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a theory on why we really dream
January 3, 2008 3:02 AM   Subscribe

Dreams: Night School Revonsuo puts it, "The primary function of negative dreams is rehearsal for similar real events, so that threat recognition and avoidance happens faster and more automatically in comparable real situations."
posted by drea (57 comments total) 9 users marked this as a favorite

 
"If failure to be an effective rat were due to mere sleep deprivation, amphetamines would have reversed the effect"

Hell of an assumption right there.
posted by Leon at 3:07 AM on January 3, 2008 [2 favorites]


This guy failed to have enough nightmares about shitty scientific methodology.
posted by Optamystic at 3:10 AM on January 3, 2008 [3 favorites]


Thanks to the rehearsals staged by my dreams, I have never once forgotten to wear pants to school.
posted by Faint of Butt at 3:24 AM on January 3, 2008 [8 favorites]


And I have never reached into my mouth and pulled out one of my teeth.
posted by Astro Zombie at 3:27 AM on January 3, 2008


And I am ready to make a speedy escape on my flying carpet when the monster under my bed comes out for real.
posted by three blind mice at 3:51 AM on January 3, 2008


Most of my nightmares are really frikken surreal, like off the chart weirdness.

I guess they are preparing me to be blase when I go totally insane.
posted by Deathalicious at 3:53 AM on January 3, 2008 [7 favorites]


from the article: As it turns out, we have 300 to 1,000 threat dreams per year—one to four per night. Just under half are aggressive encounters: physical aggression such as fistfights, and nonphysical aggression such as verbal arguments. The rest are about car crashes, falling and drowning, missing a meeting or a test, being lost or trapped, and being naked in public.

I'd love a good old fashioned car crash or drowning dream. Lately it seems like the dreams I wake up remembering involve doing paperwork or working around the house - which are what I do when I'm awake too! I used to have wonderfully surreal dreams and now it's mostly just daily minutia, but even more confusing. Great, my dreams are becoming a boring old man just a little faster than the real life me.
posted by Slack-a-gogo at 4:06 AM on January 3, 2008 [2 favorites]


This is infuriating, and their conclusions are moronic. Step one, torture a rat by dunking it in water every time it falls asleep for many days in a row. Step two, scratch our chins when the rat acts disoriented and "ineffective." Step three, shoot it full of drugs- that should make that an effective rat! But wait, the rat is still acting shocked and recklessly wandering around. Hmmm. Better get another rat.

The most sensible theory about dreams that I ever heard is mentioned briefly (and dismissed) in this article: More recently, dreams have been viewed as mere "epiphenomena"-- excrescences of the brain with no function at all, the mind's attempt to make sense of random neural firing while the body restores itself during sleep.
posted by The Loch Ness Monster at 4:28 AM on January 3, 2008


Thanks to the rehearsals staged by my dreams, I have never once forgotten to wear pants to school.
And I have never reached into my mouth and pulled out one of my teeth.


Ditto for me. And in addition I never neglect to attend my university course for an entire year then wonder nervously when the exam is.
posted by Turtles all the way down at 4:55 AM on January 3, 2008 [2 favorites]


And I have never reached into my mouth and pulled out one of my teeth.

You have that dream too??? I always thought I was re-living loosing my baby teeth, only more disturbingly.
posted by fermezporte at 5:05 AM on January 3, 2008


TLNM, that's called the "Activation Synthesis hypothesis" (apparently a theory now) if you'd like to do more research on it. And whee, it was formulated by the guy my sleep psych prof. did her graduate work with.

The answer seems to me to be that activation synthesis happens, but with portions of memory and learning involved. There is a lot of research being done on sleep and learning right now, including slow-wave (deep) sleep, stage 2 (sort of the transitory period between SWS and REM) and REM. Learning of different things happens at different periods in sleep, depending on what's active at the time. For example, in REM, the hippocampus is active. Among other things, the hippocampus codes for "place" in the brain. Which is why most dream reports begin with "I was in/at ______". So functions involving the hippocampus (long-term memory, spatial navigation) tend to benefit from REM sleep.

