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Author Topic: How do strange dreams relate to reality?  (Read 488 times)

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Online MissRozielTopic starter

How do strange dreams relate to reality?
« on: August 22, 2014, 03:53:18 AM »
Last night I had the weirdest dream

I was falsely admitted to an asylum I knew I wasn't crazy but I couldn't remember who I was.  I quickly discovered that the doctors and nurses where preforming horrific torture and experiments on the inmates, some of whom where perfectly sane.  Not just mental experiment either.  One mans head was surgically removed from his body and kept alive, that sort of thing.  So I went around destroying rooms, Locking up the so called 'doctors', freeing the inmates who needed freeing and stuff going up and down several floors to avoid detection.   All while hiding from nurses or playing the cooperative crazy woman, avoiding inmates who liked the asylum, or who had been lobotomized to follow orders, until I finally made it to the roof think of escaping myself now they had caught on to me.  I get there and realize the whole point of me being there was to stop the guy in charge who really was crazy from pushing my other self off the roof to kill me and stop me from freeing the inmates and closing his madhouse, it was, Bizarre to say the least, but interesting.  I didn't have a lot of control over my own body so thing that should have been easy where sometimes very difficult.  At one point I was kicking these electrical panels set into the walls that allowed the doctors to call for, nurses, security, mediation, that sort of thing.  Some of them I could destroy pretty easily and some it was like my body wouldn't do what I told it to so the kicks where to weak and I had to keep trying.

Some of the staff was milling around like it was just a normal day, they where used to destruction and partial power outs from some of the real crazies. and those ones I acted stupid and got information from. while others knew what was going on and where actively searching for me. Some of the inmates asked for specific help while others helped hide me or distracted nurses and doctors so I could get by with out being noticed.

I'm not sure where the dream came from to be honest, I haven't watched or played any games or shows like that and it seemed so real and terrifying, I know dreams have meaning it's the subconscious trying to communicate but... seriously, what the heck is my subconscious saying to me?

Offline TaintedAndDelish

Re: How do strange dreams relate to reality?
« Reply #1 on: August 22, 2014, 05:59:00 AM »

I used to spend a lot of time trying to make sense out of my dreams. I still do when I remember them, but more for shits and giggles than anything else. I can usually find things that happened in the last day or so that are kinda closely related to the dreams in question.

Then I read somewhere that it might be that we dream more because the brain is trying to flush itself clean while we sleep - that dreams might just be a side effect and nothing more.

Here are two articles that touch on this. I know this is not a very interesting answer, but I thought it was kind of interesting anyway. Keep in mind, I'm not a brain surgeon or a head shrinker, so take it with a grain of salt. I could be quite wrong about this.


http://www.npr.org/blogs/health/2013/10/18/236211811/brains-sweep-themselves-clean-of-toxins-during-sleep

http://www.kurzweilai.net/how-the-brain-takes-out-the-trash-while-we-sleep

Offline Wheeler97

Re: How do strange dreams relate to reality?
« Reply #2 on: August 22, 2014, 04:26:51 PM »
Most of the science of Psychology no longer feels that meaning can, or should, be attributed to dreams. Most of Freud's ideas have long been tossed out the window... Anyone can apply any meaning they want to their dreams, but there will not be a way to "interpret" them any time soon, if ever at all.

What I was taught about dreams in my several psychology courses (that was my major) is that dreams are a lot like the brain conducting a defragmentation (computer term). The hypothesis (not sure it's an actual theory), is that the brain is working to sort out your memories and experiences of the day and put them in the vast library of your mind. You dream in real-time, so your dreams are actually short snippets of memories that have been jumbled together. Your mind has filled in the gaps or followed any number of the normal heuristics and processes to make these fragments make sense. Also, the information came from somewhere... if it's not directly from anything you've seen/done recently, then it's something you have seen, read, or imagined in the past, and this is how your mind made sense of the memory(ies).

In all reality, you're not supposed to remember your dreams. If you remember them regularly, it's actually probable that you're not sleeping well enough. Dreaming occurs during what is called "rapid eye movement (REM) sleep." There are four stages of sleep, plus REM sleep. REM would fall between first and second stage of sleep if we made a chart, but involves a lot of brain activity. Periods of REM sleep are preceded by stage four sleep, your deepest sleep, to which you should revert after a REM cycle and quickly rise to stage one. If you wake up and remember your dreams, your REM cycle was too light and the end of your sleep cycle was disrupted. It's more common with particularly exciting dreams.

