Bizarreness of Dreams

Bizarreness of Dreams


“I had the weirdest dream last night” is a familiar comment. The problem with this assertion is that it seems to imply that dreams should somehow not be bizarre, but in fact dreams often present us with twisted, surreal landscapes that almost always depart in significant ways from the logic of our everyday world. There are two major explanations for the surrealistic quality of our dreams, one physiological and the other psychological.

In the activation-synthesis model of dreaming, which stresses the purely physiological correlates of dreaming, it is asserted that during rapid eye movement (REM) sleep, the stage of sleep most closely connected with dreaming, the brain sends essentially random electrical signals to the higher mental centers of the forebrain. The forebrain then sorts through these signals and attempts to create a meaningful experience. The many dreams that are just masses of incoherent images represent incoming groups of signals that the brain was simply not able to synthesize.

The second explanation is Sigmund Freud‘s psychological view, which theorizes that the purpose of dreams is to allow us to satisfy in fantasies the instinctual urges that society judges unacceptable. So that we do not awaken as a result of the strong emotions that would be evoked if we were to dream about the literal fulfillment of such desires, the part of the mind that Freud called the censor transforms the dream content so as to disguise its true meaning. This transformation results in dreams that often seem bizarre and weird.

The Dream Encyclopedia, Second Edition © 2009 Visible Ink Press®. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
According to Darren Lipnicki, a psychologist formerly at the Center for Space Medicine in Berlin, Germany, there's a correlation between the bizarreness of dreams and extremes in local geomagnetic activity, reports New Scientist.
Sigmund Freud thought the bizarreness of dreams allowed sleepers to avoid acknowledging subconscious wishes.