COMMENTARY

Why Do We Dream?

Robert A. Berezin, MD

Disclosures

May 18, 2018

Digesting Our Lives

This dream is a model as to how dreams operate. For the most part, we have to digest emotional conflicts, which happen on a daily basis. The issues that may occupy the dream stage are combats, quests, challenges, boredom, wishes, hopes, curiosities, pain, disappointment, sexual interests and stimulations, fantasies, competitions, fears, anxieties, cruelty, sadism, humiliations, suffering, abuse, deprivation, traumas, envy, jealousy, sadness, and otherwise the full panoply of life's dramas, engagements, and relationship adventures.

The conflicts to be digested aren't always emotional ones. Sometimes when a person is cognitively trying to solve a problem, this is the context that is on his or her plate while going to sleep. The dream may, through its work, digest the problem and come up with a solution. If one remembers the dream upon awakening, he or she will see the solution. If one doesn't remember the dream, he or she will come to the solution refreshed in the morning.

Oddly, dreams teach us more readily about the plays of consciousness than we can see in our waking trance. Our consciousness is neurologic illusion. It's always important to keep in mind that dreams and our lives are a human story. Our psychiatric treatments must always consider our stories.

Our plays of consciousness define our reality, which, once formed, plays itself out over and over again. Our suffering comes from trauma to our human story. We can see the source of Eddie's anxiety, and how this anxiety got triggered. These are the issues that have to be mourned in psychotherapy so that they no longer rule us. We need to appreciate the full scope of the human story.

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