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Dreams Actually Virtual Reality Threat Simulation?

ScuttleMonkey posted more than 6 years ago | from the fighting-the-forces-of-evil-in-your-underwear dept.

452

Time Slows Down writes "Psychology Today has an interesting story on a new theory of why we dream. Finnish psychologist Antti Revonsuo believes that dreams are a sort of nighttime theater in which our brains screen realistic scenarios simulating emergency situations and providing an arena for safe training. 'The primary function of negative dreams is rehearsal for similar real events, so that threat recognition and avoidance happens faster and more automatically in comparable real situations,' he says. We have 300 to 1,000 threat dreams per year — one to four per night and just under half are aggressive encounters: physical aggression such as fistfights, and nonphysical aggression such as verbal arguments. Faced with actual life-or-death situations — traffic accidents, terrorist attacks, street assaults — people report entering a mode of calm, rapid response, reacting automatically, almost without thinking. Afterward, they often say the episode felt unreal, as if it were all a dream. 'Dreaming is a sensitive system that tries to pay much attention to the threatening cues in our environment,' Revonsuo says. 'Their function is to protect and prepare us.'"

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452 comments

Yeah (5, Funny)

dreamchaser (49529) | more than 6 years ago | (#21884562)

Last night while I was dreaming of playing poker with Einstein and Hawking and an anthropomorphic Zebra, I stopped and thought "This is really a great simulation of reality!" It got really interesting when the dancing elephants started circling our table. I feel far better prepared for life now.

Re:Yeah (2, Insightful)

moderatorrater (1095745) | more than 6 years ago | (#21884738)

That's one dream. The summary says that they're looking at 1 to 4 dreams a night, which indicates that the dreams they're talking about are the ones we don't remember.

Re:Yeah (3, Funny)

dreamchaser (49529) | more than 6 years ago | (#21884958)

You need to dream about humor more often, to train you to enjoy it more (or even get it in the first place) in waking life ;)

Re:Yeah (5, Interesting)

pixelpusher220 (529617) | more than 6 years ago | (#21885114)

The funny part is some of us *don't* dream. Seriously.

I know that I pretty much stopped dreaming about the time I hit puberty. Vivid dreams as a kid but once I 'grew up' they stopped.

How do I know this you ask? Because during a sleep test for sleep apnea they found out my blood oxygen saturation level was about 80%, below the threshold needed for REM sleep. So from about 12-14 to 26, I couldn't dream. Just not enough oxygen to do it.

There were the occasional odd dreams when a sleeping position allowed better than normal oxygen levels, but mostly I just didn't.

Even today, after the surgery, my dreams are wildly mild stuff. Mostly just replaying some experience of the recent days.

It did sort of explain why HS was mostly just a fog for me though...going without restful sleep for multiple years will do that ;-)


Re:Yeah (2, Funny)

cayenne8 (626475) | more than 6 years ago | (#21884964)

Great....just great.

Now,tonight, I'm gonna be having nightmares of a Slashdot nature....repeating meme's turning into spiraling thoughts, and endless encounters with goatse pics, and alt-tab won't work any longer...EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!!!!!!

Re:Yeah (5, Insightful)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 6 years ago | (#21884874)

Last night while I was dreaming of playing poker with Einstein and Hawking and an anthropomorphic Zebra, I stopped and thought "This is really a great simulation of reality!" It got really interesting when the dancing elephants started circling our table. I feel far better prepared for life now
Hmm.. Well, I'm not really a dream interpretation expert, but I play one on the Net. Anyway, many dreams are just the mind's way of working out problems -- or calling attention to problems -- that are currently occurring in our lives. Most of what occurs in people's dreams is more of a metaphor for something else.

Take, for example, the oft-cited 'I dreamt that I showed up to work/school/whatever naked/wearing only underwear.' Showing up to work naked isn't actually the real problem the brain is trying work out. The real problem is that the person is a afraid of being unprepared or being caught in an embarassing situation. They are usually insecure about something or other when they have dreams like this. This is the brain trying say "Hey, you! You're insecure about this or that, what are you doing to fix that?"

Of course, the imagery of dreams isn't always that universal. In your case, what do Einstein and Hawking represent for you? What about zebras? What does playing poker mean to you? Do you bluff a lot in poker? Or do you play on the merits of your cards? If you're a physicist, and just making guesses here about the zebra, I'd say that you that see Einstein and Hawking as a black-and-white dichotomy that needs to somehow be resolved. Maybe you think one of Hawking's theories and another of Einstein's are in deep conflict and maybe you see yourself as trying to resolve that. Of course, if you're not a physicist, the dream could mean something else entirely.