This study is (to me, at least), nothing new. It's too bad I'm not familiar with a good book that really distills what we know about sleep right now for the layman. Indeed, when I took the course at Cornell, we just read journal articles for lack of an effective text. Maybe I'll check out this book by Deirdre Barrett mentioned in the article.

For those talking about this study vs. the ridiculousness of dreams, you recall probably less than 1/4-1/5 of your dreams. And I'm betting the ones you remember tend more towards the bizarre. Not many people run around saying to their friends: "Wow, I had the strangest dream last night! I was practicing my forms just like in Karate class for two hours!" Nah, you remember the exciting/weird/puzzling dreams, because your brain hangs on to them, trying to decipher what the fuck it's just seen. I'm not justifying the point of the article, but I'm saying it's not as far-fetched as it might seem.

Rehearsal is one of the best ways to induce lucid dreaming. Often, researchers will give their subjects a wristband with the words "reality check" on it (Meatbomb, did you ever get this tattooed on your person?), and they have to check it on a set schedule, whereupon they ask themselves "Am I dreaming?". In a few days, they find themselves rehearsing the reality check in a dream, where the answer becomes "Yes, I am dreaming" and voila! lucidity is achieved for roughly 50% of subjects (this is a big number). Sheila Purcell did this to good effect in one study which you can read here (Ch. 6, p. 197).
posted by Eideteker at 5:08 AM on January 3, 2008 [8 favorites]


About the only dreams I seem to remember are those that are ongoing when I am awakened by something. Odder yet, I mostly dream in monochrome. Not necessarily black and white though; sometimes it's black and red, or black and green, something like that. Makes me wonder if I sustained some brain damage or something; I did have a couple of mean head injuries as a child, and I also had double pneumonia and bronchitis once (with a fever that topped 109 and almost killed me), and I was once locked in a toy chest by vicious older step-brothers for so long I passed out from lack of oxygen (which also almost killed me).
posted by jamstigator at 5:15 AM on January 3, 2008


the mind's attempt to make sense of random neural firing while the body restores itself during sleep

So if you dream about, say, a family conflict that you're thinking about a good deal during your waking hours, that's coincidental, arising from the mind attempting to interpret synaptic randomness? I suspect there's more to it than epiphenomena.
posted by pax digita at 5:15 AM on January 3, 2008 [1 favorite]


So being on a pirate ship and attacking all those gnomes made out of dried apricot covered in honey last night was just a rehearsal for the real thing. Right. Ok.
posted by Henry C. Mabuse at 5:17 AM on January 3, 2008 [1 favorite]


Eideteker, I'm so doing that thing with the wristband.

If the rehearsal theory turns out to be correct, I will be well prepared for a career as a Viking.
posted by The Loch Ness Monster at 5:26 AM on January 3, 2008 [1 favorite]


So being on a pirate ship and attacking all those gnomes made out of dried apricot covered in honey last night was just a rehearsal for the real thing

Arrr, me tiny, dried-apricot hearties! Ye scurvy-preventin' dogs, hoist the Jelly Roger - I'll dribble honey on any of ye who won't heave-ho!
posted by the quidnunc kid at 5:27 AM on January 3, 2008


And in addition I never neglect to attend my university course for an entire year then wonder nervously when the exam is

It's disturbing to me just how common this one is. Makes no sense whatsoever, especially now that in my dream I'm working a full-time job and going to school 2,000 miles away.
posted by 0xFCAF at 5:30 AM on January 3, 2008


Eideteker, I'm so doing that thing with the wristband.

http://www.ld4all.com/
http://www.lucidity.com/

Have fun. Be sure to report back whether you were a literal or figurative viking.
posted by Eideteker at 5:57 AM on January 3, 2008 [5 favorites]


And in addition I never neglect to attend my university course for an entire year then wonder nervously when the exam is

Yeah, I've also had this one on and off for years. Never when I was actually in school, though.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 6:08 AM on January 3, 2008


Related to the missed-classes dream (of which I am also a frequent sufferer) is the legendary Actor's Nightmare. Anybody here with experience on stage will know exactly what I'm talking about. For the benefit of any non-thespians who may have wandered into this thread, the Actor's Nightmare is a very specific dream in which an actor finds himself on stage, in front of an audience, with absolutely no idea of what his lines are, what part he's playing, or indeed what play he's in at all.

