An Attempt At Understanding Dreams A few months ago I watched a movie called "The Candyman".

It was a horro r movie about this psychotic woman who massacres people around her but has no id ea what she's doing. An imaginary creature called "The Candyman" is appearing to her and tal ing to her, and she actually thin s that he's the one who is doing the murdering. Anyway, it was a scary movie and I had a bit of fun frea ing out my mother that night by telling her that "The Candyman" will appear to her in he r dreams (although I didn't thin about the consequences if he really appeared t o her and she illed all of us while we were sleeping!). Fortunately for my moth er (and the rest of us), she didn't dream about him that night. A few wee s late r, I did, though! However, I didn't get very scared in my dream because than s t o a certain technique that I developed a few years ago, I can somehow avoid any dangers in my dreams by nowing that I'm dreaming and that nothing bad can happe n to me. This helped me in a lot of annoying dreams before because when I'm in t rouble I sometimes just "fly away" in certain situations in the dream or I just ignore it and tell the bad guy that he can't hurt me because I now it's just a dream. I have no idea until today how I'm able to do that, but it really ma es m e wonder. I also don't now why I had that dream a few wee s after the movie and not the same night I watched it, especially that I had completely forgotten abo ut it until the night of the dream, at least consciously. Anyway, I decided to use the chance of having to write a paper for Psyc hology 201 (especially that I hardly write papers because I'm an Engineering maj or), and I almost instantly new that I was going to explore the world of dreams and the process of dreaming. Before I go any further though, I thin I now fro m the start that no matter how much material I gather or people I interview, I w ill not be able to explain the process of dreaming because I believe that it is so complex and mysterious that no man can claim to really understand it. The max imum that I wish to achieve is just to admire this incredible phenomenon and to at least try to clarify some of the little details surrounding it. Some questions come to my mind immediately when I thin about dreams: Wh at causes dreams? Does everybody dream? Do dreams have significant meanings in r eality? Why do some dreams seem so weird and out of touch with reality? What cau ses nightmares? Can someone be aware that he is dreaming? Why are we unable to r emember most of our dreams? I decided to try to answer at least some of these na gging questions. The problems with dreams, however, is that they are so diverse in nature; I can spend the rest of my life interviewing people and listening to their dreams and I still might not have something concrete. But nevertheless, it 's worth a shot. When I told my friend Mahmoud about the paper I'm writing, he immediatel y elected his fiancee Safinaz as an interview candidate, because she often has t hese bizarre dreams and nightmares. So I headed for my first victim. Safinaz tol d me that she recently had this dream that she was a young girl and that she saw another girl eating a watermelon, so she as ed her to give her a piece but the other girl refused. Safy ept crying until her grandmother went down and bought her this huge watermelon that weighed 50 g, and Safy cut it in two pieces and s tarted eating it. Now this seems li e a fairly normal dream except for one thing : Safy's grandmother died when she was 4 years old, and the event about the wate rmelon actually happened in real life with almost the same details before her gr andmother died, but Safy had no recollection of it. She only became aware of it after she told her mother about the dream and her mother told her that this inci dent actually happened about 18 years ago. I thin that this dream clearly shows that some information is buried deep in the brain and we have no access to it, until it suddenly just presents itself in one of our dreams. Another person I interviewed was Ranya Abdel Hamid. Her dreams are no le ss bizarre than those of Safinaz. She dreamt recently that she was being chased by this mad cow in a dar , long alley where there was no exit. The cow had almos

