In sleep research, volunteers are monitored for eye movements, brain waves and other biological functions during the night.
To investigate dreaming, the volunteers are awakened when these indicators signal REM sleep. About 80 percent of the time a sleeper awakened from REM will report being in the middle of a dream. In the remaining cases, for the most part, the wakened subject will report some other mental activity, such as vague thoughts, but with no visual image or sense of a dream.
The classic Freudian view of dreams held that dreams are upsetting impulses that the mind has disguised. Morton Reiser, chairman of the Department of Psychiatry at Yale University and a former president of the American Psychoanalytic Association, explained in an interview. Although Dr. Reiser takes a psychoanalytic view toward dreams, he is one of those who is able to reconcile it with the new brain research. Within the school that places great value on dreams, there are many approaches to finding the psychological message of a dream, each reflecting different theoretical outlooks.
A Freudian will find one kind of meaning in a dream, while a Jungian will find another, and a Gestalt therapist will find still another meaning. But all would agree that there is meaning to be found, even if they may disagree as to exactly what that meaning might be. And many say each and every element of a dream - a given image or sensation, say - has significance.
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But the view that dreams have psychological meaning at all has come under strong attack from neuroscientists. Crick, who won a Nobel Prize as the co-discoverer of DNA, has turned his attention to brain research. Crick and Dr. Mitchison propose that REM sleep is the occasion for the brain to eliminate mental activity that might interfere with rational thought and memory. Their view holds that during a day the brain makes many more connections between brain cells than are needed for efficient thinking and memory.
The function of dreams, they say, is to ''unlearn'' or purge the brain of these unneeded connections. According to this view, what goes through the mind during a dream is merely the result of a sort of neural housecleaning. This theory, they say, explains some facts about dreams that the opposing view cannot. For example, newborn infants have a great deal of REM sleep, but presumably suffer none of the psychological conflicts or upsetting impulses that Freudian theory says leads to dreams.
But, Dr. Mitchison say, infants have the same need as adults to rid the brain of accidental or meaningless connections, and thus they have dreams. The implications of the Crick- Mitchison theory goes beyond dream meaning. They say it also suggests that it may be damaging to recall one's dreams because doing so might strengthen neural connections that should be discarded.
Most dreams, Dr. Mitchison note, are never remembered. In their view, this is as it should be. A different view with similar implications has been offered by Christopher Evans in his book ''Landscapes of the Night: How and Why We Dream,'' published posthumously by Viking this month.
His theory also implies that dreams do not have the psychological meanings that therapists find in them, but Dr. Evans comes to his conclusion on a different basis than that of Dr. Evans, a psychologist and computer scientist, proposes that dreams are the brain's equivalent of a computer's inspection of its programs, allowing a chance to integrate the experiences of the day with the memories already stored in the brain. His theory is based in part on evidence that dreaming consolidates learning and memory.
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The contents of a dream, according to Dr. Evans, are fragments of events and experiences during the day which are being patched into related previous memories. Allan Hobson. Studies of the brain, they say, show that there is a ''dream state generator'' that repeatedly stimulates the cortex during REM sleep. This ''generator,'' located in the brainstem - specifically in the so-called giant pontine cells of the reticular formation - sends random signals to higher brain centers that control such functions as vision, hearing, balance, movement and emotions, the researchers say.
The contents of a dream, the theory holds, are the product of this random activity, which the higher brain centers try to weave into a coherent story, just as is done with experiences during waking life. McCarley and Dr. Hobson see their theory as contradicting the Freudian view that dreams are psychological in origin, being caused by unfulfilled impulses arising from psychological conflicts.
The bizarreness of dreams, they say, is not a disguise for such conflicts, but simply reflects the random nature of brain activity caused by the dream generator.
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Hobson said in an interview. But their meaning is in the eye of the beholder - not in the dream itself. Hobson has engaged in a series of public debates with psychoanalysts in which he challenged the view that dreams have psychological meaning. Reiser of Yale is one of those who has debated Dr.
Knowing what we do now of brain physiology, we can no longer say that. The brain activity which causes dreams offers a means whereby a conflicted wish can give rise to a particular dream.
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In other words, wishes exploit - but do not cause - dreams. Reiser's view stems from a growing body of evidence that seems to show that dreams serve a major role in psychological life. Judge this based on the feeling you get when you first awaken. There are many dream dictionaries out there with definitions of what each symbol, animal or object may mean, however often symbols are unique to the individual.
If butterflies have always reminded you of your grandma, then perhaps seeing a butterfly in your dreams is a message from her. To unlock your dreams you really need to pay attention to any symbols or metaphors that come up and try to relate them to your day to day or past experiences. The more you stay open and aware to the symbols the more they will start to make sense to you.
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Writing them down will also help you bring more clarity to what they may mean. Opening up to this newfound awareness, especially when it comes to your dreams can also help you strengthen your gifts of clairvoyance. There are many herbs out there that can help facilitate vivid and prophetic dreams. The most popular known herbs for dreaming include Calea Zachatechhi and Mugwort.
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Calea Z is great for intensifying your dreams, dream recall and lucid dreaming. It is best had as a tea alone or mixed with other soothing herbs like peppermint and passionflower. Mugwort helps to enhance lucid dreaming and astral travel. To boost Mugworts effectiveness, you also may want to add some other herbs to help release any anxiety and to calm your mind. These include chamomile, lavender, passionflower or peppermint.
It is not recommended to blend both Mugwort and Calea Z, while there are no known adverse reactions, it is better to test the herbs out independently to see which one works the best for you. The best way to drink your tea would be just before bed and while setting your intention. Perhaps you can even create a ritual where you take each sip as you cement and recite your intention for the night ahead. Dreamtime pillows have been used for centuries to help ward of negative energies, bad dreams and to evoke a peaceful sleep. With the right combination of herbs, dreamtime pillows can be a fantastic way to have vivid dreams and receive psychic messages.
Choose whichever combination of herbs feels right to you and place them in a soft cloth, organza or muslin bag and place it under your pillow or in your pillow case. Crystals are a great way to help enhance spirit communication, psychic energy and intuition. When placed under your pillow, certain crystals can help you recall your dreams better, have more vivid dreams and help you to receive insightful messages and healing. Danburite: due to its high energetic vibration, danburite can help activate higher dimensions in the spirit world and can allow you to better comprehend and understand your dreams.
It can also help you to receive intuitive messages and connect with your Spirit guides and angels. This is a very soothing and comforting crystal which is also great for people who suffer from sleep paralysis and nightmares. Herkimer Diamonds: are fantastic for helping to release psychic or intuitive blocks and to enhance clarity. They are great for dream recall and helping to understand your dreams.