Offline Beorning

Re: How do strange dreams relate to reality?
« Reply #3 on: August 22, 2014, 08:16:49 PM »
I wouldn't be so sure about dreams having absolutely no meaning... I remember some of my dreams and, occasionally, they were tied to what was going in life in quite an obvious way. They aren't completely random.

I'd say that they *can* be a reflection of some sort of what's going on in one's mind. But their importance varies. One day's dream can be an expression of some important emotional conflict. Another day's dream can be a reflection of a movie the person saw and found appealing.

And some of them can be totally random, true  ;D

Offline Nowherewoman

Re: How do strange dreams relate to reality?
« Reply #4 on: August 23, 2014, 03:07:13 PM »
Most of the science of Psychology no longer feels that meaning can, or should, be attributed to dreams. Most of Freud's ideas have long been tossed out the window... Anyone can apply any meaning they want to their dreams, but there will not be a way to "interpret" them any time soon, if ever at all..

I would disagree with this, to a certain extent, but strongly agree that Freud's (and Jung's) attempts to assign universal symbols (archetypes) to dreams was foredoomed to failure.  Dream symbology is very personal and experientially based, but frequently recurrent, and often somewhat similar among some social groupings. This isn't to say you can look at someone's dream in isolation and say "You are yearning for a stronger relationship with your parents" or some such crap. However, given a long enough baseline working with a patient, you CAN generalize, and say, for example, "Each time you have said that you feel your life is out of control, you have also reported dreams containing x,y,z symbols." You can then work with those images, understand them and, to a minor extent, direct them.

It's not an exact science, of course, any more than the rest of Psychology/psychiatry, or any social science. Symbols can have different meanings in different contexts, and some times, a dream is just your brain doing the spring cleaning.

Offline Rick345

Re: How do strange dreams relate to reality?
« Reply #5 on: September 22, 2014, 04:17:53 PM »
Dreams allow us to be creative without the limitations of what we think to be real or normal... In other words dreams are a way of solving problems without the limits placed on us by our “rational” mind. Most dreams are utter nonsense but occasionally dreams give us insight about the problems we are trying to solve in life. Elias Howe invented the sewing machine and the idea for putting the hole the thread went through came to him in a dream.

He dreamed he was captured by cannibals and they were stabbing him with spears and each spear had a hole in its tip. When they shoved the spear into him, Howe noticed the hole at the tip of the spear and when the cannibals pulled the spear out of him his intestines were being pulled out by being threaded though the hole in the needle...

The idea of Special Theory of Relativity came to Einstein in a dream.

It's said that Einstein dreamed that he was walking through a farm when he came upon a bunch of cows huddled up against an electric fence. The farmer suddenly switched the fence on, because apparently he was that much of an asshole, and Einstein watched all of the cows jump back at the same time as they got shocked. Assuming that he'd witnessed some kind of synchronized cow acrobatics, Einstein recounted what he'd seen to the farmer, who had been standing at the opposite end of the field. But what the farmer had seen was different -- he'd seen the cows jump away one by one, like they were doing the wave at a football game. This would have been hilarious, and one assumes this is why he did it.

Of course Einstein, being Einstein, wasn't content with simply waving this away as a silly dream. So after ruminating on the problem for a while, he started to put together the idea that events look different depending on where you're standing because of the time it takes the light to reach your eyes. In other words, the theory of relativity.

In short, we got one of the most radical developments in science because a young boy had a dream about electrocuting farmyard animals and spent his adult life refusing to let go of an argument that he had with an imaginary farmer.

Offline gaggedLouise

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Re: How do strange dreams relate to reality?
« Reply #6 on: September 22, 2014, 06:44:16 PM »
I used to spend a lot of time trying to make sense out of my dreams. I still do when I remember them, but more for shits and giggles than anything else. I can usually find things that happened in the last day or so that are kinda closely related to the dreams in question.

Then I read somewhere that it might be that we dream more because the brain is trying to flush itself clean while we sleep - that dreams might just be a side effect and nothing more.

