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"The Knight's Dream" by Antonio de Pereda

A dream is a succession of images, thoughts, sounds, or emotions which pass through the mind during sleep.[1] The content and purpose of dreams are not fully understood, though they have been a topic of speculation and interest throughout recorded history. The scientific study of dreams is known as oneirology.


The Cultural meaning of dreaming

Jacob's dream of a ladder of angels

Throughout history, people have sought meaning in dreams or divination through dreams.[2] Dreams have been described physiologically as a response to neural processes during sleep, psychologically as reflections of the subconscious, and spiritually as messages from gods, the deceased, or predictions of the future. Many cultures practice dream incubation, with the intention of cultivating dreams that were prophetic or contained messages from the divine.

Judaism has a traditional ceremony called "Hatavat Halom" – literally meaning making the dream a good one. Through this rite disturbing dreams can be transformed to give a positive interpretation by a rabbi or a rabbinic court.[3]

Neurology of dreaming

EEG showing brainwaves during REM sleep

There is no universally agreed biological definition of dreaming. In 1952, Eugene Aserinsky discovered REM sleep while working in the surgery of his PhD advisor. Aserinsky noticed that the sleepers' eyes fluttered beneath their closed eyelids, later using a polygraph machine to record their brain waves during these periods. In one session, he awakened a subject who was wailing and crying out during REM and confirmed his suspicion that dreaming was occurring.[4] In 1953, Aserinsky and his advisor published the ground-breaking study in Science.[5]

Accumulated observation shows that dreams are strongly associated with rapid eye movement (REM) sleep, during which an electroencephalogram shows brain activity to be most like wakefulness. Participant-nonremembered dreams during non-REM sleep are normally more mundane in comparison.[6] During a typical lifespan, a human spends a total of about six years dreaming[7] (which is about two hours each night).[8] Most dreams last only 5 to 20 minutes.[7] It is unknown where in the brain dreams originate, if there is a single origin for dreams or if multiple portions of the brain are involved, or what the purpose of dreaming is for the body or mind.

During REM sleep, the release of certain neurotransmitters is completely suppressed. As a result, motor neurons are not stimulated, a condition known as REM atonia. This prevents dreams from resulting in dangerous movements of the body.

Animals have complex dreams and are able to retain and recall long sequences of events while they are asleep.[9] Studies show that various species of mammals and birds experience REM during sleep,[10] and follow the same series of sleeping states as humans.[9]

Despite their power to bewilder, frighten or amuse, dreams are often ignored in mainstream models of cognitive psychology.[11] As methods of introspection were replaced with more self-consciously objective methods in the social sciences in 1930s and 1940s, dream studies dropped out of the scientific literature. Dreams were neither directly observable by an experimenter nor were subjects’ dream reports reliable, being prey to the familiar problems of distortion due to delayed recall, if they were recalled at all. According to Sigmund Freud, dreams are more often forgotten entirely, perhaps due to their prohibited character. Altogether, these problems seemed to put them beyond the realm of science.

The discovery that dreams take place primarily during a distinctive electrophysiological state of sleep, rapid eye movement (REM) sleep, which can be identified by objective criteria, led to rebirth of interest in this phenomenon. When REM sleep episodes were timed for their duration and subjects woken to make reports before major editing or forgetting could take place, it was determined that subjects accurately matched the length of time they judged the sleep the dream narrative to be ongoing to the length of REM sleep that preceded the awakening. This close correlation of REM sleep and dream experience was the basis of first series of reports describing the nature of dreaming: that it is regular nightly, rather than occasional, phenomenon, and a high-frequency activity within each sleep period occurring at predictable intervals of approximately every 60–90 minutes in all humans throughout the life span. REM sleep episodes and the dreams that accompany them lengthen progressively across the night, with the first episode being shortest, of approximately 10–12 minutes duration, and the second and third episodes increasing to 15–20 minutes. Dreams at the end of the night may last as long as 15 minutes, although these may be experienced as several distinct stories due to momentary arousals interrupting sleep as the night ends. Dream reports can be reported from normal subjects on 50% of the occasion when an awakening is made prior to the end of the first REM period. This rate of retrieval is increased to about 99% when awakenings are made from the last REM period of the night. This increase in the ability to recall appears to be related to intensification across the night in the vividness of dream imagery, colors and emotions.

Activation synthesis theory

In 1976 J. Allan Hobson and Robert McCarley proposed a new theory that changed dream research, challenging the previously held Freudian view of dreams as subconscious wishes to be interpreted. Activation synthesis theory asserts that the sensory experiences are fabricated by the cortex as a means of interpreting chaotic signals from the pons. They propose that in REM sleep, the ascending cholinergic PGO (ponto-geniculo-occipital) waves stimulate higher midbrain and forebrain cortical structures, producing rapid eye movements. The activated fore brain then synthesizes the dream out of this internally generated information. They assume that the same structures that induce REM sleep also generate sensory information.

Hobson's 1976 research suggested that the signals interpreted as dreams originated in the brain stem during REM sleep. However, research by Mark Solms suggests that dreams are generated in the forebrain, and that REM sleep and dreaming are not directly related.[12] While working in the neurosurgery department at hospitals in Johannesburg and London, Solms had access to patients with various brain injuries. He began to question patients about their dreams and confirmed that patients with damage to the parietal lobe stopped dreaming; this finding was in line with Hobson's 1977 theory. However, Solms did not encounter cases of loss of dreaming with patients having brain stem damage. This observation forced him to question Hobson's prevailing theory which marked the brain stem as the source of the signals interpreted as dreams. Solms viewed the idea of dreaming as a function of many complex brain structures as validating Freudian dream theory, an idea that drew criticism from Hobson. In 1978, Solms, along with partners William Kauffman and Edward Nadar, undertook a series of traumatic-injury impact studies using several different species of primates, particularly howler monkeys, in order to disprove Hobson's postulation that the brain stem played a significant role in dream pathology. Unfortunately, Solms' experiments proved inconclusive, as the high mortality rate associated with using an hydraulic impact pin to artificially induce brain damage in test subjects meant that his final candidate pool was too small to satisfy the requirements of the scientific method.[13]

Continual-activation theory

Combining Hobson's activation synthesis hypothesis with Solms's findings, the continual-activation theory of dreaming presented by Jie Zhang proposes that dreaming is a result of brain activation and synthesis; at the same time, dreaming and REM sleep are controlled by different brain mechanisms. Zhang hypothesizes that the function of sleep is to process, encode and transfer the data from the temporary memory to the long-term memory, though there is not much evidence backing up this so-called "consolidation." NREM sleep processes the conscious-related memory (declarative memory), and REM sleep processes the unconscious related memory (procedural memory).

