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Life:Is:A:Frequency :: Dreams

Chapter Vii:

This Is What I think about

Dreams

Dreams In general

Dreams are cyclical successions of images, emotions, ideas, and sensations that

occur involuntarily in the mind during certain stages of sleep. The content and purpose of

dreams are not fully understood, however, dreams have been a topic of scientific

speculation, as well as a subject of philosophical and religious interest. Some scientists

believe that in addition to humans, birds and other mammals also have dream cycles.

Dreams primarily occur in the rapid-eye movement, or REM, stage of sleep, when brain

activity is high and functionality resembles that of being awake. A dream can last for

several seconds or up to about twenty minutes. Individuals are more likely to remember

the dream if they are awakened during the REM stage. The average person has about

three to five dreams per night, although some dreamers may have up to seven. Typically,

dreams tend to last longer as the night progresses; throughout a full eight-hour’s of rest,

one can expect approximately two hours of dreaming to occur.

Dreams are often thought of as a connection to the unconscious; they can range

anywhere from normal to overly surreal and bizarre. Dreams can have varying natures,

presenting environments that can be frightening, exciting, magical, adventurous, or

sexual. The events within a dream are generally outside the control of the dreamer, with

the primary exception being lucid dreaming, where the dreamer is self-aware. Dreams

can at times trigger creative thought in the dreamer’s unconscious mind, or give a sense

of inspiration. Various opinions about the meaning of dreams have varied and shifted

throughout time, drastically varying with culture. The earliest documented accounts of

dreams were acquired from materials dating back approximately 5,000 years, in

Mesopotamia, where they were recorded on clay tablets. During the ancient Greek and

Roman dynasties, people believed that dreams were direct messages from the gods, or

from the dead, depending on the nature of the dream; in addition, they often interpreted

them as predictions of future events. Various cultures practiced dream incubation with

the intention of cultivating dreams that are prophetic in nature. Sigmund Freud, who

developed the discipline of psychoanalysis, wrote extensively about dream theories and

the interpretations derived from their existence. Freud explained dreams as

manifestations of ones deepest desires and anxieties, which is often linked to repressed

childhood memories or obsessions.

The Sleep cycle

One sleep cycle is comprised of four stages, as well as an initial transition period,

and repeats the cycle every 90-120 minutes, depending on the dreamer; the transition

period only occurs while the individual first drifts into sleep. Dreams can occur in any of

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the four stages of sleep, however, the most vivid and memorable dreams occur in the last

stage of sleep, which is the REM phase. People can typically only remember dreams that

occur closer to the morning when they are about to wake up; one may not remember a

dream, however, this fact does not imply the dream did not occur. Some people believe

that they simply do not dream when in reality they simply have a more difficult time of

remembering as soon as they wake up. Technically there are 5 stages of sleep, however,

the first stage is more of a transitional one, which is experienced only as the dreamer

initially falls asleep; the rest of the stages repeat several times throughout the night. Each

stage of sleep can be classified into one of two categories: Non-rapid eye movement

(NREM), and Rapid eye movement (REM). The 5 different phases associated with sleep

are described below.

_Transitional Phase _

The transitional phase begins the sleep cycle and is a very light form of sleep; this

stage is the initial transition period from reality to the subconscious. The brain produces

high amplitude theta waves, which travel at a lower velocity than those experienced in

the other phases of sleep; the frequency of a theta wave ranges from 4-7 Hertz (Hz). This

state only last around 5-10 minutes, and people who awake from this transitional period

may claim that they weren’t ever really asleep. This state gives your body enough time to

slow down so that your muscles can relax , allowing the sleep cycle to begin. As the body

begins to transition, the dreamer begins to experience hallucinations; these hallucinations

come in the form of swirling light and color patterns, which hypnotize your mind into a

restful sleep. The transitional period marks the loss of self- awareness, and eliminates

most sensory attachment to the physical world.

_NREM Stage 1 _

NREM Stage 1 occurs when you enter into light sleep, and typically lasts around

20 minutes. This state allows one to experience muscle relaxation, lowered body

temperature, and slowed heart rate; this phase prepares the body to enter into a form of

deep sleep. The brain begins to produce bursts of rapid and rhythmic brain wave activity,

which is often referred to as sleep spindles. Although your brainwaves have actually

slowed down further, they do in fact show bursts of higher brainwave activity possessing

a frequency in the lower beta range; brainwaves in this stage typically have a frequency

range of 12-16 Hz. This state is characterized by loss of nearly all muscle tone, a process

referred to as sleep paralysis, so that ones body cannot physically act out forthcoming

dreams. One will typically spend around half of a full nights rest in this stage of light

dreamless sleep.

