Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Nightmare in My Closet

I can't believe It but it is 1:15 in the morning and I am up blogging. I just had a horrific nightmare and could not lie there and dwell - so here I am.

Why do we have nightmares or dreams for that matter? When we sleep we close our eyes to rest, but why does our mind keep going? Why can"t it go into sleep mode? Time to fire up the google engine and do a little research.

Why we dream - no one knows why, but there are 6 major theories.

Freud - Out of all theories before his, and all of those today, this is the one that stands out the most. He believed that a dream represented an ongoing wish along with the previous days activities. They may even portray wishes that have been inside us since early childhood. In fact, he believed, every dream is partially motivated by a childhood wish. Another interesting idea was that nothing is made up during a dream and that they are biologically determined, derived completely from instinctual needs and personal experiences. (copied and pasted)

I just don't think my nightmare I just had is any wish. Just saying.

Jung - Jung, disagreeing with Freud's theory, quickly developed his own which contradicted Freud's. Jung believed the most effective method for dream interpretation was the use of series correlation. Freud didn't even believe interpretation was possible by the dreamer and that dreams could only be interpreted by a trained psychologist. Jung was the one who gave hope to all dreamers who were looking for the meaning in our dreams without having to hire a "professional."

Cayce ( Edgar maybe?) - When it came to the idea of dreams having purpose, Cayce's theory was a bit different then the others. He believed dreaming to be the bodies way of "self edification," which is the building up of the mental, spiritual, and physical well-being. It was a way of quickening the dreamer to his/her own human potential. By getting a good nights sleep, any person could develop more mature values, stretch their thinking, and right one's self.

Evan's - According to Evans, every time we go to sleep our brain disengages from the external world and uses this time to sort through and organize all the information that was taken in throughout the day. Sleep, especially during REM sleep, is when the brain becomes isolated for the sensory and motor neural pathways. During this time our data banks and program files are opened and become available for modification on re-organization, based on what happened during the day.
In this theory, we are not aware of the full array of processing that occurs during REM sleep. While we dream the brain comes back on-line for a short period of time and the conscious mind is allowed to observe a small sample of the programs that are being run. The brain attempts to interpret this information in the same way it would during the wakeful state, what is created from these samples of information is a dream. In a nutshell, dreams are nothing more than a minute amount of the information that is being scanned and sorted during REM sleep.
I agree with this one so far. - I has potentially explained bad dreams.

Crick and Mitchinson - Crick and Mitchinson base their theory on the fact that the cortex, unlike other parts of the brain, is made up of richly interconnected neuronal networks in which each cell has the capacity to excite it's neighbors. It is believed that memories are encoded in these networks and when one point of the web is excited a pulse travels through the network prompting recall. The problem with such network systems is that they malfunction when there is an over load of incoming information. Too many memories in one network may produce either bizarre associations to a stimulus, which creates our fantasies, the same response whatever the stimulus, creating obsessions, or associations triggered without any stimulus, which creates hallucinations.
To deal with information overload, the brain needs a mechanism to debug and tune the network. This debugging mechanism would work best when the system was isolated from external inputs and it would have to have a way of randomly activating the network in order to eliminate spurious connections. This method, they say, is REM sleep and that the hallucinatory quality of dreams is nothing more than the random neural firing needed for the daily cleanup of the network.
According to this theory, these signals somehow erase the spurious memory associations formed during the previous day and we wake up with the network cleaned up. They believe that people remembering their dreams could help retain patterns of thought which are better forgotten, the same patterns that your system has attempted to clean out. This is why, they say, if you don't write down your dreams they will be forgotten because your brain is still working to clear these memories out.

C & M just expand on Evan's ideas and get pretty sciencey. Since I teach that I can appreciate it. And right now in my post nightmare alertness it makes me see where the dream came from. My brain was defragging - pretty cool. I guess I had not properly dealt with this issue and I slipped up on in accidentally in my sleep.

The title of this post comes from a book my brother had. It is about a little boy who really does have a nightmare in his closet. In the end, he is ok with that. I guess I am too now.
Night -Night.

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