Zhang assumes that during REM sleep, the unconscious part of a brain is busy processing the procedural memory; meanwhile, the level of activation in the conscious part of the brain will descend to a very low level as the inputs from the sensory are basically disconnected. This will trigger the "continual-activation" mechanism to generate a data stream from the memory stores to flow through the conscious part of the brain. Zhang suggests that this pulse-like brain activation is the inducer of each dream. He proposes that, with the involvement of the brain associative thinking system, dreaming is, thereafter, self-maintained with the dreamer's own thinking until the next pulse of memory insertion. This explains why dreams have both characteristics of continuity (within a dream) and sudden changes (between two dreams).[14][15]

Dreams as excitations of long-term memory

Eugen Tarnow suggests that dreams are ever-present excitations of long-term memory, even during waking life. The strangeness of dreams is due to the format of long-term memory, reminiscent of Penfield & Rasmussen’s findings that electrical excitations of the cortex give rise to experiences similar to dreams. During waking life an executive function interprets long term memory consistent with reality checking. Tarnow's theory is a reworking of Freud's theory of dreams in which Freud's unconscious is replaced with the long-term memory system and Freud's “Dream Work” describes the structure of long-term memory.[16]

Location of hippocampus

Dreams for strengthening of semantic memories

A 2001 study showed evidence that illogical locations, characters, and dream flow may help the brain strengthen the linking and consolidation of semantic memories. These conditions may occur because, during REM sleep, the flow of information between the hippocampus and neocortex is reduced.[17] Increasing levels of the stress hormone cortisol late in sleep (often during REM sleep) cause this decreased communication. One stage of memory consolidation is the linking of distant but related memories. Payne and Nadal hypothesize that these memories are then consolidated into a smooth narrative, similar to a process that happens when memories are created under stress.[18]

Dreams for removing junk

Robert (1886)[19], a physician from Hamburg, was the first who suggested that dreams are a need and that they have the function to erase (a) sensory impressions which were not fully worked up and (b) ideas which were not fully developed during the day. By the dream work incomplete material will be either removed or deepened and included into memory. Robert’s ideas were cited repeatedly by Freud in his Traumdeutung.Hughlings Jackson (1911) viewed that sleep serves to sweep away unnecessary memories and connections from the day. This was revised in 1983 by Crick and Mitchison's 'reverse learning' theory, which states that dreams are like the cleaning-up operations of computers when they are off-line, removing parasitic nodes and other "junk" from the mind during sleep.[20][21] However, the opposite view that dreaming has an information handling, memory-consolidating function (Hennevin and Leconte, 1971) is also common. Dreams are a result of the spontaneous firings of neural patterns while the brain is undergoing memory consolidation during sleep.

Dreams as resonance in neural circuts

During sleep the eyes are closed, so that the brain to some degree becomes isolated from the outside world. Moreover all signals from the senses (except olfaction) must pass through the thalamus before they reach the brain cortex, and during sleep thalamic activity is suppressed. [22] This means that the brain mainly works with signals from itself. A well-known phenomenon in dynamical physical systems where the level of input and output from the system is low is that oscillation makes spontaneous resonance patterns to occur. Hence, dreams may be the simple consequence of neural oscillation.

Psychology of sleep and dreams

Dreams for testing and selecting mental schemas

Coutts[23] hypothesizes that dreams modify and test mental schemas during sleep during a process he calls emotional selection, and that only schema modifications that appear emotionally adaptive during dream tests are selected for retention, while those that appear maladaptive are abandoned or further modified and tested. Alfred Adler suggested that dreams are often emotional preparations for solving problems, intoxicating an individual away from common sense toward private logic. The residual dream feelings may either reinforce or inhibit contemplated action. According to Blechner′s theory "Oneiric Darwinism" dreams create new ideas through the generation of random thought mutations. Some of these may be rejected by the mind as useless, while others may be seen as valuable and retained.[24]

Psychosomatic theory

Dreams are a product of "dissociated imagination", which is dissociated from the conscious self and draws material from sensory memory for simulation, with sensory feedback resulting in hallucination. By simulating the sensory signals to drive the autonomous nerves, dreams can affect mind-body interaction. In the brain and spine, the autonomous "repair nerves", which can expand the blood vessels, connect with pain and compression nerves. These nerves are grouped into many chains called meridians in Chinese medicine. While dreaming, the body also employs the chain-reacting meridians to repair the body and help it grow and develop by sending out very intensive movement-compression signals when the level of growth enzymes increase.[25]

Other hypotheses on dreaming

There are many other hypotheses about the function of dreams, including:[26]

  • Dreams allow the repressed parts of the mind to be satisfied through fantasy while keeping the conscious mind from thoughts that would suddenly cause one to awaken from shock.[27]
  • Freud suggested that bad dreams let the brain learn to gain control over emotions resulting from distressing experiences.[26]
  • Jung suggested that dreams may compensate for one-sided attitudes held in waking consciousness.[28]
  • Ferenczi[29] proposed that the dream, when told, may communicate something that is not being said outright.
  • Dreams regulate mood.[30]
  • Hartmann[31] says dreams may function like psychotherapy, by "making connections in a safe place" and allowing the dreamer to integrate thoughts that may be dissociated during waking life.
  • More recent research by psychologist Joe Griffin, following a twelve year review of data from all major sleep laboratories, led to the formulation of the expectation fulfilment theory of dreaming, which suggests that dreaming metaphorically completes patterns of emotional expectation in the autonomic nervous system and lowers stress levels in mammals.[32][33]

Dream content

From the 1940s to 1985, Calvin S. Hall collected more than 50,000 dream reports at Western Reserve University. In 1966 Hall and Van De Castle published The Content Analysis of Dreams in which they outlined a coding system to study 1,000 dream reports from college students.[34] It was found that people all over the world dream of mostly the same things. Hall's complete dream reports became publicly available in the mid-1990s by Hall's protégé William Domhoff, allowing further different analysis.

Personal experiences from the last day or week are frequently incorporated into dreams.[35]


The most common emotion experienced in dreams is anxiety. Other emotions include pain, abandonment, fear, joy, happiness, etc. Negative emotions are much more common than positive ones.[34]

Sexual themes

The Hall data analysis shows that sexual dreams occur no more than 10% of the time and are more prevalent in young to mid teens.[34] Another study showed that 8% of men's and women's dreams have sexual content.[36] In some cases, sexual dreams may result in orgasm or nocturnal emission. These are commonly known as wet dreams.[37]

Recurring dreams

While the content of most dreams is dreamt only once, many people experience recurring dreams — that is, the same dream narrative is experienced over different occasions of sleep. Up to 70% of females and 65% of males report recurrent dreams.[citation needed]

Color vs. black and white

A small minority of people say that they dream only in black and white.[38] [39]

Dream interpretation

Dreams were historically used for healing (as in the asclepieions found in the ancient Greek temples of Asclepius) as well as for guidance or divine inspiration. Some Native American tribes used vision quests as a rite of passage, fasting and praying until an anticipated guiding dream was received, to be shared with the rest of the tribe upon their return.[40]

During the late 19th and early 20th centuries, both Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung identified dreams as an interaction between the unconscious and the conscious. They also assert together that the unconscious is the dominant force of the dream, and in dreams it conveys its own mental activity to the perceptive faculty. While Freud felt that there was an active censorship against the unconscious even during sleep, Jung argued that the dream's bizarre quality is an efficient language, comparable to poetry and uniquely capable of revealing the underlying meaning.