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Everybody. and as it turns out. He dreams that he is falling down from a high cliff. and I don't thin there is enough concrete evidence to support it. but her grandmother. fear of loosing a loved one. etc. but perhaps fear of failur e in general. getting my dream girl. This was a great opportunity for me to interview him and I went to his villa one evening with certain questions and goals in mind. he would actually die in his sleep. but she is just too jealous. Mahmoud and I once decided to go to Alexandria for a day. had a dream once where her father appeared to her and wanted to ta e her with him somewhere. Actually Safinaz had a similar dr eam where she dreamt that her fiancee traveled somewhere where there was a beach without telling her. who is also dead. or any other f orm of fear for that matter. and                                               . and some people suggest that when someone drea ms of a dead person it is the dead person who is actually trying to contact them . it is in reality his spirit trying to escape from his body or in other word s. Mahmo ud goes on to tell the story of this young man who dreamt that he was falling do wn and he hit the ground. whom I had the great f ortune of meeting in Abu Talat. Dr. He was very friendly. becoming successful in life. dreams such as Ranya's. However. This is just a theory. Mariam' s . For example Nadine. Farou Hassan. Another common dream category is when people dream that they are falling . the famous Egyptian writer and philosopher. but fortunately she wo e up in the right time. Mahmoud .who was ta ing a summer cou rse at UCLA at the time . My mother eeps dreaming up to this day that she is sitting in the classroom ta ing an ex am she is not prepared for. Freud suggested that dreaming is an excellent chance for our inner fears and desires to come to surface and present themselves clearly . This particular type of dreams is quite controversial and I saw Dr. not of failing exams. whether it's fea r of catching the mad cow's disease. at some point or another. that person is dying. and t he tire exploded on the way and we almost died! I hope it was just a bad coincid ence and not her magic powers. One thing I realized in my interviews is that there are hardly any guys that shared their dreams with me.t reached her. must have h ad some experience with dreams that supports this argument. By the way. If he did. Dr. however.before us. but he wa es up before he reac hes the ground. and that is why the person never hits the ground. Off the subject.did go to Santa Barbara for the wee -end (without ta i ng his fiancee's precious approval from Cairo!). and that she fails it. She eeps dreaming that her boyfriend travels away wit hout telling her and she never sees him again. All these are feelin gs inside of me that reflect my fears and desires and somehow try to predict my future by setting up a certain scenario that ta es place in my dreams. I don't now if it's because the ones I as ed really have no interesting dreams to share or if they are more reluctant than th e girls to tal about their dreams. and Safy's seem to reflect the inner fears of these people. The body usually clings on to the spirit and does not a llow it to escape when it is not time for him to die. a beautiful beach at the northern coast. Moustafa Mahmoud. Teymour Ghaleb mentioned this as one of his dreams when I interviewed him. But this is really off the subject now! Anyway. to my great luc . again without him telling her. is our neighbor there and my father nows him a little bi t. I now I have when I dream of being turned down by the girl I li e. Obviously my mother finished school some time ago (and she never failed exams) but the fact that she has this dream might reflect her fears. tells her father that Nadine is still young and that she can't go to where her father wants to ta e her yet. Mahmoud is very loyal to her although he goes some places without telling her sometimes.or perhaps less clearly sometimes . Has san. failing a course. no proof exists on either side of the argument. Dreams li e thi s have always been controversial. That person was rescued from a severe stro e that he g ot during his dream. whose father has died five years ago. Mariam Farrag is a nother one I interviewed. Some dreams are very controversial when it comes to trying to interpret them. He said that when someone dreams that he is falling d own. loosing someon e. Perhaps this is an observation that provides a topic for another research paper! The interview that I learned the most from was with a psychiatrist by the name of Dr. tal ing about it once on his TV program.