It's the inspiration for a dark and hilarious short play by Christopher Durang titled, appropriately, The Actor's Nightmare.
posted by Faint of Butt at 6:17 AM on January 3, 2008 [1 favorite]


I'm a figurative viking at lucid dreaming. I have them so often they're not even remarkable or interesting. A lot of the time if I'm having a 'threat' dream or even just become frustrated I'll often think to myself "oh yeah I'm dreaming," and then take control of the dream so that whatever it was trying to do becomes 'done'.

I know people talk about how difficult it is to read while dreaming. But has anyone tried writing in their sleep? I often find I have no fine motor skills at all, so in my dreams my hands are like impossible to control. Probably because my brain isn't getting the feedback it normally does when using my hands, or whatever.
posted by delmoi at 6:18 AM on January 3, 2008 [1 favorite]


I am SO prepared for a zombie invasion.
posted by zebra3 at 6:20 AM on January 3, 2008


Thanks to the rehearsals staged by my dreams, I have never once forgotten to wear pants to school.

One time I was in my house but for some reason it was all strange and had a bunch of extra rooms and hallways that it didn't normally have. Thankfully I had already rehearsed that kind of situation in my dreams, otherwise I don't know what I would have done.
posted by burnmp3s at 6:21 AM on January 3, 2008 [1 favorite]


Often, researchers will give their subjects a wristband with the words "reality check" on it (Meatbomb, did you ever get this tattooed on your person?)

Yes, right up the inside of my left middle finger. Sadly, even with the fucking thing tattooed on my body, I have still not found the discipline to work towards lucid dreaming. Someday, when I have time to focus.

Here. Middle finger: "reality check"; ring finger: Islamic Crescent, Christian Cross, Star of David; pinky finger:dollar sign, hammer and sickle; under index finger: yin yan; palm: third eye with अहिंसा underneath.
posted by Meatbomb at 6:35 AM on January 3, 2008 [1 favorite]


If you're up for an awesome hour of radio on the topic of sleep, check out Radio Lab's take on it.

Dr. Robert Stickgold tells us about how he found a foothold into studying dreams, and published the first paper on the scientific study of dreams in 40 years with a little help from Tetris.

Damn, I used to have so many Tetris dreams-
Anyways, the Dream segment of the broadcast comes about 40 minutes in, but the whole thing is good.
posted by localhuman at 6:42 AM on January 3, 2008


Papa Windphone is a college professor. When he has the school dream, it's about a class he should have been teaching for the past month and forgot.
posted by nebulawindphone at 7:01 AM on January 3, 2008 [1 favorite]


But has anyone tried writing in their sleep? I often find I have no fine motor skills at all, so in my dreams my hands are like impossible to control. Probably because my brain isn't getting the feedback it normally does when using my hands, or whatever.

delmoi: Cool-this happens to me as well. Usually I just have to write something short like a phone number on a piece of paper to give to somebody. I try once, completely screw it up, then move to a different part of the page and try again, becoming increasingly frustrated. I'm left with a sheet of paper full of illegible scrawls. I like your theory regarding the lack of sensory feedback from one's hand playing a part.
posted by Turtles all the way down at 7:01 AM on January 3, 2008


Wow. This explains why I never re-enlisted.

Like, why I really, really, really never re-enlisted. Several times a month for awhile there, and at least a couple times a year now.
posted by scaryblackdeath at 7:03 AM on January 3, 2008


The most sensible theory about dreams that I ever heard is mentioned briefly (and dismissed) in this article: More recently, dreams have been viewed as mere "epiphenomena"-- excrescences of the brain with no function at all, the mind's attempt to make sense of random neural firing while the body restores itself during sleep.

I really warm to this idea, if only because it raises the happy thought that the mighty Sigmund Freud was talking complete bollocks.
posted by surfdad at 7:08 AM on January 3, 2008


One time I was in my house but for some reason it was all strange and had a bunch of extra rooms and hallways that it didn't normally have. Thankfully I had already rehearsed that kind of situation in my dreams, otherwise I don't know what I would have done.