Fritz Perls presented his theory of dreams as part of the holistic nature of Gestalt therapy. Dreams are seen as projections of parts of the self that have been ignored, rejected, or suppressed.[41] Jung argued that one could consider every person in the dream to represent an aspect of the dreamer, which he called the subjective approach to dreams. Perls expanded this point of view to say that even inanimate objects in the dream may represent aspects of the dreamer. The dreamer may therefore be asked to imagine being an object in the dream and to describe it, in order to bring into awareness the characteristics of the object that correspond with the dreamer's personality.

Relationship with medical conditions

There is evidence that certain medical conditions (normally only neurological conditions) can impact dreams. For instance, people with synesthesia have never reported entirely black-and-white dreaming, and often have a difficult time imagining the idea of dreaming in only black and white.[42]

Therapy for recurring nightmares (often associated with posttraumatic stress disorder) can include imagining alternative scenarios that could begin at each step of the dream.[43]

Dreams and psychosis

A number of thinkers have commented on the similarities between the phenomenology of dreams and that of psychosis. Features common to the two states include thought disorder, flattened or inappropriate affect (emotion), and hallucination. Among philosophers, Immanuel Kant, for example, wrote that ‘the lunatic is a wakeful dreamer’.[44] Arthur Schopenhauer said: ‘A dream is a short-lasting psychosis, and a psychosis is a long-lasting dream.’[45] In the field of psychoanalysis, Sigmund Freud wrote: ‘A dream then, is a psychosis’,[46] and Carl Jung: ‘Let the dreamer walk about and act like one awakened and we have the clinical picture of dementia praecox.’[47]

McCreery[48][49] has sought to explain these similarities by reference to the fact, documented by Oswald,[50] that sleep can supervene as a reaction to extreme stress and hyper-arousal. McCreery adduces evidence that psychotics are people with a tendency to hyper-arousal, and suggests that this renders them prone to what Oswald calls ‘microsleeps’ during waking life. He points in particular to the paradoxical finding of Stevens and Darbyshire[51] that patients suffering from catatonia can be roused from their seeming stupor by the administration of sedatives rather than stimulants.

Griffin and Tyrrell[52] go so far as to say that "schizophrenia is waking reality processed through the dreaming brain."[53]

Other associated phenomena

Lucid dreaming

Lucid dreaming is the conscious perception of one's state while dreaming. In this state a person usually has control over characters and the environment of the dream as well as the dreamer's own actions within the dream.[54] The occurrence of lucid dreaming has been scientifically verified.[55]

Oneironaut is a term sometimes used for those who lucidly dream.

Dreams of absent-minded transgression

Dreams of absent-minded transgression (DAMT) are dreams wherein the dreamer absentmindedly performs an action that he or she has been trying to stop (one classic example is of a quitting smoker having dreams of lighting a cigarette). Subjects who have had DAMT have reported waking with intense feelings of guilt. One study found a positive association between having these dreams and successfully stopping the behavior.[56]

Dreaming and the "real world"

During the night there may be many external stimuli bombarding the senses, but the mind often interprets the stimulus and makes it a part of a dream in order to ensure continued sleep.[57] Dream incorporation is a phenomenon whereby an actual sensation, such as environmental sounds are incorporated into dreams such as hearing a phone ringing in a dream while it is ringing in reality, or dreaming of urination while wetting the bed. The mind can, however, awaken an individual if they are in danger or if trained to respond to certain sounds, such as a baby crying. Except in the case of lucid dreaming, people dream without being aware that they are doing so. Some philosophers have concluded that what we think as the "real world" could be or is an illusion (an idea known as the skeptical hypothesis about ontology). There is a famous painting by Salvador Dalí that depicts this concept, titled "Dream Caused by the Flight of a Bee around a Pomegranate a Second Before Awakening" (1944). The first recorded mention of the idea was by Zhuangzi, and was also discussed in Hinduism; Buddhism makes extensive use of the argument in its writings.[58] It was formally introduced to Western philosophy by Descartes in the 17th century in his Meditations on First Philosophy. stimulus, usually an auditory one, becomes a part of a dream, eventually then awakening the dreamer. The term "dream incorporation" is also used in research examining the degree to which preceding daytime events become elements of dreams. Recent studies suggest that events in the day immediately preceding, and those about a week before, have the most influence.[35]

Recalling dreams

The recall of dreams is extremely unreliable, though it is a skill that can be trained. Dreams can usually be recalled if a person is awakened while dreaming.[43] Women tend to have more frequent dream recall than men.[43] Dreams that are difficult to recall may be characterized by relatively little affect, and factors such as salience, arousal, and interference play a role in dream recall. Often, a dream may be recalled upon viewing or hearing a random trigger or stimulus. A dream journal can be used to assist dream recall, for psychotherapy or entertainment purposes. For some people, vague images or sensations from the previous night's dreams are sometimes spontaneously experienced in falling asleep. However they are usually too slight and fleeting to allow dream recall. At least 95% of all dreams are not remembered. Certain brain chemicals necessary for converting short-term memories into long-term ones are suppressed during REM sleep. Unless a dream is particularly vivid and you wake during or immediately after it, the content of the dream will not be remembered.[59]

Déjà vu

One theory of déjà vu attributes the feeling of having previously seen or experienced something to having dreamt about a similar situation or place, and forgetting about it until one seems to be mysteriously reminded of the situation or the place while awake.[60] Déjà vu comes from the French language, meaning "Already seen."

Apparent precognition

According to surveys, it is common for people to feel that their dreams are predicting subsequent life events.[61] Psychologists have explained these experiences in terms of memory biases, namely a selective memory for accurate predictions and distorted memory so that dreams are retrospectively fitted onto life experiences.[61] The multi-faceted nature of dreams makes it easy to find connections between dream content and real events[62]

In one experiment, subjects were asked to write down their dreams in a diary. This prevented the selective memory effect, and the dreams no longer seemed accurate about the future.[63] Another experiment gave subjects a fake diary of a student with apparently precognitive dreams. This diary described events from the person's life, as well as some predictive dreams and some non-predictive dreams. When subjects were asked to recall the dreams they had read, they remembered more of the successful predictions than unsuccessful ones.[64]

Popular culture

Modern popular culture often conceives of dreams, like Freud, as expressions of the dreamer's deepest fears and desires.[65] In films such as Spellbound (1945) or The Manchurian Candidate (1962), the protagonists must extract vital clues from surreal dreams.[66]

Most dreams in popular culture are, however, not symbolic, but straightforward and realistic depictions of their dreamer's fears and desires.[66] Dream scenes may be indistinguishable from those set in the dreamer's real world, a narrative device that undermines the dreamer's and the audience's sense of security[66] and allows horror movie protagonists, such as those of Carrie (1976), Friday the 13th (1980) or An American Werewolf in London (1981) to be suddenly attacked by dark forces while resting in seemingly safe places.[66]

In speculative fiction, the line between dreams and reality may be blurred even more in the service of the story.[66] Dreams may be psychically invaded or manipulated (the Nightmare on Elm Street films, 1984–1991) or even come literally true (as in The Lathe of Heaven, 1971). Such stories play to audiences’ experiences with their own dreams, which feel as real to them.[66]

See also


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  62. ^ Gilovich, Thomas (1991). How We Know What Isn't So: the fallibility of human reason in everyday life. Simon & Schuster. pp. 177–180. ISBN 9780029117064. 
  63. ^ Alcock, James E. (1981). Parapsychology: Science or Magic?: a psychological perspective. Oxford: Pergamon Press. ISBN 0080257739.  viaHines, Terence (2003). Pseudoscience and the Paranormal. Prometheus Books. pp. 78–81. ISBN 978-1573929790. 
  64. ^ Madey, Scott; Thomas Gilovich (1993). "Effects of Temporal Focus on the Recall of Expectancy-Consistent and Expectancy-Inconsistent Information". Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 62 (3).  via Kida, Thomas (2006). Don't Believe Everything You Think: The 6 Basic Mistakes We Make in Thinking. Prometheus Books. ISBN 978-1-59102-408-8. 
  65. ^ Van Riper, A. Bowdoin (2002). Science in popular culture: a reference guide. Westport: Greenwood Press. pp. 56. ISBN 0–313–31822–0. 
  66. ^ a b c d e f Van Riper, op.cit., p. 57.

