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Dreams: Real or Not?

Updated on August 12, 2014
“People think dreams aren't real just because they aren't made of matter, of particles. Dreams are real. But they are made of viewpoints, of images, of memories and puns and lost hopes.” ― Neil Gaiman, Sandman
“People think dreams aren't real just because they aren't made of matter, of particles. Dreams are real. But they are made of viewpoints, of images, of memories and puns and lost hopes.” ― Neil Gaiman, Sandman

Why do we dream?

Dream as all of us experienced it, occurs uncontrollably during our sleep. It can appear as vivid or dull images, feelings, patterns or vibes on our unconscious mind. Scientifically speaking though, it is connected to rapid eye movement (REM) sleep during which there's a movement or motion happening in the brain (can be seen using electroencephalogram).

Up until now, there is no proper explanation or answer on why we dream. Scientist, psychologists, researchers and other professionals studying metaphysics can only provide theories or speculations on the reasons behind dreaming.

As time goes by, there has been changes about the context of dream. It also varies depending on the culture we are in. With all these aspects mixed together, we form different beliefs on the origin of our dreams.

Theories on Dreaming

19th century famous psychologist Sigmund Freud speculated that each dreams are an effigy of our inert wishes. He emphasized that the thing we dreamed about is a representation of our unconscious aspiration associated with our past experiences and childhood memories. He described dream as similar to that of the poems we create to ourselves containing the inner wishes we want to be real.

On the other hand, Carl Jung, a Swiss psychotherapist disagreed on Freud's theories. He explained that dreams are simply messages for the dreamer with hidden meaning on it. This "meaning" could be answers or solutions on how to overcome our fears or predicaments. He believed that a peek of the past shows up in the form of a dream in order for our inanimate psyche to take action on it.

In a more recent time, Francis Crick, an English molecular biologist, biophysicist and neuroscientist who's known as the co-discoverer for the structure of DNA and Graeme Mitchison had thrown a theory in 1983 regarding dreams as a reverse learning. In this theory, they compared the dreaming process to a computer which is currently off-line during the REM stage of sleep.

At this stage, our brain analyzes the data or information (events) that happened throughout the day, scanning the vital parts of that information and eliminating the not so important ones. This theory became the Crick-Mitchison reverse learning model. In this model, it shows us that we dream in order to obliterate things we don't want to remember. In short, we are trying to unlearn things, hence it is called "reverse learning."

Do you think dreams are real or not?

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Does dreams reveal the future?

If you will search the internet, there are many accounts of people telling that their dream came true. One example is the dream that American novelist Mark Twain had about the death of his little brother Henry before the tragic event did happen in exactly how he had dreamed it.

It is also said that Abraham Lincoln sort-of predicted his own death when he dreamed about a funeral at the Whtie House two weeks before he was assassinated. However dream about death is not the only ones that came true.

The invention of the sewing machine happened to be because of a dream that Elias Howe had in 1845. This dream, unlike the two mentioned earlier, appeared to him in a form of a gruesome nightmare. In that dream, Elias was seized by cannibals. In order for him to escape death, he was forced by his abductors to create a sewing machine if he don't want to meet his death. Since in real life he wasn't able to figure out how to finish this invention, he was stabbed by spears by this bloodthirsty people.

Rather than screaming, he observed that the spears (which is being stabbed at him) have a hole at the tip. He noticed that as he is getting pierced by these spears, it's getting in and out of his flesh which leads to his idea that all he need to do is to put a hole at the tip of the sewing machine's needle. That's how the sewing machine was invented.

The most recent one that I could find was the dream that Beatles' Paul McCartney had that became a huge success. This was his composition of the song "Yesterday." The singer-songwriter said that he had woken up with this tune in his head. Since the piano stood near him, he sat and started playing the song. After that, the popular song was created.

Real vs. Not

Based on my own experience, I won't say that dreams are real nor is it true. I'd rather say that dreams are right in the middle of what's real and not. I have dreams that came true (exactly as how it happened in the dream) and there are dreams that didn't come true (mostly my fantasies about my celebrity crushes). Science and Religion couldn't explain it for us but we have a choice of what to believe in.

There are dreams that reflects our anxieties, worries, wishes and etc. It can either make us happy, sad or angry as soon as we wake up. It brings out emotions and sensations to the point that it bothers us the rest of the day.

Whether you think dreams are real or not, we should just live in the best way we can. Let's not make our dreams a hindrance on our decision-making. Sure, it will affect us at some point, but it shouldn't stop you from living your life because we still live in the world called reality.


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