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    Thread: What are dreams?

    1. #1
      Member frugalito's Avatar
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      What are dreams?

      I am curious. Many of Dreamviews members can jump in an out dreams and I wonder: What do they believe DREAMS are? I have been researching that same question for a couple of years now and I can assure you there is still no scientific consensus on the topic (just a pile of theories).

      That leaves YOU the most qualified people to go to: explorers who actually have been there.

      I don’t want to fix preconceived ideas but - in order to start a conversation - I’ll list the most commonly accepted notions about What DREAMS ACTUALLY ARE. Please vote for any of the bellow or include your own opinion.

      (A) Dreams are messages from our unconsciousness (This was Freud idea and there are many modern scientific studies that claim to prove it is wrong).
      (B) Dreams are random images from our memory.
      (C) Dreams are side products of the memory consolidation process.
      (D) Dreams are experiences we have in a parallel universe.
      (E) Dreams are information we receive from the Collective Unconsciousness (Jung’s suggestion).
      (F) Dreams are information we receive from ourselves, originally encoded in our DNA.
      (G) Dreams are information we receive from other sources.

      Please give your opinion. I would gladly share a huge amount of info I had gathered on the subject.

    2. #2
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      I think it's probably a psychedelic experience made from some kind of chemical similar to DMT that's made in our brain. The next question would be "What is a psychedelic experience"?

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      I disagree with the hypothesis that dreams are the result of some sort of endogenous psychedelic. The neurotransmitters responsible for the wakeful state of being all collectively stop firing and being released during sleep. Imbalances of neurotransmitters can cause delusion, delirium, and hallucinations... which is basically what dreams are. Now, that is just an imbalance--imagine when three major neurotransmitters simply quit being released altogether... imagine what effect it could have on perception and the mind. Serotonin, histamine, and norepinephrine are the three neurotransmitters in question. All three of these are also known as modulatory neurotransmitters. What this means is that they are responsible for controlling how much of other neurotransmitters (such as dopamine) are being released. If too much is being released, it decreases the amount... too little, it increases the amount. If anyone here is familiar with the term partial agonist in regards to neuroscience then it essentially functions the same way but on other neurotransmitters. With that being said, dopamine and acetylcholine are still active during sleep, if not more active. Both are implicated in delirium, delusion, and hallucination. Logically, it would make sense to say that dreaming is therefore a result of an altered state of consciousness brought on by significant changes in neurotransmission.
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      Ok. We have two ideas so far:
      1 - a psychedelic experience.
      2 - a result of an altered state of consciousness related to changes in neurotransmission.

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      I agree with snoop, I definitely don't think a single chemical like DMT could be responsible for dreaming. To me dreaming is most likely a side product of the memory consolidation process, which is stimulated by the specific change in neurotransmitters. I don't know exactly how most drugs affect the brain to cause a trip but it would seem that when taking some drugs you are literally forcing your brain into an hallucination while dreaming is a more natural response to normal levels of neurotransmitters increasing or decreasing.
      I don't think that dreaming is an accidental process, I think our delusion in non-lucid dreams is a mechanism for our mind to be able to process memories without us being affected by it. Why we remain to have minor activity in the reasoning parts of our brain is probably to keep the brain on at all time, in a way dreams could be aiding this process, so that we never fall into a stimuli free state.

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      Dreams are successions of images, ideas, emotions, and sensations that occur involuntarily in the mind during certain stages of sleep.

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      1 - a psychedelic experience.
      2 - a result of an altered state of consciousness related to changes in neurotransmission.
      3 - a side product of the memory consolidation process.
      4 - involuntarily images, ideas, emotions, and sensations.

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      Dreams are a reality created by information from our surroundings, each one is a different reality, it only exists as long as the dream lasts and it's only purpose is to inform the dreamer, even if they don't understand what it means

    9. #9
      Member frugalito's Avatar
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      This is good stuff. There are some very good ideas here.

      1 - A psychedelic experience.
      2 - A result of an altered state of consciousness related to changes in neurotransmission.
      3 - A side product of the memory consolidation process.
      4 - Involuntarily images, ideas, emotions, and sensations.
      5 – One-time information from our surroundings

    10. #10
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      Before I step into the discussion, I feel obliged to point out that the question is not properly formulated.

      What are dreams?
      Dreams are the succession of images, thoughts, sounds, and emotions that passes through our minds while sleeping.

      What you seem to want to ask to us is "what is the function of dreams".

