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Alicia Volpe Beautiful question Philosophy 103, Spring ‘13 4/25/13.

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Presentation on theme: "Alicia Volpe Beautiful question Philosophy 103, Spring ‘13 4/25/13."— Presentation transcript:

1 Alicia Volpe Beautiful question Philosophy 103, Spring ‘13 4/25/13

2 What is my Question? Why do we dream? Does dreaming reflect our biggest wants, needs, desires, and fears, or are they chemical reactions in our brain, making our imaginations run wild?

3 Why Did I choose this? I chose this question because for years, I have constantly wondered what my dreams meant. Dreams have always fascinated me and interested me on many different levels, so I decided it was time to do some research. Every time I awake from a deep sleep, I open my eyes and think to myself, what was that? Why did I dream that. What does that dream mean? Why am I dreaming what I am dreaming. What is causing me to dream? What is happening in my brain!? SO MANY UNANSWERED QUESTIONS! This question also intrigues me because when I told people I was asking this question for a project, they responded back to me “Yeah, why do we dream?”, “That is so interesting, I’ve always wanted to know what dreams are”, “Oh my gosh when you find out can you tell me!?”

4 My theory Personally, I think dreams are images in our mind that our brain creates. Whether we have seen it during the day, whether we have a desire for those things, or whether those thoughts are bouncing around in our subconscious. I think it is a mixture of things, that dreams are a reflection of our biggest wants and desires, and chemical reactions connecting/clashing neurons in our brain. There is one recurrent dream that I keep having because it is a big want for me and I think it is my subconscious coming to life at night. When you sleep, you don’t have to think, you don’t judge yourself for thinking your true thoughts, you just imagine. Imagination is is fun as well. In your dreams you can imagine a better life, a lover, a new car, an A on a test or anything else that may or may not be possible. With that said, sometimes dreams can be lucid and you can control what goes on. I have yet to have a lucid dream, but sometimes when I think really hard about one subject I am able to dream about it in some sort of context. Or the night before a big exam, the material on that exam is all I can think about, so I end up dreaming about it. Whether it is psychology or maternity, I see the vocabulary words, I see myself taking the exam. Either failing which is a fear/nightmare, or succeeding, and getting an A, giving myself confidence for the next day to come.

5 Can you define a dream? A Dream is a "succession of images, thoughts, or emotions passing through the mind during sleep”

6 Define Lucid Dream Lucid dreaming means you have the ability to control your own dreams and steer them toward the direction you want. If you want to fly you fly where ever you want, if you want to see George Clooney, he’s there because you are controlling the dream (like in the movie Inception). Here is a youtube video showing you how to lucid dream llw717IARpQ llw717IARpQ

7 Potential Professional Answers 1: Biological factors in the brain that cause dreams via chemicals, neurons, and more. Here are some theories supporting a biological approach to dreaming… Activation synthesis theory: this theory believes that “Circuits in the brain become activated during REM sleep, which causes areas of the limbic system involved in emotions, sensations and memories, including the amygdala and hippocampus, to become active. The brain synthesizes and interprets this internal activity and attempts to find meaning in these signals, which results in dreaming.” External theory: “Dreams are the result of our brains trying to interpret external stimuli during sleep.” For example if you fall asleep to the sound of rain hitting the window, you could potentially dream of something related to water. Stress theory: In recent studies, researchers have found that when a patient is sleeping and they are hooked up to a electroencephalogram, certain electrical brain activity occurs. This brain activity occurs during the REM cycle, and the brain turns off the chemicals linked to stress. Thus dreaming is a chemical reaction decreasing stress while you sleep. Storage theory: while dreaming your brain is sorting through the information you learned that day, storing useful information to long term memory and getting rid of the useless information you won’t need or that can’t be stored. This reorganizing and “filing” projects images in your brain while you sleep, thus causing dreams.

8 REM What is REM? REM means Rapid Eye Movement (when you sleep) REM sleep is the time in sleep when we dream the most. “In REM sleep, the brain fires in similar ways as it does when it's specifically threatened for survival. In addition to that, the part of the brain that practices motor activity (running, punching) fires increasingly during REM sleep, even though the limbs are still.” When a person is In REM sleep and awoken it is most likely that they will remember their dream in full detail. Studies have shown that decreased or disrupted REM sleep can lead to decreased concentration, decreased memory of learned material during the previous day, increased irritability, and of course, no dreams. REM sleep may help us work through difficult events in our lives as well.