Hassan. Hassan told me that there are two extremes as to the actual cause of dreams. but rather thoughts and stimuli from the o utside world. although the body itself is not doing an ything (Hobson. Sometimes these dreams are quit e unpleasant. one should concentrate hard right after wa ing up. Dr. Hassa n also explained that everybody experiences dreams. and the dream s that we have are not really dreams. That's why we thin that we are actually seeing or moving. Mah moud. where the brain becomes very active and our eyes move bac and forth very quic ly. or maybe the unconscious tying toget her of nown information. Dr. One extreme is the Freudian idea that dreams are caused by the subconsc ious thoughts and desires. Dreams occur in a period of sleep called REM (rapid eye movement). The answer is prob ably somewhere in the middle. Dr. and our brain is thin ing. but this might be due to coincidence. the breathing slows. In other words. Hassan has an explanation that is no less interesting than that of Dr. and he told me that this has been reported in several c ases. and their periods b ecome longer as the night progresses. People that say they never dream probably just don' t remember their dreams. and t he brain might interpret this as the body dying. According to Dr. This is a sign that there are certain thoughts that occupy the dr eamer much. bu t also all inds of mammals. Some times people suddenly remember their dreams later in the da y. but there are also four other periods of non -REM (NREM) sleep. on the other ha nd. This means that our senses are operating normally and we can hear different noises around us. The last period can last up to 40 minutes. During those periods the brain is very relaxed. As for the case of the person dreaming that he is falling down . without even thin ing about it. I as ed Dr. either consciously or unconsciously. some people eep getting the same dreams over a nd over again. Giant neurons that come from the brain stem drive the brain and fool it into thin ing that the motor neurons are active. as we often hear. During REM sleep. 1989). and an outsider cannot jump into his brain and tell him wh at his dreams mean for him. That's why people usually just remember their last couple of dreams. He does not believe that if the dreamer actually hits the groun d he will die. the brain is very active but isolated from outside stimuli. so it sends an electrical pulse to the muscles. The part of Dr. In order t o remember the dreams. but the results were varied because these inds of dreams were dif ficult to study in laboratory settings. The exact cause is un nown. not only humans. in fact. and the body see ms to be paralyzed. with the idea that small parts of memory and imagi nation combine to form dreams. Someti mes eeping a pencil and paper handy helps because you can write down the dream upon wa ing up. Hassan if dreams can predict the future.I thin the information he provided me with proved to be essential for this pap er. REM sleep occurs up to 30 times in one night. On the question of the po ssibility of dreams having significant meanings in our lives he said that this i s really up to the individual and we cannot generalize. Everyone must decide for himself what his dreams mea n for him and what they indicate in his daily life. at conscious and subconscious levels. It says in the boo that there is a period of RE M sleep where we experience dreams. Hassan. I managed to get some more information about REM sleep from Rita At inso n's Introduction To Psychology. Hassan's interview that was of great interest for me was                                           . it is no nsense when someone dreams of something and goes to someone else who tells him w hat his dream really means. He attributes the feeling of falling down to a sudden contraction that ta es place in the big body muscles. The heart rate goes down. This is the time when sev eral great inventors solved their problems and discovered solutions and ways for great inventions and ideas. which is nown as a myoclonic jer . A few laboratory studies have been made to study predi ctive dreams. but it is probably some disturbance in the brain's functions i n the first stage of sleep. The reason for that is that each human being has an individual character. while the other extreme holds that dreams are caused by random "noise" in the neurons without any special meaning. I now return to the interview with Dr. and they indicate that there is a certain problem that the person should face soon.

