As many of you know, KIS recently added Psychology at the Standard and Higher Levels in our Diploma Programme (DP). The interest has spread to members of our Middle Years Programme (MYP), and why not? The study of the mind is really intriguing!
Vivi in Grade 7 is just one of our students who has found out just how interesting Psychology is, and she is writing articles on the subject for KIS Today. Below is her most recent article in her series, Psychology 101:
If you hadn’t already known, KIS Today is doing a new segment on Psychology. There will be an article posted weekly about the different branches of Psychology. Last week, I talked about phobias, so if you want to check that out then click right here. However, this week we’ll be talking about dreams and dream interpretation. Haven’t you wondered why you can’t remember the great dream you were having a few seconds ago? What did that weird dream about losing your teeth mean? Before we plunge into the deeper parts of this, let’s discuss the basics. Firstly…
What are dreams?
Dreams are practically like stories and snapshots our minds create during sleep. Dreams usually occur during Stage 5 of the sleep cycle, or the REM Stage. REM stands for Rapid Eye Movement and is distinguished with increased brain activity and higher breathing intakes. You can experience dreaming at any of the 5 stages, but the most vivid dreams occur during the fifth. Something many scientists and researchers say is for sure, is that memories are part of the formation of dreams.
Why do we dream?
Although there have been countless scientific experiments and theories as to why we dream, we still don’t really know. Seriously, there are so many theories and freaky explanations going on that it’s hard to be sure. For example, one of the more common theories is that dreaming and sleeping are two things that just work together to help the brain. This theory states that dreams and sleep help the brain sort through everything it has gone through during it’s waking hours and decide what to remember and what to forget. The famous neurologist-psychologist, Sigmund Freud, thought that dreams were a way people satisfied desires that were intolerable or wrong to society. Basically, scientists still aren’t sure if dreams are meaningless activities of the brain or if they are a necessity for us to cope emotionally, mentally and physically.
Why do we forget our dreams so quickly?
Many don’t know this, but whether we recall it or not, we almost always dream. We actually dream 3-7 times a night. The only reason we remember a dream is if we wake up while having one. Some people think it’s because if we remembered every single dream, we wouldn’t be able to identify real memories from dreams. However, some think it’s really simple. Our brains have a system for memory and sort out what goes into the long term and what should probably be forgotten. Since many of our dreams seem unimportant, our brain decides to forget them.
Dream interpretation means to try to understand your dreams and give them meaning. Usually, people try to interpret dreams through symbolism. For example, if you had a dream about being chased by a wild animal (don’t judge, it was scary), it’s believed that there is a situation in your life you are trying to run away from. A dream about death could mean that you are angry towards yourself or that you want to end something (like a job, relationship, etc…). To give meaning to your dreams, you must also look at the other elements in the dream, like the setting and people around you, not just what it happening. Symbolism is all about finding ordinary things and giving meaning to them, so there may be some hints around. Basically, if you really want to understand your dreams, if there is anything to understand at all, you just have to analyze them carefully.
Lucid Dreaming & Sleep Paralysis
A lucid dream is a dream where you realize you are in a dream, while dreaming. If that was confusing, you’re not the only one. Lucid dreaming is the concept of being able to be aware of the fact that you are dreaming while in a dream. Not only that, but some lucid dreamers like to try controlling their dreams, too. And actually, not only that, but some have even tried to engage in mutual dreaming. People have been trying techniques to be lucid dreamers, or at least experience a lucid dream. An example would be to check the time or count to five on your hands during the day as a habit, so you do it while you dream too. If you check the time during a normal day, when you look away and back it should stay roughly the same, when you check the time in a dream, when you look away and look back it could change completely.
During the REM Stage of the Sleep Cycle, your body becomes paralyzed so you don’t act out your dreams. Sometimes, when people wake up before their own bodies do, they experience something called Sleep Paralysis. Sleep Paralysis is when you are awake but your body isn’t, so you just lay there and can’t move. Plus, you can’t go back to sleep afterwards because you’re mind is too alert (from being scared because you can’t move your body). And if that wasn’t scary enough, it gets worse. It is common to experience hallucinations while in sleep paralysis. Many people who have gone through it have reported feeling a feared presence in the room or a heavy weight on their chest. Even some have said they hear sounds…