Re:Yeah (-1, Flamebait)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 6 years ago | (#21884974)

Most of what occurs in people's dreams is more of a metaphor for something else.
No shit, Sherlock.

Re:Yeah (0, Troll)

machinelou (1119861) | more than 6 years ago | (#21885008)

Great! That freakin solves everything! I feel so enlightened... You what else? All of our actions, everything we do, think, and imagine, are controlled by an undetectable sphere revolving around the sun! Seriously! Lets pay some more people to come up stories that can't be proven or disproven. It sure makes me feel good to hear about them, though. I mean, it makes for great toilet reading.

NUDE (5, Funny)

chowhound (136628) | more than 6 years ago | (#21884572)

Apparently my brain is exhaustively preparing me for the possibility that I'll drive to work naked.

Re:NUDE (2, Funny)

eebra82 (907996) | more than 6 years ago | (#21884658)

Are you sure it's not just preparing you for the possibility of doing it again? Some dreams are read from past events you've long forgotten about.

Re:NUDE (4, Insightful)

moderatorrater (1095745) | more than 6 years ago | (#21884794)

Doesn't that make sense to a certain extent though? While you'll (hopefully) never face that exact situation, dealing with embarrassment is a very real danger, and clothing tends to be very easy to embarrass yourself with. Ripping your pants, wearing your shirt backwards, your zipper being down, etc, are all things that could happen basically any day of the week and would be embarrassing. Not as embarrassing as driving to work naked, but pretty embarrassing nonetheless.

Re:NUDE (1)

jellomizer (103300) | more than 6 years ago | (#21884982)

It helps you deal with solving problems you are unprepared for... The dreams without cloths, normally happens because you just happened to forget to put clothes on. So you start your day Unprepared for normal discourse. Do you runaway, Invent a means of covering up, Hide, act normally like nothing has happend. Compare your dream to how you react if you happen to leave for work and forget to bring something important, A Cell Phone, your computer, a report due that day...

Re:NUDE (5, Funny)

eclectic4 (665330) | more than 6 years ago | (#21885018)

Apparently my brain is exhaustively preparing me for the possibility of having sex with Jessica Alba. All I can say, is that I'm very, very prepared...

You ever have that dream... (0)

techpawn (969834) | more than 6 years ago | (#21884586)

'The primary function of negative dreams is rehearsal for similar real events
So what about that dream where I'm naked at work and Jesus is fighting Nietzsche in pudding? What the hell is THAT training me for?

Re:You ever have that dream... (1)

Pojut (1027544) | more than 6 years ago | (#21884660)

Isn't it obvious? It's training you for the night where you mix Psylocibin and LSD.

Re:You ever have that dream... (4, Funny)

truthsearch (249536) | more than 6 years ago | (#21884728)

So what about that dream where I'm naked at work and Jesus is fighting Nietzsche in pudding? What the hell is THAT training me for?

Coming out of the closet?

Re:You ever have that dream... (1)

HappyHead (11389) | more than 6 years ago | (#21884752)

Dude, that's not a dream, it's a repressed memory. Just push it back under, and you'll be a lot happier.

umm.. (1)

maclizard (1029814) | more than 6 years ago | (#21884594)

What about all those dreams you can't remember, can they really have that great of an effect on physical response?

Re:umm.. (1)

moderatorrater (1095745) | more than 6 years ago | (#21884814)

From what I've seen, most people remember less than 5 dreams per week. This guy's talking about 1 to 4 dreams per night, which would mean that he's talking mostly about dreams we don't remember.

Re:umm.. (1)

maclizard (1029814) | more than 6 years ago | (#21884938)

This guy's talking about 1 to 4 dreams per night, which would mean that he's talking mostly about dreams we don't remember.
yeah, i know, thats why I find it hard to believe that physical response is tied so tightly to it. maybe it's my pride, but I don't believe that I have so little control of myself in a dangerous situation.

Re:umm.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21885036)

maybe it's my pride

Probably. Most fat IT slobs such as yourself can barely run ten feet without an infarction, let alone defend themselves from an attacker.