10 Potential professional answers continued… Psychological factors: When dreams are caused by your subconscious and have nothing to do with the “mechanics” of the brain. Philosopher Freud believed that dreams are caused by “our unconscious desires, repressed fantasies, and/or are coded messages.” Researchers believe dreams enable the dreamer to make connections between different thoughts and emotions in a safe environment as a form of therapy and mental release. Some also believe that “we dream in order to rehearse behaviors of self-defense in the safety of nighttime isolation. In turn, get better at fight-or-flight in the real world.”


12 More theories “Hobson does not believe that dreams are meaningless. Instead, he suggests that dreaming is ‘our most creative conscious state, one in which the chaotic, spontaneous recombination of cognitive elements produces novel configurations of information: new ideas. While many or even most of these ideas may be nonsensical, if even a few of its fanciful products are truly useful, our dream time will not have been wasted.’”

13 Please watch! U U ndscreen&v=iZ_SnRJwkNg (Discovery channel (This ones the best)) ndscreen&v=iZ_SnRJwkNg Here are some videos I found on youtube that describe what dreams are in a more clear context.

14 A little of Both So like the videos say, “Your mind is trying to organize things that happened during the day and you are able to see and experience them over again while you sleep.” The videos also stated that dreams are our subconscious’s way of dealing with our fears and anxiety. We have nightmares with aggressive environments to emotionally prepare us for the real world. If we can handle them in our sleep we can handle them while we are alert.

15 Dream interpretation Oneirology: the science of dreams and their interpretation. Researchers do not yet understand the purpose of dreams but they are working on it! “Some researchers suggest that dreams serve no real purpose, while others believe that dreaming is essential to mental, emotional and physical well- being.” Philosophical views on what dreams mean: Freud- dreams are wishful thinking Jung- believes that dreams reveal both the personal and collective unconscious. He thinks they serve to compensate parts of the psyche that are underdeveloped in waking life. Hall- proposed that dreams are part of a cognitive process in which they serve as ‘conceptions’ of elements in our personal lives. " Dream interpretation is not to understand the dream, however, but to understand the dreamer.”- Hall

16 Interpret your Dream! Take a minute and look at this site, you type in a theme of one of your recurrent dreams and it tells you what the meaning is behind that dream

17 Which theory do I chose? Like I said earlier, I think there is not one reason as to why we dream. I believe in both a biological and a psychological approach. I dream about things I want but then again I have dreams about things that make no sense and that are completely random. Those random dreams, I believe, come from my brain recognizing what I saw that day and trying to organize them in some sort of way to either memory or trash.

18 Why I chose both theories I chose both a biological and a psychological approach as to why we dream because I don’t think you can have one with out the other. If I see a car that I really want and it shows up in my dream, then that proves that my desire for that car is on my subconscious. Also, if I dream about that car because I saw it earlier in the day, then my brain is trying to organize this memory into a long term memory or trash. I believe my brain is trying to place it somewhere in the millions of storage files that I have, but while doing that images project during REM sleep, thus causing my dream of that car.

19 My Research In my research for this topic of why we dream, and what do dreams mean, I kept a sleep journal for one week. I wanted to see if what I saw during the day came back to me in my sleep. I wanted to see if my dreams were random or if they had an emotional meaning I wanted to see how well I could recollect my dreams Also, I wanted to look up what the interpretation was for different or recurring dreams on an online dream analyzer.

