Why Do We Dream Essay

1637 words - 7 pages

Why do we dream the things we dream? What dictates the content of the movies for one that we watch when we fall asleep? This is a question that nearly everyone has pondered at some point in their lives and humans have been studying in an attempt to answer for thousands of years. Humans spend approximately one third of their lives asleep, and the idea that such a great portion of our time is spent in a state that we do not fully understand is bothersome to many. As humans, it is a natural desire to acquire understanding about ourselves and the workings of our minds. This desire has lead to a great deal of research and speculation on the topic. It is a common belief among many cultures that ...view middle of the document...

Dreams can last anywhere from a matter of seconds to a span of twenty or thirty minutes and the average person experiences three to seven dreams within an eight hour night of sleep(Sander Van Der Linden, The Science Behind dreaming, Scientificamerican.com).
Many cultures have different understands and beliefs about why we dream about the things we do. In many primal societies, members were unable to distinguish the difference between real life and dreams. They viewed dreams not only as an extension of reality, but a more powerful alternate world. Some of the earliest Evidence of dreams begin recorded and attempted to be understood dates back to approximately 3100 BC. from the Sumerians in ancient Mesopotamia. These people believed that when one dreams; the soul of the dreamer leaves the body of the sleeping person, carried by the god of dreams, to visit the people and places the dreamer experiences in their sleep. These ideas are pretty far fetched, but the concept of recording and studying one's dreams was not entirely ridiculous. In fact, it is quite the opposite. The practice of recording one's dreams similar to the way the Sumerians did thousands of years ago is still been used for psychoanalysis studies today (Dream in History,dreammoods.com).
The abundance of beliefs and tales surrounding why we dream about certain things has lead to much research on the subject. While humans have been pondering the reasons and meanings behind dreams ever since we have been able to talk about them, it was not until the late nineteenth century that some of the most widely accepted modern theories about dreaming were put forth by Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung. Freud theorized that dreams are stories we tell ourselves in our sleep in order to experience the wishes of our unconscious as real. He considered dreams to be a tool of the mind that is used to relieve mental frustration caused by repressed desires by allowing one to act on these forbidden impulses. Freud believed that due to the rejection of these impulses by polite society, these true feeling are disguised in our dreams as symbolic imagery. Therefore, to discover the reason one had a dream about a certain thing one could reason backwards in a process of interpretation known as "free association". For example, If a person were to have a dream in which the image of a key frequently appears, Freud would ask this person what the first thing that comes to mind is when they think about a key. The person would most likely respond that they think of a lock. Freud would consider the connection of the tho and the symbolism involved to conclude that the imagery of the lock and key is representative of a sexual desire. In fact, the majority of the time Freud related symbols in dreams to a sexual desire. This theory is however flawed in the sense that it is limited. According to Freud, every dream was a representation of an unconscious desire, and this does not account for those who have boring dreams or...

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