I admit this is an odd topic to choose to blog about. In fact, it’s down right odd. But I’m really, really sick of hearing about dreams and what they mean. So let me let you in on a little secret– Dream Theory is completely bogus.
Before you can properly understand how nonsensical dream theory is, you must first understand sleep. So here’s a psych sleep course, nice and condensed for you. When one sleeps, it comes in several stages – Stage 1, Stage 2, Stage 3, Stage 4, and REM. Stage 1 is where one just begins to fall asleep – technically, you’re not even asleep at all at this point. One can enter Stage 1 through daydreaming and watching TV. It’s just a relaxed state of mind. Stage 2 is the first real stage of sleep. Brain waves fall into Beta waves, and often the sleeper will experience a jerking sensation. (Ever fall asleep during class? This happens a lot then.) These are called hypnic jerks, and basically occur (it’s predominately believed) because your mind occasionally freaks out ’cause everything relaxes fast and creates a falling sensation. Minor sleep talking can occur here.
Next is Stages 3 and 4. Since they’re basically identical, I’ll cover them all at once. This is the really deep sleep. Go ahead and poke someone in this stage, or even yell at them. They’re brainwaves are so low that it’ll take a good shock to wake ’em. This is the stage where bedwetting, sleepwalking/talking, and night terrors can occur. (It’s important to note that night terrors are not really dreams – the subject is just feeling the terror. These are mostly caused by stress) These symptoms can occur because the person is so asleep. After all, you have to be pretty deep into your sleep not to wake up from hearing your own voice, or to not wake up from walking around.
The next, and the one you’ve been waiting for, is REM stage. REM stage has one very important use – imprinting memories. You see, when you’re in REM stage sleep, your mind is doing a full systems check, making sure nothing is too screwed up. Part of this process is to go through the memories of the previous day (well, mostly the afternoon), and to make sure everything is properly stored. Now, in theory, say that one got very, very drunk. When the drunk person went to sleep that night, REM stage would not work properly, and thus the memories don’t get stored. This is responsible for alcohol blackouts. Just a fun fact, and proof of the concept.
Now, you may be wondering, ‘Mandy, if dreams aren’t important windows to my SOUL and SUBCONSCIOUS MIND, then why do I dream about things that are bothering me?’ It’s a surprisingly simple answer. When you worry about something, you think about it more, right? So, when you think about it more, the idea of the worry gets added to a lot of memories. So, when you dream, the bothersome thing appears over and over, because the brain has to process it more.
Another fact – the way the brain activates during sleep is identical to the way one’s brain works while on an acid trip. And no one would believe someone if they claimed that acid trips gave them insight into their minds.
I would also like to note that we rarely remember our dreams. You have dreams several time a night. And mostly, it’s good that we don’t remember it. Most dreams are boring. Very boring. You might go to class and do your work in a dream. And I know I do that enough during the day- I don’t want to have to remember doing it again at night.
I’ll admit, reluctantly, that there are several highly respected psychologists that believe in dream theory. The brain is an amazing thing, and if anyone tells you they understand what it does all the time, feel free to slap them. They’re a liar. But, the big problem with dream theory is that there is NO way to prove it. There’s no way to test it. It’s not empirical. And that, dear readers, is not science. It’s not THE WINDOW INTO YUR SOOOUULLL. It’s guesswork.
Perhaps the most important thing to remember is that Freud invented Dream Theory. And Freud did a lot of cocaine. I think that says everything.