Do You Dream?

What are dreams? Are they random impulses from the brain-stem? Useful insights on how to solve a problem? Buried emotions? Or are they the brain’s attempt to sort through and “neaten” the day’s events?


Perhaps dreams have predictive power; that they hold hidden meaning which should be heeded. Well, if you believe this last answer, you are not alone.


In a recent article in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, researchers discuss six studies on people’s beliefs about their dreams and about dreams in general. Research participants included over 1,000 college students from both Western and Eastern cultures. Results from these studies indicated that people tend to attribute meaning to their dreams and often allow their dreams to guide their behavior. However, an individual’s pre-existing beliefs will slant the interpretation given to a dream.


So then, what are dreams? Sorry to say, there really is no pat answer. Perhaps dreams are all of the above. They are intangible and, obviously, open to interpretation. They can be vivid and memorable. They can be frightening or consoling. Some people say they can enter their dreams and change the outcome (lucid or conscious dreaming). Other people blame their stomachs for their dreams.


The studies in this article don’t tell us what dreams are. However, they do tell us that dreams are such a part of life that, world-wide, people try to explain them and give meaning to them.


Maybe it is our fundamental beliefs as people that will ultimately bring us together.




Mary Lou Bernardo, PhD, MSN


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