Metamorphic Insight Into Dreams

Dreams play a large role in many people's lives. They can reflect and pertain to all aspects of life, and can have a deeper meaning than might immediately be realized. The following paper contains an in depth look at and the meaning that dreams have for many individuals and how they have affected people both in the past and present. Many dreams have are really symbols representing significant influences and events in the lives of those who have them. The following paragraph is an example of a dream that a young boy or girl, or anyone for that matter, might experience.
A cool breeze flows gently through the trees while the hot summer sun shines down on a gathering of family members. A young boy happy with excitement finds himself surrounded by the people he loves at a family reunion. While the adults reminisce on past times, the children are found enjoying a game of kickball in the field. As the little boy becomes a spectator absorbing all of the joy and warmth from his family's party, he awakes from his night's sleep to find out that he has been dreaming. This pleasant dream is just one example of the many different types of night visions people encounter. Was this boy imagining a life with his family that might not really exist? Is this child abused or neglected and using dreams as an escape, or
is this reality and the child is simply reliving pleasant experiences? The metamorphic process of paralleling the symbolism of our dreams to our everyday lives has contributed to learning more about our individualistic personalities.
Over the years, the mysteries of why and how we dream have captured the imagination of everyone from playwrights and poets to psychologists and scientists. However, the main objective of this paper is to illustrate that there are significant purposes to dreams. From laboratory experiments to primitive cultures, the interpretation of dreams is a powerful tool used to help understand ourselves. Rosalind Cartwright, a dream expert, separates the significance of dreams into four categories. According to Cartwright, dreams serve to review, revise, rehearse, and repair ourselves. To fully grasp the importance of these four R's and the understanding of dreams, researchers must first study sleep patterns.
In order to study the stages of sleep, patients are tested with a device called an electroencephalograph (Myers 210). This machine measures brain wave activity, eye movements, and muscle tension through electrodes. Other similar devices are used to record heart rates, respiration
rates, and the degree of genital arousal during sleep. After collecting all of this data, researchers are able to analyze patients' dreams.
According to David G. Myers, a professor of psychology at Michigan's Hope College, there are four stages associated with sleep prior to Rapid Eye Movement, REM sleep. In Stage 1, breathing rate slows and brain waves slow down even further. During this light sleep, fantastic images similar to hallucinations are experienced. Sensations such as falling or floating are usually felt during this two- minute stage.
Soon after Stage 1, a greater sense of relaxation settles in. This is the beginning of Stage 2. This stage, lasting about twenty minutes, is characterized by bursts of rapid brain-wave activity. Because of this sudden surge of brain waves, sleep talking becomes prevalent.
Stage 3 and 4 are often linked together because of their similarities. They last for about thirty minutes and are called slow-wave sleep because of the slow delta waves the brain emits during these stages. Delta waves have a frequency of 3.5 cycles per second, which makes them much slower than the beta wave of fifteen cycles per second. Because of these slow delta waves, it is especially
difficult to wake the sleeping person from the third and fourth stages of sleep. Children may also wet the bed or begin sleepwalking at these stages. About twenty percent of 3 to 12-year-olds have at least one episode of sleepwalking, usually lasting two to ten minutes; some 5 percent have repeated episodes (Myers 212).
As Stage 4 comes to a close, the patient begins the important rapid eye movement (REM) sleep. During REM sleep, genitals become aroused even when the dream's content is not sexual (212). Myers states that a typical 25-year-old man will have an erection lasting 30 to