Re:umm.. (1)

Peeteriz (821290) | more than 6 years ago | (#21884906)

That's the whole point - you get the learning/experience results (unconscious - reflexes, bias, assumptions,prejudices) of your brain playing "What-if" VR simulations with itself; but without remembering (usually) the details.

Re:umm.. (1)

toddhisattva (127032) | more than 6 years ago | (#21885024)

What about all those dreams you can't remember, can they really have that great of an effect on physical response?

Dreams train the neural net.

Just like the dozenth time I practice an Ian Bairnson lick gets forgotten as a specific event, lost among the other dozens of tries, so go most dreams. But the tiny incremental changes accumulate.

You can train yourself to remember more dreams, and to have as much control as desired.

Meditating in a dream is like being a teep in hyperspace.

Re:umm.. (3, Interesting)

Matteo522 (996602) | more than 6 years ago | (#21885046)

"Neurons that fire together, wire together."

Whether or not you remember them, the dreams still caused a physical reaction in your brain. So if you spent your night dreaming about Guitar Hero, whether or not you remember the dream, you'll find yourself playing better the next day because you still practiced it by playing through the simulation in your head all night. Your brain believed it had a real experience because it sent the real signals to the various parts of your brain/body (the brain stem blocked any motor signals, but the brain itself doesn't know that). This is all true even if your short-term memory cannot recall it.

This article is pretty timely for me, as I've been reading Head Trip by Jeff Warren over break. It provides a very interesting take on the various states of consciousness, with an early emphasis on the different kinds of dreaming states we have. I highly recommend it for anybody who's interested in the topic.

Re:umm.. (1)

UbuntuDupe (970646) | more than 6 years ago | (#21885120)

Not remembering dreams is *typical*, blowing a whole in this guy's theory, which sounds more like an utterance at a stoner session than something worth pursuing. And I mean, *much more* like a stoned guy than new theories typically sound.

Just go with Occam's Razor: dreams are just your brain's random firings while you sleep, they're not supposed to make sense.

Dreamt of that before (4, Funny)

Marcion (876801) | more than 6 years ago | (#21884612)

> What struck him the most was how lifelike they were. "I would say to myself, in my dream, 'Oh shit! I've dreamt of this before, but now this is really happening!' " he recalls

I actually get that. And I thought I was like Isaac Mendez, now it just my brain running simulations. the fact my brain gets it rights shows how dull and predicable my life must be....

Paskanmarjat (1)

Marcion (876801) | more than 6 years ago | (#21884744)

Though having said that. It scares me that the only way to find this out was by waterboarding rats in plant pots, only the Finns would figure out that. Voi Vittu.

That explains it (2, Interesting)

MrHanky (141717) | more than 6 years ago | (#21884618)

All those dreams I had of being chased and then not being able to run, losing all the power of my usually very strong and quick legs. It's all there to prepare me for giving up in case a real situation should arise. Thank you, science of psychology.

Re:That explains it (3, Interesting)

provigilman (1044114) | more than 6 years ago | (#21884808)

Or perhaps because you feel that your legs are strong and quick, your brain is trying to trying to train you on what you could do if you couldn't use your legs. What if you twisted your ankle while running? Then you might have to turn and face your attacker, rather than that running.

That's what the TFA was getting at. It's not so much that your brain is like "This is the most likely scenario", but rather that it's decided that this is a "feasible" scenario that you should be prepared for.

Re:That explains it (1)

GnarlyDoug (1109205) | more than 6 years ago | (#21885032)

Option 1 under this theory, you are training with how to deal with situations where you are greatly outmatched and/or powerless. In other words it is training for keeping you head in times of terror.

Option 2 under this theory, you are training with how to deal with injury to your legs or otherwise not being able to rely on them.

Personally I think there is some validity to the theory, but that it is just one facet of why we dream.

Riddle me this.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21884628)

If dreams are a threat simulation, why is it every time I'm about to get laid in one, I wake up?

Even an organic supercomputer has its limits (1)

areReady (1186871) | more than 6 years ago | (#21884812)

SYSTEM ERROR: Comprehension buffer overflow. Statistical probability approaches infinity to one against. Reset all variables within logical limits.

*REBOOT*

Re:Riddle me this.... (1)

Iamthefallen (523816) | more than 6 years ago | (#21885038)

FTFA:
The primary function of negative dreams is rehearsal for similar real events

Perhaps your brain realizes the futility of exercising such an unlikely event and decides to terminate the rehersal?

