‘Why do we dream?’ is probably the ultimate question within the world of dreaming. Unfortunately, that question has yet to be successfully and truly answered, but that doesn’t mean that there aren’t any theories to explore.
One possible answer, discovered by scientist Aristotle and philosopher Plato, shows that dreaming may be some kind of an imitation of a situation or process, to try things that we’d’ve never tried in real life, for instance: flying, battling the ultimate beast, blasting off to Jupiter, or fighting an army of apocalypse zombies.
Another theory was generated by the Austrian neurologist Sigmund Freud, and it is known as the Psychoanalytic (sahy-koh-uh-nal-ah-tihk) theory. Psychoanalytic, or psychoanalysis, is the therapy used to treat mental disorders by investigating the interaction of conscious and unconscious elements in their mind and bringing repressed fears and problems into the conscious mind (the state of mind we are aware of) by techniques, such as dream interpretation.
The theory states that people’s aggression, feelings, and instincts are what drive them, and since these are restrained in our conscious mind, they are all let loose to roam in the unconscious. This tells us that we actually have a lot more to our unconscious mind (the mind we are not aware of), but we don’t know it because we’re not exactly conscious when this unconscious business goes on.
This next theory is also quite interesting. It’s known as the Active-Synthesis theory. It was thought out by two men; Robert McClarley and J. Allan Hobson, back in the day of 1977. They proposed that during REM (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep, brain circuits are activated, and therefore the limbic system becomes active. The limbic system is a part of your brain underneath your cortex that combines thinking and emotions into one system. This system consists of many parts of your brain, such as the hippocampus, the part of the brain that is associated with your long and short-term memory, and the amygdala, the part of your brain that creates your feelings.
This is a diagram of your brain.
Although Hobson stated that dreams are because of an internal function, he still believed that dreams had some spiritual meaning. According to him, dreams may be our, “... most creative conscious state.” He most likely believed that even if the majority of dreams make no sense at all, there are one or two that pop up which we go on to find useful in our lives.
According to Dr. Michael J. Breus, also known as the Sleep Doctor, “Dreams provide us with insight about what’s preoccupying us, troubling us, engaging our thoughts and emotions. Often healing, often mysterious, always fascinating, dreams can both shape us and show us who we are.” That means that dreams may have a purpose, whether it be about the world, or showing you a different part of yourself.