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    Thread: False Remembrance in Dreams

    1. #1
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      False Remembrance in Dreams

      False Remembrance in Dreams

      . . . I was walking down a street in my dream. I was thinking to myself, “I remember this neighborhood. I haven’t been here since my childhood.” Strong feelings of fond nostalgia accompanied the scene. I even knew what the next house on the block would look like before I reached it. When I woke up, I immediately realized that I have never been in such a neighborhood in my entire life - yet the dream memory of it had been convincing.

      It turns out that this experience of seemingly authentic memories in dreams - (only to discover that no true waking correlation exists) - is not uncommon. Shortly after my dream, I stumbled upon an internet posting which questioned exactly the same perplexing phenomenon under the heading “Dream Memory.” Before delving further into this topic, I want to explain my preference for “false remembrance” rather than “dream memory.”

      *******

      Whereas the expression “dream memory” would initially appear to be the most obvious and appropriate title for this subject, it is likely to be misleading. It may easily be misinterpreted as referring to “dream recall.” For instance, your dream memory (i.e. your ability to remember your dreams) may be better than mine. This is not what we mean in this discussion.

      Another similar usage is “false memory.” Again, this begs to be rejected because it has another established meaning in common parlance. It is used by psychiatrists and lawyers when questioning the validity of “recovered repressed memories” from alleged childhood abuse. Thus we have another term for the tinder.

      With the two most common expressions essentially found falling short, I was initially at a loss for an acceptable alternative. As luck would have it, I was perusing the Lucidity Institute’s website and came across The Study of Dreams by Frederik van Eeden. This is the renowned document in which the expression “Lucid Dreaming” was first coined for our “conscious recognition that we are asleep and dreaming.” To my surprise - (in the very same document) - Frederik van Eeden also makes reference to “False Remembrance” in dreams! I truly admire his insightful choice of the word “remembrance.” Although it is a noun, it has enough stretch to be interpreted a bit like a verb - implying the process of remembering as well as that which is remembered.

      Having established (for me) that “false remembrance” is the best distinctive expression for the phenomenon under consideration, we now face the task of explaining it.

      *******

      Trustworthy waking memory - (playing its role in organizing our human experience) - is critical to our survival. Faulty waking memory would certainly be detrimental to our survival. In dreams, however, faulty memory has no consequence to survival at all. What is the worst case scenario? You wake up safely in bed.

      Thus it is clearly not important whether our memories in dreams are true or not. In some inexplicable way, it appears that they are “instantly conceived” to maintain the dream and its story.

      *******

      It is irresistible for me to speculate on how the dreaming mind can generate memories on the fly. As our dreams conjure up their nightly collage with images and experiences gathered from our sensory lifetime (“day residue” from a lifetime of days), I theorize that their original “true remembrance” is stirred. In their blend, the emergent memories (though in a uniquely new dreamed circumstance) are accurately perceived as having a prior waking reference and are thus authentically “remembered.”

      Let me clarify this with an example: One of the characters in one of my dreams was “my best friend” throughout the dream story. Upon waking up - with his image still clearly in my mind - I was intrigued to admit that the character with whom I had just interacted was not my best friend at all, and in fact looked nothing like him. It is my theory that the person in my dream was a composite of waking corporeal acquaintances, and my “true memory of each blended together” caused the genuine feeling of an intimate bond.

      *******

      Someone once-upon-a-time became genuinely angry with me for using the term “false remembrance.” He protested that using the word “false” essentially closed the door in the face of any other explanations. I understood his concern and ignored his reaction. There are of course some theories on how “false remembrances” may actually in fact be true. I’ll give just one of them here:

      (Theory) Just as the waking world has its own history and memories, the same is true for the dreaming world. It has its own history and memories. At the beginning of this post, I related a dream of a remembered neighborhood which doesn’t exist in waking reality. Perhaps I had dreamed of this neighborhood before. Thus the memory of it in my dream could have been an “authentic remembrance” of a previous dream.” (Personally, I strongly suspect that dream memories are “spontaneously generated,” but I don’t ask that you agree with me).

      For a video exposition on this subject, I refer you to my Lucid Dream Discourse #8 on YouTube and iTunes (free).

      I welcome and appreciate any response from any perspective. Don’t be offended if I don’t respond. I’m too old for disputes. /Stephen Berlin

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      I actually believe there are two categories, at least in my experience it has always been so.

      The first category is the false remembrance you speak of, where the brain literally creates memories which are complete bogus. For example, I remember a couple of false awakenings where I saw pictures on the wall in my bedroom that have never been there in reality, yet I recognized them as being there always. In the dream, I was completely familiar with the pictures, and absolutely positive that they have always been there, but when I wake up, I go: "Wow, how could I have thought something like that? I have never seen those pictures in my life."

