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I need help with some dream interpretation...


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19 replies to this topic

#1 of 20 OFFLINE   John Kilduff

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Posted September 18 2005 - 12:35 PM

I had this dream about a week ago. Some of the details may be a little hazy, but this is what I can remember from it:

-I was back in high school, only the school was very large and on a steep incline. There was a large recreation area with skateboarding, biking, digital cable and people eating junk food.

-Later in the dream, I find myself in a "Highlander" sequel that appears to be taking place in a hotel in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, judging from the location. I recall following the Kurrgan, yet I was being followed by Eric Idle and Michael Palin in drag, as they often were on "Monty Python's Flying Circus".

-Near the end of it, explosions were going off everywhere. I found myself screaming and shrieking as the flames billowed everywhere. The explosions spread at high speed and no matter how fast I ran, I ended up getting engulfed in the flames. Oddly enough, I ended up surviving the explosions.

Can anybody tell me what any of this means?

Sincerely,

John Kilduff...

The flying walls of flame were sort of like the shriek and the electric surge that breaks the glass wall in the climax of the first "Highlander", if that means anything.
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#2 of 20 OFFLINE   Jeff Ulmer

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Posted September 18 2005 - 12:53 PM

Just how old was that pizza anyway?Posted Image

#3 of 20 OFFLINE   Joseph DeMartino

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Posted September 18 2005 - 02:29 PM

Dream researchers (who get their jollies by waking people up several times a night after REM cycles to ask them about their dreams) tell us that most people have several completely distinct dreams each night, sometimes hours apart. On waking we might remember none of them, all of them or - most commonly - bits and pieces of all of them blended together.

One example that I remember from a book on the subject is a hypothetical dreamer who dreams he is trout fishing, then walking across the Sahara, and finally a Union officer fighting at Gettysburg. When he woke up he might have "remembered" a single dream in which he was standing on a sand dune trying to fight off the entire Confederate Army with only a fishing rod.

So you may be trying to tease out the "meaning" of half-remembered fragments of several unrelated dreamettes which have no particular meaning, either separately or when blended together.

Regards,

Joe

#4 of 20 OFFLINE   BrianW

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Posted September 18 2005 - 03:37 PM

I believe that dreaming is simply the brain's way of clearing up clutter and making sense of recent experiences so it can file them away efficiently.

Whenever we encounter something or have an experience, our brains have a very strong tendency to try to extract the "meaning" of an event and mostly discard the rest before filing it away for future reference. For example, if I were to hand you a piece of paper with the written message, "The volcano in your city is going to erupt tomorrow!", chances are that you wouldn't remember the typeface or the exact color of the paper. But the message itself is something your brain is likely to want to retain. Once the intelligence is extracted, the rest is eventually forgotten. And the extracted intelligence is what the brain contemplates when it dreams by testing it in different scenarios, categorizing it, determining its potential future usefulness, and then filing it away so that it can be easily retrieved if and when a situation arises in which it would be useful. It's like ripping a CD into an MP3 file.

Some brains do this better than others. When the volcano does erupt the next day, most people will remember the note's urgent message. Others will simply remember that the person who handed them the note had red hair and an ugly tie.

Consequently, with the exception of high school dreams, dreams don't really mean much of anything. But high school dreams almost always mean that you're going through a time of uncertainty, low self-confidence, and a general feeling of being unprepared for upcoming events.

For instance, have you ever had a dream where you're back in high school, you don't remember your locker's combination, you can't find the hallway your next class is in, you discover you're naked but nobody seems to notice (yet!), and your English teacher makes you get up in front of the class and diagram the sentence "Rhonda, will you go the the prom with me?" on the chalk board, and while you're doing so, you notice that Rhonda, the girl you've had a monster crush on since fifth grade is in the front row and is the first to notice you're naked and points and laughs at you?

Me neither.
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#5 of 20 OFFLINE   Chris Lockwood

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Posted September 18 2005 - 04:25 PM

I also don't think dreams mean anything. I think they are the chemical version of pulling random words out of the dictionary.