20 Dream Journal Night 1: I dreamt I was in Hawaii on vacation with my family. I was in the ocean playing football with Patriots player Ty Law when all of the sudden the beach went quiet. I didn’t understand what was going on until I looked up. Up in the sky was hundreds of Japanese airplanes. Then they started to fire, shooting down on us. My family and I ran into the hotel, and then I woke up in a panic. Analysis: I had no idea what had triggered such a terrifying dream, but it could be related to the psychological theory of my subconscious rehearsing behaviors of self-defense in the safety of nighttime isolation, making me better at a fight- or-flight type of situation in the real world The online dream interpreter says the meaning behind my dream of being attacked is my way of telling myself that my “character is being questioned. I feel the need to defend myself. I am feeling stressed, vulnerable and helpless. I may also be facing difficult changes in my waking life. Dreaming of an attack provides a way for me to confront these situations that I may be avoiding in real life.” Maybe this dream was caused by my stress of school work or maybe I was replaying the movie “Pearl Harbor” while I slept.

21 Dream Journal Night 2: I am on the beach in my home town and I see this boy that I like, but there are two of him. One is close by relaxing in the sun and the other is drinking by the rocks further down the beach. Both versions of the same guy are telling me to come to where they were, but I chose the closer one sitting on his towel. Then my roommate comes over too and sits next to this boy and I get very jealous and awaken. Analysis: There are so many themes going on in this dream. This dream had emotional meaning to be because in the dream I had strong feelings for this boy. I also had strong jealousy feelings that felt so real when I awoken. There is also a recurrent theme of the beach, possibly hinting at my desire for summer and school to end. Also, why were there two of him? Did it have to do with good vs. bad? Online analyzer: “To dream that you are on the beach and looking out toward the ocean indicates unknown and major changes that are occurring in your life.” Maybe the unknown of this summer, the unknown of my relationship with this boy, and the emotional connection I had with this topic made me dream this. This dream supported a more Psychological approach to why I dreamt it.

22 Dream Journal Night 3:Again, I dreamt of being in my home town and I am walking around with this girl who use to be my best friend in middle school. The twist is that everything is flooded. The beach is destroyed, streets are flooded and so are the stores. But there we are, walking around in knee high water taking pictures. But I can’t remember how it ends. Analysis: This dream was again, so random to me, but I am pretty sure I saw on my facebook newsfeed that she uploaded a new picture. So maybe this is both a psychological reason as to why I dreamt about her and my town, I was probably making connections between different thoughts and emotions of how we use to be friends. Or it is a random biological approach, storing information in my brain, opening up one of my many saved files, and projecting images during REM sleep. The dream analyzer suggests that the flood represents “desire to wipe everything clean and make a fresh new start.” maybe I want to make a fresh new start with this girl and reboot our friendship. Also to dream of an ex-friend “suggests that an object or a recent incident has subconsciously reminded you of him or her. Alternatively, the ex-friend represents a lesson you learned from the falling out. You need to apply that lesson to a current issue, problem or relationship."

23 Dream Journal Night 4: This was an odd night, I had a variety of dreams; I dreamt I was in Africa observing tigers. Then I dreamt of sledding down a hill. I proceeded to dream about losing my coat. Analysis: I woke up confused. I had no idea what was going on and why all those things appeared in my head. I don’t think I desired to see tigers, sled or lose my coat, so this night was a more biologically supported dream night. The cause of this dream was probably stimulated by certain things I saw or heard during the day and my brain was just trying to make sense of it all as I slept. Dream analyzer: “the tiger represents female sexuality, aggression, and seduction” in regards to the coat “too dream that you lose something indicates that you may really have misplaced something that you had not realized yet.” and lastly in regards to the sled “To dream that you are sledding represents your fun-loving personality and open-minded perspectives on life” All very different and unrelated topics that could have been stimulated by simple brain organization.

24 Dream Journal Night 5:I had a short dream that I was out on a boat with my former best friends who I no longer talk to and the waters were rough and scary. Analysis: as soon as I woke up I thought, my relationship with those girls is rough just like that ocean water. I couldn’t remember the whole dream, but it seemed clear to me that I dreamt this because my relationship with my old friends is always on my mind. Seeing them everyday is a constant reminder. Maybe my psychological desire to be close with them again stimulated the dream or maybe during REM sleep, which causes areas of the limbic system involved in emotions, sensations and memories, sparked the dream after seeing them in class. Dream analyzer: “If the ocean is rough, then the dream represents some emotional turmoil. You are doing your best to handle life's ups and downs."