Here are two articles that touch on this. I know this is not a very interesting answer, but I thought it was kind of interesting anyway. Keep in mind, I'm not a brain surgeon or a head shrinker, so take it with a grain of salt. I could be quite wrong about this.


http://www.npr.org/blogs/health/2013/10/18/236211811/brains-sweep-themselves-clean-of-toxins-during-sleep

http://www.kurzweilai.net/how-the-brain-takes-out-the-trash-while-we-sleep


I read someone suggesting that the content of dreams is often a mixture of things that are lying around in our short-term memory (from the day, or the last few days) and some suppressed feelings. If the brain/mind didn't sift out what is worth keeping and moving over to a longer-term memory bank, our lives would become intolerable. How can you possibly handle a consciousness that retains everything in its memory, every trivial thing, picture or quarrel? We would simply lose our bearings and become walking bombs before long! Being able to forget is part of being human, so only a small part of what we have experienced remains in the long-term memory. This makes sense I think, and it's true that some of what you get to see or hear in dreams is picked from things one has just heard, seen or has been doing. It would explain, too, why we forget most of our dreams so fast when we wake up. We don't need to recall the stuff!

But I do think dreams sometimes show our minds and emotions working on a problem, or premonitions of something we don't yet know or are able to see. I've had dreams that I'd say were carrying an accurate premonition, sometimes years in advance, sometimes over a shorter time span. And if there is a mental visualization or regrouping thing going on, then dreams would be likely to use symbolic language, as Freud and Jung were on to. That language would be personally symbolic though, not a failsafe general symbols lexicon.
« Last Edit: September 22, 2014, 06:47:00 PM by gaggedLouise »

Offline AndyZ

Re: How do strange dreams relate to reality?
« Reply #7 on: September 23, 2014, 07:33:47 AM »
Wheeler97, the defrag thing is actually taught for psychology?  It's something I'd come up with independently, but kind of awesome that it has more merit than my previous "Here's what I think."

By that logic, though, it stands to reason that a computer cannot defrag something which is still active, and a brain would have trouble "letting go" of a dream where it still considers that thing to be very important.  Speculation built on speculation, but hey, let's go with it.

Also, I likewise disagree with the idea of universal symbols.  We have word association tests today that attempt to understand what specific words mean to specific people.  This is an example from the movie Skyfall (which happens early on and doesn't contain any spoilers).

Skyfall Word Association


To that end, while I can say what the dream would mean to me, I can only go with likely interpretations based on what I would expect to be common interpretations of particular symbols.  Only you can decide what those things mean to you.  (Kinda like how Freud thought that everyone was completely as obsessed with the penis as he was.)

MissRoziel, it seems to me like a simple "change the world" deal where everyone is having a problem with X and you know that only you can fix it and make it better.  However, when I say that, it's my admitting that I have some of those fantasies.  Some of the experiments (like the man's head being kept alive from the rest of him) could mean something about detaching a person's consciousness from their body, or it could be just something horrible that would happen in that kind of a place and your mind categorized in the image the way we organize various objects.  Books go on a shelf by size, clothes go in the closet associated by color and what type of clothing, and creepy medical images get put with other creepy medical images so they don't suddenly pop into the brain during birthday parties.

I've found that being unable to do something in a dream often signifies the abject frustration accompanied by being unable to that thing in real life.  The only genuine example that comes to mind (I rarely remember my dreams) is a shouting match that I was having with someone, which came across to me as a reminder of where I wanted to respond to something really nasty said by someone with a lengthy chant to the contrary.  I don't remember the specifics of the dream, but I can easily understand how it would be difficult to keep responding to two words with ten.

If we accept the premise of the "save the world" fantasy as part of the reasoning, then the milling about staff people could represent people who exist within the problem but do not cause it.  You would appear to have decided that the best way to handle these people would be to actively leave them in the dark to ensure that they do not become part of the problem.  The patients who helped you, by contrast, could represent a notice that you're not alone, that people do want to help however they can but need a true hero to step up.

Granted that there's not much I can offer to help, but I hope that gives some perspective.

Offline Nowherewoman

Re: How do strange dreams relate to reality?
« Reply #8 on: September 23, 2014, 07:52:20 AM »
I tend to have recurrent and very vivid 'performance' dreams-  I need to be somewhere specific RAYT NOW, and have gotten lost, or have left something project-critical at my hotel, and can't find my way back to recover it, etc.  While the symbology itself may not be specific to a given situation, the gestalt is clear: a feeling of not being in control of whatever is foremost on my plate right then, of being unprepared.


I have other less pleasant ones that work similarly. My more minor dreams, unfortunately, I don't usually recall clearly enough to look for recurring symbol sets.