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What Do Our Dreams Mean? Psychologists Have Different Answers

What Do Our Dreams Mean? Psychologists Have Different Answers

Are dreams pathways of realms into the ‘beyond’?

Are dreams the subconscious mind relaying special messages?

Are dreams an artifact of the brain on ‘night shift’ duty?

For a long time, dream has been under the radar of many scientists. It has been such a mythical phenomenon that many would like to know more about. More importantly, many of us are curious about the answer to the question “Why do we dream?”.

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There is no certainty about the actual function of sleep or dreams. And everybody dreams, yet memories of dreams remembered varies.

What do dreams do to us? Do they serve any purposes at all?

This is a question that remains unanswered. The speculations and theories continue.

A common theory is that sleep and dreams work as a team, helping the brain to refresh and restore after capturing millions of inputs each day. The inputs are sensory details that may be minor like colours and major mind boggling details like those in seminars or presentations. While sleeping, the brain sifts through the information and refines it, keeping what is needed and disposing content into the recycle and trash compartments. Researchers have speculated that dreams are a tool in this process.

Dreaming is the protoconscious state. This occurs during the Rapid Eye Movement (REM) stage of sleep. It also occurs at other stages including the fourth stage of sleep ( Slow Wave Sleep-SWS). This is the deepest stage of sleep. Studies shown dreams vary according to sleep stage they occur in. Most dreams are reported during the REM stage. [1]

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    Emerging neuroscience views insinuate that dreams are linked to memory consolidation that occurs during sleep. These many include recording and organising memories according to emotional drives as well as transferring memories between regions in the brain.

    Daytime episodic memories are stored in the hippocampus region. This is the long term memory section of the brain that is for quick learning. At night they get transferred to the processing, knowledge and cognition section, the cerebral cortex. [2]

    Studies have revealed that hippocampus neural activity replays day events. This is faster than real time and happens in a reverse motion. The replay activity correlates with neutral patterns of activity in the prefrontal (goals planning and strategy) and the visual cortex (visual experiences).[3]

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    This memory replay occurs during the REM sleep stage where dreaming occurs. [4]

    Is there Association between dreams and the Subconscious?

    About the subconscious and dreams…..let us look into the bizarre realm of dreams. Question is, is it the brain attempting to make sense of signals that are generated in the memory consolidation phase, the model of activation-synthesis as Alan Hobson (Harvard) suggests?

    Do dreams mean anything at all?

    Searching for the meaning of dreams has been an ongoing venture through many ages. A random cacophony of memory fragmentation is not satisfying and unlikely for many.

    Interpretations of dreams are usually coded in terms of beliefs, motivations and symbols that have to mean to the dreamer. Imagine that the process of memory consolidation is not actually random, it is focused on experiences in the past and then goals that are biologically determined. Motivational tensions then surface content of dreams [5]

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    “People who hold dream experiences in great esteem may be correctly affirming the importance of affective information that is encoded through our ancient emotional urges for the proper conduct of our waking activities… the REM system may now allow ancient emotional impulses to be integrated with the newer cognitive skills of the more recently evolved brain waking systems. This could help explain many striking attributes of REM sleep, ranging from its heavy emotional content to its apparent functions of enhancing learning and solidifying memory consolidation.” [6]

    So dream content may not be our subconscious relaying messages to us. Dream analysis may reveal an underlying structure of motivational forces that drive our vision of choices and life strategy.

    “reflect an attempt, on the part of the brain, to identify and evaluate novel cortical associations in the light of emotions mediated by limbic structures activated during REM.” In other words, the brain is trying to interlink our experiences of the world with our emotional drives”. [7]

    Dreams may be a tool for the brain to explore situations that are hypothetical in an abstract way to refine strategies for future action. The images in dreams could be a result of the sense making program that processes signals that are generated by internal systems of motivation that are not constrained by any sensory input.

    In simple terms, the imagery of dreams could the brain making sense of the ” test patterns” generated by the brain.

    Reference

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    Nena Tenacity

    Nena is passionate about writing. She shares her everyday health and lifestyle tips on Lifehack.

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    Published on October 30, 2020

    11 Essential Philosophy Books That Will Open Your Mind

    11 Essential Philosophy Books That Will Open Your Mind

    There are numerous ways to build your mindset, but none are as profound as reading philosophy books. Through these books, some of the greatest minds around ask questions and delve deep into thought.

    While there isn’t always a clear and distinct answer to the many questions of philosophy, the entire field is a gateway to a higher sense of self. It gets you to think about all manner of things.

    Below, we cover some of the essential philosophy books that are best for those who are just starting or looking to expand their mind.

    How To Choose a Good Philosophy Book

    Before getting to this list, we’ve researched ideal philosophy books to help you expand your mind.

    We’ve found that the best philosophy books excel in the following criteria:

    • Complexity – Philosophy isn’t a subject that you can’t dive into immediately and understand everything. The books that we selected are great for people making the first leap.
    • Viewpoint – With philosophy, in particular, the author’s views are more important than in your standard book. We want to ensure the viewpoints and thoughts being discussed still hold up to this day.
    • Open-mindedness – Philosophy is all about asking perplexing questions and unraveling the answer. You might not reach a conclusion in the end, but these books are designed to get you to think.
    • Culture – The last criterion is culture. A lot of these books come from early philosophers from centuries ago or possibly from recent years. These philosophy books should paint a picture of the culture.

    1. Meditations

      One that you’ll find on many of these types of lists is Meditations and for good reason. It’s the only document of its kind to ever be made. The book focuses on the private thoughts of the world’s most powerful man who advises himself revolving around making good on his responsibilities and the obligations of his position.

