Science define dreams as the subjective experience of mental images, sounds, voices, words, thoughts or sensations during sleep where the dreamer usually holds no control over the events taking place in the dream. The study of dreams is called Oneirology which obviously has a Greek mythological influence. Dreaming is associated with rapid eye movement (REM) sleep which is a light sleep that happens in the later part of the sleep cycle. It is characterized by rapid eye movements, stimulation of the pons, increased respiratory & heart rate & temporary paralysis of the body.
Many scientists believe that dreams happen to all human beings with equal frequency per amount of sleep. If individuals feel that they did not dream or that they only had one dream in any given night, it is because their memory of the dream has faded. This "memory erasure" aspect of the dream state is mostly found when a person naturally awakes via a smooth transition from REM sleep through delta sleep to the awake state.
The interpretation of dreams is not definite & precise. It is mostly reliant on the person giving the interpretation & his prejudices. For example, a dream can be given a religious interpretation called Oneiromancy, the art of divination by interpreting dreams. But if a person adheres to psychoanalysis, then Freud may give an entirely different meaning to the same dream.
The very first dictionary of dreams dates back to the times of the ancient Greeks. Artemidorus of Daldis wrote the Oneirocritica or the “Interpretation of Dreams”. Artemidorus & his followers believed that dreams can be understood best by giving an interpretation based on everyday life rather than using divine interpretation. Artemidorus was probably one of the first to see the connection between our everyday experiences & our dreams. Even up to this day many of Artemidorus’ interpretations are being used in contemporary books of dreams.
The dictionaries of dreams that have now become so popular are in fact not so different from Artemidorus’ Oneirocritica. These dream dictionaries still give out a ready interpretation on just about every conceivable dream from the morbid to the mundane, the exotic to the erotic, the humorous to the terrifying. Dictionary of dreams have also gone beyond mere pages. They have also joined the internet bandwagon & there are more than enough dream interpretation sites to satiate every appetite & answer every question.
Dreams are constancy in our lives. For as long as we are alive we will continue to dream happy dreams, or get scared of nightmares, or smile at whimsical dreams, cry with nostalgic dreams. And for as long as we are alive, we will always have dreams that will puzzle us, dreams that we want to remember, dreams that we long to forget, dreams we wish we never had & dreams that we wish to dream of again. And at times when we want to know what our dreams meant, it can be quite comforting to know that an interpretation is just on top of the bedside table, it can give a strange satisfaction to know that our peace of mind is only an arms length away.
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Article Added on Monday, January 23, 2006
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