How much conscious sleep is important
The Bible provides an abundance of prophetic dreams. Examples of messages and revelations from the Old Testament conveyed in sleep are the dreams of the pharaohs, the Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar II (605-562 BC) and Jacob's dream of the ladder to heaven and God's promise to land.
In the book of Genesis 28, 12-13, he is represented as follows: "There he had a dream: He saw a staircase that stood on the earth and reached up to heaven. Angels of God came up and down on it. And, behold, the The Lord stood above and said, I am the Lord, the God of your father Abraham and the God of Isaac. The land on which you are lying I will give you and your descendants. "
From the Old Testament we also know Joseph's dream of the seven fat and seven lean years. The founders of religious orders such as Francis of Assisi, Don Bosco or Saint Bruno were also supposedly connected to God through their dreams.
According to the metaphysicists - the scientists who research what lies behind the sensual experience of the natural world and the relationships between being - the human dream is based on the belief in the soul and the spirit.
This belief can be found in almost every religion and civilization. The Fellahs, the early inhabitants of the Nile Delta, wear a turban on their head so that the soul does not escape from the top of their skull while they sleep.
Kenyan Maasai are not to be suddenly roused from their sleep because - they believe - the wandering spirit would otherwise not be able to find its way back into its body.
The dream is explored
What actually happens in the body while we are dreaming? Neurobiologists dealt with this question for the first time towards the end of the 19th century. They discover that the nocturnal dream follows a certain temporal structure. In 1880, the former naval doctor Jean Gélineau recognized the complete absence of any muscle tension.
At the beginning of the 20th century, Alfred Maury, professor at the Collège de France, regularly woke his test subjects from their sleep. To his surprise, he found that the people surveyed rarely remember their dreams.
In 1944, neurologists periodically found three to four erections per night in sleeping men, without, however, associating them with dreaming. It is only later that you realize that the erection phases, which last a good 25 minutes, correspond exactly to the cycle of the dream stages.
In 1953 Eugen Aserinsky observed rapid eye movements - "Rapid Eye Movements" (REM) - in a sleeping child. He hypothesizes that the REM phases are the dream stages of humans.
Sleep and dream phases
In 1959 the puzzle was put together from all these findings: the neurologist Michel Jouvet reviews the findings of his colleagues from the past decades and supplements them with his own research.
Accordingly, there are two states of sleep: During the slow wave phase, the deep sleep phase, an increasingly slower electrical activity is measured in the cerebral cortex, the sleeper does not move his eyes and a certain muscle tension can be measured. If you wake up a person in the slow wave phase, he has no dream memory.
The REM phase or phase of eye movements is repeated approximately three to four times every night. It is characterized by a neuroelectrically equally active brain as in the waking state, but the muscle tension is completely absent.
Michel Jouvet also calls the REM phase the phase of paradoxical sleep because of the apparent contradiction between the awake brain and the limp body. Test subjects who are awakened during this phase can remember their dreams.
Jouvet concludes from the descriptions of his test sleepers that the eye movements can correspond to the observation of dream scenes. This "dream look" supports Eugen Aserinsky's conclusion that the dream phase is to be equated with the REM phase.
Relaxation for the brain
From a neurophysiological point of view, the dream is an extremely important mechanism for the body. The neurologist Michel Jouvet advocates the thesis that the images and scenes of the dream belong to the constant programming of our brain cells.
According to Jouvet, the fact that we do not perceive illogical events in dreams as contradictions is due to the fact that certain neurons in the brain, unlike other nerve cells, need temporary rest. In the dream they are switched off and prevent critical awareness.
Catalog of subconscious desires
For dream psychology or phenomenology, the explanation for the dream, which is purely related to the physical processes, is at best a starting point.
Because neurophysiologists do not attach any further importance to the meaning of dreams for the psyche. In a depth psychological examination, however, incomprehensible dream images, paradoxical events, contradictions or shifts initially make sense.
It is true that the dream is still a phenomenon that cannot be clearly explained today; However, it has been proven that people who are regularly prevented from sleeping and thus from dreaming develop serious mental and physical disorders.
Around 1900 the psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud revolutionized psychological dream research. For the founder of metapsychology, the dream is the keeper of sleep and always an expression of a subconscious desire.
Without reference to the anatomy of the brain, Freud constructs a complete psychic apparatus. He believes that dream symbols can be clearly assigned and cataloged regardless of a person's individual experiences.
Dreams as a mirror of the soul
In contrast to Freud, his student Carl Gustav Jung, who was a follower of Freudian psychoanalysis until 1913, focuses on the individual experience of each person in dream research. Jung recognizes that a dream symbol cannot be reduced to a single term. For him dreams indicate a spiritual fact.
As a continuous dialogue with the conscious self, a mirror is held up in front of it every night by our personality no. 2 - a term coined by Jung for the collective unconscious. According to Jung’s dream doctrine, it is up to each individual to correctly decipher the dream with reference to previous experiences as well as past and current life situations.
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