      We know enough about Marcus Aurelius to know that he was trained in stoic philosophy and practiced every night on a series of spirituality exercises. These exercises were designed to make him humble, patient, empathetic, generous, and strong in the face of whatever problem he had to face off. And he faced plenty of problems since he was basically the emperor of roughly a third of the planet.

      All of that is poured into this book, and you are bound to remember a line or more that will be applicable in your life. It’s a philosophy book staple.

      Buy Meditations here.

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      2. Letters From a Stoic

        Similar to Marcus Aurelius, Seneca was another powerful man in Rome. He was a brilliant writer at the time and was the kind of guy to give great advice to his most trusted friends. Fortunately, much of his advice comes in letters, and those letters happen to be in this book. The letters themselves provided advice on dealing with grief, wealth, poverty, success, failure, education, and more.

        While Seneca was a stoic, he has a more practical approach and has borrowed from other schools of thought for his advice. As he said when he was alive, “I don’t care about the author if the line is good.” Similar to Meditations, there are several brilliant lines and advice that are still relevant to this day.

        Buy “Letters From a Stoic” here.

        3. Nicomachean Ethics

          Aristotle was a famous Greek philosopher at the time with profound knowledge. He’s named after a form of logic as well called Aristotelian logic. Through this book, Aristotle writes about the root of all Aristotelian ethics. In other words, this book contains the moral ideas that form a base for pretty much all of western civilization.

          Buy “Nicomachean Ethics” here.

          4. Beyond Good & Evil

            Friedrich Nietzsche played a big role in the philosophical world. He was one of the leading philosophers of the existential movement, and it all came through this particular book. He is a brilliant mind. However, the issue with a lot of his work is that it’s all written in German.

            Fortunately, this book is one of the slightly more accessible ones since it’s translated. Within the book, he breaks down the paradoxes of conventional understandings of morality. By doing this, he sets the stage for a lot of the 20th-century thought process that followed.

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            Buy “Beyond Good & Evil” here.

            5. Meditations on First Philosophy

              In Meditations on First Philosophy, René Descartes breaks his book down into six meditations. The book takes a journalistic style that is structured much like a six-day course of meditation. On day one, he gives instructions on discarding all belief in things that are not guaranteed. After that, he tries to establish what can be known for sure. Similar to Meditations, this is a staple and influential philosophical text that you can pick up.

              Buy “Meditations on First Philosophy” here.

              6. Ethics

                Written by Benedict de Spinoza, this came at a time during the Age of Enlightenment. Enlightenment was a movement that dominated the world of ideas in Europe during the 17th and 18th centuries and with that, many schools of thought emerged and were presented through books.

                Out of the many influential philosophy books published back then, Ethics dominated during this period as it discussed the basis of rationalism. Even though we’ve developed further beyond that, Ethics can introduce new ways of thinking from this particular school of thought.

                Buy “Ethics” here.

                7. Critique of Pure Reason

                  Immanuel Kant is another great philosopher who brought together two of history’s biggest opposing schools of thought into a single book. Those schools being rational thought and empirical experiential knowledge—knowledge gained through experience.

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                  In Critique of Pure Reason, Kant explores human reason and then works to establish its illusions and get down to core constituents. Overall, you can learn more about human behavior and thought processes and thus, open your mind more to how you think and process everything around you.

                  Buy “Critique of Pure Reason” here.

                  8. On the Genealogy of Morals

                    Another piece of work from Nietzsche that is accessible to us is On the Genealogy of Morals. According to Nietzsche, the purpose of this book is to call attention to his previous writings. That said, it does more than that so you don’t need to worry so much about reading his other books.

                    In this book, he expands on the cryptic aphorisms that he brings up in Beyond Good and Evil and offers a discussion or morality in a work that is more accessible than a lot of his previous work.

                    Buy “On the Genealogy of Morals” here.

                    9. Everything Is F*cked

                      The only book on this list that’s been written in the past few years, this book by Mark Manson aims to explain why we all need hope while also accepting that hope can often lead us to ruin too.

                      While many of the books on this list are all practical, this one is the most realistic one since not even the greatest of philosophical minds could predict things like technology, Twitter, and how our political world has shaped.

                      Manson delivers a profound book that taps into the minds of our ancestral philosophers, such as Plato, Nietzsche, and Tom Waits, and digs deep into various topics and how all of it is connected—religion and politics, our relationship with money, entertainment, and the internet.

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                      Overall, this book serves as a challenge to all of us—a challenge to be more honest with ourselves and connect with the world in a way we’ve never tried before.

                      Buy “Everything Is F*cked” here.

                      10. Reasons and Persons

                        One of the most challenging philosophy books to read on this list, Reasons and Persons will send you on quite the trip. Through a lot of painstaking logic, Derek Parfit shows us some unique perspectives on self-interest, personhood, and whether our actions are good or evil.

                        Considered by many to be an important psychological text around the 20th century, the arguments made about those topics will open your mind to a brand new way of thinking.

                        Buy “Reasons and Persons” here.

                        11. The Republic of Plato

                          Written by Plato himself, this book is the origin of political science and offers a brilliant critique of government. As you would expect, the critique is still important today. If you’re looking to understand the inner thoughts of Plato, this is one of the best books around.

                          Buy “The Republic of Plato” here.

                          Final Thoughts

                          Philosophy books take a while to digest as they provide profound knowledge and leave you with many questions. With many of these philosophy books, you need to take your time with them, and you might have to read through them a few times as well. And with every read, your mind will only expand.

                          More Books to Open Your Mind

                          Featured photo credit: Laura Chouette via unsplash.com

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