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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

    Screenwriter ∕ Filmmaker

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    Last Updated on August 16, 2018

    Narcissistic Personality: What Is It and How to Deal with a Narcissist?

    Narcissistic Personality: What Is It and How to Deal with a Narcissist?

    He asks you for your opinion, but only follows his own advice regardless of what you say.She loves to talk about herself, everything about her is just better than you.  When you try to share anything happy about yourself, she seriously doubts it.

    If you know someone who acts like these examples, there’s a chance they might be a narcissist.

    What is a narcissistic personality?

    Narcissism is a spectrum personality disorder which most of us have.

    In popular culture, narcissism is interpreted as a person who’s in love with themselves, more accurately, their idealized selves. Narcissists believe that they are too unique to be understood and that they are so good that they demand for admiration from others.

    Psychologist Stephen Johnson writes that,[1]

    the narcissist is someone who has buried his true self-expression in response to early injuries and replaced it with a highly developed, compensatory false self.

    The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) describes narcissistic personality as a personality disorder. It is a spectrum disorder, which means it exists on a continuum ranging from some narcissistic traits to the full-blown personality disorder.[2]

    Narcissistic Personality Disorder is not very common, but the truth is, we all have some of the narcissistic traits.

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    Traits of a narcissist:

    • They have a deep need for admiration and validation. They think they’re special and too unique to be understood.
    • They feel they are superior to other. They achieve more and know a lot more than you.
    • They do not show their vulnerabilities. They fear what others think of them and they want to remain superior in all situations.
    • They are unwilling to recognize or identify with the feelings and needs of others. They want to be the centre of attention and believe that showing emotions is a sign of weakness.
    • They are skilled manipulators and are emotionally abusive. They know how to make use of their charm to take advantage of others to get what they want.

    How are narcissists different from others?

    Narcissism expert and the author of Narcissism in a Nutshell, Zari Ballard, tried to answer some common questions asked by non-narcissists about what a narcissist thinks and feels from a narcissist’s perspective.[3]

    Do narcissists know they are narcissists and are they happy?

    We could really care less about how others feel. We enjoy our so called cold existence. True narcissists don’t want to change. We feel in total control of our lives using this method.

    Do narcissists know or understand right from wrong?

    Narcissists know the difference between right and wrong because they understand cause and effect. There is no “guilty conscience” giving them a clue and they are displaying the symptom of being “indifferent to social norms” while most likely presenting as ‘cold-hearted.’

    Narcissists have a very different thinking mechanism. They see things from a different perspective. Unlike non-narcissists and empaths, they don’t have much sympathy and are reluctant to show emotions to others.

    Why do people become narcissists?

    1. Narcissism is vulnerability taken to an extreme.

    The root of a narcissistic personality is a strong resistance to feeling vulnerable with anyone.[4]

    Narcissists refuse to put themselves in a position where they feel vulnerable. They fear that others will take advantage of their weaknesses, so they learn to camouflage their weaknesses by acting strong and powerful. The think showing emotions to others is a sign of weakness, so they learn to hide their emotions and act cold-hearted most of the times.

    Narcissists live in a state of anxiety because they are highly aware of their emotions and how others think of them.

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    Vulnerability aversion, is the root of a narcissistic personality.

    2. A narcissistic personality could be a result of a wounded past.

    Narcissists are desperate to seek validation constantly because they either didn’t feel worthwhile and valued in the past, or were being paid too much attention as the most precious and unique one in the world.

    Faulty or inadequate parenting, for example a lack of limit setting, is believed to be a major cause, and both permissive and authoritarian styles of parenting have been found to promote narcissistic symptoms.[5]

    Both parents who fail to see the worth in a child, and parents who spoil and give excessive praise to the child promote narcissism as the child grows. While the former ones make the child feel inferior of others and want to get more attention, the latter ones encourage an idealized-self in the child.

    How to deal with a narcissist?

    1. If someone close to you is a narcissist, embrace the differences.

    There’re different personality types and not everyone will think and act the same as you do. Instead of trying to change others, learn to accept the differences and strike a balance when you really have to communicate with them.

    2. Don’t try to change them, focus on your own needs.

    Try to understand that narcissists are resistant to change, it’s more important for you to see who they really are, instead of who you want them to be. Focus on how you feel, and what you want yourself to be.

    Embrace the fact that there’re different types of personality and the only thing you can control is your attitude and your own actions.

    3. Recognize what they do only comes from their insecurity.

    Narcissists are quite vulnerable deep inside, they question others because that’s how they can make themselves feel better.

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    When you learn that what a narcissist does to you is nothing personal, but something that comes from their insecurity, you know that sometimes they just need a certain amount of reassurance.

    This is especially important if the narcissist is someone you have to closely work with, or if they’re your family member. The right amount of reassurance can calm them down and get the tasks on hand completed.

    4. Ask them what would others think instead of what’d others feel.[6]

    Narcissists don’t feel guilty, but they care about how others think of them deep in their heart.

    Clinical psychologist Al Bernstein explains:

    There are just things, like other people’s feelings, that narcissists rarely consider. If you have their ear, don’t tell them how people might react; instead, ask probing questions. Narcissists are much more likely to act on ideas that they think they thought up themselves.

    If you have to work with a narcissist closely, focus on the facts and ideas, not the emotions.

    5. Let go of the need of getting a narcissist’s approval.

    You’re not who a narcissist says you are. Don’t let their blame game undermine your self-esteem, and don’t argue with them just to defend what you believe is right.

    There is no point arguing with a narcissist just to prove them wrong because they will not give in proving themselves right. It’s more likely that you’ll get more upset when they disagree with you in an unpleasant way.

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    Know your own worth and detach from a narcissist’s opinion on you.

    6. If a narcissist is hurting you, stay away from them.

    Remember, a healthy relationship is two-sided. It’s about mutual respect and it’s based on give and take. But any kind of relationship with a narcissist is likely to be the contrary, it’s about making the narcissist happy and constantly supporting them. A relationship like this will only weigh you down and is unhealthy for your growth.

    7. Set a boundary and always keep it.

    If you’re setting a boundary, you have to be willing to keep it. When a narcissist sees that you’re trying to take back control of your life, they will try to test your limits, it’s just their instinct to do it.

    Be prepared that your boundary will be challenged. Make your boundary clear, have all the actions needed to be taken in your mind.

    For example, if you have decided to stop communicating with them, they will likely to show up in front of you just to talk to you. Be brave enough to keep your boundary, don’t back down and get close to them again; or else they will not take your boundary seriously any more.

    8. Learn when to walk away.

    When a narcissist starts to make you feel uncomfortable and doubt about yourself, it’s time to pick yourself up and give yourself enough respect to just walk away from them.

    If you’re in love with a narcissist, you should seriously think about ending the relationship and move on for a better life. If the narcissist is your family member, you don’t have to be cruel to them, but it’s better to keep distance from them.

    Reference

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