#6 of 20 OFFLINE   Sam Davatchi

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Posted September 18 2005 - 09:05 PM

Yes, relax, you were just defragementing your brain. Posted Image

#7 of 20 OFFLINE   andrew markworthy

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Posted September 18 2005 - 11:17 PM

Alas, it's not quite that simple.

Freudian dream analysis has, it's true, been rejected by mainstream Psychology as being 'unscientific'. This is largely because it's unfalsifiable (see the works of Karl Popper for fuller explanation).

One idea that has gained a lot of popularity is that dreams are an epiphenomenon (in other words, they just happen but have no real purpose, like belly buttons). In this argument, dreams are just the brain clearing out old memories which just happens to produce surreal images.

However, you then have to ask why evolution created such an irrelevant sideshow if it is just an epiphenomenon. It has therefore been suggested by some commentators that dreaming may actually be a recoding of information in the brain and that the images produced in dreams may occasionally be informative to us when we awake. This is a half-way house between the Freudian and the defragmentation hypotheses, and I personally think it's the most plausible of the available alternatives.

However, I don't think there's one watertight theory of dreaming as yet.

#8 of 20 OFFLINE   BrianW

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Posted September 19 2005 - 01:25 AM

Let's not confuse "purpose" with "meaning." If dreams exist in order to convey messages or even to predict the future, then they would have meaning. But if defragmenting the brain (I love that phrase, btw) is all dreams are good for, then though they have no meaning, they still have a very definite and useful purpose. Our brains produce dreams just as our lungs produce carbon dioxide, yet we don't look for the "meaning" of our CO2 emmissions. The fact that dreams don't convey useful intellectual meaning doesn't make them vestigial, irrelevant, or without any purpose for life.
-Brian
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#9 of 20 OFFLINE   Joseph DeMartino

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Posted September 19 2005 - 06:35 AM

Quote:
One idea that has gained a lot of popularity is that dreams are an epiphenomenon (in other words, they just happen but have no real purpose, like belly buttons).

In this argument, dreams are just the brain clearing out old memories which just happens to produce surreal images.


But wouldn't that "argument" apply equally to all epiphenomemon? If belly buttons can exist and have no special function or purpose then it is clearly possible for evolution to produce things with no function. Dreams may or may not fall into the category, but you cannot argue that they don't on the grounds that "evolution wouldn't do that" when you've just demonstrated that evolution does, in fact, do exactly that.

Also if the "dreams" we happen to remember when we wake up are just fragments of actual complete dreams that we experince when we're sleeping, whatever "meaning" is involved presumably attaches to the actual dreams (including those we don't remember at all when we awaken) rather than the jumbled impressions we are left with. (Just as the evolutionary function of our sense of taste resides in its ability to help us distinguish different foods from one another, and not our ability to remember what chocolate tastes like when we aren't eating.)

Finally it is always dangerous to use words like "purpose" and "meaning" when discussing purely mechanical evolution, since both imply an intent that blind matter cannot have. Evolution does not have a "purpose" in inventing dreams or belly buttons or opposable thumbs. Evolution simply is.

Regards,

Joe

#10 of 20 OFFLINE   ChrisHeflen

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Posted September 19 2005 - 07:32 AM

I don't give any credit to dreams either, except when I was 9, I had a dream that my family was in a car wreck. The impact of hitting the other car worke me up.
About a year later we had the car wreck in real life just as I had dreamed it, except my brother wasn't in the car this time. Same car same exact place.

I don't buy it either.

Maybe just run down to the store and get yourself a sword.


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#11 of 20 OFFLINE   Chu Gai

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Posted September 19 2005 - 07:38 AM

The purpose of the belly button is to indicate the proximity to home plate.

#12 of 20 OFFLINE   andrew markworthy

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Posted September 19 2005 - 07:48 AM

Quote:
Finally it is always dangerous to use words like "purpose" and "meaning" when discussing purely mechanical evolution, since both imply an intent that blind matter cannot have.

I was using conceptual shorthand! I thought folks would understand that - I mean, nobody thinks that genes are really selfish do they? OH okay, maybe I should have spelt it out.

