Different people have very different dreams, but even across widely different cultures, the subjects we dream about are remarkably similar—and mostly very disturbing.
The conclusion comes from three distinct studies which categorized dreams had by young people in three different countries with very different cultures: Germany, China, and Canada.
Ranging between twenty-one and twenty-four years of age, respondents in Germany and China dreamed most frequently of school, teachers, and studying, while dreams of these subjects ranked fourth for Canadian students. Researchers believe this is because structured learning is at the forefront of the students' lives.
Among the most popular dreams which researchers believe cross over into the general population of working adults include being chased, falling, and arriving too late to an important event. Dreams of living people appearing to be dead were also among the top ten subjects in all three countries.
Some of the more benign dreams involved floating, flying, and sexual fantasy, through that last dream occurred less frequently among Chinese students than it did for their German and Canadian counterparts.
Throughout history, the meaning of dreams has proven elusive, though each passing generation has claimed surety that dreams do indeed have meaning.
In his Big Think interview, Michio Kaku claims that contemporary science confirms many of Freud's infamous statements about dreams, i.e. they are subconscious manifestations of repressed desire:
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