Further reading

  • Freud, Sigmund (1994). The interpretation of dreams. New York: Modern Library. ISBN 067960121X. 
  • Jung, Carl (1934). The Practice of Psychotherapy. "The Practical Use of Dream-analysis". New York: Routledge & Kegan Paul. pp. 139-. ISBN 071001645X. 
  • Jung, Carl (2002). Dreams (Routledge Classics). New York: Routledge. ISBN 0415267404. 
    1. Lombardo G.P., Foschi R. (2008), Escape from the dark forest: The experimentalist standpoint of the Sante De Sanctis dreaming psychology. History of the Human Sciences. vol. 21, pp. 45–69 ISSN: 0952-6951.

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(Redirected to Dreams article)

From Wikiquote

A dream is the experience of envisioned images, sounds, or other sensations during sleep. The events of dreams are often impossible or unlikely to occur in physical reality, and are usually outside the control of the dreamer.

Dreams can also be what we want for ourselves in our lives, our hopes, our expectations, our plans – things which we wish for ourselves but often seem forever to be tantalizingly just beyond our reach.


  • I have had a dream, past the wit of man to say what dream it was.
  • People say that your dreams are the only things that save ya... Come on baby in our dreams, we can live our misbehaviors
    • Arcade Fire, "Rebellion (Lies)", Funeral (2004)
  • When our star shines, someone else's fades away; when our dream is fulfilled, someone else's turns into a nightmare!
  • There are no miracles, but we all dream of them!
  • Our dreams are our precious diamonds; without them, we are endlessly poor. Let us perpetually dream to be overly wealthy!
  • To die, to sleep;
    To sleep: perchance to dream: ay, there's the rub:
    For in that sleep of death what dreams may come,
    When we have shuffled off this mortal coil..."
  • I have spread my dreams beneath your feet;
    Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.


  • What if you slept, and what if in your sleep you dreamed, and what if in your dream you went to heaven and there you picked a strange and beautiful flower, and what if when you awoke you had the flower in your hand? Ah, what then?
  • Dreams are but the illusion that we put upon ourselves to make life in an unbearable world liveable.
    • Anonymous
  • A man's moral conscience is the curse he had to accept from the gods in order to gain from them the right to dream.
  • Dreams are as advice given by a very wise - very drunk - old man. A wealth of knowledge behind them, yes, but always, always to be treated with cynicism.
    • M. J. Morris
  • Dreams are the things we cling to, we hold onto them for dear life hoping with all our being that we will not watch them shatter around us into the dust of a trillion stars. We never imagine that they will come true, but we relish the hope that they provide, and yet when the impossible becomes a reality… we are stunned. And then the dream becomes a building block, stronger than diamonds.
    • Jerry Grant Blakeney
  • Dreams are extremely important. You can't do it unless you imagine it.
  • Dreams are the bright creatures of poem and legend, who sport on earth in the night season, and melt away in the first beam of the sun, which lights grim care and stern reality on their daily pilgrimage through the world.
  • Dreams are there to pave your way towards to success...
    • Mark Aaron A. Corrales
  • Families is where our nation finds hope, where wings take dream.
  • Hold fast to dreams, for if dreams die, life is a broken winged bird that cannot fly.
  • I've dreamt in my life dreams that have stayed with me ever after, and changed my ideas: they've gone through and through me, like wine through water, and altered the colour of my mind.
    • Emily Bronte, Catherine in Wuthering Heights (1847) (p. 120 in the Penguin 1995 edition)
  • If you don't have a dream ... Then you'll never have a dream come true,
  • If you live your dreams, you'll never have to wake up.
  • It takes a lot of courage to show your dream to someone else.
  • Reach high, for stars hidden in your soul. Dream deep, for every dream precedes the goal.
    • Pamela Star
  • The point, as Marx saw it, is that dreams never come true.
  • The universe is not only queerer than we suppose, but queerer than we can suppose.
  • They who dream by day are cognizant of many things which escape those who dream only by night.
  • Those dreams that on the silent night intrude, and with false flitting shapes our minds delude ... are mere productions of the brain. And fools consult interpreters in vain.
  • Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.
  • We live, as we dream--alone...
  • Yes, I am a dreamer. For a dreamer is one who can find his way by moonlight, and see the dawn before the rest of the world.
  • You may say I'm a dreamer, but I'm not the only one.
  • It does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live.
  • A dream is a wish your heart makes...
  • If you don't have a dream, it can't come true.
    • Swami Raj
  • Life being what it is, one dreams of revenge.
  • We are such stuff
    As dreams are made on, and our little life
    Is rounded with a sleep.
  • All men dream: but not equally, Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds wake in the day to find that it was vanity: but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act their dream with open eyes, to make it possible. This I did.
  • By believing in his dreams, a man turns them into reality.
    • Hergé, Belgian writer
  • So yeah, dreams are important. And I think there are more dreamers today than ever before in the history of anything... but... they're so afraid, so many of them. Afraid to lose all their 'manageable misery.' It's all just so... so... pathetic. Pathetic... and selfish. Are you seriously telling me... that you would deny the world an exquisite painting just because the cardboard firm from down the street is hiring? That you'd stay out of politics because your mates would think you a twat? That the greatest secrets of quantum physics would go forever unearthed... because Dad thinks girls are fit only for babymaking? Does that really sound good enough for you? Really? Maddening! And don't you dare tell me I'm unrealistic. I know a body's chance of sinking their claws into a dream are fairly grim. But... not to try? To settle into the gray doldrums with nary a peep?
  • But only in their dreams can men be truly free. 'Twas always thus, and always thus will be.
    • John Keating (Dead Poets Society)
  • Dreams are not what you have when you sleep, dreams are those that don't let you sleep.
    • Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam, Former Indian President
  • A dream is a wish your heart makes!
    • Amanda Myers
  • I like the dreams of the future better than the history of the past.
  • Dreams are hopeless aspirations in hopes of coming true. Believe in yourself, the rest is up to me and you.
    • TLC (Waterfalls)
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A Dream
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1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

