In Your Dreams

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Reports of Dreams

It began with a swim in the ocean. Suddenly Jessica realized that she had gone much farther away from shore than she expected and, to her great dismay, there was a pair of killer whales swimming toward her. The whales circled around her several times while she did her best not to panic. After several minutes of playful dives and underwater acrobatics, the whales swam away just as suddenly as they had appeared. What happened next was terrifying. The ocean swelled up, curled over, and slammed Jessica back onto the beach.

That’s when she woke up. This dream report is just one of the myriad bizarre scenarios that people perceive to happen to them while they sleep. Some people describe specific elements in their dreams that they can trace directly to things they have recently seen, heard or experienced, as though their minds are attempting to organize bits and pieces of information gathered during waking hours. Dreamers note repeated themes; the dreamer in this case is a woman who has recurring dreams that take place in or near the ocean. She has been recording these dreams for years in a dream diary, hoping to some day sort out the meaning of such fantastic imaginings that occupy her mind while she sleeps.

History of Dream Research

Since the earliest of recorded histories, people have theorized about the function and meaning of dreams. Answers came largely from the spirit world until Aristotle and Plato developed the drive related hypothesis that was later expanded on by the European psychoanalysts of the 19th and 20th centuries. This hypothesis defines dreaming as a way to act out unconscious desires in a safe or “unreal” setting, presumably because to do so in reality would be unacceptable or even detrimental. But even in the 21st century we still are not sure why we dream. The only way to study dreams is to ask the dreamer. However, one thing we know for sure is that dreaming is something that the vast majority of humans do every night of their lives.

In 1953 Eugene Aserinsky, a