We pull ourselves out of bed every once in a while, trying to fathom the thin line between the figments of reality and our imagination. We press ourselves to rewind those disjointed plots, which are hazily enshrouded deep within our minds, but fail to retrieve any sizeable facet. Waking up in the morning, we try hard to piece together what we see, but never seem to thoroughly identify with it. Assuming it to be something nugatory, we fail to grasp on to this evanescent dream, letting it slip right through our mind.
Being a topic that has been dealt with over many millennia, dreams come across as a simplistic phenomena that everyone pretends to understand, yet no one seems to comprehend. This enigmatic nature that varnishes a dream makes its study (known as onierology) all the more intriguing and encaptivating. Although they come as a simple occurrence, the underlying meaning that outlines a dream is merely knotty. Along the course of history, dreams have been classified equivocally, shrouding its actual significance. Before humans could identify with the scientific reasoning behind dreams, different cultures perceived them in eccentric ways.
The Egyptians believed their gods showed themselves in dreams and visions, and used to lie in what were known as ‘dream beds’, in hope of good advice. The Egyptians considered dreams as a sacred part of their culture, which they documented on Papyrus. The Ancient Greeks took forward this concept of dreams, using the idea of its incubation, giving it a therapeutic role in their culture. Various other European cultures assumed dreams to be a medium through which God communicated to them, classifying them as divine visions. The Chinese, on the other hand, attributed the dreams to the wandering soul of a dreamer. They pictured the souls to be wandering at night, leaving the body to communicate with the land of the dead.
Although archaic views on dreams were no less than outlandish, the way people perceived them began to change rapidly. There came the era of rapid advancement, where philosophers such as Aristotle, Plato and Artemidorus elucidated a novel understanding to dreams. They began to identify that a person’s physical health, age, and recent experiences had a large influence on the content of their dreams. Narrowing this reasoning to a more adept phrase, researchers hypothesized dreaming as a ‘Way to act out unconscious desires in a safe or unreal setting, because doing so in reality would be unacceptable or detrimental.’ Then came a time when researchers discovered the Rapid Eye Movement stage of sleep (REM), during which the brain exhibited a great deal of neuronal activity, unlike what we would witness during deep sleep.
Most scientists now take a stand that dreaming is nothing but a meaningless byproduct of the simple biological functioning of the brain. This statement, however, doesn’t give us the perspicuous answer we all seek. The intricacies of our emotions and real life encounters, manage to commix and manifest a vivid visual delineation that’s all too realistic to be deemed as figmental; and this is precisely what keeps the perplexity alive till date. Science may rubbish the notion that vivid dreams and visions can lead to clairvoyance and psychic abilities, but who’s to say science is absolutely right? The human curiosity has yet to be sated with a definitive answer, but till we manage to figure it out, I believe its best we think of dreams as nonsensical images that merely rove our minds at night.