DREAM (from a root dreug, connected with Germ. triigen, to deceive), the state of consciousness during sleep; it may also be defined as a hallucination or illusion peculiarly associated with the condition of sleep, but not necessarily confined to that state. In sleep the withdrawal of the mind from the external world is more complete and the objectivity of the dream images is usually unquestioned, whereas in the waking state the hallucination is usually recognized as such; we may, however, be conscious that we are dreaming, and thus in a measure be aware of the hallucinatory character of our percepts. The physiological nature of sleep (q.v.; see also Muscle And Nerve) and of dreaming is obscure. As a rule the control over the voluntary muscles in dreams is slight; the sleep-walker is the exception and not the rule, and the motor activity represented in the dream is seldom realized in practice, largely, no doubt, because we are ignorant, under these circumstances, of the spatial relations of our bodies. Among the psychological problems raised by dreams are the condition of attention, which is variously regarded as altogether absent or as fixed, the extent of mental control, and the relation of ideas and motor impulses. There is present in all dreams a certain amount of dissociation of consciousness, or of obstructed association, which may manifest itself in the preliminary stage of drowsiness by such phenomena as the apparent transformation or inversion of the words of a book. We may distinguish two types of dreams, (a) representative or centrally initiated, (b) presentative or due to the stimulation of the end organs of sense. In both cases, the dream having once been initiated, we are concerned with a process of reasoning, i.e. the combination of ideas suggested by resemblances or other associative elements. The false reasoning of dreams is due in the first place to the absence, to a large extent, of the memory elements on which our ordinary reasoning depends, and, secondly, to the absence of sensory elements.

Table of contents

Objectivity of Dreams

In waking life we distinguish ideas or mental images from real objects by the fact that we are able under normal circumstances to dismiss the former at will. In sleep, on the other hand, we have, in the first place, no real objects with which to compare the images, which therefore take on a character of reality comparable to the hallucination of waking life; moreover, powers of visualization and other faculties are enhanced in sleep, so that the strength of dream images considerably exceeds those of the mental images of the ordinary man; changes in powers of attention, volition and memory help to increase the hallucinatory force Of the dream. In the second place, the ideas of our dreams are presented in the form of images, which we are unable to dismiss; we therefore mistake them for realities, exactly as the sufferer from delirium tremens in waking life is apt to regard his phantoms as real.

Relations of Dreaming and Sleep

It has been maintained by Hamilton and others (see below, Modern Views) that dreams invariably accompany sleep, and that we always find ourselves dreaming when we are awakened. But even if it were true that dreams were invariably experienced at the moment of waking, this would not by any means establish the invariable concomitance of dreams and sleep of all sorts; at most it would show that imperfect sleep is a condition of dreaming; in the same way, dreams before wakening, known to have taken place either from the recollection of the dreamer or from the observation of another person, may clearly be due to imperfect wakening, followed by a deepening of sleep. It is, however, by no means true that awakening from sleep is invariably accompanied by a dream; in considering the question it must be recollected that it is complicated by the common experience of very rapid forgetfulness of even a vivid and complicated dream, only the fact of having dreamt remaining in the memory; it is clear that amnesia may go so far that even the fact of dreaming may be forgotten. On the whole, however, there appear to be no good grounds for the assertion that we always dream when we are asleep. On the other hand, there is no proof that partial awakening is a necessary condition of dreaming.

Representative Dreams. - Centrally initiated dreams may be due to a kind of automatic excitation of the cerebral regions, especially in the case of those clearly arising from the occupations or sensations of the day or the hours immediately preceding the dream. To the same cause we may attribute the recalling of images apparently long since forgotten. Some of these revivals of memory may be due to the fact that links of association which are insufficient to restore an idea to consciousness in the waking state may suffice to do so in sleep. Just as a good visualizer in his waking moments may call up an object never clearly seen and yet distinguish the parts, so in sleep, as L. F. A. Maury (1817-1892) and others have shown, an image may be more distinct in a dream than it was when originally presented (see also below, Memory). Presentative Dreams. - The dreams due to real sensations, more or less metamorphosed, may arise (a) from the states of the internal organs, (b) from muscular states, (c) from subjective sensations due to the circulation, &c., or (d) from the ordinary cause of the action of external stimuli on the organs of sense.

(a) The state of the stomach, heart, &c., haslongbeenrecognized as important in the causation of dreams (see below, Classical Views). The common sensation of flying seems to be due in many cases to the disturbance of these organs setting up sensations resembling those felt in rapidly ascending or descending, as in a swing or a lift. Indigestion is a frequent cause of nightmare - the term given to oppressive and horrible dreams - and bodily discomfort is sometimes translated into the moral region, giving rise to the dream that a murder has been committed. (b) Dreams of flying, &c., have also been attributed to the condition of the muscles during sleep; W. Wundt remarks that the movements of the body, such as breathing, extensions of the limbs and so on, must give rise to dream fancies; the awkward position of the limbs may also excite images. (c) Especially important, probably, for the dreams of the early part of the night are the retinal conditions to which are due the illusions hypnagogiques of the preliminary drowsy stage; but probably Ladd goes too far in maintaining that entoptic stimuli, either intraor extra-organic in origin, condition all dreams. Illusions hypnagogiques, termed popularly "faces in the dark," of which Maury has given a full account, are the not uncommon sensations experienced, usually visual and seen with both open and closed eyes, in the interval between retiring to rest and actually falling asleep; they are comparable to the crystal-gazing visions of waking moments; though mainly visual they may also affect other senses. Besides the eye the ear may supply material 'for dreams, when the circulation of the blood suggests rushing waters or similar ideas. (d) It is a matter of common observation that the temperature of the surface of the body determines in many cases the character of the dreams, the real circumstances, as might be expected from the general character of the dream state, being exaggerated. In the same way the pressure of bed-clothes, obstruction of the supply of air, &c., may serve as the starting-point of dreams. The common dream of being unclothed may perhaps be due to this cause, the sensations associated with clothing being absent or so far modified as to be unrecognizable. In the same way the absence of foot-gear may account for some dreams of flying. It is possible to test the influence of external stimuli by direct experiment; Maury made a number of trials with the aid of an assistant.

Rapidity of Dreams

It has often been asserted that we dream with extreme rapidity; but this statement is by no means borne out by experiment. In a trial recorded by J. Claviere the beginning of the dream was accurately fixed by the sounding of an alarm clock, which rang, then was silent for 22 seconds, and then began to ring continuously; the dream scene was in a theatre, and he found by actual trial that the time required in ordinary life for the performance of the scenes during the interval of silence was about the same as in ordinary life. Spontaneous dreams seem to show a different state of things; it must be remembered that (r) dreams are commonly a succession of images, the number of which cannot be legitimately compared with the number of extra-organic stimuli which would correspond to them in ordinary life; the real comparison is with mental images; and (2) the rapidity of association varies enormously in ordinary waking life. No proof, therefore, that some dreams are slow can show that this mentation in others is not extremely rapid. The most commonly quoted case is one of Maury's; a bed-pole fell on his neck, and (so it is stated) he dreamt of the French Revolution, the scenes culminating in the fall of the guillotine on his neck; this has been held to show that (I) dreams are extremely rapid; and (2) we construct a dream story leading up to the external stimulus which is assumed to have originated the dream. But Maury's dream was not recorded till many years after it had occurred; there is nothing to show that the dream, in this as in other similar cases, was not in progress when the bed-pole fell, which thus by mere coincidence would have intervened at the psychological moment; Maury's memory on waking may have been to some extent hallucinatory. But there are records of waking states, not necessarily abnormal, in which time-perception is disturbed and brief incidents seem interminably long; on the other hand, it appears from the experiences of persons recovered from drowning that there is great rapidity of ideation before the extinction of consciousness; the same rapidity of thought has been observed in a fall from a bicycle.

