Diving Into Dreams

Everyone in the world dreams, no matter what race, creed, or color, it is part of being human. Sometimes people won’t remember their dreams, but they still dreamt. A dream is a succession of thoughts, images, sounds or emotions which the mind experiences during sleep. “Even though dreams are events are imaginary, but they are related to real experiences in the dreamer’s life,” (Encycl. 347). Dreams are not fully understood; today scientists aren’t sure what truly causes dreams but people aren’t going to give up until they do. Dreaming has been a topic of speculation and interest throughout history.

People have created many theories and beliefs of what dreams are. Dreams have been classified in many different ways: Ancient dream theories, early interpretations, and modern dreams theories. Since the dawn of man humans have dreamed making dreaming an ancient occurrence. “Dreams have influenced mighty kings and given insights to world-changing scientists; inspiring gifted artists,” (Understand 1). Ancient peoples from the Mesopotamians/Sumerians, a great thriving culture 5000 years ago, to the ancient Greeks have had ideas and opinions about dream meanings.

“In this epic poem – one of the earliest known classical stories – Gilgamesh reported his recurring dreams to his goddess-mother Ninsun, who made the first recorded dream interpretation,” (Understand 2). This was found on clay tablets and it was an important discovery for dream study. The ancient Hebrews believed dreams were connected with God. In the Bible great leaders were visited by God through their dreams. “The Talmud, which was written between 200 and 500 AD, includes over two hundred references to dreams,” (Understand 3). They believe that people’s dreams are like unopened letters.

The Ancient Egyptians also believed that their gods would talk to them through dreams. “Serapis, the Egyptian god of dreams, had temples in which dream incubation occurred. Before going to these temples, dreamers would fast, pray and draw to help ensure enlightening dreams,” (Understand 4). On the other hand, the Chinese considered that their dreams would guide them. They even called the soul the hun and it would leave the body and talk to the dead. “The practice of dream incubation was at least as important to the Greeks as it was among Mesopotamians, Egyptians, and Chinese,” (Understand 5).

They all shared a belief that they would leave their body or that the gods would visit humans through them. Then, during the Middle Ages, people believed dreams were a gateway to God. The conflict with dreams during that time was if a demon sent you a bad dream, you had fallen off the path to God. Dreams will always occur, making them a part of human life. Dreams can be theorized and explained in many different ways. Today people can find out the symbolism of their dreams and analyze their own dreams as well. There are even resources available to interpret the underlying meanings of one’s dream.

People can understand what acts, animals, and even colors mean in a dream and how they affect the dreamer. This is all possible through thousands of years of research and trial and error. The civilization that was the closest to the path of modern dream interpretation was the ancient Greeks. Three great philosophers/scholars that were starting to lead into dream theories were Hippocrates, Aristotle, and Artemidorus. Hippocrates is mostly known as “The Father of Medicine. ” He created the Hippocratic Oath, which is used widely in the medical field.

He believed that in the daytime the soul got images, and then at night it created other images making us dream. Aristotle didn’t believe that dreams were from divine beings. He actually thought that dreams are effects around people and then it affects the human body creating a dream. Artemidorus wrote five books explaining his dream theories. He was rational about dreams and ahead of his time. He put dreams into two categories: somnium and insomnium. “Somnium dreams could for tell the future and insomnium dreams dealt with body and mind factors,” (insomnium 1).

Artemidorus even came up with a guide dream interpreters should know. First, what images are natural and customary for the dreamer? Second, what are the circumstances during the time of the dream? Finally, what is the dreamer’s personality and occupation? Thousands of years later, Sigmund Freud started working on dream theories and interpretations. Early interpretations of dreams were explained different ways. The theories of dreaming have developed and evolved greatly since ancient times. Dreams were not considered divine or demonic anymore. Scientist started to look at dreams with a scientific view.

A modern pioneer in the dream field was Sigmund Freud. He categorized dreams into manifest and latent. “Manifest (superficial) content, he believed, had no significance because it was a mask for underlying (unconscious) issues of the dream. He believed the latent content contained unconscious wishes or fantasies. He also postulated that dreams originated either from the id or the ego,” (Intro. 1). He viewed dreams as a way to understand the unconscious mind. Even though Freud’s work and theories used bias and were flawed, he opened up a door that other scientists could walk through.

He inspired others to follow in the psychological field and develop/evolve interpretations. A Swiss psychiatrist named Carl Jung was fascinated by Freud’s ideas. He wanted to pay more attention to symbols in dreams. He thought understanding what specific symbols in dreams meant would make a bigger difference overall. Other scientist focused on the whole dream, but Jung truly helped make understanding symbols possible. “Even though these theories have been criticized, most psychologists and psychiatrists still consider dreams to be psychologically meaningful,” (encycl. 348).

Another theory that psychoanalysts, and neuroscientists believe in is that the brain controls dreams. “Hobson & McCarley’s activation-synthesis theory was the first neuropsychological theory of dreaming that strongly criticized Freud,” (Hob. /McCar. 1), this theory states that dreams caused by stimuli in the REM stage of sleep. R. E. M. stands for Rapid Eye Movement. This is the stage of deep sleep where the stimuli help create dreams from stored memories and images. “The eyes move rapidly as if the person were watching a series of events, like a movie,” (Encycl. 347).

The stimuli that are needed are stored in the brainstem and then the images reach the visual cortex. “Therefore, dreams are generated in the brainstem without any meaning, reflecting clearly the brain activity,” (Hob. / McCar. 2). This helped advance subject and symbol analysis toward modern dream understanding. Dreaming is a part of human nature and as long as man has been around so have dreams. Looking up the research about the dream concepts and theories was interesting. It made me realize that ancient history will always be a part of humans. The interpretations were so advanced for ancient times, it was astounding.

Over hundreds of thousands of years, theories have evolved and adapted. It is truly amazing how far science and research have come along. Considering the fact that the human race is fairly young, it is an amazing accomplishment. Just the fact that people wanted to know the truth about dreams and how they are created is amazing. The key to our future and present is remembering our past and learning from it. Through this process, humans will leap even farther into the history of our dreams. Citations Bixler, Gail. “Understanding Dreams”. Perspectives on ancient dreams.

March 20, 2010 <http://www. ondreaming. com/theories/index. htm>. Leigh, Susan. “Understanding your dreams”. Ezine Articles. March 20, 2010 <http://ezinearticles. com/? Understanding-Your-Dreams—What-They-Are-Trying-to-Say-and-Do-For-You&id=3628343>. N. A. “Dream Moods: What’s in your Dreams”. Dream Moods. March 20, 2010 <http://www. dreammoods. com/dreamdictionary/>. N. A, Gerard. “Myths-Dreams-Symbols”. Understanding Dreams. March 20, 2010 <http://www. mythsdreamssymbols. com/whataredreams. html>. Registrada, Marca. D Volume 5. 26 vols. United States of America: World Book, Inc. , 1990.

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