The word “dream” can be defined in two ways: (1) a phenomenon you experience at night during sleep or (2) a compelling aspiration that you want to fulfill in life. Granted that these two definitions may appear different, they are closely related to each other.
How theorists define dreams
Here is a quick overview of what Freud and Jung, two prominent figures in psychology, had to say about dreams.
Sigmund Freud, the father of psychoanalysis, believes that dreams represent the strong urges that we suppress. However, these repressed desires must be somehow released and they are often manifested through our dreams.
Freud opines that dreams give us a glimpse of our unconscious mind. Our dreams may appear odd at first and they don’t seem to make any sense. But he suggests that if we can figure out the symbolisms that appear in our dreams, then we can better understand the real motivations of our subconscious.
Freud claims that dreams are influenced by our thoughts and situations in our daily lives. Also, he believes that our wishes are often satisfied through our dreams because the latent content of these desires may be harmful or disturbing. Thus, these urges are concealed in symbolism that often confuse us and, sometimes, make our dreams difficult to remember.
Although he believes in the existence of the unconscious, Carl Jung does not perceive it as erotic or sexual in nature like Freud, but rather spiritual. Freud and Jung eventually had a falling out because of their opposing views.
Jung opines that dreams serve as a guide to our unconscious mind and they do not attempt to hide our real feelings. Instead, dreams help us solve problems that we face in our waking lives and give us a sense of how we perceive ourselves in the world.
Jung’s theory about dreams revolves around the idea of duality; meaning all things can be viewed as opposing pairs—for example, male and female, love and hate or good and evil.
Jung believes the images that appear in our dreams have something to do with ourselves, our relationships with others, and everyday situations in waking life.
Why do we have dreams anyway?
While scientists have made notable progress over the years in trying to learn about dreams, there is still no definitive answer as to why people dream. But many theories are being studied.
Some researchers posit that dreams are a byproduct of other biological activities that happen during sleep. But others claim that dreaming has no clear purpose.
It is uncertain whether we’ll ever be able to ascertain a definitive answer as to why we dream. But it’s quite possible that dreams may serve a vital role in our anatomy, behavior, and cognition.
Some of the prevailing theories suggest that dreams assist in the following:
- Processing our memories and aids in learning
- Consolidates our short and long term memories
- Works as an extension of our waking life and reflection of our experiences
- Gives us a way to deal with difficult situations, stressful thoughts, and experiences
- Helps our brain respond to biochemical changes and electrical impulses while we sleep
- Acts as a defense mechanism for our psyche against dangers, threats, and challenges
Even though dreams may seem difficult to understand or even remember, they may provide us with insight about what is troubling us and help us deal with specific challenges that we experience in our daily lives.
By becoming more aware of our dreams, we can use them to connect with our innermost thoughts, understand what motivates us, find our purpose, and achieve our full potential.
What do you think? Is there really an underlying reason why you dream? How does your waking life influence your dreams? Sound off in the comments below.
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