Reason in Dreams. - Studies of dreams of normal individuals based on large collections of instances are singularly few in number; such as there are indicate great variations in the source of dream thoughts and images, in the coherence of the dream, and in the powers of memory. In ordinary life attention dominates the images presented; in dreams heterogeneous and disconnected elements are often combined; a resemblance need not even have been consciously recognized for the mind to combine two impressions in a dream; for example, an aching tooth may (according to the dream) be extracted, and found to resemble rocks on the sea-shore, which had not struck the waking mind as in any way like teeth. Incongruence and incoherence are not, however, a necessary characteristic of dreams, and individuals are found whose dream ideas and scenes show a power of reasoning and orderliness equal to that of a scene imagined or experienced in ordinary life. In some cases the reasoning power may attain a higher level than that of the ordinary conscious life. In a well-authenticated case Professor Hilprecht was able in a dream to solve a difficulty connected with two Babylonian inscriptions, which had not previously been recognized as complementary to each other; a point of peculiar interest is the dramatic form in which the information came to him - an old Babylonian priest appeared in his dream and gave him the clue to the problem (see also below, Personality). Memory in Dreams. - Although prima facie the dream memory is fragmentary and far less complete than the waking memory, it is by no means uncommon to find a revival in sleep of early, apparently quite forgotten, experiences: more striking is the recollection in dreams of matters never supraliminally (see Subliminal Self) apperceived at all.

The relation between the memory in dreams and in the hypnotic trance is curious: suggestions given in the trance may be accepted and then forgotten or never remembered in ordinary life; this does not prevent them from reappearing occasionally in dreams; conversely dreams forgotten in ordinary life may be remembered in the hypnotic trance. These dream memories of other states of consciousness suggest that dreams are sometimes the product of a deeper stratum of the personality than comes into play in ordinary waking life. It must be remembered in this connexion that we judge of our dream consciousness by our waking recollections, not directly, and our recollection of our dreams is extraordinarily fragmentary; we do not know how far our dream memory really extends. Connected with memory of other states is the question of memory in dreams of previous dream states; occasionally a separate chain of memory, analogous to a secondary personality, seems to be formed. We may be also conscious that we have been dreaming, and subsequently, without intermediate waking, relate as a dream the dream previously experienced. In spite of the irrationality of dreams in general, it by no means follows' that the earlier and later portions of a dream do not cohere; we may interpolate an episode and again take up the first motive, exactly as happens in real life. The strength of the dream memory is shown by the recurrence of images in dreams; a picture, the page of a book, or other image may be reproduced before our eyes several times in the course of a dream without the slightest alteration, although the waking consciousness would be quite incapable of such a feat of visualizing. In this connexion may be mentioned the phenomenon of redreaming; the same dream may recur either on the same or on different nights; this seems to be in many cases pathological or due to drugs, but may also occur under normal conditions.


As a rule the personality of the dreamer is unchanged; but it also happens that the confusion of identity observed with regard to other objects embraces the dreamer himself; he imagines himself to be some one else; he is alternately actor and observer; he may see himself playing a part or may divest himself of his body and wander incorporeally. Ordinary dreams, however, do not go beyond a splitting of personality; we hold conversations, and are intensely surprised at the utterances of a dream figure, which, however, is merely an alter ego. As in the case of Hilprecht (see above) the information given by another part of the personality may not only appear but actually be novel.

Supernormal Dreams

In addition to dreams in which there is a revival of memory or a rise into consciousness of facts previously only subliminally cognized, a certain number of dreams are on record in which telepathy seems to play a part; much of the evidence is, however, discounted by the possibility of hallucinatory memory. Another class of dreams (prodromic) is that in which the abnormal bodily states of the dreamer are brought to his knowledge in sleep, sometimes in a symbolical form; thus a dream of battle or sanguinary conflict may presage a haemorrhage. The increased power of suggestion which is the normal accompaniment of the hypnotic trance may make its appearance in dreams, and exercise either a curative influence or act capriciously in producing hysteria and the tropic changes known as "stigmata." We may meet with various forms of hyperaesthesia in dreams; quite apart from the recovery of sight by those who have lost it wholly or in part (see below, Dreams of the Blind), we find that the powers of the senses may undergo an intensification, and, e.g., the power of appreciating music be enormously enhanced in persons usually indifferent to it. Mention must also be made of the experience of R. L. Stevenson, who tells in Across the Plains how by self-suggestion he was able to secure from his dreams the motives of some of his best romances.

Voluntary Action in Dreams. - Connected with dreams voluntarily influenced is the question of how far dreams once initiated are modifiable at the will of the dreamer. Some few observers, like F. W. H. Myers and Dr F. van Eeden, record that they can at longer or shorter intervals control their actions in their dreams, though usually to a less extent than their imagined actions in waking life. Dr van Eeden, for example, tells us that he has what he calls a "clear dream" once a month and is able to predetermine what he will do when he becomes aware that he is dreaming.

Dreams of Children

Opinions differ widely as to the age at which children begin to dream; G. Compayre maintains that dreaming has been observed in the fourth month, but reflex action is always a possible explanation of the observed facts. S. de Sanctis found that in boys of eleven only one out of eight said that he dreamt seldom, as against four out of seven at the age of six; but we cannot exclude the possibility that dreams were frequent but forgotten. If correct, the observation suggests that dreams appear comparatively late. Individual cases of dreaming, or possibly of waking hallucination, are known as early as the age of two and a half years; according to de Sanctis dreams occur before the fifth year, but are seldom remembered; as a rule the conscious dream age begins with the fourth year; speech or movement, however, in earlier years, though they may be attributed to reflex action, are more probably due to dreams.

Dreams of the Old

In normal individuals above the age of sixty-five de Sanctis found dreams were rare; atmospheric influences seem to be important elements in causing them; memory of them is weak; they are emotionally poor, and deal with long past scenes.

