Sunday, November 28, 2010

Common Dreams

A study by a Hong Kong area psychologist found out that you, and I, and random people in Hong Kong, often have extremely similar dreams. There are some dreams that pretty much everyone on earth has, which is kind of strange because of the variety of cultures and lifestyles out there. I'll tell you some of mine, and the study shows that you almost certainly had them too.
As a young child, I often dreamed that I was driving a car with some other children. Sometimes the incongruity of this never hit me at the time, other times I had a nagging suspicion that maybe children shouldn't be driving cars, and maybe I'd get in trouble for it. Those stopped when I learned to actually drive. I also used to dream about having a fist fight with a person who couldn't be damaged. They could hurt me, though, and thankfully those stopped in college.
I used to dream about being naked in public, and boy was it embarrassing. In the more recent ones, however, I always seem to come to the realization that no one cares (at least in the dream), and so I don't have to be embarrassed. Perhaps my subconscious thinks that what I'm most embarrassed about really is no big deal to everyone else? And about two weeks ago, I had for the first time in my life that old chestnut of dreamers, falling out teeth.
In my senior year at college, I would have dreams in which a professor ruled me to be "stupid," and thus required me to repeat high school, or worse, junior high school. And I would feel humiliated...but the kids there only made fun of me for being "old," which really didn't bother me at all. Even though I'm easily now twice their age. And repeat high school was always so....easy.
Dreams common with other people, but that I generally haven't had, include being chased, searching for a specific place, having to pee but there being no suitable toilets (which I've had maybe once), eating lots of delicious foods (I'm going to guess these people are dieting), and suddenly being famous.
The psychologist, Dr. Calvin Kai-Ching Yu, also said that psychotic thinking was far more common in dreams than in people's waking environment. Believing that a famous person is in love with you despite any evidence to the contrary is, in waking life, a disorder called Erotomania, which suggests we keep you away from this person before you hurt that person or yourself. But in dreams, at least half the people worldwide have that experience. Dr. Yu said that psychotic-thinking based dreams are actually the most common kind, and that draws some interesting questions. Could many mental disorders actually stem from a damaged ability to tell dreams from waking experience? (And I can't tell you how many times I've woken up convinced of something, only to realize that it couldn't possibly be true.)
The most surprising thing about this is the way that people from different cultures have almost exactly the same dreams. One would think that, say, French and American and Hong-Kong-ian people would have different dreams because their waking lives are so totally different. What those three people would chose to wear, and do, and deal with other people, and eat, and so on, are all totally different. Then they all go to bed and have a dream where their teeth fall out. That is the weirdest thing I have heard all month.


KaiWen said...

You should do a post about lucid dreaming (Actually realizing you are dreaming during a dream). Lucid dreaming typically does not occur because the part of your brain that allows you to tell fantasy from reality is switched off, so you never question why you see those cows floating overhead. If you can lucid dream however, you can take control of your own dreams and do anything you desire without consequence.

ralleywolf said...

Excellent post! I actually came back to this one to read it again. I find this stuff so interesting.
I've had many of theses dreams before.

One common dream that didn't get mentioned is the falling dream. When I was a kid I had a dream where I was on top of an overpass and my mom and siblings were down below and I jumped off to them and the whole rest of the dream was just me falling in slow motion. I woke up right before landing.

Mad Engineering said...

I think to write a useful article about lucid dreaming, I first would have to have one.

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