Scenarios simulating emergency situations (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21884664)

I'm getting really prepared for doing a lot of falling, but I'm not sure what I'll be able to do with this knowledge in the waking world.

Re:Scenarios simulating emergency situations (1)

calebt3 (1098475) | more than 6 years ago | (#21885156)

Be more cautious around cliffs. Or in one of my dreams, the curb. That was odd.

Interesting (4, Interesting)

jellomizer (103300) | more than 6 years ago | (#21884672)

It makes since, and could explain other things as well. Such as why adults are more apt to not have as many horrible nightmares. They still have the negative situations but they seem to handle the situations better, so they are less scary after a while because they know what to do. Evolutionary reason for dreaming, it seems like a silly thing to evolve a period of a beings life where they body goes into paralysis just so they don't kill themselves from acting lucid imagery, the fact the dreams gave us a survival advantage would explain the tradeoff of the paralysis during the night.
This seems a good theory. It should be investaged further.

Re:Interesting (1)

techpawn (969834) | more than 6 years ago | (#21884870)

What about adult who suffer from Night Terrors? They still have very vivid and terrifying nightmares. Are they just preparing for more of the worst and therefore shouldn't take their medications?

Re:Interesting (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21885028)

When talking about the reasons for x you need to ignore the outliers as they tend to be evolutionary dead ends and tend to be culled over time.

PS: Dreams cost energy so they probably have some evolutionary advantage.

Re:Interesting (1)

jellomizer (103300) | more than 6 years ago | (#21885062)

Night terrors are not part of REM sleep. So they are not nightmares or dreams. They are just pure fear.

Re:Interesting (1)

samkass (174571) | more than 6 years ago | (#21884916)

My dreams have thus trained me never to get up on my junior high school's stage in my underwear and sing. And it worked. I managed to avoid doing that, somehow.

I think the article has a point, but of course that there's much more to it than that.

Re:Interesting (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 6 years ago | (#21885048)

My dreams have thus trained me never to get up on my junior high school's stage in my underwear and sing. And it worked. I managed to avoid doing that, somehow.
Just think, it could have been you instead of Madonna.

Re:Interesting (1)

Ronin Developer (67677) | more than 6 years ago | (#21884930)

Those were JUST dreams???? I always thought the paralysis was a result of that bright, green beam the aliens hit me with just prior to each abduction. Silly me.

Re:Interesting (1)

jellomizer (103300) | more than 6 years ago | (#21885150)

It depends on the culture. Before aliens there were witches and deamons and other forms of monsters that caused the paralysis. Waking up in that state (I never noticed it myself) would probably be kinda scary where your consious brain can't logically handle what is wrong with your body. Super/Hyper Natural assumptions are often taken into account.

What Dreams May Come? (1)

fahrbot-bot (874524) | more than 6 years ago | (#21884686)

Last night I dreamt I was reading /. I'm not sure what that means, but it can't be good. Oddly, I thought I'd seen that dream before...

Murder Simulator? (1)

jmpeax (936370) | more than 6 years ago | (#21884688)

I remember a dream in which I was standing on a railway platform and as a train passed, I shot the driver with some kind of rifle. What was interesting is that this was only a very small part of the dream. The rest consisted of me going through some ridiculously realistic emotions, including guilt, fear and remorse. Even though the events themselves were completely abstract, it was like I went through an emotional simulation of killing someone.

*ALERT* *ALERT* *ALERT* (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21884846)

I remember a dream in which I was standing on a railway platform and as a train passed, I shot the driver with some kind of rifle.
Attention all psyops units, we have a 2212 in progress. Sleeper Jmpeax's memory block has begun to fail. All units converge immediately and terminate!

Re:Murder Simulator? (1)

Peeteriz (821290) | more than 6 years ago | (#21884956)

... and the purpose IMHO is very clear - if you were in a similar situation/decisionpoint (and your brain thinks it's somehow possible, since you're dreaming about it), then you'd have some opinion/bias about what the consequences and your feelings could be, and you'd be able to act more or less rationally without taking an hour to think about it.