_ _

_NREM Stage 2 _

NREM Stage 2 consists of a further drop in body temperature and enhances

relaxation of the muscles. The immune system begins to work on repairing the damage

done to the body throughout the day. In addition, the endocrine glands secrete growth

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hormones, and blood is sent to the muscles to be reconditioned; it is in this phase that one

can be considered completely asleep. During NREM Stage 2, the brainwaves produced

are slow delta waves, with frequencies ranging from 0.5-4 Hz; this will be the slowest

frequency brainwave that will ever be experienced, however, there may still be short

bursts of faster brain activity called beta waves. This phase marks the beginning of deep

sleep, which is also referred to as slow wave sleep. It is much harder to wake someone in

this stage of sleep; however, if awoken, one will feel especially drowsy, angry, and

confused for several minutes and will find it very hard to focus in this state of mind.

NREM Stage 2 is where sleep walking typically occurs.

NREM Stage 3

NREM Stage 3 is an even deeper level of sleep in which metabolic levels are

extremely low; this is considered the deepest kind of slow wave sleep. This stage

replenishes ones energy both physically and mentally; without enough deep sleep the

individual will not ever feel refreshed in the morning. Brainwaves are now exclusively in

the delta range during this section of the cycle.

_REM Sleep _

REM sleep marks the onset of dreaming, and after the body is submerged into

deeper stages of sleep, brainwave activity returns to the theta range of 4-8 Hz. While in

the REM state, one’s eyes move back and forth erratically, as if watching something from

underneath the eyelids; this stage arises roughly 90-100 minutes after the onset of sleep.

During REM sleep, blood pressure rises, heart rate accelerates, respiration becomes

irregular, and brain activity increases. Involuntary muscles become paralyzed or

immobilized; this is the most restorative part of sleep. When in the REM cycle, one’s

mind is being revitalized, and emotions are essentially being produced by the

subconscious. The four stages, ignoring the transition phase, repeat themselves several

times throughout the night as one is sleeping. As the cycle repeats, one will spend less

time in the other stages and more time in the REM dreaming state; hence, it will be

quicker to get to the REM phase each time this cycle repeats. People who are awoken

from REM sleep will dive right back into this stage as they return to sleep. REM sleep is

important to healthy brain functioning for several reasons, the primary being the creation

of long-term memories. This is the phase where lucid dreaming occurs, signified by even

greater brainwave frequencies, which can be as high as the gamma range of 38-90 Hz.

Sigmund Freud

In the late 19th century, psychotherapist Sigmund Freud developed a dream theory

in which he proposed that dream content is driven by unconscious wish fulfillment. He

theorized that important unconscious desires often relate to early childhood memories

and personal experiences. Freud’s theory describes dreams as possessing both manifest

and latent content; latent content relates to deep unconscious wishes or fantasies, whereas

the manifest content of a dream is the actual images, thoughts, and content contained

within the dream. In general, manifest content often masks or obscures latent content.

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Freud believed that humans are capable of scanning through the dream’s manifest content

to reveal the underlying significance. Freud began to analyze dreams in order to

understand aspects of personality as they relate to pathology, which is defined as the

study and diagnosis of disease. He believed that nothing one does occurs by chance;

every action and thought is motivated by ones unconscious at some level. In order for one

to live in a civilized society, one has to resist the tendency to hold back our urges, and

repress our impulses, as they have a way of coming to the surface in an unconscious state.

Freud believed that the unconscious mind expresses itself in a symbolic language,

and he categorized aspects of the mind into three categories. The first of these categories

is entitled the Id, and is _ _ concerned with primal impulses, pleasures, desires, unchecked urges, and wish fulfillment. The second of these he called the Ego, which relates to the

conscious, the rational, the moral, and the self-aware aspects of the mind. Lastly he

references the Superego, which he sees as the sensor for the Id, and is additionally

responsible for enforcing the moral codes of the Ego. When one is awake, the impulses

and desires of the Id are suppressed by the Superego. In a dream state one is able to get a glimpse into their subconscious. During sleep, one’s unconscious has the opportunity to

act out and express the hidden desires of the Id. The desires of the Id can at times be

disturbing and even psychologically harmful, so an internal censor is activated, which

translates the images into a more symbolic form. This process helps to preserve sleep,

and prevents one from waking up shocked at the images, which can ultimately result in

very confusing dream imagery. According to Freud, the reason one struggles to

remember their dreams is that the Superego is at work; it is doing its job by protecting

the conscious mind from the disturbing images and desires conjured by the unconscious.

The process by which the latent content of a dream is transformed into the manifest

content is known as the dream work. The dream work can disguise and distort the latent

thoughts in various ways. Freud classified images into the following processes to further

interpret the cryptic images that present themselves in our dreams.

[*Condensation: *]

  • *

This is the process by which the dreamer hides their feelings or urges by contracting them

or underplaying them into a brief dream image or event. The meaning of this specific

imagery may not be apparent or obvious to the dreamer. During this process, two or more

latent thoughts are combined to make up one manifest dream image or situation.

[*Displacement: *]

  • *

Instead of directing the emotion or desire toward the intended person or object, the

displacement process allows these attributes to be transferred onto meaningless and

unrelated objects in the manifest dream.

  • *

[*Symbolization: *]

  • *

This process is described by when the dreamer’s repressed urges or suppressed desires

are acted out metaphorically. When complex or vague concepts are converted into dream

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images the mind may use the image of a similar sounding and more recognizable word,

or use a similar but less intrusive object. Freud suggested that dream symbols are

generally sexual in meaning, thus many dreams have a sexual correlation.

[*Secondary Revision: *]

  • *

This is often regarded as the final stages of the dream work. The unconscious mind

organizes an incoherent dream into one that is more comprehensible and logical. The

secondary revision can be described as the way in which the dream work covers up the

contradiction, and attempts to reorganize the dream into a specific pattern that is in sync

with the dreamer’s experience of everyday life.

Carl Jung

Carl Jung, who was a Swiss psychiatrist and psychotherapist, rejected many of

Freud’s theories and expanded on Freud’s idea that dream content relates to the

dreamer’s unconscious desires. Jung described dreams as being messages to the dreamer,

and argued that dreamers should pay more close attention to the dream content for

personal understanding and growth. He came to believe that dreams present the dreamer

with revelations, which can uncover and help resolve emotional or religious problems

and fears. Jung documented that recurring dreams show up repeatedly to demand

attention, which suggests that the dreamer is neglecting an issue related to the dream. He

believed that many of the symbols and images within these dreams often return with each

following dream. Jung believed memories that were formed throughout each day play a

significant role in dreaming. These memories leave impressions for the unconscious mind

to deal with when the ego is at rest, as the unconscious mind re-enacts these glimpses of

the past in the form of a dream. Jung argued that dreaming is not a purely individual

concern, and that all dreams are part of one giant web of psychological factors. Jung

argued that one could consider every person present in the dream to represent aspects of

the dreamer.

According to Jung, dreams are a way of communicating and acquainting oneself

with the unconscious. Dreams are not attempts to conceal true feelings from the waking

mind, rather a window to the unconscious. They serve as a way to guide the waking self

to achieve wholeness and offer a solution to a problem that is being faced in ones waking

life. Jung viewed the ego as one’s sense of self, and the mechanism by which one is

portrayed to the world. A portion of Jung’s theory suggests that all things in life can be

viewed as paired opposites. Working in opposition to the ego, is the counter ego, which

represents the rejected aspects that one does not wish to acknowledge. Since dreams are a

way of communicating with the unconscious, Jung believed that dream imagery reveals

something about yourself, and your relationships with others, as well as specific

situations in your waking life. Dreams enhance personal growth and help one achieve

their full potential. Simply discussing what is occurring in your life can help you interpret

and unlock the cryptic images within your dreams. Jung’s method of dream interpretation

is placed more confidently on the dreamer, as he believed that everyone possesses the

necessary tools to interpret dreams.

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Jung commonly noted certain dream symbols that possess the same universal

meaning for both men and woman; he termed this phenomenon the collective

unconscious. Ones personal experiences often touch on universal themes and symbols,

and archetypal dreams usually occur at significant times or transitional periods in life.

These images often leave one with a sense of awe or present the dreamer with the

understanding that something important has been learned. These particular dreams have a

cosmic quality and an element of impossibility if the images of the dream occurred in

reality. Dreams are often extremely vivid, and remain in your mind long after the dream

was experienced. There are seven symbols of a dream that Jung identified as the major

archetypal characters.

*The Persona *

  • *

The persona is the image that you present to the world in your waking life. In the dream

world, the persona is represented by the idea of the Self. The Self may or may not

resemble you physically, and it may or may not behave as you would. The persona can

appear in many forms, however, regardless of the form, the dreamer still knows that this

representation is their avatar while in the dream.