I have had this same dream many times. My brothers and sister and I were separated at a very early age (I was 4) and put in foster care. We have all had this same dream. It has something to do with your home "being lost". At least that's what I've been able to gather with a little dream research on the net.
posted by Tablecrumbs at 7:12 AM on January 3, 2008


localhuman: Radio Lab is awesome. I haven't heard that one. I'll check it out.

Eideteker: Have fun. Be sure to report back whether you were a literal or figurative viking.

Literal. Obviously.
posted by The Loch Ness Monster at 7:13 AM on January 3, 2008


I really warm to this idea, if only because it raises the happy thought that the mighty Sigmund Freud was talking complete bollocks.

He was, except that sometimes a cigar really is just a cigar.
posted by b1tr0t at 7:16 AM on January 3, 2008


But has anyone tried writing in their sleep? I often find I have no fine motor skills at all, so in my dreams my hands are like impossible to control. Probably because my brain isn't getting the feedback it normally does when using my hands, or whatever.

I have dreams in which I'm being pursued or attacked. I feel quite in control until I turn to confront the attacker. I launch a punch and then nothing happens.

I always put this down to the fact that I have never actually punched anyone either in anger or self defense and my brain just does not know what it should feel like.

Delmoi, perhaps your point about feedback could explain it too?
posted by surfdad at 7:20 AM on January 3, 2008


I had the missed class / unkown exam day dream once too. Except it wasn't a dream.
Oops.
posted by signal at 7:34 AM on January 3, 2008


The theory that suggests that dreams, at least in part, are our minds working out stresses and unresolved conflicts (albeit in a pretty wacky way) always seemed most likely to me. We know that stress and tension isn't good for us health-wise in the long run, so it makes sense that our bodies have a mechanism for working these things out. If we didn't sleep and dream, I wonder if the stress of life would make us emotionally unstable. Over a day or two, maybe not. But over a course of years, perhaps we'd go crazy. Maybe there's a connection between going to sleep feeling stressed and waking up emotionally settled that isn't simply physical.

I've always been amazed at the little things that pop in my dreams from minor conflicts during the day that I passed off as not being that big of a deal, but my mind felt the need to mull over. It also makes me wonder if we aren't always internally reflective or proactive enough during our waking hours (due to distractions and such) to work out the things that we need to to be emotionally healthy. I used to have dreams on a regular basis about a relationship I had years ago that never was resolved well. Just recently, I received some closure, and the dreams stopped. Anecdotal evidence to be sure, but I've had enough of these things to think there is a connection.
posted by SpacemanStix at 8:29 AM on January 3, 2008 [1 favorite]


But has anyone tried writing in their sleep? I often find I have no fine motor skills at all, so in my dreams my hands are like impossible to control. Probably because my brain isn't getting the feedback it normally does when using my hands, or whatever.

I have a lot of dreams where I have to use the phone for something and I just can't dial. My hands flail helplessly and I hit the wrong numbers. Oftentimes in the dream something bad is happening and I have to call 911 and I can't, for whatever reason. The few times I've had to dial 911 in real life have been really weird and surreal because I grab my phone, expecting my fingers to not work but hey presto - they do and I'm able to dial successfully.
posted by sutel at 8:31 AM on January 3, 2008


signal: I used to have the surprise exam dream on a regular basis and I would always wake up in a panic. One day I showed up 5 minutes late for a class and struggled to keep a poker face while I sat down and took and exam for which I was completely unprepared.

I got a C- on the exam, but never had that dream again.

It was worth it.
posted by Benjamin Nushmutt at 8:57 AM on January 3, 2008


Ditto for me. And in addition I never neglect to attend my university course for an entire year then wonder nervously when the exam is.

I hate this one.

The one that I keep having three+ years out of school is where it's the end of the school year and I learn that I've been enrolled in a class that I went to maybe three times at the beginning and then promptly forgot about. suck.
posted by striker at 9:08 AM on January 3, 2008


This is amusingly timed for me. I had a dream last night wherein I was shot. As I lay there bleeding, losing my vision, and generally just dying I contemplated whether attempting to believe in some divine being before I really kicked the bucket was a worthwhile endeavor. Apparently, my threat simulator is very fatalistic.
posted by invitapriore at 9:30 AM on January 3, 2008


This is infuriating, and their conclusions are moronic.

