• Lucid Dreaming - Dream Views

    Where do dreams come from, and what do they mean? This question has been pondered for over 5,000 years, and still we don’t accurately know what purpose dreams serve or where in the brain they originate. Theories range from the mundane (processing the day’s memories) to the evolutionary (mental training for dealing with dangerous situations) and quite a few ideas in between. Studying dream formation and the contributing factors that make dreams possible can give us a better understanding of the entire process, and can particularly aid us with our efforts to Lucid Dream.

    This document lists some of the principal theorists who worked to establish the most fundamental ideas we have on the subject of dreaming and their theories. Following that is a section on what makes dreams flow and where the visuals come from. We will explore the emotional components of many dreams and what makes them so powerful, followed by how this all ties in to Lucid Dreaming.

    Current theories on dream formation and meaning have been influenced by several key scientists and psychologists. The majority of people in the world are familiar with at least one of the names on this list.

    Hippocrates - Hippocrates (469-399 BC) had a simple dream theory: during the day, the soul receives images; during the night, it produces images.

    Sigmund Freud - Psychotherapist Sigmund Freud developed a theory that the content of dreams is driven by unconscious wish fulfillment. He argued that important unconscious desires often relate to early childhood memories and experiences.

    Carl Jung - He described dreams as messages to the dreamer and argued that dreamers should pay attention for their own good. He came to believe that dreams present the dreamer with revelations that can uncover and help to resolve emotional or religious problems and fears. Jung wrote that recurring dreams show up repeatedly to demand attention, suggesting that the dreamer is neglecting an issue related to the dream. Jung believed that memories formed throughout the day also play a role in dreaming. Jung called this a day residue.

    Frederik (Willem) van Eeden - A lucid dream is any dream in which one is aware that one is dreaming. The term was coined by the Dutch psychiatrist and writer Frederik (Willem) van Eeden (1860–1932).

    Calvin S. Hall - From the 1940s to 1985, Calvin S. Hall collected more than 50,000 dream reports at Western Reserve University. It was found that people all over the world dream of mostly the same things. The Hall data analysis shows that sexual dreams occur no more than 10% of the time and are more prevalent in young to mid-teens.

    Allan Hobson - In 1976 J. Allan Hobson and Robert McCarley proposed a new theory that changed dream research, challenging the previously held Freudian view of dreams as unconscious wishes to be interpreted. They assume that the same structures that induce REM sleep also generate sensory information.

    Stephen LaBerge - Stephen LaBerge (born 1947) is a psychophysiologist and a leader in the scientific study of lucid dreaming. He developed techniques to enable himself and other researchers to enter a lucid dream state at will, most notably the MILD technique (mnemonic induction of lucid dreams), which was necessary for many forms of dream experimentation. In 1987, he founded The Lucidity Institute, an organization that promotes research into lucid dreaming, as well as running courses for the general public on how to achieve a lucid dream.

    Antti Revonsuo - Finnish psychologist Antti Revonsuo posits that dreams have evolved for "threat simulation" exclusively. According to the Threat Simulation Theory he proposes, during much of human evolution physical and interpersonal threats were serious, giving reproductive advantage to those who survived them. Therefore dreaming evolved to replicate these threats and continually practice dealing with them.

    Dreams are filled with visuals of all kinds, and the way these stories unfold is what truly makes dreams interesting. Scenes change moment to moment, and often with bizarre outcomes and confusing images. The theories on what causes this to occur are as varied as the images we experience.

    The majority of dream images will be influenced by our daily activities, the places we go and the sights we encounter. In many cases we will revisit recent events such as our activities from the last one to seven days. Other times our dreams may not seem familiar at all and this can be caused by anything from the relationships our mind creates to when we last ate food. But what makes this happen?

    The answer depends on who you ask:

    • An evolutionary psychologist will tell you that “dreams serve some adaptive function for survival.” Dreams are a way to mentally train us to handle dangerous situations, a practice game allowing us to better function in real-life situations. This is called the Threat-Simulation Theory.
    Deirdre Barrett describes dreaming as simply "thinking in different biochemical state" and believes people continue to work on all the same problems—personal and objective—in that state. Her research finds that anything—math, musical composition, business dilemmas—may get solved during dreaming.
    Fritz Perls, a German-born psychiatrist, felt that dreams represent aspects of ourselves that have been suppressed or ignored.
    Jie Zhang suggested that the function of sleep is to process, encode and transfer the data from the temporary memory to the long-term memory. He further suggested that there are two types of dreams. The type I dream, a thought-like dream, is the result of the memory replay when the conscious memory is transferred from the temporary memory to the long-term memory during NREM sleep. The type II dream, a more dream-like dream, mainly occurs when the unconscious memory is transferred from the temporary memory to the long-term memory during REM sleep. Continual-activation theory hypothesizes that both conscious and non-conscious subsidiary systems of working memory have to be continually activated to maintain proper brain functioning. When the level of activation of either subsidiary system descends to a certain threshold, the continual-activation mechanism in the brain will be triggered to generate a data stream from the memory stores to flow through the subsidiary system in order to maintain brain continual activation.