*The Shadow *

  • *

The shadow represents the rejected and repressed aspects of oneself. It is essentially the

part of yourself that you do not want the world to see because it is perceived as ugly or

unappealing. The shadow can symbolize weakness, fear, or anger. It can be of the form of

a frightening figure, or even a close friend or relative. Their appearance in the dream

often leaves one angry or scared, and they can force the _dreamer to confront things that _

[_they don’t particularly want to see or hear. _] Jung believed that we must learn to accept the

shadow aspects within our subconscious because the messages are often seen as good,

even though it may not be immediately apparent.

[*The Anima/Animus *]

  • *

The anima and animus are the female and male aspects of oneself, respectively. Every

individual possesses both feminine and masculine qualities. Within our dreams, the

anima appears as a highly feminized figure, while the animus appears as a hyper

masculine form. These dream imageries occur dependent of how well you are able to

integrate the feminine and masculine qualities within yourself. They are used as a

reminder that one must learn to acknowledge and express the masculine and more

assertive side, as well as the feminine and more emotional side.

The Divine Child

The divine child is your true self in its purest form. It not only symbolizes your

innocence, sense of vulnerability, and helplessness, but represents your aspirations and

full potential as well. Typically, this figure would occur in the dreamer’s unconscious

mind as a baby or young child.

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The Wise Old Man/Woman

  • *

This character would be represented as the teacher of your dreams. It is typically viewed

as a teacher, father, doctor, priest, or other unknown authority figure. These images have

the function of offering guidance and words of wisdom, and they appear in the dream to

steer and guide the individual into the right direction.

The Great Mother

The great mother is the nurturer, and this figure typical appears as the dreamers own

mother, grandmother, or other nurturing figure. Her general purpose is to provide one

with positive reassurance. On the contrary, the great mother may be depicted as a witch

or old lady, and can be associated with seduction, dominance, and death.

*The Trickster *

  • *

The trickster is the entity that plays jokes on your unconscious mind to keep you from

taking yourself too seriously. The trickster may appear during times when you have

misjudged a situation, or he could find himself in your dream when you are uncertain

about a decision, or about where you want to go in your life. The trickster often makes

you feel uncomfortable or embarrassed, sometimes mocking you or exposing you to your

vulnerabilities.

Neurological dream philosophy

In 1976, J. Allan Hobson and Robert McClarley proposed a theory that changed

dream research, challenging the previously held Freudian view of dreams as unconscious

wishes demanding interpretation; this process came to be known as the Activation

Synthesis Theory. Hobson and McClarley both assumed that the structures that induce

REM sleep also generate sensory information. Hobson’s research suggested that the

signals interpreted as dreams originated in the brain stem during REM sleep; however,

later research by Mark Solms suggested that dreams are generated in the forebrain, and

that REM sleep and dreaming are not directly related. While working in the neurosurgery

department at various hospitals in Johannesburg and London, Solms had access to

patients with a various array of brain injuries. Solms began to question patients about

their dreams, and confirmed that patients with damage to the parietal lobe stopped

dreaming. Solms did not encounter cases of loss of dreaming with patients having brain

stem damage. This observation forced him to question Hobson’s prevailing theory, which

described the brain stem as the source of the signals interpreted as dreams.

By combining Hobson’s activation synthesis hypothesis with Solms’ related

findings, Jie Zhang proposed the continual-activation theory of dreaming. His theory

proposed that dreaming is a direct result of brain activation and synthesis, and that

dreaming and REM sleep are controlled by different brain mechanisms. Zhang

hypothesized that the function of sleep is to process, encode, and transfer the data from

the short-term memory to the long-term memory; there is not much evidence to support

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this theory. NREM sleep processes the conscious related memory, or declarative

memory, and REM sleep processes the unconscious related memory, or procedural

memory. Zhang assumed that during REM sleep the unconscious section of a brain is

busy processing the procedural memory; meanwhile, the level of activation in the

conscious part of the brain descends to a very low level as the inputs from the sensory are

basically disconnected. This process triggers the continual-activation mechanism to

generate a data stream from storing memory to flow through the conscious part of the

brain. Zhang suggests that this pulse-like brain activation is the inducer of each dream.

With the integration of the brain associative thinking system, dreaming is self-maintained

with the dreamer’s own thinking until the next pulse of memory insertion. This

mechanism could explain why dreams have both characteristics of continuity within a

dream, and sudden changes between two dreams.

