Dream interpretation, dream catcher, premonitory dream, bad dream, lucid dream, remembering dreams, unfulfilled dreams… Do these expressions all mean the same dream? It is not easy to define dreams.
WHAT CAN WE SAY ABOUT THE FIRST DEFINITION?
In the etymological sense, to dream means to ramble and to delirium. On the other hand, Hippocrates, the father of medicine, translates dreams as a reflection of the state of the body. A beautiful dream would mean good health. If not, one should look for the presence of a disease. Nowadays, this word has been transformed into a mental experience lived during sleep that can be memorized and recounted upon waking. Scientists define it as a hallucination in a dreamlike state, different from delirium which is in the waking state. This hallucination is mostly visual and auditory in nature. It is a kind of action scene where the dreamer takes the main role or spectator. In the dream, the person is partially aware of his or her actions but is not aware that he or she is sleeping. According to several researchers, dreams are created during all stages of sleep, whether in the so-called paradoxical phase, during slow wave sleep or at the time of waking. This mental activity during sleep is due to the cyclic activation and inactivation of brain regions.
When it comes to dreams, psychoanalysis is a must. The renowned Sigmund Freud sees it as the fulfillment of repressed desire. Freud reveals that the dream leads to the knowledge of the unconscious. The latter must mask its content with strange elements and incoherent developments in order not to be censored by the conscious. As soon as this content is detected, fear or anguish arises, which is why the individual wakes up. Interpreting one’s dreams would be an awareness of repressed desires that challenges the dreamer. He must then decide whether to act to achieve his wish or to repress it again. Carl Jung sees this dream state as a means of restoring the balance of the psyche. His analytical psychology maintains that dreams are forms of regularization in the development of the personality. Taking an anxious personality, dreams help him to face an unpleasant or difficult situation. Dreams allow others to be inspired to invent and create. Examples that prove this inspiration are the novels of famous authors or the paintings of famous artists.
CONCERNING THE BELIEFS OF CIVILIZATIONS
According to their form, the dream is inspired by reality. Either it is modelled on a past event or one that is going to happen in the near future. Or it manifests itself just when an external stimulus occurs. It can be repeated with a more or less similar content and can disturb the dreamer. This disturbance leads to questions whose answers may be of mystical origin according to certain beliefs. The term “premonitory dreams” gives the individuals who dream them the status of prophets. In some cultures, dreams are used to communicate with the supernatural. In shamanic lore, they are believed to be a kind of doorway for the soul to wander outside the body. Here, dream catchers are used to keep evil spirits away from dreams.
But for most people, dreaming is just creating a movie while you sleep. It is also the expression of a deep desire or a goal to be achieved later when circumstances allow. Hope and illusion can also define it, as in “you can always dream”.