However, to some extent I agree with you Joseph. Having said that, ephiphenomena may be more widespread than a lot of people care to suppose. We may seek a meaning that just isn't there.

I tend to veer towards the 'dreams may serve a purpose' because of two things:

(1) if dreams are a product of sorting out memories, etc, then it's possible that once in while we will make a connection that we'd otherwise miss. E.g. on several occasions I've had dreams that have resolved research or administrative problems I've been having. And there are plenty of cases in the literature of great scientists and writers getting inspiration from dreams.

(2) even if they aren't constructive in themselves, dreams may act as a creative spur. Thus, even if they are totally meaningless, they may serve a function as an aid to thinking outside the box.

#13 of 20 OFFLINE   Mike Broadman

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Posted September 19 2005 - 08:07 AM

Evolution "creates" or, rather, results in a lot of things that don't seem logical because all that's required for a mutation to become dominant is reproduction.

Quote:
Also if the "dreams" we happen to remember when we wake up are just fragments of actual complete dreams that we experince when we're sleeping, whatever "meaning" is involved presumably attaches to the actual dreams (including those we don't remember at all when we awaken) rather than the jumbled impressions we are left with.


One who contends that dreams have a meaning could logically argue that the "jumbled impressions we are left with" is exactly what the message is. That is, using your example, that the person was supposed to have the impression that he was fighting off the Confederacy with a fishing rod and then supposed to derive some sort of meaning from that.

#14 of 20 OFFLINE   BrianW

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Posted September 19 2005 - 09:00 AM

Andrew, like you, I've been inspired by dreams. When I was taking two senior-level physics course during a summer session in college, along with a full-time job, I survived on less than four hours of sleep a night and worked on physics problems almost every waking minute. Almost nightly, I would find myself stumped on one or two problems and give up on them before calling it a night. In my dreams, I would figure out the solutions to the problems. I'd wake up, scribble the problem solutions down, and hand them in for a perfect grade.

But I don't attribute any sort of meaning to this. It's just a product of a constant diet of 6:00 AM physics lectures, study groups, and a constant barrage of homework. My brain was just doing what it could to catch up and digest new information while I was sleeping since there wasn't time during the day. While it felt as if I was waking up smarter than I was the night before, my thoughts were merely more organized. And after a 20-hour day of nothing but working physics problems, a little sleep would make anyone feel smarter.

And I'll also disagree with Joe to some extent. While I agree that evolution itself has no purpose, the resulting adaptations do. The purpose of the heart clearly is to pump blood. The purpose of the lungs is to take in oxygen. And the purpose of dreams is to solve physics problems. Posted Image
-Brian
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#15 of 20 OFFLINE   Joseph DeMartino

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Posted September 19 2005 - 12:55 PM

Quote:
I was using conceptual shorthand!


Of course. The problem with such language is that it can tempt us to think that way, too, if only subconciously. It can have the effect of clouding the issue, which is why I said it is dangerous to use such words because of what they imply, not that I thought you meant them literally.



Quote:
That is, using your example, that the person was supposed to have the impression that he was fighting off the Confederacy with a fishing rod and then supposed to derive some sort of meaning from that.


Then why have the original, complete, dreams at all? And why have dreams that we don't remember when we wake up? (Some individuals virtually never remember their dreams, although sleep research has shown that they do have them - by waking them up in mid-REM cycle, for instance.) If dreams have a value in and of themselves why are any of them ever forgotten or imperfectly remembered? And what mechanism would ensure that the exact "meaningful" jumble would be the one remebered. And (again) if the dreamer was "supposed" to remeber the dream as described, who or what "intended" that outcome? The dreamer? Evolution? You can't have an intended outcome without someone to have the intent.

