Please reply to these two colleagues for this discussion: Colleague #1: The “activation-synthesis hypothesis” seems to suggest that dreams are random and meaningless, reducing all of the vivid imagery, thematic occurrences, and activities experienced in dreams to a simple biological function of the brain. This theory focuses on the neurological processes that cause dreams, proposing that they are only an assortment of memories and images that are randomly thrown together in our minds. (Van der Linden, 2011).
Perhaps this explains just the biological creation of dreams without delving further into other variables that denote causes and meanings behind particular dreams. The “threat-simulation theory” is an interesting one. It suggests that dreams are a mechanism that our bodies and brains use to subconsciously prepare for situations we might encounter in life, almost like a virtual reality simulator. While it is not proven, this theory suggests that dreams do have meaning and serve the particular purpose of producing experiences to be learned from. (Van der Linden, 2011).
Other theories speculate that learning does not occur in dreams, but that dreams arise during our brain’s memory consolidation processes. This would explain why we sometimes see familiar people or places, or have experiences in dreams that we recently encountered in waking life. Studies have shown that it is more likely that a person will dream of a particular object when shown images of that object before sleep. (Lewis, 2014) In this case, dreams do not seem to be random.
Some psychologists, such as Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung, have suggested that dreams contain subconscious or repressed content. This content may be interpreted in different ways depending on the particular individual, their past experiences, and their emotional state. Additionally, studies have shown that people enduring stress in their lives have dreams that reflect this level of emotion, while those that are relatively content tend to have dreams that are less negative. (Nichols, 2018) If the Freudian theory is true, then dreams certainly do have meaning. If the themes of our dreams are more likely to emotionally align with what we experience during the day, this alludes to the notion that they are not random. Colleague #2: I believe that dreams are not random and meaningless at all.
My reason behind this is my own experiences. The first experience is Deja Vu. Deja Vu happens because similar things have happened and you experience a sense of similarity. I have had this happen where I had an almost exact conversation with someone and had that Deja Vu moment all because of the dream. Another incident would be dreaming about things/subjects that you had talked about during that day. The example I talked about the NH lottery while being out to sea ( I am in the Navy) and that night while I lay in my rack I had a dream that I won a 15,000 jackpots at the casino. Most of the time you will dream about things that have occurred around you during the day even if you do not notice it. Some people do not remember dreaming and I guess I am lucky enough to have vivid dreams where I remember each one.
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