One possible answer as to why we dream is that the brain is reenacting experiences and digesting important data. It gives us a visceral real-life experience, when in truth, it is not—which explains why the word means “deception” in Sanskrit. Dreams also clear our brains of unwanted noise and unnecessary information, as well as recur incessantly to reflect our innermost needs. Dream interpretation began with the Egyptians in 2000 B.C. with important findings captured on papyrus. They thought that dreams were symbolic and expressed opposites: happy dreams presaged unhappy events. Then came the ancient Greeks who used dreams as a form of diagnosis and treatment. The Senois of Malaysia used dreams to help them live better lives, resulting in improved emotional well-being. In the 19th century, Sigmund Freud treated his patients through dream analysis. When it comes to inventions, dreams have been a source of inspiration. In this way, dreams are important in understanding one’s life.
Lim Zhi Yi, Secondary Three
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This summary was written in response to the ‘O’ Levels 2009 exam, Question #13:
Summarize the various theories which have been put forward as to why we dream, and the way dreams have been interpreted and used over the centuries.