Dreams of Adults

Any attempt to record or influence our dreams may be complicated by (a) direct suggestion, leading to the production of the phenomena for which we are looking, and (b) indirect suggestion leading to the more lively recollection of dreams in general and of certain dreams in particular. Consequently it cannot be assumed that the facts thus ascertained represent the normal conditions. According to F. Heerwagen's statistics women sleep more lightly and dream more than men; the frequency of dreams is proportional to their vividness; women who dream sleep longer than those who do not; dreams tend to become less frequent with advancing age. The total number of remembered dreams varies considerably with different observers, some attaining an average of ten per night. The senses mainly active in dreams are, according to one set of experiments, vision in 60%, hearing in 5%, taste in 3%, and smell in 1.5%, where the dreamers had looked at coloured papers before falling asleep; when taste or smell had been stimulated, the visual dreams fell to about 50%, and the sense stimulated was active twice as often as it would otherwise be; dreams in which motion was a prominent feature were 10% of the former class, 14% and 18% of the two latter. Experiments by J. Mourly Vold show even more distinctly the influence of suggestion both as to the form, visual or otherwise, and the content (colours and forms of objects) of dreams. According to most observers dreams are most vivid and frequent between the ages of 20 and 25, but H. Maudsley puts the maximum between 30 and 35. De Sanctis got replies from 165 men and 55 women: the proportion between the sexes closely agrees with the results attained by Heerwagen and M. W. Calkins; 13% of men and 33% of women said they always dreamt, 27% and 45% often, 50% and 13% rarely, and the remainder (precisely the same percentage for men and women-9.09) either did not dream or did not remember that they dreamt. Nearly twice as many women as men had vivid dreams; in the matter of complication of the dream experiences the sexes are about equal; daily life supplies more material in the dreams of men; nearly twice as many women as men remember their dreams clearly, a fact which hangs together to some extent with the vividness of the dreams, though it by no means follows that a vivid dream is well remembered. There are great variations in the emotional character of dreams; some observers report twice as many unpleasant dreams as the reverse; in other cases the emotions seem to be absent; others again have none but pleasing dreams. Individual experience also varies very largely as to the time when most dreams are experienced; in some cases the great majority are subsequent to 6.30 A.M.; others find that quite half occur before 4.0 A.M.

Dreams of the Neuropathic, Insane, Idiots, &c. - Much attention has been given to the dreams of hysterical subjects. It appears that their dreams are specially liable to exercise an influence over their waking life, perhaps because they do not distinguish them, any more than their waking hallucinations, from reality. P. Janet maintains that the cause of hysteria may be sought in a dream. The dreams of the hysterical have a tendency to recur. Epileptic subjects dream less than the hysterical, and their dreams are seldom of a terrifying nature; certain dreams seem to take the place of an epileptic attack. Dreaming seems to be rare in idiots. De Sanctis divides paranoiacs into three classes: (a) those with systematized delusions, (b) those with frequent hallucinations, and (c) degenerates; - the dreams of the first class resemble their delusions; the second class is distinguished by the complexity of its dreams; the third by their vividness, by their delusions of megalomania, and by their influence on daily life. Alcoholic subjects have vivid and terrifying dreams, characterized by the frequent appearance of animals in them, and delirium tremens may originate during sleep.

Dreams of the Blind, Deaf, &c. - As regards visual dreams the blind fall into three classes - (1) those who are blind from birth or become blind before the age of five; (2) those who become blind at the "critical age" from five to seven; (3) those who become blind after the age of seven. The dreams of the first class are non-visual; but in the dreams of Helen Keller there are traces of a visual content; the second class sometimes has visual dreams; the third class does not differ from normal persons, though visual dreams may fade away after many years of blindness. In the case of the partially blind the clearness of vision in a dream exceeds that of normal life when the partial loss of sight occurred in the sixth or later years. The education of Helen Keller is interesting from another point of view; after losing the senses of sight and hearing in infancy she began her education at seven years and was able to articulate at eleven; it is recorded that she "talked" in her dreams soon after. This accords with the experience of normal individuals who acquire a foreign language. Her extraordinary memory enables her to recall faintly some traces of the sunlit period of her life, but they hardly affect her dreams, so far as can be judged. The dreams of the blind, according to the records of F. Hitschmann, present some peculiarities; animals as well as man speak; toothache and bodily pains are perceived as such; impersonal dreaming, taking the form of a drama or reading aloud, is found; and he had a strong tendency to reproduce or create verse.

Dreams of Animals

We are naturally reduced to inference in dealing with animals as with very young children; but various observations seem to show that dreams are common in older dogs, especially after hunting expeditions; in young dogs sleep seems to be quieter; dogs accustomed to the chase seem to dream more than other kinds.

Dreams among the Non-European Peoples

In the lower stages of culture the dream is regarded as no less real and its personages as no less objective than those of the ordinary waking life; this is due in the main to the habit of mind of such peoples (see Animism), but possibly in some measure also to the occurrence of veridical dreams (see Telepathy). In either case the savage explanation is animistic, and animism is commonly assumed to have been developed very largely as a result of theorising dreams. Two . explanations of a dream are found among the lower races: (1) that the soul of the dreamer goes out, and visits his friends, living or dead, his old haunts or unfamiliar scenes and so on; or (2) that the souls of the dead and others come to visit him, either of their own motion or at divine command. In either of the latter cases or at a higher stage of culture when the dream is regarded as god-sent, though no longer explained in terms of animism, it is often regarded as oracular (see Oracle), the explanation being sometimes symbolical, sometimes simple.

There are two classes of dreams which have a special importance in the lower cultures: (1) the dream or vision of the initiation fast; and (2) the dream caused by the process known as incubation, which is often analogous to the initiation fast. In many parts of North America the individual Indian acquires a tutelary spirit, known as manito or nagual, by his initiation dream or vision; the idea being perhaps that the spirit by the act of appearing shows its subjection to the will of the man. Similarly, the magician acquires his familiar in North America, Australia and elsewhere by dreaming of an animal. Incubation consists in retiring to sleep in a temple, sometimes on the top of a mountain or other unusual spot, in order to obtain a revelation through a dream. Fasting, continence and other observances are frequently prescribed as preliminaries. Certain classes of dreams have, especially in the middle ages, been attributed to the influence of evil spirits (see Demonology).

Classical and Medieval Views of Dreams

Side by side with the prevalent animistic view of dreams we find in antiquity and among the semi-civilized attempts at philosophical or physiological explanations of dreams. Democritus, from whom the Epicureans derived their theory, held the cause of them to be the simulacra or phantasms of corporeal objects which are constantly floating about the atmosphere and attack the soul in sleep - a view hardly distinguishable from animism. Aristotle, however, refers them to the impressions left by objects seen with the eyes of the body; he further remarks on the exaggeration of slight stimuli when they are incorporated into a dream; a small sound becomes a noise like thunder. Plato, too, connects dreaming with the normal waking operations of the mind; Pliny, on the other hand, admits this only for dreams which take place after meals, the remainder being supernatural. Cicero, however, takes the view that they are simply natural occurrences no more and no less than the mental operations and sensations of the waking state. The pathological side of dreams attracted the notice of physicians. Hippocrates was disposed to admit that some dreams might be divine, but held that others were premonitory of diseased states of the body. Galen took the same view in some of his speculations.

Symbolical interpretations are combined with pathological no less than animistic interpretations of dreams; they are also extremely common among the lower classes in Europe at the presentday, but in this case no consistent explanation of their importance for the divination of future events is usually discoverable. Among the Greeks Plato in the Timaeus (ch. xlvi., xlvii.) explains dreams as prophetic visions received by the lower appetitive soul through the liver; their interpretation requires intelligence. The Stoics seem to have held that dreams may be a divine revelation, and more than one volume on the interpretation of dreams has come down to us, the most important being perhaps the 'Ovecporcptruca of Daldianus Artemidorus. We find parallels to this in a Mussulman work by Gabdorrachaman, translated by Pierre Vattier under the name of Onirocrite mussulman, and in the numerous books on the interpretation of dreams which circulate at the present day. In Siam dream books are found (Intern. Archiv filr Anthr. viii. 150); one of the functions of the Australian medicine man is to decide how a dream is to be interpreted.

