Dreams are one of the most fascinating mental processes in our behavior, although not in the way we think. Actually, when we dream we live totally surreal experiences , sometimes they are very pleasant, sometimes we have a bad time, sometimes they make sense, sometimes they don’t. But really, do they hide any meaning? Are they trying to tell us something? Is Freud’s theory that dreams are the way in which ideas from the unconscious creep into our consciousness true? We are going to solve all these riddles.
The first idea that we must be clear about is that dreams are not the window to our unconscious, because in truth there is no such unknown dimension of our mind. What we can think of as “the unconscious” is our memory, or the automated learning processes we have, but there are no hidden intentions or desires . Freud brought very interesting questions to psychology, but his theory was not based on any scientific evidence, and it is not really true.
How could a dream convey a message to us?
On the other hand, although we are disappointed by the mystical character that it could have, dreams do not have a meaning. They are not an alert to what is happening around us, nor do they anticipate our future, nor are they supposed hidden desires, as we already said. Let’s imagine the following: it is common to be told that if we dream of lice , for example, it is indicating that someone around us is being false. If we stop to calmly think about the idea, it is assumed that what a person is hiding from us really “gets” into our head by some mechanism , and since we do not realize it, because that makes our brain at night create pictures of lice (or piglets, or stones, or lemons …).
The two ways that this could be two: one, that in a style similar to the character of ‘ Sherlock ‘, there is information in the behavior of people that we do not consciously receive, but that we do perceive. Like subliminal advertising. For example, our fake friend is lying to us, consciously we do not know it, but we unconsciously perceive a gesture or a false look, and that at night becomes a concrete dream. Sorry, but our mind doesn’t work like that. The other possibility is that this type of “hidden knowledge” is transferred through “energies” or any other type of parapsychological element. We feel it again, but that of energies does not exist. In short, dreams do not mean anything, although several people dream the same thing.
On the other hand, there are people who can tell you that dreams are premonitory, but how could a dream predict the future? We would also be entering the field of parapsychology , clairvoyance and all those things that are nothing more than myths and deceptions.
Why do we dream what we dream?
In Bekia Psicología we will dedicate more articles to talk about dreams and how they work, but it is interesting to know, in general, what the process is. When we receive information throughout the day, it is accessing our short-term memory (MCP), and what is less irrelevant is erased from this type of memory, while the important thing would go to long-term memory (MLP), which they are nothing more than processes of sending neurotransmitters and creating connections between neurons to maintain that information. For example, we can memorize a phone number to make a call, but since we do not do something to try to remember it in the future (repeat it several times or apply some mnemonic rule), we will quickly forget about it.
Well, at night, all that information that we have processed throughout the day and that has not been erased, becomes entrenched in our long-term memory . During this processing, the new information is combined with what we already have stored (our memories), and in some way different areas of the brain are involved, which make up a visual image of them. In addition, it happens that during the night some neurotransmitters are stimulated and others are inhibited, so that the areas most related to emotions (we could say that emotion is a great food for memories) are more stimulated, and those related to reasoning or attention, more relaxed.
For this reason, dreams are charged with emotions, regardless of meaning, and despite all the “stories” that are created in dreams seem to have logic while we visualize them, although when we remember them when we wake up they seem totally absurd. What appears in them are recent memories mixed with past memories, even if they are, for example, people with whom we do not have much relationship or have not seen for years. And what happens is that, sometimes, although the content of the dream does not have any kind of emotional connotation by itself , we have highly activated areas of the brain such as the amygdala, which cause us to attribute sadness, fear, or even eroticism to them. They are just physiological mechanisms
Sometimes dreams do indicate that something is wrong
Yes there are some elements of dreams that can tell us something about our state. For example, nightmares are due to the fact that we have gone to bed too stressed , there is something that worries us excessively, we are having a bad time or we simply do not rest well . Other times we dream of some topic that we have very present , such as our exams, work problems, or even a specific person, and that is only because we are very exposed to that stimulus or we think a lot about it and, therefore, we are. processing more frequently.
In short, dreams are fascinating for the mere fact of existing, and their operation is still the object of study from neuropsychology and neurology, but we should not worry about their meaning. Nothing good or bad is going to happen to us because of what we have dreamed of, it has nothing to do with the behavior of others, or with any disease , hidden intentions or anything similar.
If you want to know more about dreams, in Bekia Psicología and we will talk a lot about them. But remember, if you want to know something about sleep health, or dreams as a concept, always go to scientific sources and psychology or health websites or blogs.