      The other category is what I call dream-state memories. Whenever I am in a lucid dream, I can recall certain dreams that I find very hard to recall when awake. For some reason, there are certain dreams (perhaps 10%) that I only remember tiny bits when awake, but when in a lucid dream, I am able to recall them much much better. There is a certain dream I had once, involving an X-Files episode. It was a non-LD which was about an X-Files episode that never aired, but I saw on TV in a dream. When awake, I was never able to recall this dream very well, but when in the dream state, I'm able to recall this dream in much better detail.

      So yeah, I think there is false remembrance, and also dream-state memories, which are memories only accessible (or *better* accessible) when in the dream state.

      The reasons for all this, I really don't know.

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      Jakob, I would agree with your assessment. I too experience these situations in dreams and the memories of dreams can be quite interesting, even confusing. Sometimes they feel like real memories even when I wake.
      hathor28 and darknightedlady like this.

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      It often takes me time to analyze my dream to realize much of what I knew in the dream were not actually based on experiences I've had in reality. I find this to be very strange, and out of sync with our most popular assumptions about how dreams work (which is to say based on an unfiltered network of firing neurons).

      Everything works out in the end, sometimes even badly.


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      Quote Originally Posted by Jakob View Post
      I actually believe there are two categories, at least in my experience it has always been so.

      The first category is the false remembrance you speak of, where the brain literally creates memories which are complete bogus. For example, I remember a couple of false awakenings where I saw pictures on the wall in my bedroom that have never been there in reality, yet I recognized them as being there always. In the dream, I was completely familiar with the pictures, and absolutely positive that they have always been there, but when I wake up, I go: "Wow, how could I have thought something like that? I have never seen those pictures in my life."

      The other category is what I call dream-state memories. Whenever I am in a lucid dream, I can recall certain dreams that I find very hard to recall when awake. For some reason, there are certain dreams (perhaps 10%) that I only remember tiny bits when awake, but when in a lucid dream, I am able to recall them much much better. There is a certain dream I had once, involving an X-Files episode. It was a non-LD which was about an X-Files episode that never aired, but I saw on TV in a dream. When awake, I was never able to recall this dream very well, but when in the dream state, I'm able to recall this dream in much better detail.

      So yeah, I think there is false remembrance, and also dream-state memories, which are memories only accessible (or *better* accessible) when in the dream state.

      The reasons for all this, I really don't know.
      Hi Jakob. Since we know our dreams so effectively create amazingly authentic "false remembrances" - may I suggest the possibility that your "better recall of a previous dream when in a new dream" may also have been another amazingly authentic false remembrance. If your dream journal proves you had the original X-Files dream (never take your own memory as proof), it's possible you had another "similar or completely different X-Files dream" - and the new dream falsely convinced you that it was the same one you had before. I'm not saying your wrong and I'm right. I'm just saying that you should be skeptical of any and all dreamed remembrance.
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      It is intriguing! I have had that a few times, as well.

      -I was walking through a haunted house that contained items from my childhood, but these items were not from waking life childhood.
      -In another, it was a LD, I was walking down these stairs and I said to the "bankers", something about in my dreams the building is always the same. When I woke up, I didn't remember any dreams in which that building was in them. But in the dream, I was certain.
      -In another, I was at some celebration when a storm hit. At this point I 'remembered', that when the storm hit I was supposed to travel to where the Guru went...I found him in an alcove.
      -The most recent one was in a cave and the cave was empty of magic. In my dream memory it had been filled with an amazing blue colored gem that contained magic. As I was standing in front of the chalk white gem, I saw the visions of how it had been before.

      Honestly, I probably have more.

      Thus the memory of it in my dream could have been an “authentic remembrance” of a previous dream.”
      I agree with this in some of them!

      Random thoughts: parallel universe memories, past life memories, (probably watching too much scifi...haha!).
      From the darkness, a beauty arises; a mystery, seeking the light~

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      Quote Originally Posted by StephenBerlin View Post
      In some inexplicable way, it appears that they are “instantly conceived” to maintain the dream and its story.
      That's exactly what happens in reality, too, we think up or remember things that instantly make all events coherent. The only difference between reality and dreams is that in reality we have a more ordered long-term memory and can orderly sort out all events to have logical links between each other.

      There's some ability to reason in dreams, too. And it's usually the subtle emotion of surprise that forces a false memory to occur, according to my observations. Something is not all right, you know it but can't really remember why, and so the explanation is presented to quell your surprise.

      I used to think that these explanations are what keeps us from being lucid all the time, keeps us from discovering that the world around doesn't comply to normal rules. Now I'm not sure about that, but at least I'm sure that some explanations occur to destroy the surprised feeling that is so common.

      Quote Originally Posted by Jakob View Post
      The other category is what I call dream-state memories. Whenever I am in a lucid dream, I can recall certain dreams that I find very hard to recall when awake.
      One of my lucid-dreaming friends keeps telling me the same thing. While lucid he can remember dreams that he couldn't recall otherwise, as if dream recall was much better in dreams than in waken reality.

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