    In many cases the images we perceive seem to be the result of associations made in the mind while we are awake, resulting in a natural flow from one scene to the next.

    For example, if we were told to imagine a birthday party we might associate with it images of cake, candles, presents, friends, streamers and balloons. We might also associate singing, drinking, loud music, sweet tastes and the smell of smoke. In this same manner, if we were to dream about a birthday party these natural associations might also be present.

    In some instances the images in our dreams are seemingly unrelated and disconnected, usually resulting in odd transitions from one scene to another. This can result from extended associations made both during our waking periods and while we sleep.

    Going back to the birthday party example, suppose we associate candles with the scene. Our mind can sometimes make several jumps in the associated images so that we experience sudden transitions in dream imagery. In such an instance the image-flow would be like this: Candles >smoke>outdoor cooking>camping>the woods and suddenly our dream transitions from a birthday party to a forest.

    Our mind will make these associations automatically, and often very quickly, without any effort on our part. These associations are strongest in our waking life when an odor component is present, so that any visual associated to a smell can be very influential in both our waking life and our dreams.

    What makes a dream truly memorable? Despite what you may encounter on DreamViews or other places where people record their dreams, nearly 95% of all dreams are not remembered. The typical person has 5 to 7 dreams per night over the course of NREM and REM sleep, but because the chemicals that convert memories to long-term storage are suppressed during sleep we rarely remember dreaming at all. Usually a dream has to be quite vivid or emotionally charged for us to have decent recall of it.

    When questioned for dream research the majority of people do not report emotional content in their dreams. Even many lucid dreams are devoid of an emotional subtext.

    When people do report emotional content, negative emotions are much more present in dreams than positive ones, with anxiety topping the list. This doesn’t mean we have more negative dreams than positive ones; we simply are more likely to recall the dreams that have a strong emotional impact on us, and these are most often negative.

    Anxiety - Anxious dreams typically consist of embarrassing situations, incomplete tasks, feelings of falling or being chased. Bathroom insecurities or dreams of urination are common, as is public nudity. The established thought is these dreams are manifestations of unresolved emotional conflicts from our daily life and should be explored to find out what causes anxiety during our wakeful periods. Psychologists believe anxiety dreams can help us resolve issues that bother us if we examine them and figure out why they upset us in the first place.

    Sex and Lust - Despite our memory of many sexual dreams those of a sexual nature comprise only about 10% of our dreams, and are more common in teenagers. Considering the nature of surprise sex and how we feel about it normally, it’s no surprise that these dreams are memorable. Dreams of this nature can easily have attached anxiety or suddenly devolve into something entirely unrelated. Like real life, sex in dreams tends to be elusive by nature.

    Nightmares and Fear - Nightmares are typically characterized by sensations of danger and physical terror. Slow motion, confusion, despair and sadness can all be components of a nightmare. One of the prime triggers of nightmares is late-night snacking before bed. Such snacking raises the body’s metabolism and signals the brain to be more active. Nightmares can also be triggered by taking illegal drugs, withdrawal from drugs and medications, sleep deprivation, and psychological issues such as PTSD. Treatment for nightmares can range from eliminating stress and getting more exercise to imagery rehearsal where an individual practices a new outcome for their dreams while awake. If nightmares persist or cause interruption to daily life you are advised to consult a doctor.

    Night Terrors - Often confused with nightmares, night terrors are dream-like experiences of horror and fear occurring during the 3rd or 4th stage of NREM sleep. They are most common in children and often disappear during adolescence. They often occur when someone is overtired and lacking a proper sleep schedule.

    Lucid dreaming is a term coined by Dutch psychiatrist Frederik (Willem) van Eeden in his 1913 article “A Study of Dreams.” His insights weren’t highly regarded at the time but scientific studies have confirmed the legitimacy of lucid dreaming, sometimes called “conscious dreaming.”

    When we have a lucid dream we become aware of the dream state, and in many cases a dreamer can exert control over the dream environment and action. Most often this provides a unique form of entertainment and acts as a device to explore the dream world. A 2006 study showed it can also be used as therapy for dealing with anxiety and nightmares. People who experience chronic issues with negative dreams have found relief using the techniques of lucid dreaming.

    Many of the associations we make in a dream seem confusing and unrelated, but using the techniques of lucid dreaming can help us associate positive actions or directed goals with the visuals we experience in our dreams. This can be both a source of amusement and a positive treatment for handling all manner of real-life issues.

    Please explore the tutorials on this web site. They can help you learn the techniques used for lucid dreaming.

    DV Tutorials - Lucid Dreaming - Dream Views

    top of page


    Posting Permissions

    Posting Permissions
    • You may not create new articles
    • You may not edit articles
    • You may not protect articles
    • You may not post comments
    • You may not post attachments
    • You may not edit your comments