      Now into the topic itself:

      (D) Dreams are experiences we have in a parallel universe.
      (E) Dreams are information we receive from the Collective Unconsciousness (Jung’s suggestion).
      (F) Dreams are information we receive from ourselves, originally encoded in our DNA.
      (G) Dreams are information we receive from other sources.

      I disagree with all these, they don't represent a parsimonious theory and they claim more than they can answer.
      -For example, D is encouraging substance dualism, which in itself is not even properly clarified, and all of it's arguments are invalid/refutable.
      -E is just like D: collective consciousness has it's own problems in the sense that only adds more complexity to the problem, has several flaws (ancestral or universal essence...really?), and the only worthy thing to consider about it is the genetic basis of certain unconscious content.
      -F is false. All empirical study report dreams as having it's origin in memory. If you could only dream about information encoded in your DNA (which is a...lol idea already), then we wouldn't be able to dreams to things that our ancestors had no knowledge about.
      -G is unclear, so it does not hold any practical relevance. Supporters of that theory at least should take the time to clarify what they mean.

      If we're talking about functions of dreams, I'd immediately discard the ones mentioned above, they don't really live up to the standards of a "theory".
      Oh and B shouldn't also be there, because it doesn't explain anything. It's like asking "How did the universe came to be?" and getting the answer "God made it!", which doesn't explain at all what we want to know.

      Regarding A, I agree with the majority of critics regarding Freud's theory of dreams. Actually, I'm finishing re-reading his book Interpretation of Dreams, and hope to start a topic where I expose the flaws on his theory and the belief that dreams can be accurately interpreted.

      For last, C seems the most plausible to me, but I'm still not 100% convinced.
      Last edited by zoth00; 04-01-2013 at 11:58 PM.
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      Quote Originally Posted by nito89 View Post
      Quote Originally Posted by zoth00 View Post
      You have to face lucid dreams as cooking:
      Stick it in the microwave and hope for the best?
      MMR (Mental Map Recall)- A whole new way of Recalling and Journaling your dreams
      Trying out MILD? This is how you become skilled at it.

    11. #11
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      I believe that all of the theories proposed in this thread could be true including the ones in the original post and in the last post before this one can all be true: dreams are complex and contradictory, and should not be limited to one theory, and one needs to consider purpose/function but not all dreams are explainable by one purpose/function, and some are due to chemical processes and neuron firing, and some are due to random images, and some are due to moral conflicts, and some are entertainment and escapism, and some are based on fears or wish fulfillment, and some may be hard to explain by all these theories and may require yet other ones. That's what I think.
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    12. #12
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      Quote Originally Posted by JoannaB View Post
      not all dreams are explainable by one purpose/function, and some are due to chemical processes and neuron firing, and some are due to random images, and some are due to moral conflicts, and some are entertainment and escapism, and some are based on fears or wish fulfillment, and some may be hard to explain by all these theories and may require yet other ones. That's what I think.
      First of all, very good point: I completely forgot to mention that one of the reason I wasn't completely convinced was because there's several arguments that point out for multiple purposes/functions for dreams.

      On the other hand, I think you accidentally mistaken some ideas. Chemical processes and neuron firing relates to the question of "how", not "why"; random images does not explain the purpose of dreams, more like indicates that there is none (don't know if it was your intention to suggest this possibility); moral conflicts is somewhat doubtful, because even babies in the womb, without any morals dream; I don't get how dreams would be a matter of entertainment and escapism.

      I'm deeply interest on those studies where they revealed that dream serves the purpose of memory consolidation (and learning included naturally) and regulation of emotions. They didn't let rats dream. Three questions:

      -The memory/cognitive impairement was due lack of dreaming orjust REM?
      -What else did they find out about people who don't dream?
      - How do we know that certain other results are consequences of lack of sleep and not just a brain mechanism to force the animal to sleep?
      Quote Originally Posted by nito89 View Post
      Quote Originally Posted by zoth00 View Post
      You have to face lucid dreams as cooking:
      Stick it in the microwave and hope for the best?
      MMR (Mental Map Recall)- A whole new way of Recalling and Journaling your dreams
      Trying out MILD? This is how you become skilled at it.

    13. #13
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      Babies in the womb do not dream due to moral conflicts of course. Lol. I often do. What I am trying to say is not that all of these are true all at once and for every dream and for every dreamer. What I was also trying to say is that different dreams may have different causes and different purposes functions, and each dream may have a combination of many causes and functions as well.
      frugalito likes this.

    14. #14
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      zoth00 is rigth. There are two different questions and mixing them could mislead the debate. One question is “What is the nature of dreams?” and the other one is “What is the function/purpose of the act of dreaming?” Even though they are both related, separating them would clarify the debate.