perceive sounds.C. An interesting fact is that nightmares can be caused by certain drugs or medications. f eebly. The second article inte rprets the dream of flying. and it explains it as the dreamer's feelings of free dom. The last article interprets the common dream of being unprepared for a n exam. When I thin about this it ma es sense. Sometimes the person has to deal with his problems that are causing these night mares. some people would argue t hat it is nicer to just experience the dream as it comes. Dr. For my last source of information I decided to use the Internet. they can decide to face the dream figure that is intending to harm them. and contact. and sometimes you get them analyzed. many of which are li e the ones answered in my interview with Dr. Such an attemp t was made as early as 350 B. without being able to control it by being lucid. savour. Lucid dreamers can achieve a certain degree of control o ver their dreams. the more I realize how incredibly huge and complex it i s. when such presentation oc curs during sleep" (Aristotle 'On Dreams' ). even more than 2. and the cause is attri buted to outside pressures from a job or a relationship. As I expecte d. Hassan ended. The dream proper is a pr esentation based on the movement of sense impressions. sadness. They say that the people that get this dream were usually never unprepared for exams in real life. it is far from being unraveled. However. and success.000 years after this paper. Some traumatic events and accidents also cause terrible nightmares that are repeated over and o ver again. espec ially that this is something that happens to me personally. or by illness and fever. by Aristotle. I thin that in spite of all the scientific material avai lable on the process of dreaming. possibly unconsciously. which occur in sleep be called dreams. however. Nevertheless. Lucidity i s a technique that can be developed by hard concentration in the dream and by al ways trying to test the reality of the dream. many adults exper ience them at least once a month. our informati                             . For example. because it depend s on the dreamer and on the type of nightmare. Although children have the largest share of nightmares. but they tend to evaluate themselves very harshly in their daily lives and who face up to challenging sit uations. In conclusion. glory. However. Some people achieve very high levels of lucidi ty where they can create their own dream world in the dream.This ingenious paper by Aristotle m anaged to define dreams and to distinguish the thoughtli e dreams that we encoun ter during NREM sleep from the real dreams that we experience in REM sleep. so they just relax in the dream. and they usually wa e up very distr essed. To get rid of nightmares is a very difficult issue. some persons when a sleep actually. For in the first place. Concerning nightmares. gui lt. and in a matter of seconds I was bomba rded with hundreds of articles and lin s. remotely. light. and some nightmares just go away with time. that ma e him fly over cities and hover around above al l people.when he started explaining to me about being aware that you are dreaming. and live any fantasies that they can imagine. Some nightmares can be avoided by learning to become a lucid dreamer. They now that they can't be harmed because they are dreaming. which my mother often gets. It's a phenomenon that is difficult to analyze because sometimes it is not clear in ni ghtmares where the real problem lies. or anxiety in nightmares. as distinct from the mer e presentations. Hassan. I also found some frequently as ed questions about dreams and nightmares. Nor should the true thoughts. ta e any actions. and by testing the environment to see if you are awa e or dreaming. and I chose three of them to attach with this paper. This is where the interview with Dr. I printed s ome articles offering dream interpretations. fear. Hassan explained that they are usually caused by some serious problems that affect the person. in a certain way. I found several dream analysis lin s w here you share your dreams on the Internet. One is about the dream of being chased. This phenomenon is nown as lucid dreaming. instead of just running away. He stated that "the dream is a sor t of presentation which occurs in sleep" and that "not every presentation which occurs in sleep necessarily a dream. and I must say that I got much more than I hoped for. Dreamers experience feelings of anger. at least where my mother is con cerned. I typed the phrase "sleep and dreams". I'm getting the feeling that the more I learn about the issue.

Hassan. Dr. "Introduction To Psychology". 1996. Mariam. and the limits of dreams are stretched as far as the human imagination goes. Safinaz. The best we can do is to give limited explanations that we thin might wor with us. Shaw y. Teymour. but the true secrets of dreaming will never be uncovered. "http://www1. It is a phenomenon that defies the laws of physics and society. 22 yrs. Nadine. 21 yrs.edu/~sul er/dreams. Dreams Interpretation Services & Resources. which ma es us appreciate dreams more a nd more. Economics major at Cairo University. Wor s Cited Abdel Hamid. Practicing Psychiatrist. Aristotle. such as science and technology.on about dreams is still very limited when compared to other areas that human be ings achieved great success in. The main problem is the great diversity of the issue and the difficulty of conducting physical e xperiments and analysis on such a phenomenon. student at DSB. We can just share our dreams and try to understand some events that happen to dreamers all around the world. Mar eting Analyst at Daewoo Co. Political Science major at AUC.C. 23 yrs. 17 yrs..... 1993. 350 B.. Ranya.html".                   . Rafi . Farrag. Farou . "On Dreams".rider... 20 yrs. Rita L. Mechanical Engineering major at AUC. Ghaleb. At inson.

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