Modern Views

The doctrine of Descartes that existence depended upon thought naturally led his followers to maintain that the mind is always thinking and consequently that dreaming is continuous. Locke replied to this that men are not always conscious of dreaming, and it is hard to be conceived that the soul of the sleeping man should this moment be thinking, while the soul of the waking man cannot recollect in the next moment a jot of all those thoughts. That we always dream was maintained by Leibnitz, Kant, Sir W. Hamilton and others; the latter refutes the argument of Locke by the just observation that the somnambulist has certainly been conscious, but fails to recall the fact when he returns to the normal state.

It has been commonly held by metaphysicians that the nature of dreams is explained by the suspension of volition during sleep; Dugald Stewart asserts that it is not wholly dormant but loses its hold on the faculties, and he thus accounts for the incoherence of dreams and the apparent reality of dream images.

Cudworth, from the orderly sequence of dream combinations and their novelty, argues that the state arises, not from any "fortuitous dancings of the spirits," but from the "phantastical power of the soul." According to K. A. Schemer, dreaming is a decentralization of the movement of life; the ego becomes purely receptive and is merely the point around which the peripheral life plays in perfect freedom. Hobbes held that dreams all proceed from the agitation of the inward parts of a man's body, which, owing to their connexion with the brain, serve to keep the latter in motion. For Schopenhauer the cause of dreams is the stimulation of the brain by the internal regions of the organism through the sympathetic nervous system. These impressions the mind afterwards works up into quasirealities by means of its forms of space, time, causality, &c.

BIBLIOGRAPHY.-FOr full lists of books and articles see J. M. Baldwin's Dictionary of Philosophy, bibliography volume (1906), and S. de Sanctis, I Sogni, also translated in German with additions as Die Treiume. Important works are: - Binz, Uber den Traum; Giessler, Maury, Le Sommeil et les reves; Radestock, Schlaf and Traum; Tessie, Les Reves; Spitta, Schlaf and Traumzustcinde. For super-normal dreams see F. W. H. Myers, Human Personality, vol. i., and Proc. S.P.R. viii. 362. For voluntary dreams see Proc. S.P.R. iv. 241, xvii. 112. On prophetic dreams see Monist, xi. 161; Bull. Soc. Anth. (Paris, 1901), 196, (1902), 228; Rev. de synthese historique (1901), 151, &c. On incubation see Deubner, De incubatione; Maury, La Magie. On the dreams of American Indians see Handbook of American Indians (Washington, 1907), s.v. "Dreams" and "Manito." On the interpretation of dreams see Freud, Die Traumdeutung. Other works are F. Greenwood, Imagination in Dreams; Hutchinson, Dreams and their Meanings. (N. W. T.)

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Middle English dreem, possibly from Old English drēam (music", "mirth", "joy); akin to Old Saxon drōm (mirth", "dream); meaning influenced in Middle English by Old Norse draumr (dream). The derivation from drēam is controversial, since the word itself is only attested in writing in its meaning of "joy, mirth, musical sound". Possibly there was a separate word drēam meaning "images seen while sleeping" which would account for the common definition in the other Germanic languages, or the derivation may indeed simply be a strange progression from "mirth, joy, musical sound".[1]





dream (plural dreams)

  1. Imaginary events seen in the mind while sleeping.
  2. A hope or wish.


  • (events experienced whilst asleep): sweven (obsolete)

Derived terms



to dream

Third person singular

Simple past
dreamed or dreamt

Past participle
[[dreamed or dreamt]]

Present participle

to dream (third-person singular simple present dreams, present participle dreaming, simple past and past participle dreamed or dreamt)

  1. (intransitive) To see imaginary events in one's mind while sleeping.
  2. (intransitive) To hope, to wish.
  3. (intransitive) To daydream.
    Stop dreaming and get back to work.
  4. (transitive) to create an imaginary experience (usually when asleep)
    I dreamed a vivid dream last night.

Derived terms

Usage notes

  • "Dreamt" is less common in both US and UK English in current usage, though somewhat more prevalent in the UK than in the US.


The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables, removing any numbers. Numbers do not necessarily match those in definitions. See instructions at Help:How to check translations.


  • Notes:
  1. ^

External links

  • dream in Webster’s Revised Unabridged Dictionary, G. & C. Merriam, 1913
  • dream in The Century Dictionary, The Century Co., New York, 1911


Old English


  • IPA: /'dræːam/


Proto-Germanic *draumaz, whence also Old Saxon drōm ‘joy, music, dream’, Old High German troum, Old Norse draumr


drēam m. (pl. drēamas)

  1. joy, pleasure, ecstasy
    Ðær biþ drincendra dream se micla: there is the great joy of drinkers.
  2. music, song
    Iohannes gehyrde swylce bymena dream: John heard, as it were, the sound of trumpets.

West Frisian


dream c. (pl. dreamen)

  1. dream, daydream

Bible wiki

Up to date as of January 23, 2010

From BibleWiki

God has frequently made use of dreams in communicating his will to men. The most remarkable instances of this are recorded in the history of Jacob (Gen 28:12; Gen 31:10), Laban (Gen 31:24), Joseph (Gen 37:9ff), Gideon (Judges Chapter 7), and Solomon (1 Kg 3:5). Other significant dreams are also recorded, such as those of Abimelech (Gen 20:3ff), Pharaoh's chief butler and baker (Gen 40:5), Pharaoh (Gen 41:1ff), the Midianites (Jdg 7:13), Nebuchadnezzar (Dan 2:1; Dan 4:10ff), the wise men from the east (Mt 2:12), and Pilate's wife (Mt 27:19).

To Joseph "the Lord appeared in a dream," and gave him instructions regarding the infant Jesus (Mt 1:20; Mt 2:12ff). In a vision of the night a "man of Macedonia" stood before Paul and said, "Come over into Macedonia and help us" (Acts 16:9; see also Acts 18:9; Acts 27:23).

This entry includes text from Easton's Bible Dictionary, 1897.

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Facts about DreamRDF feed

Simple English

File:A child
Dreams happen when people sleep.

Dreams are the things that happen in a person's mind while they are sleeping. Dreams can seem so real while they happen that the person might think that they are awake when actually they are asleep. This is called a lucid dream. This happens very little for most people, but for some people it happens often. During lucid dreaming people can have fun and experience things that are impossible or weird in reality. Most people remember there dreams in some way or another, even if it's only a small part, but children are highly likely of remembering most of there dream clearly. They can be pleasant, strange, sad, or scary. Nightmares are dreams which scare or shock people. When people have nightmares, the nightmares are usually based around that person's everyday fears, for example: spiders or dark places.

There are many different theories about why people dream about what they dream about. Every person has different dreams. Some psychologists believe that dreams reflect what the unconscious mind (the part of the mind people are not aware of) is thinking about. Others think that people, places, and objects in dreams are symbols for other things, like seeing into the future. There are many books and websites devoted to making sense of dreams.

Other websites

  • Dreams - New theory about dreams.

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