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FireMadeFlesh's avatar

Why do people place significance on dreams?

Asked by FireMadeFlesh (16588points) June 20th, 2009
Observing members: 0 Composing members: 0

11 Answers

SirBailey's avatar

Because they’re significant?

Freudian psychologists are interested in a patient’s dreams. Not all psychologists are. Dreams are usually unconscious constructs of thoughts that you had while awake (even fleeting ones that you don’t realize) while you sleep. Some people like to believe, when they dream of a dead person, that the person is deliberately coming to them, to tell them something important. Frequently, people who believe that, have issues with death and dying. Sometimes it’s cultural (as in the dream scene in “Fiddler on the Roof”.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

Because sometimes it’s very hard not too.

wundayatta's avatar

Why do people take any thought seriously? It’s just a thought, after all. Like a dream.

FireMadeFlesh's avatar

@daloon because our thoughts are the most accurate representation of reality our brains are capable of producing. However dreams have no predictive power, as some believe, and are not significant except for the sake of a laugh the next morning.

fireside's avatar

The night after we met, a girl I know had a dream that we would be married.
7.5 weeks until the wedding.

It may not have been a prediction, but it was clearly a thought that has become a reality.

Dreams are thoughts, they just don’t always make sense.
But then, neither do thoughts sometimes…

FireMadeFlesh's avatar

@fireside Congratulations! Maybe the dream became reality because of the significance she placed on it, rather than the dream being significant because it became reality.

fireside's avatar

@FireMadeFlesh – Maybe. She also had another one about my mom hugging her and congratulating her on our engagement. I never even heard about it until after I had proposed.
I’m not going to complain either way.

Thanks! : )

wundayatta's avatar

@FireMadeFlesh Dreams may not have predictive power, but they might be a window onto our emotional state, if we learn to interpret them effectively. Conscious thoughts can be quite misleading in their own right. We are not always aware of everything that is going on inside our thoughts and emotions, and some of us are less perspicacious than others. We are easily mislead by our own minds. Thus, I do not privilege conscious thoughts over dreams, insofar as emotions and wishes are concerned.

I do believe your point is well-taken as far as model-building of the way the awake world works. But that is an external reality, subject to science. Subjective reality is not subject to verification, and can only be interpreted subjectively. I don’t think this means we should discount subjective experience entirely. I think different rules apply to it. It has much more uncertainty, and any meaning from that experience depends upon interpretation and observation and communication skills (observation of self, and communication to self as well as others).

Thoughts are subjective, too, and as such, like dreams, share the same difficulty in interpretation. I don’t think it is a good idea to dismiss them as the subject of humor in such a light way. In any case, people do find them significant, just as they find thoughts significant. We each take our own meaning from thoughts and dreams. Perhaps you find dreams insignificant, but there can be no generalizing about subjective experience. You simply cannot gather evidence to support any such generalizations.

FireMadeFlesh's avatar

@daloon I am somewhat of a science type, so to me subjective measures are simply approximations and generalisations of that which may be objectively measured if appropriate processing power is applied.
I think (and yes, this is a subjective opinion) that eventually we may be able to map the brain to such detail that we can measure emotions and describe them in terms of physical interactions. This is my subjective opinion, but given sufficient time and technology it may be objectively proven correct or incorrect. This does not remove the power of emotions, but gives another level of understanding in terms of their causes and results.
Maybe dreams reflect emotions and ideas, but if so they are almost certainly misinterpreted. This question was sparked by a number of questions on here asking other users to interpret their dreams. I think that is flawed, first because users here don’t understand the person as a person and the significance they place on symbols such as personal phobias etc, and second because the huge variety of answers by differing modes of interpretation make for a good laugh, but provide no conclusive solace for the person. Unless of course they choose one particular answer based on their own bias, in which case they might as well interpret their own dream to mean whatever they want it to, they will not find any answers useful because they are so different.
Of course at this point we could sink into the debate over perception vs. reality, but I don’t think that would be helpful.

wundayatta's avatar

@FireMadeFlesh With respect to your last point, I think this is actually testable. If you interpret the dream, and make guesses about the person’s life and they turn out to be correct more often than chance might suggest, then I think you could have objective evidence that dream are related to to lives in a non-random way. It would be a horrendous measurement problem, so maybe you never could get out of the realm of subjectivity. Although, I suppose you could ask people to rate various interpreters and see if the subjective assessments followed patterns or were also random.

I was talking to a neuro-scientist over the weekend. She was studying something about enzymes that control the flow of calcium into brain cells. This flow has a wide variety of consequences. This is but one of many, many factors that affect brain operation. In the end, she was very doubtful that there ever could be a decent model of the brain that takes into account enough factors to make useful predictions, much less to measure emotions. I think there’s just too much complexity to ever be able to understand the brain and it’s relation to human behavior in more than a subjective way.

LuhvKiller's avatar

Because some dreams are wishes that the heart makes.

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