1. Welcome to PHCorner Forums. Take a moment to Sign up and gain unlimited access and extra privileges that guests are not entitled to, such as:

    All that and more! Registration is quick, simple and absolutely free. Join our community today!

Trivia A researcher set out to discover what people across the globe dream about

Discussion in 'Lifestyle & Healthy Living' started by meowzkingz, May 22, 2015.

  1. The first thing I learned is: Everybody flies.

    Consider the surly taxi driver I met in Ukraine who, when asked what he dreamed of at night, responded, “I jump and then I fly—higher than the trees, higher than the trolley wires.”

    “I think when I die,” he mused, “that’s what it’s going to be like.”

    As an instructor in psychology at the City College of New York, I teach about the power of the subconscious, whose hidden cognition comprises Please or Register to view linksof brain activity. Increasingly, research is confirming that we humans are Please or Register to view links beings, largely oblivious to the mind’s extensive inner workings. Dreams are one of the few exceptions.

    I’ve always had an active dream life (just recently, I sent a herd of buffalo rampaging through a deserted Times Square, and performed psychic surgery on a thousand-chambered heart). Curious whether others had similar experiences, I started the Please or Register to view links project, a Facebook page of dreams gathered on my off hours while traveling as a journalist. Over the last 10 months, I’ve collected dreams from hundreds of people in 17 countries.

    In class, I teach from a scientific perspective—everything from Freud’s interpretation of dreams as encrypted “ Please or Register to view links” to Jie Zhang’s theory of dreams as a Please or Register to view links. Each paradigm is different, but most ignore the innate power of dreams. Dreams are typically regarded as part of a subordinate reality that only becomes significant if it can be translated into something rational.

    But when dreams are experienced on their own terms, they offer a glimpse of how expansive our minds can be outside the strictures of physical reality. They remind us that some of our most meaningful and transformative experiences are, by nature, irrational. Since most academic research on dreams is generated in the West, I ventured overseas for a fuller understanding of that potential.


    I have found that, across cultures, dreams often entail a return to mysticism or the divine, and allow people to engage in magical thinking without stigma. But I’ve noticed population-specific trends as well.

    Violent nightmares are common in the gang-ridden border towns of Mexico and the war zone of eastern Ukraine. Scenes of nuclear war still haunt the “duck-and-cover” generation in both the East and the West. Blessings by gods and goddesses are frequently reported in heavily religious India, whereas in more secular Western populations, those same functions are often performed by celebrities.

    I’m not the first to document the link between culture and dream content. In Please or Register to view links, the dreams of Palestinian children in violent areas were found to feature more aggression and persecution than those of Palestinian children living in peaceful areas; in Please or Register to view links, African American women were shown to have more dreams in which they are victims of circumstance or fate than Mexican American or Anglo American women.

    I’ve received my share of rude rebuffs, as well as a few heartbroken looks from people who mistook me for Please or Register to view links. Still, the most common reaction to my elevator pitch is a smile. People are more open than I ever imagined; it amazes me that I can walk up to someone I’ve never met before and, in a matter of minutes, be talking to them about some of their deepest and most personal reflections, or laughing like old friends.


    Even when someone says no to me, the exchange can be enlightening.

    “My dreams?” a woman in Latvia asked. “That’s something very private, isn’t it?”

    “It’s OK,” I assured her. “I’m a professional, you see. So it’s rather like undressing for a doctor’s exam. Strictly business.”

    “Actually,” she countered, “I’m a , so I have no problem taking off my clothes. But my dreams? That’s very different.”

    The first person I ever approached for the project was a cashier in Iceland named Heiða, who happened to be a berdreymin,a term Icelanders use to describe someone who sees the future in dreams. It was a gift, she explained, passed down through generations on her father’s side. Several people I’ve met have relayed experiences of perceived clairvoyance in dreams.

    Magical thinking is a common element in dreams throughout the world, and perhaps nowhere more so than in Iceland. In a nation where Please or Register to view links Please or Register to view links believes in elves, the line dividing reality and unreality can be elusive, as this dream from a man named Hermundur shows.


    Hermundur speculated that the fairy he saw came to comfort him in his loneliness. Dream visitations by benevolent mystical beings seem to be archetypal, with personal belief and culture often determining what form the figures take.

    Such phantom visitations are perhaps most beneficial for those coping with the death of a loved one. I’m repeatedly told about visions of the dead and the positive effect they have on the grieving process. The encounters are often brief, and the apparitions impervious to touch or inaccessible in other ways. Still, the deceased usually appear content and vivacious. Most dreamers report a feeling of closure.

    Of course, death can also haunt sleep, as it often does for veterans, trauma victims, and the elderly.

    Among the dreams I’ve encountered, some of the most fascinating have been those involving mystical states of consciousness, or a lucid manipulation of the dream space by the dreamer. They suggest an existential freedom far beyond that enjoyed in waking life.

    I have always found the surreal aesthetics of dreams appealing, but it took 10 months of collecting them to understand why. I used to think of their inherent mystery—of all mystery really—as a simple lack of information. Mystery was a vacuum to be filled by knowledge. I see things differently now. I believe that mystery is an active and substantial force in its own right.
Tags / Keywords: