When in doubt, consult Freud for all your dream questions.
Sigmund Freud captivated the world of psychology with his theory of dream interpretation.
Although science has come a long way with the use of technology to monitor people in REM sleep, in order to track the process of dreaming, we're still left with two major questions about dreaming: Why do we dream and what are our dreams trying to tell us?
With an overview on the subject done by Medical Daily, we can come up with basic answers to help you satisfy your dream curiosity.
If we take a page from Freud, then we all have a basic understanding that dreams are product of keeping our thoughts to ourselves. Followers of Freud strongly uphold the free-association technique, or lying down on a fainting couch while saying the first thing that comes to mind.
However, modern scientists are inclined to believe that dreams "actually don't exist at all." Say what?! Yeah, like Channing Tatum giving me a lap dance didn't seep into my consciousness while sleeping? Come on.
But scientists do have a theory (sigh): the "activation-synthesis hypothesis," which says that "dreams are merely electrical brain impulses that pull random thoughts and imagery from our memories, and humans construct these impulses as dreams when we awake in an effort to make sense of the confusion."
Dreams have been observed as useful indicators of what's on a person's mind. For example, a recent survey from the Dream Education group DreamsCloud found that those with higher levels of education tended to dream more about work-related situations, such as getting a promotion or dreaming about a co-worker, than less educated people.
"We dream about what concerns us most," Dr. Angel Morgan, who headed the study, explained to The Huffington Post. "When you look at education level, what concerns us most is going to be reflected and influenced in our dreams ... It just makes sense."
It's also been shown that "frequent lucid dreamers solve significantly more insight problems overall than non-lucid dreamers," Dr. Patrick Bourke explained. The more you can remember, the better you're able to solve or admit to problems in your waking state.
The vivid images we remember in our dreams can be representations of our personality traits, too. Although dream dictionaries don't always nail it on the head with their definitions, their attempts to provide them is warranted.
Ever dreamed that you killed your boss?
As Medical Daily notes, "According to LiveScience, researchers from Germany's Central Institute of Mental Health [found that] individuals who report dreams in which they commit murder tended to be more introverted, yet also more aggressive, in real life."
Although there are some nay-sayers, the link to the human consciousness and dreams is a fine one worth looking into, especially to help diagnose mental illness.
As Dr. Sander van der Linden, a doctoral researcher in social experimental psychology, wrote, "Dreams seem to help us process emotions by encoding and constructing memories of them. What we see and experience in our dreams might not necessarily be real, but the emotions attached to these experiences certainly are."
Because of dreams, we're able to recall memories of emotions without remembering the actual situation that first produced it. Therefore, we can recall feelings of love and pain without having to remember our jerk of a first love, who later gave us the experience of a broken heart.
No matter the different dream theories, whether fun or complicated, the importance of decoding them remains, and needs to be, in constant conversation.