25 Dream Journal Night 6: This was a long one; I dreamt I was living in the old apartment building I use to live in as a kid, only it was much bigger. My older brother was throwing a party there and he wouldn’t let me go to the party. But I went anyway and it was huge, there were people everywhere. In my dream I caught my little brother smoking marijuana and then the party got out of control. Analysis: Personally, the cause to this dream was obvious to me because that night I was suppose to go to the bar with my brother and he refused to bring me. He did not want me going out with him and his friends in real life. This probably emotionally upset me and triggered me to dream about going out with him and his friends. This supports the psychological and biological theories. I desired to go out that night but got denied, and my brain was probably trying to process why that happened as I slept Dream analyzer: “To dream that you are at a party suggests that you need to get out more and enjoy yourself.” In real life I obeyed my brother and stayed home but in the dream I disobeyed and went to the party and disobedience means “that you are going against your conscience. You know what the right thing to do is, but still refuse to follow what is right. As a result, you are experiencing much inner turmoil. The dream points to a rebellious attitude."

26 Dream Journal Night 7: I had a dream that I was on the Quad at URI and a guy came up to me and asked me out, he became my boyfriend and did everything for me. Then I became bored of him and left him” Analysis: This could have stemmed from a variety of things, but I did fall asleep with the TV on, which may have caused me to dream about having a boyfriend and dumping him. So that coincides with the External theory: “Dreams are the result of our brains trying to interpret external stimuli during sleep.” Dream analyzer: suggests that “To dream about a relationship with a stranger represents the different sides of your personality. You may be trying to connect to unknown aspects of your subconscious.”

27 My perspective Am I satisfied with my answer? I am completely satisfied with the research I found and I am satisfied with my own view of dreams. Unless researchers come up with new evidence and theories as to why humans dream, I am content with both the biological and psychological theories, not because some philosopher explained his theory, but because I conducted my own experiment.. Previously I stated my goals for my journaling: I wanted to see if what I saw during the day came back to me in my sleep. I wanted to see if my dreams were random or if they had an emotional meaning. I wanted to see how well I could remember my dreams. Also, I wanted to look up what the interpretation was for different or reoccurring dreams on an online dream analyzer. I met all my goals: I saw things in my dreams that I had seen earlier that day or week, some of my dreams did have emotional meaning, and some were completely random. I was able to remember my dreams in pretty good detail if I wrote them down as soon as I woke up. Lastly I used the dream analyzer online that clarified some of the topics covered in my dreams, which helped me understand the meaning behind my dreams.

28 In the end In the end my theory as to why we dream is a mixture of things. I think we dream because our brain is trying to make sense of our day. Our brain is trying to organize our days events and make connections to other scenarios, thus bringing up mental pictures and visions while we sleep. I also believe that If I really want something and it is constantly on my mind, then I will dream about it. Desires and fantasies play a huge role in the cause of dreams and I don’t know how you can argue against that. The only thing I wish I knew now was the how…How is it that these images project like a movie in my brain while I sleep? I really hope researchers can discover more about the mechanics of dreams because now that we know the “why” they should figure out the “how.”

29 Wishful thinking…. If you have never seen the movie Inception then watch this clip. If you have seen it, don’t you think the movie is based off of lucid dreams? Just something to think about because I wish I could control my dreams!

30 References Bryant, Charles W. "Why Do We Dream?" HowStuffWorks. HowStuffWorks, Inc, 1998-2013. Web. 27 Apr. 2013.. Cherry, Kendra. "Dream Interpretation: What Do Dreams Mean?" Psychology. N.p., 2013. Web. 27 Apr. 2013.. Cherry, Kendra. "Why Do We Drea? -Top Dream Theories." N.p., 2013. Web. 27 Apr. 2013.. Dell'Amore, Christine. "Why Do We Dream? To Ease Painful Memories, Study Hints." National Geographic. National Geographic Society, 29 Nov. 2011. Web. 27 Apr. 2013.. "An Online Guide To Dream Interpretation." An Online Guide To Dream Interpretation. Dream Moods, Inc., 20 Jan. 2012. Web. 27 Apr. 2013.. Simons, Llana. "Why Do We Dream?" Psychology Today. Sussex Directories, Inc., 11 Nov. 2009. Web..

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