, in my opinion, Christians should give the phenomenon of dreaming a second thought.

 

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2 Comments

  1. Great post!!

  2. I dream ALL the time too BJ and Josh never remembers his dreams. I'm always waking up telling him my elaborate, crazy, dream of nonsense and he never has anything to share. Poor guy. :(This is interesting and I like it. Lookin' forward to Part 2! 🙂


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