Sep 28, 2010 Adam Fonseca
Understanding why people dream while sleeping has been a popular topic among psychological researchers for hundreds of years leading to numerous theories.
Why do people dream? This question remains relatively unanswered even today despite the numerous psychological theories documented. Through their research, top psychologists through the ages have offered their take on the purpose of dreams. Here are a two of the more popular theories behind dreaming and how dreams impact a person's rest.
Sigmund Freud offers a theory on why people dream based on the notion that the dream fundamentally acts as the guardian of sleep. He proposed that when people prepare for sleep, they make an attempt at disconnecting from reality by turning off lights, drawing curtains, and seeking absolute darkness. The brain then "protects" the body's response to external stimuli by incoporating dreams as distractions. This manufacturing of dreams throughout the night also distracts the body from being aware of internal stimuli, such as anxiety, emotions, fears, and desires. In essence, Freud's theory suggests that if the body was aware of internal stimuli while sleeping, successful completion of the five stages of sleep would be impossible. Following his theories and research into human sexuality, Freud also believed that dreams which involved baldness, rotting teeth, or the cutting of hair symbolized a person's fear of castration. Freud also believed additional symbolism in dreams directly related to a person's sex organs, eventually leading to the coining of a "wet dream".
Carl Jung's Theory
Following in the footsteps of Freud was pscyhologist Carl Jung, who formulated his theory on dreaming in the 1960s. Jung believed that recurring dreams are proof that dream-manifested events or issues neglected in a conscious mind will show up repeatedly in dreams to demand attention. In other words, the brain would literally draw attention to an external situation which requires resolution outside of sleep. Jung also believed that symbols found in dreams served as a means for explaining complex concepts in a manner which the person at rest could understand. These symbols would also help heal the brain and body as a person went through the stages of sleep. In his quest to discover the role of dreaming, Jung also concluded that dreams are not only relevant to the dreamer's life, but that they are all parts of "one great web of psychological factors."