What On Earth Is Going On When We Dream?

Sleep psychologist Shelby Harris reviews ideas about what dreams may be.

Dreams fascinate many of us. What are they, and what do they mean? Why do dreams for some people continue across multiple nights in places familiar to us only from dreams? Why do they make no sense at all and yet perfect sense while you’re asleep? What are sleepwalkers dreaming about?


To the tune of “Have You Ever seen a dream Walking”

There’s no shortage of theories. Freud and Jung famously saw value in poring over them for messages contained within their symbols, typically relating to wish-fulfillment or conflict resolution. Some modern researchers have concluded that due to the increased presence of the hormone cortisol during dreams, that they have no meaning at all, being nothing more than us eavesdropping on the brain as it shuffles memories around in order to sort some into long-term memory and discard others.

Sleep psychologist Shelby Harris proposes something in-between.

According to Shelby, yes, it’s memory-sorting, but it’s not simply a mechanical process: It’s you going through recent events to work through them, deciding what you care about, and forget the rest.

She also points out that there’s still a great deal of controversy among experts about what dreams are. Which is another way of saying we still don’t really know

LinkedIn meets Tinder in this mindful networking app

Swipe right to make the connections that could change your career.

Getty Images
Sponsored
Swipe right. Match. Meet over coffee or set up a call.

No, we aren't talking about Tinder. Introducing Shapr, a free app that helps people with synergistic professional goals and skill sets easily meet and collaborate.

Keep reading Show less

People who engage in fat-shaming tend to score high in this personality trait

A new study explores how certain personality traits affect individuals' attitudes on obesity in others.

Pixabay
Mind & Brain
  • The study compared personality traits and obesity views among more than 3,000 mothers.
  • The results showed that the personality traits neuroticism and extraversion are linked to more negative views and behaviors related to obesity.
  • People who scored high in conscientiousness are more likely to experience "fat phobia.
Keep reading Show less

4 anti-scientific beliefs and their damaging consequences

The rise of anti-scientific thinking and conspiracy is a concerning trend.

Moon Landing Apollo
popular
  • Fifty years later after one of the greatest achievements of mankind, there's a growing number of moon landing deniers. They are part of a larger trend of anti-scientific thinking.
  • Climate change, anti-vaccination and other assorted conspiratorial mindsets are a detriment and show a tangible impediment to fostering real progress or societal change.
  • All of these separate anti-scientific beliefs share a troubling root of intellectual dishonesty and ignorance.
Keep reading Show less

Reigning in brutality - how one man's outrage led to the Red Cross and the Geneva Conventions

The history of the Geneva Conventions tells us how the international community draws the line on brutality.

Napoleon III at the Battle of Solferino. Painting by Adolphe Yvon. 1861.
Politics & Current Affairs
  • Henry Dunant's work led to the Red Cross and conventions on treating prisoners humanely.
  • Four Geneva Conventions defined the rules for prisoners of war, torture, naval and medical personnel and more.
  • Amendments to the agreements reflect the modern world but have not been ratified by all countries.
Keep reading Show less