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History of Dreams: Meaning And Symbolism

For the most part, dreams may be described as a series of experiences and emotions that occur unintentionally during specific sleep phases. Although it’s unclear what dreams are or what they mean, they’ve been a source of philosophical and theological debate and scientific curiosity throughout recorded history. Even more fascinating, Oneirology is the scientific study of dreams.

In the course of a dream, a person experiences a series of visions, thoughts, emotions, and physical sensations while they are sleeping. Humans dream for around two hours a night, with dreams lasting from five minutes to twenty minutes.

Oneirology is the scientific study of dreams, sometimes known as dream research. Dreams have been the subject of scientific, philosophical, and religious investigation for as long as we can remember.

One of the most important aspects of religious literature and psychotherapy is dream interpretation, performed in Babylon in the third millennium BCE and even earlier by the ancient Sumerians.

Modern dream research focuses mainly on the neurophysiology of dreams and speculations about the purpose of dreams. It’s unclear where dreams arise in the brain, whether they originate in a single area or many, or even if they serve any physiological or mental function.

Throughout human history, the human dream experience and interpretation have experienced significant changes. According to Mesopotamian and Egyptian texts, dreams influenced post-dream behavior to a much-diminished level in subsequent centuries.

The way people interpret their dreams differs between cultures and across time. Writings on dreams from ancient times focus on “visitation dreams,” when a god or a significant forebear tells the dreamer to do something or forecast the future. Because of this, Julian Jaynes hypothesizes that the bicameral mind predominated in the second or first millennia BCE when such dreams were more common among literary people.

History of Dreams

Mesopotamia’s oldest recorded dreams can be traced to roughly 5,000 years on clay tablets. Roman and Greek people thought that dreams were messages from the gods, spirits, and the dead and were accurate forecasts of what would happen next. Then some societies cultivated dreams of prophecy via the technique of dream incubation.

Dream interpretations have been reported on clay tablets as far back as 3000-4000 B.C. So we’ve been interested in and trying to figure out our dreams for as long as we’ve been able to speak about them.

There have been primitive communities where people could not differentiate between their dreams and reality. Alternatively, they might decide to ignore the difference altogether. Finally, they realized that the dream world was more potent than the actual world, not just its extension.

Dreams had a religious connotation in ancient Greece and Rome. They were thought to be messengers from gods or the dead in ancient times. At that period, individuals relied on their dreams to guide what to do next. Dreams were seen as omens of doom and prophecies of what was to come.

People have even erected special shrines where they may sleep in the hopes of receiving a message in their dreams. A profound belief in the power of imagination influenced the conduct of political and military leaders. So much so that dream interpreters have accompanied soldiers on battlefields to aid in planning the war strategy.

According to Greek philosopher Aristotle, Dreams are the consequence of biological processes. Therefore, a person’s dreams were capable of diagnosing and foretelling sickness.

During the Hellenistic era, dreams were primarily seen as a means of healing. An Asclepieion, or temple dedicated to dream healing, was created. People who slept in these temples were thought to get cures. Even the doctors relied on the help of dream interpreters when making medical diagnoses. Healers relied on dreams to provide important clues about what was wrong with the dreamer.

Priests in ancient Egypt were often called upon to perform dream interpretation duties. The ancient Egyptians used hieroglyphics to record their dreams. For centuries, those with vivid and profound dreams were particularly privileged and noteworthy. As a result, dream interpreters were revered and regarded as divinely gifted individuals.

According to traditional Chinese belief, the spirit departs the body and enters the living realm. When you go to sleep, your heart and soul go to a different location in your mind every night. When woken, they may not be able to return to their bodies.

This idea of a unique dream realm is held by several Native American tribes and Mexican civilizations. It was thought that their forefathers existed in the guise of plants in their dreams. As a result, some Chinese people are afraid of alarm clocks nowadays.

They believe that dreams are a chance to commune with their ancestors and learn from them. Dreams also aided people in identifying their life’s purpose or function.

During the Middle Ages, dreams were seen as sinful temptations from the devil, and they were interpreted as such. The devil was considered too corrupt people’s minds when they were in a vulnerable condition of slumber. He used our dreams to perform his dirty job, aiming to guide us in the wrong direction.

Dreams were ignored due to worry, a loud disturbance in the home, or even indigestion in the early nineteenth century. As a result, it had no actual significance. However, Sigmund Freud resurrected the value of dreams in the late 19th century and their importance and need for interpretation. It is because of him that the study of dreams has been transformed.

People have always tended to interpret dreams in these old societies. As a result, you may find more than 700 references to goals in the Bible’s text alone.

Meaning of dreams

Sigmund Freud was a pioneer in dream analysis and interpretation in the early 1900s. Sigmund Freud was a firm believer in the idea that dreams are a way to express our innermost fears and aspirations, many of which date back to our formative years.

It was also his conviction that nearly any subject matter symbolized the release of sexual tension when it came to dreams. Freud’s Interpretation of Dreams, a psychological method for deciphering dreams, was outlined in 1899. A set of principles for interpreting the meanings and symbols in our dreams were also included.

When Is Dreaming Most Likely to Take Place?

Since brain activity increases in the REM (rapid eye movement) stage of sleep, dreams are more likely to occur, as this is the most like being awake. In REM sleep, the eyes move constantly; in other sleep phases, dreams may occur, but they tend to be less remembered and hazier than in REM. 

The Span of a Dream

Our dreams may range anywhere from a few seconds to 30 minutes, depending on how long they are. Some people may remember their dreams because they were jolted awake during the rapid eye movement (REM) sleep phase.

For most individuals, a typical night’s sleep includes between three and five objectives, some even reporting as many as seven. When we get eight hours of sleep, the bulk of our goals occurs in the two hours of REM typical of a whole night’s sleep.

Final Words

Dreams are now considered by many to be a conduit to the unconscious. A wide variety of emotions and feelings may be expressed in a person’s goals; they might be exhilarating or scary, sad, mystical, adventurous, or erotic.

The events in our dreams are usually out of our control unless we are lucid dreaming. During a lucid dream, the dreamer is aware of their existence. A creative concept may be implanted in the mind of a dreamer, resulting in a feeling of inspiration.

Dream interpretations have altered and shifted throughout cultures and time. However, the Freudian theory of dreams appears to be widely accepted, according to which plans to disclose the unconscious wishes and feelings of the dreamer. Others argue that dreams result from spontaneous brain activity or aid in problem-solving or memory creation.

A sleep-ailment known as REM Behavior Disorder causes some individuals to act out their dreams (RBD). Acting out one’s fantasies may be harmful to both the dreamer and their bedmate in this situation.