It's from Psychology Today. that's basically their slogan.

Psychology Today: We are infuriating, and our conclusions are moronic
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 9:48 AM on January 3, 2008


Moronic science for sure, but still interesting conclusions.

And I am very well prepared for when Brad Pitt offers me the bar stool next to his.
posted by rmless at 10:14 AM on January 3, 2008


I feel like my dreams are cut from different cloth than other peoples. Not in the events. I have typical events. But people's descriptions of what things are like are so...standard 3D.

My dreams do NOT look like real life. At all. Things don't really have colors, they are painted on gossamer sheets against a black backdrop. Or maybe it isn't black. Maybe it's that multicolored noise you see when you try and see in the dark. I can never see all of a person, things are zoomed in or long shots. objects and people are usually coming out of the gossamer backdrop like those halloween decorations of ghastly faces behind stretched rubber. They dont act like it and they move with total freedom,

My eyes aren't connected to my head, I'm watching through a camera that turns and looks at whatever it wants or avoids whatever it wants. When I'm struggling to fill out that test, half the battle is to look at it.

I feel adrift in my dream body. That it is a robot, and I am half it's size. Sometimes I can control it, sometimes I can't. It all feels like a steady cam movie.

Hmmm... somebody should make a steady cam movie where the camera is right next to or underneath the protagonist. It might make for a truly dreamlike experience. Not a cloverfield type thing, but a Lynchian thing, from the point of view of the protagonist...but off center.

metafilter comments are great places to brainstorm
posted by Brainy at 10:35 AM on January 3, 2008


Dude, thanks to this thread, I have 666 favorites now.
posted by Eideteker at 10:41 AM on January 3, 2008


"I hate listening to people's dreams. It is like flipping through a stack of photographs. If I'm not in any of them and nobody is having sex, I just don't care. "

-Dennis
posted by Uther Bentrazor at 10:43 AM on January 3, 2008


When I was 15, I had a dream that I accidentally went into reverse at a stop light and ended up killing myself and my dad by plowing into the car behind us. Next day, my dad and I were going to the grocery store, and he made me do the driving. So, we were at a stoplight. Light turned green. And off we went... backwards. Being an easily confused new driver still in the learning stages and panicking, I didn't immediately know what was going on, but I knew it was familiar for some reason. Then I remembered - in my dream from the previous night, I had put the gear in Reverse instead of Drive (I had a bad habit of putting the car in Park whenever I stopped). I corrected the situation in the nick of time.

I shouted to my dad that I'd had a dream about the exact same scenario, but he didn't think it was as cool as I did. All he had to say about it was, "JUST... GO!!!!"

Hmph.
posted by katillathehun at 10:52 AM on January 3, 2008


MetaFilter: We are infuriating, and our conclusions are moronic
posted by Faint of Butt at 10:55 AM on January 3, 2008 [1 favorite]


I've been attempting to lucid dream for the last couple weeks now, with varying degrees of success. However, I'm wondering - if it's believed that dreams are the brain's way of working problems out, and I take control of a lucid dream, are the problems still being worked out in the background?

Basically, are my lucid dreams doing more harm than good for my overall mental well being? (granted, having a lucid dream is awesome, but risk/reward, y'know?)
posted by leo. at 11:29 AM on January 3, 2008


Yeah, katillathehun, I've had two pre-cog dreams that helped out. A lot. In one, I stepped in front of a van, for no reason. The next day some psycho pushed me in front of a fast-moving van, and, I believe, having been a little more mentally prepared for it, squirmed and twisted as the van swerved and I just missed a very bad experience. (The other was a complicated auto-related dream.)

BTW, just last night I had the Actor's Dream. Again, dammit! This time, thankfully, it had a happy ending, as just before I opened my mouth, (this was a large outdoor stage), a freakish weather experience caused the audience to leave.