Psychological dream philosophy

Numerous theories state that dreaming is a random by-product of REM sleep

physiology, and that it does not serve any natural, or significant purpose in daily life; in

this regard, dreams are a phenomenon that are a direct product of evolution, hence, they

have no adaptive function. Hobson believed that the substance of dreams did not have a

significant influence on waking actions, and that the majority of people go about their

daily lives perfectly well without remembering their dreams. Conversely, evolutionary

psychologists believe dreams serve some adaptive function for survival, and that people

continue to encounter the same problems in their waking life, both personal and

objective, in a dream state. In this retrospect, problems involving mathematics and

musical compositions, along with many others, may have the potential to be solved while

the individual is dreaming. A psychologist named Antti Revonsuo proposed that dreams

have evolved entirely for the purpose of threat simulation. The proposal by Revonsuo,

named the Threat Simulation Theory, hypothesized that physical and interpersonal threats

were serious during much of human evolution, and hence gave reproductive advantage to

those who survived them. Therefore, dreaming evolved to replicate these threats, and

continually practice dealing with them. Revonsuo proposed that contemporary dreams

comprise much more threatening events then people encounter throughout daily life, and

the dreamer often engages appropriately with them. It is suggested by this theory that

dreams serve the purpose of allowing the rehearsal of threatening scenarios in order to

better prepare the individual for real life threats.

A theory that was developed by Y.D. Tsai in 1995 claims to provide a mechanism

for mind-body interaction, and can potentially explain many dream related phenomena.

He proposed that dreams are a product of dissociated imagination as it is dissociated from

the conscious self and draws material from sensory memory for simulation, and can

produce feedback that may result in hallucinations. Dreams can affect mind-body

interaction by stimulating the sensory signals to drive the autonomous nerves. In the brain

and spine, the autonomous repair nerves, which can expand the blood vessels, connect

with the pain nerves. When repair nerves are prodded by compression or pain to send out

their repair signals, a chain reaction spreads out to set other repair nerves into action.

While dreaming, the body also employs the repair nerves to repair the body, and helps it

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grow and develop by simulating very intensive movement-compression signals that

expand the blood vessels when the level of growth enzymes increase.

Final Thoughts

Dream research appears to be a field that has not thoroughly been explored; the

works of Freud and Hung are some of the rare few theories hypothesized regarding

dreaming and its necessity for our everyday lives. There has to be a reason why we

require a certain amount of sleep to properly function, and why we live in an unconscious

reality every time we fall asleep. Out of all of the dream philosophy I discovered, I felt

that Jie Zhang’s theory most closely relates to how I interpret the necessity of dreams; I

believe the answer lies in memory storage. When we analyze memory we often times

break it up into two separate categories, which we refer to as short-term and long-term

memory. Is it possible for our brain to create memories, as well as engrave them into

long-term memory simultaneously? In most systems, usually in computer systems, it is

not possible to read and write simultaneously. A computer must periodically take in

information in one interval, and write it to permanent memory in another. I feel as if sleep

is essentially the mechanism that is used to store images into long-term memory.

Everyday we take in new experiences, we remember a majority of these experiences, and

are able to permanently write them to our brain so that we can access these images at

anytime.

I had a high school professor tell me one time that throughout the day your brain

takes in information and essentially stores it in a specific location in the brain. He

proposed that every night your brain cycles through these images and recycles them

essentially, leaving more room in memory to store new information. I think this theory is

partially correct, as I feel that your brain does cycle through all the images that were

produced throughout a day, or a week, and combines them in a strange array of mixed

images. I believe that throughout ones waking life, images are captured and stored to a

short-term memory bank. As you fall asleep and enter a dream state, the short-term

memories begin to transfer the data into the long-term memory bank. I believe that sleep

is absolutely necessary for the body to function properly. In this regard, I feel as if

memory storage has to be the primary reason our bodies need to sleep. I think that if

utilized properly, dreams may be able to serve a greater purpose. I find the concept of

lucid dreaming quite fascinating; in essence, one can use a lucid dream to make new

memories with individuals that were forever lost. I often find that in my dreams I can

view these projections in a 3-Dimensional frame; these projections are so accurate that I

can even recognize their faces and their names. It is a beautiful thing to be able to make

new memories, and feel new emotions, solely based on an unconscious state of mind.

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Life:Is:A:Frequency :: Dreams

  • ISBN: 9781311556325
  • Author: Steven Borella
  • Published: 2016-04-14 23:35:06
  • Words: 4478
Life:Is:A:Frequency :: Dreams Life:Is:A:Frequency :: Dreams