      I think JoannaB has mentioned a key element to understand the function of dreams. If dreams have a function at all, it has to explain why babies dream and why babies dream twice as much as adults (this is a proven fact). All babies in the world, regardless their race or culture, dream that way. It can’t be a coincidence.

      I like the idea suggested by the “Dream Connection Hypothesis” by which babies dream double the time than adults because they need more information. This idea comes from the “tabula rasa debate” which tries to explain why babies all over the world seem to share the same innate knowledge.
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      It was actually zoth00 who first mentioned the babies.

      There is of course also the possibility that babies do dream due to moral conflict after all, come to think of it, if there is a beforelife in addition to an afterlife. That would also explain any babies universal knowledge.

      Though what exactly is it that babies do know all over the world? How to suck from a mother's tit? That could be instinct, we are animals after all. And please don't tell me that the universal knowledge is the fact that right is correct and left is wrong because that's my pet peeve today and I might explode if I hear that one more time today. Ok, maybe I would not actually explode, but I might dream of exploding, which I bet would be extremely uncomfortable.

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      LOL. Innate knowledge is instincts, but also more complex knowledge like smiling to attract people or crying to summit adults, but the thing that intrigue scientist the most is the way babies learn a language (this is why Noam Chomsky is so famous).

      The question is, is this knowledge entangled in the DNA or is it acquired by dreaming?

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      There is of course also the possibility that babies do dream due to moral conflict after all, come to think of it, if there is a beforelife in addition to an afterlife. That would also explain any babies universal knowledge.
      That's a pretty bold thing to say xD beforelife/afterlife hypothesis have their owns problems to be worthy using as an argument to explain why babies dream. What about baby animals, do they also have before/afterlife 0o? Because even animals have morals. Not to mention that an afterlife cannot even stand to "how would you pass your memories?" questions. The dna is clearly not sufficient to answer it.

      I think babies spend more time in REM due having a non completely developed brain. If you think about it, the younger you are, the more you dream, which clearly helps strengthen the case for memory consolidation. I also think this is one of the few observable facts: we have several studies that indicate a worst performance in cognitive tasks when they didn't sleep. And we also have case studies of people who go into these "non sleeping" contests.

      I'm curious to see what happens to those patients who suffer brain damage and can no longer dream, I can't find a freaking article about it, but I remember reading something about it some years ago.
      Quote Originally Posted by nito89 View Post
      Quote Originally Posted by zoth00 View Post
      You have to face lucid dreams as cooking:
      Stick it in the microwave and hope for the best?
      MMR (Mental Map Recall)- A whole new way of Recalling and Journaling your dreams
      Trying out MILD? This is how you become skilled at it.

    18. #18
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      Quote Originally Posted by frugalito View Post
      LOL. Innate knowledge is instincts, but also more complex knowledge like smiling to attract people or crying to summit adults, but the thing that intrigue scientist the most is the way babies learn a language (this is why Noam Chomsky is so famous).

      The question is, is this knowledge entangled in the DNA or is it acquired by dreaming?
      I wonder to what extent smiling to attract people and crying to summon are just learned behaviors which are just universal to all cultures. Babies are very good at learning based on observation. If a baby were brought up in an environment were frowning produced affirming responses, and crying were ignored and did not summon anyone but there was some other behavior that did, I would fully expect that baby to learn to frown and to do whatever it is that attracts and summons adults in that culture. However, since all cultures appear to have settled on smile is positive and crying as means of summoning adult, thus babies all over the world have learned to do this. Crying as means of summoning makes perfect sense because it is also the instinctual response to pain and it is loud and annoying, thus adults have incentive to be summoned. However, I do not know whether there is something about smiling that is attractive per se or whether human beings all over the world have just adopted the convention that smiling is attractive. Anyway smiling is a learned behavior: newborn babies cannot really smile, or at least don't do it as effectively as older babies do. when on first sees a baby really smile one can tell the difference.

      Similarly actually newborn babies only cry because of pain or hunger or wetness, but they do not reason that crying means summoning. That too is a learned behavior. Parents learn to distinguish a "fake" or rather conscious summoning cry as opposed to an instinctive cry. And those summoning ones do not come naturally at first with newborns.

      Anyway, I do not believe that crying and smiling are learned in dreams. Although I am sure dreams reinforce those behaviors, and babies do process memories in dreams which show them that ctlrying and smiling were pretty effective in waking life and this should be continued. Thus in a sense we do learn those behaviors in dreams as well, but I think dreams just reinforce waking experience for this.

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