Strange thing about the Actor's Dream, for me (and I have been on stage pretty much in real life), is that it is usually all about the preliminaries...finding a backstage script for a play I totally forgot about and is just about to start, etc...and there is never a humiliating moment on stage in front of a live audience, as there would be in real life. Maybe my subconscious is even too afraid of that experience.
posted by kozad at 11:51 AM on January 3, 2008


I have nightmares about bones. Nightmares where all of my bones have been broken, and a threat is approaching me and I can't get away. Nightmares set in cityscapes of bones. Nightmares where my teeth are plucked out of my head one at a time.

Apparently my mind is preparing me for the onslaught of Giger-esque monsters.

Either that, or missing an exam in school. (Why is this one so common?)
posted by sonic meat machine at 12:08 PM on January 3, 2008


My favorite dream(s) are recurring where I am being constantly chased like an Indiana Jones movie, yet, constantly eluding my nemesis. I'll dive behind the wall as bullets hit just behind me, roll and jump over the abyss just as the cliff crumbles around me. Other times its very cerebral, where I am hiding and stealthly eluding the hundreds of people searching for me. Its taken place in a WWI and WWII scenes, I've been chased by gangsters and skinheads, and zombies. I always awaken feeling refreshed and very strong and confident. I love these dreams.
posted by sfts2 at 12:36 PM on January 3, 2008


You think rats have weird dreams? I mean, two rats sitting there and one says he dreamt of flying cheddar or something?
I used to watch my dog dream, his paws would twich, his lip would curl a bit, he’d make little noises in his throat.

That actor’s dream....pretty much what improvisationalists do, innit?

“I feel quite in control until I turn to confront the attacker. I launch a punch and then nothing happens.”

I get that. I’ve punched a lot. Sometimes I feel like I can’t hit hard enough. Or my punches are full strength, but it’s like hitting a soft but unyielding surface (whatever form the pursuer takes).

“One time I was in my house but for some reason it was all strange and had a bunch of extra rooms and hallways that it didn't normally have.”

Same thing happened to me. I went down one of the hallways and it was really long and someone was chasing me and there was this train coming and my legs were moving so slow I knew I couldn’t get away in time. But because I’d dreamed it, I...uh...wtf there’s a train in my house?
I gotta get a lawyer, eminent domain is getting way out of hand.

I really like the scene from “Top Secret!” where Val Kilmer is dreaming he’s late for a big test and running through school halls then he snaps out of it and he’s being tortured by Nazis and he says “Oh, thank God.”
posted by Smedleyman at 12:56 PM on January 3, 2008


It's the end of the thread, I can see it petering out, but I have a life-long recourring dream I wanted to share here.

My dream is like that of an alien invasion dream, but different: in that reality "opens up" and the Lovecraft-ian beasts do begin to arrive (heralded by "fireballs from the sky") and the world becomes a giant save-humanity underground with doorways and holes and passageways opening in places where previously only reality existed. It is as if reality was a facade or front for a larger nature of all things wherein physical laws give way to the way of the Harvesting Users (like meta-versions of cattle-farmers that thrive on pain and suffering: with human souls as cattle).


This is occuring outside of time, so it goes on for as long as it goes on, then everything returns to ordinary, with no breach in time. For us, our memories are reverted, yet the psychic scars are retained, emotional ranges stretched beyond reconciliation. We have no memories per se but the emotionals experienced during the "herding" leave high-water marks on our emotional experience sets. Most have to do with horror and relative emotions experienced during Bosch-ian episodes that last for an eternity but outside of time.

(This explains why we are so terrible to ourselves around the world; our psyches are damaged in ways that defy explanation.)

It is worth noting that in these periods, their onset is noted by great sirenous sounds and dogs barking and howling. There is a particular sound in my dream — like a siren or single-voiced, high-pitched scream — that when I have been reminded of in waking life has me stop in my tracks.

It is further worth noting that in the dream, while some are traitors to our kind, turning over hidden humans or leading/showing the way to to hide-houses and safe-spots, there are a remarkable number of heroes. Remember the scene Adams' Long Dark Tea Time for the Soul, where the scraggling sordid homeless turn out to be Asgardian immortals? It's like that, where ordinary mortals turn out to be people of extraordinary character, leaders in sheep's clothing.

And then I wake up and I am exhausted.

For reasons having to do with the above, long ago I gave up pot. Drinking makes me black out, so other than a sip of wine for the special dinner, I gave that up as well.