Brain:

You're confusing function with purpose. Somewhere back along the evolutionary trail an organism had a mutation that allowed it to move fluid from one part of its body to another. Gradually this proved to have a differential effect on the survival and reproductive rates of its off-spring. Those with even more favorable fluid-moving mutations did even better. Ultimately something like the first heart emerged. The "purpose" of the heart was not to pump blood. Blood as such probably didn't exist when the earliest proto-heart appeared. It was only after this accidental fluid pumping system began that a new area of specialization - the nature of the fluid and the kinds of cells it contained, opened up. When bodies were almost undifferentiated bags of cells full of protoplasm, there was no need or place for something like blood. The thing that became blood, along with the thing that became a heart and the things that took in oxygen and food all would have evolved in parallel in a kind of feedback loop as organisms increased in complexity, the heart/pump driving the development of the blood, the oxygen and food intake systems affecting the development of the cells that would carry oxygen and nutrients (and dispose of waste.) It is as true to say that blood (as it exists now) has the "purpose" of being pumped by the heart as to say that the heart has the purpose of pumping blood. They are a perfectly matched system because each molded the development of the other. Their functions are perfectly matched. But neither has a purpose understood in strictly material terms, because you cannot have a purpose without a person. The heart is not designed to pump blood because the heart was not designed at all according to classical evolutionary theory.

And the purpose of dreams is clearly to allow us to live out sexual fantasies involving various celebrities. Posted Image Those are the only ones really worth remembering. (And the only ones that really ought to be prophetic - although I'd imagine that would be rather tiring for certain very "popular" celebrities. Posted Image)

Regards,

Joe

#16 of 20 OFFLINE   Ryan Wishton

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Posted September 19 2005 - 05:17 PM

Look on the brightside.

At least the dream makes up for Highlander 2.

Dream sounds wild.

#17 of 20 OFFLINE   Paul D G

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Posted September 19 2005 - 06:00 PM

Going back to John's original question - sounds like you've been watching too many movies lately. Posted Image

I'm partially serious. My wife often tells me when she's had a weird dream and based on what I know about her and what's been going on I rarely fail to tell her what it's about. Usually it's just abstractions of things from previous days.

She might watch a little of 'Lost' with me then dream she's being shot at while running thru the jungle a day or two later.

-paul

#18 of 20 OFFLINE   BrianW

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Posted September 19 2005 - 11:01 PM

You're confusing function with purpose.
You're right. I'll concede that "purpose" is the wrong word to use with regard to any evolutionary adaptation.

And here I was, going on about using "purpose" and "meaning" interchangeably.

At least I wasn't confusing "function" with "meaning". Posted Image


To clarify my argument: What we make of our dreams or how we interpret them has nothing to do with their function, which I believe is simply to extract usable information from the memories of our experiences, and organize them for efficient use later on.
-Brian
Come, Rubidia. Let's blow this epoch.

#19 of 20 OFFLINE   Mike Broadman

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Posted September 20 2005 - 02:59 AM

Quote:
Then why have the original, complete, dreams at all? And why have dreams that we don't remember when we wake up? (Some individuals virtually never remember their dreams, although sleep research has shown that they do have them - by waking them up in mid-REM cycle, for instance.) If dreams have a value in and of themselves why are any of them ever forgotten or imperfectly remembered? And what mechanism would ensure that the exact "meaningful" jumble would be the one remebered. And (again) if the dreamer was "supposed" to remeber the dream as described, who or what "intended" that outcome? The dreamer? Evolution?


Well, yes. Keep in mind that those who believe dreams are messages or meaningful usually accept it as symbolism. So fishing the Confederacy means that they're going to be in a car accident or something (yes I know people, including my mother, who have a whole system of symbols worked out, such as fish symbolising birth, rats symbolising death, etc). Then you can ask, well why bother having symbolism in the first place? My point is that if one is already willing to accept the dreams are meaningful through symbolism, then pointing out that the dreams are not remembered accurately will not deter their belief, as they are already accepting the indirect and confusing nature of these supposed messages.

#20 of 20 OFFLINE   Nathan*W

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Posted September 20 2005 - 04:44 AM

I had a dream in 2002 where I was in Hollywood at an event or a party or something, and I'm outside getting ready to walk in and all the sudden a car door opens and Steven Speilberg gets out to go into the event/party too. He's like right in front of me so I say to him, "Steve! Great to see you!" and he looks at me with a "who the f---" are you expression on his face.

Later on inside I bump into him again and I apologize for my sarcasm outside and we both have a good laugh about the whole thing!

What does THAT mean?
 


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