The Meaning Of Dreams
You're drenched in sweat. Your heart is pounding. You have a very strong feeling you are being chased by a T-Rex. Are you crazy? Have you been teleported back in time? No, your brain is just interpreting some random electrical firings. In other words, you're dreaming.
What Is a Dream?
There is a little disagreement on exactly what dreams are about, but most scientists agree on this basic explanation - your brain pieces together images and stories (AKA dreams) from random electrical pulses it receives from the brain stem. These pulses are sent out every hour and a half or so, while you are sleeping. They are 100 percent random, which means they come in no set order. Your forebrain (the front part of your brain) tries to make sense of the signals, like you would try to make sense of an abstract painting. The way your brain interprets these signals determines what you dream about.
What Do Dreams Mean?
It's hard to know exactly what dreams mean - or if they mean anything at all. Some sleep experts think the way your brain interprets the electrical pulses may tell you about yourself - in the same way an ink blot test can. One of the most famous modern psychiatrists, Carl Jung, thought that images in dreams (monsters, masks, parents, whatever), represent the same things to all people. He called it our "collective unconscious." This kind of thinking has inspired dream dictionaries, which attach specific meanings to major symbols that may show up in your dreams. Others believe that the meanings behind your dreams are more personal than that and may be shaped by past experiences. For example, to one person, dreaming about a clown is a positive experience that represents happiness. To another person who is afraid of clowns, the dream may symbolize fear and anxiety.
Deciphering Your Dreams
Here are some possible meanings behind major symbols that might pop up in your dreams. An alternate way of analyzing your dreams would be to write down all the major symbols from your dreams and brainstorm what those symbols mean to you.
- Being Chased - Chase dreams usually reflect how you are dealing with anxiety in your waking life.
- Cartoons - Cartoons can symbolize disguised identity. Dreams with cartoons in them often represent unknown or deceptive people or situations.
- A Crush - Usually dreaming about your crush has to do with the feelings of warmth and affection you have towards the person. If you're crushing on someone whose face you can't see, it may mean that you feel ready for a BF/GF, but don't have anyone in particular in mind.
- Dad - Depending on the situation, dreaming of your father can represent authority or protection.
- Dinosaur - Dreaming of a dinosaur probably represents something that you feel is too big to handle or scary because it is unknown.
- Falling - Falling dreams are not considered to be very meaningful psychologically. Scientist believe that when we are falling asleep, our sense of balance changes, which leads us to feel like we're falling. This phenomenon even has a fancy name - it's called a myoclonic jerk.
- Mom - Usually dreaming of your mother represents nurturing, protection and comfort.
- Monster - Monsters can represent parts of yourself that you find uncivilized or ugly. They can also represent fear of the unknown.
- Pet - Dreaming of a pet is a lot like dreaming of a baby. These dreams often symbolize fragility and dependence.
- School - School is a natural setting in kids' dreams, so it usually doesn't have any symbolic significance.