When I went to Berkeley in the '90s, it was my first real exposure to large numbers of schizophrenic people. As part of my field of study, for years I got to interact with and learn from any number of people experiencing inexplicable mental diseases and specific conditions such as schizophrenia. Especially with people suffering from the schizophrenic condition, it was astounding to me that all of these people suffer from such similar symptoms from such an undefined ailment!

A life-changing/grow up experience for me was when I smoked pot with a person suffering from schizophrenia but without my awareness of their condition! He began telling me of aliens et al (what I call "the standards") but in relation to sci-fi and held my rapt (stoned) attention. That is mid stream he looked up, and went into full freak out, and scared the living bejeebies out of me. His wife showed up immediately and explained what the deal was. But I got a terrible shock from the experience. After several similarly harrowing experiences at music festivals, sometimes good, sometimes bad, I gave up dope etc. It was too freaky.

Lastly, as a person, I have gone out of my way and sought out specific experiences — abject terror, utter disconnection, enrapturing joy, and ecstatic (near) triumph — if only for to have actual physical memories to match up with my memories of exaggerated emotion. This has been both challenging and difficult, and challenging and rewarding, but above all challenging.

As I have mentioned in at least one past comment, for various reasons having to do with school and career, I have had the great fortune of batteries tests with regards to my mental health and psychological well-being. Unfortunately, all of them have always panned out. Having dreams which trigger emotional memories from dream experiences without physical memories to connect with them has been a gift and a burden.

But one thing is for certain. This particular in yesterday's SETI post made me feel happy for all the wrong reasons. For me, the only thing worse than people suffering is not being able to identify the cause of the suffering.

Fractally speaking, everything appears to have something which "harvests" it. Subsquently, it is embarassingly naive to imagine it is otherwise for humans. In any case, I switched to vegetarianism.

I tell people it's because it reduces my carbon dioxide footprint but its really because I know exactly how cattle feel.

With regard to the premise of drea's fpp above — "The primary function of negative dreams is rehearsal for similar real events, so that threat recognition and avoidance happens faster and more automatically in comparable real situations" — in a word, uggh.

Or, perhaps, yea!
posted by humannaire at 1:11 PM on January 3, 2008 [4 favorites]


I get that. I’ve punched a lot. Sometimes I feel like I can’t hit hard enough. Or my punches are full strength, but it’s like hitting a soft but unyielding surface (whatever form the pursuer takes).

Me too. I actually had a dream like this last night, where I was fighting off pursuers, one of whom was this girl I really dislike. She kept coming after me and I kept trying to punch her in the face. I'd wind up and let fly, but it's like I was just pushing her with my fist rather than punching her. She laughed a lot and I wanted to kill her.

It's not always like that, though; seemingly only when I'm bare-fisted. If I have a weapon of some sort, I can hit hard.

For example, I had one dream where I had one of those chakram/shruiken hybrid glaives and was fighting off demons... and another where some lady was coming after me and I shattered her knees with a Snapple bottle (yeah, seriously).

Also, if dreams are preparations for real-life situations, then I'm ready for the coming of the Godzilla-sized mechanical Jesus.
posted by Verdandi at 1:17 PM on January 3, 2008


Whew. I'm glad I'll finally be prepared for when I have to move back to my parents house and take a test for a class that I've been skipping all year.
posted by Afroblanco at 2:01 PM on January 3, 2008


All my dreams seem to prepare me for are bathrooms with no walls and all the toilets unusable for some reason.

Actually, that one is kind of useful. I think if I ever did find a nice clean normal bathroom in a dream I'd have to get a new mattress.
posted by bink at 8:50 PM on January 3, 2008


Meh, the article didn't seem particularly insightful, but all snarking aside I did want to chime in and say one major epiphany point in my struggle with social anxiety was when I had a lucid dream where I purposefully sought to overcome my fear of rejection by asking a bunch of women out and letting them tell me to sod off.
posted by Skwirl at 3:11 PM on January 4, 2008


Put tags on this FPP, please. Spent a extra time looking for this so I could read it. (Thanks for the post.)
posted by not_on_display at 11:55 PM on January 7, 2008


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