Why do we dream and what do dreams mean? It’s a debate we’ve had for thousands of years.
We know this, because over 3000 years ago, people were writing about them. I’ve mentioned in previous articles (like this one on dreaming of being pregnant) that the Chester Beatty Papyrus #3 was dated to 1220 BC, and contained a manuscript of dream theory and interpretation. In fact, it’s where the theory of opposites came from – that if you dream of death (for example) it means there is a birth on the horizon.
A Greek gentleman called Artemidorus (who lived around the second century AD), created the Oneirocritica, the next large piece of work which attempted to understand, explore and explain fully what dreams meant.
After that, the most influential work came from Sigmund Freud in the early 19th century, although even his work was influenced by his mentors and peers before him. He was then followed by his student Carl Jung, who approached his theory from a different angle than those that Freud became famous for. But there were many more, less famous theorists like Alfred Adler, John Kappas and Nerys Dee, all who approached dreams and their meanings differently. Joe Griffin, a 21st century dream theorist approaches his work from the Human Givens theory. All of these people have played an important part in understanding what dreams mean and why we have them.
Culturally, dreams play an important part in the lives of people around the world. There are many different approaches to dreams and interpretation amongst native american, aboriginal and african tribes for example. Shamanic and Alchera beliefs are just two examples of how cultures involve dreaming in their traditions and way of life. In some Buddhist traditions there is a focus on lucid dreaming (article coming soon).
What is important, is to remember that scientifically we’ve only really been scratching the surface of dreams and sleep during the last century. We are still a long way from knowing for sure where dreams come from, why we have them and what they mean. We know for certain that we need to sleep and we need to dream. Various studies including this one (reported on the BBC website and originally published in Science Magazine) have concluded that without dreams and sleep, we become ill and our memory is affected.
If you’re starting the process of exploring your dreams you may find the articles and services here useful as a resource to start your journey – but remember you are unique and so are your dreams; only you can decide ultimately what they mean. You may find keeping a dream diary useful, as a way of starting the process of exploring your dreams, a free guide is available when you subscribe to my newsletter. You’ll also receive regular updates on dream and sleep theory when you sign up.
You have a valuable resource which can help you find solutions and make positive changes, once you start to remember your dreams (if you’re not already). Make the most of them and enjoy the process.
Interested in Mental Health? Have a look at Helping you Sparkle™.
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