What’s in a Dream?

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Are dreams merely the result of random firings of our brains’ neurons, or do they contain powerful messages from the deepest recesses of our unconscious mind?

Human beings spend a good portion of their lives asleep. And as most of us know, sleep is actually one of the busiest times for our unconscious mental processes. Rapid Eye Movement (REM) sleep appears to be a crucial component of sleep, and it’s during this time that our most vividly recalled dreams occur.

Depending on what school of thought you subscribe to, dreams are merely the result of random firings of our brains’ neurons and have no meaning whatsoever, or they contain powerful messages from the deepest recesses of our unconscious mind, giving them significant meaning, and imbuing them with the capacity to illuminate us and help us grow in marvelous ways.

The concept that our dreams have meaning not readily apparent is an ancient one. A primitive dream “interpretation” was made in the Babylonian tale “Epic of Gilgamesh.” Priests in ancient Egypt were, among other things, dream interpreters, and the Bible records Joseph and Daniel as interpreters of divine messages sent through dreams. Many cultures across many lands and throughout most of history have held various traditions regarding the importance and interpretation of dreams.

My wife is also a clinical psychologist. She has been involved in Jungian-oriented dream analysis for many years and participates in several dream groups. Over the years, she has developed quite a talent for helping her clients through dream work. She has also convinced me of the powerful benefits of the endeavor when it is done with care, awareness, and dedication. Her growth has impacted me considerably, prompting me to pay more attention to my own dreams. Her principal dream group is comprised of women, but their work together over the years has been so inspiring that the spouses of these women eventually formed a group of their own to savor the benefits of the enterprise.

To me, life is a process that goes on whether I’m consciously aware or not; existed long before I came into being; and will continue long after I’m physically present. Some of the most lasting impressions, inspirations, and insights I’ve ever experienced have come through dreams. If they truly are nothing more that the random firings of my neurons, then I must necessarily be the luckiest man on earth.

All clinical material on this site is peer reviewed by one or more clinical psychologists or other qualified mental health professionals. This specific article was originally published by on and was last reviewed or updated by Dr Greg Mulhauser, Managing Editor on .

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