So real! (1, Redundant)

Quiet_Desperation (858215) | more than 6 years ago | (#21884696)

nighttime theater in which our brains screen realistic scenarios

Oh, I agree. Thanks to my dreams, I can totally handle it when giant marshmallow bunnies attack my sky fortress when it drifts over the Land Of The Tiny Pigs. Generally, I hit the Chaos Gong in the Dark Energy Rectory, and an army of cybernetic Winona Ryders materializes and attacks the bunnies with flamethrowers. There's also the alternative of firing the spacefolding trebuchet into the Inner Circle Of Thought, thus causing a degenerative cascade effect in the local fauna matrix. There's some damage to other marshmallow species, but it takes care of the bunnies pretty well.

Still working on the whole "showing up naked for the midterm I forgot to study for" scenario though, although I suspect a combination of satire, extreme violence and an industrial vat of chocolate fudge might be called for.

Re:So real! (1)

Fantastic Lad (198284) | more than 6 years ago | (#21884954)

Ugh.

The funny part is that I can easily picture how an army of flamethrower wielding cybernetic Winonas would appear in a dreamscape. This is probably a combination of Tim Burton's and Neil Gaiman's collective efforts.


-FL

Not News! (1)

ocirs (1180669) | more than 6 years ago | (#21884698)

Our psychology professor gave us a packet awhile ago based on the same theory, and it's been mentioned in our psychology text which is at least a few years old. The experimenters used a mouse and prevented it from entering REM sleep(when the mouse would dream) by putting it on a floating platform with a large hole in the middle so that the mouse would slip through the hole in to the water below when it entered REM sleep since its muscles relaxed. It was then shown that the mouse was less aware of danger, and was less responsive to threatening stimulus and more willing to stay in the open where it is more likely to be attacked by predators.

Re:Not News! (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 6 years ago | (#21884818)

Our psychology professor gave us a packet awhile ago based on the same theory, and it's been mentioned in our psychology text which is at least a few years old. The experimenters used a mouse and prevented it from entering REM sleep(when the mouse would dream) by putting it on a floating platform with a large hole in the middle so that the mouse would slip through the hole in to the water below when it entered REM sleep since its muscles relaxed. It was then shown that the mouse was less aware of danger, and was less responsive to threatening stimulus and more willing to stay in the open where it is more likely to be attacked by predators

Maybe the poor little rodent was just tired. Most of us don't do awfully well with threats in general when we're tired. Occam's razor and all that.

I'm not at all sure psychology and it's cross dressing little sister, psychiatry, should be afforded more respect than say, economics or voodoo. They should all get real jobs.

Re:Not News! (1)

ocirs (1180669) | more than 6 years ago | (#21884972)

They were actually able to prove that the mice's brain activity was similar to the brain activity of other mice using EEG's which meant that they were as awake as the other mice. But I agree, much of psychology is making up believable theories bases on the rough outline of scientific data.

Nice (0, Redundant)

Strange Ranger (454494) | more than 6 years ago | (#21884700)

This will really come in handy!
This means I'm much more prepared for a ménage à trois with 2 playboy models in which I look like Brad Pitt in Troy.

On the flip side, I'm also prepared to have psychedelic encounters with random grade school classmates I haven't seen in 25 years and would never think of outside of a dream.

Go dreams go!!

prepared (1)

Amocat (1210616) | more than 6 years ago | (#21884704)

Kind of true. Back when I was in school I'd often dream about taking finals. Even though few questions I dreamed up showed up on the test, I kept my cool on weird questions that I didn't know.

interesting... (2, Funny)

Ralph Spoilsport (673134) | more than 6 years ago | (#21884706)

It's like nature's version of QA.

OK - let's do some load testing. HA! See? The test server fried. Fix that - so now it passes to other test servers. Set up? OK - run the test. See? Load OK. Good. Now config the prod servers like that, and we'll be good. Next? copy paste evil Evil EVIL hacker script into data entry on test server. Did it fail? Yes? Good. Prod server's fine then.

OK - you're dreaming that everyone is chasing you (load testing), so you pass the magic baton to someone else and the crowd runs past you. You are in a horrible argument with someone (hacker script) and you smash their brains in and feel happy about it.

Dreams as mental QA scripts. I like that! It makes a kind of "sense", and demonstrates the necessity of not only dreaming BUT PAYING FOR GOOD QA SO YOU DON'T PUT OUT A SHIT PRODUCT. Hopefully that will be heard in Redmond - but they never sleep, so they never dream...

RS

Nightmares (4, Funny)

rice_burners_suck (243660) | more than 6 years ago | (#21884716)

Maybe that's why I keep having that nightmare about turning on my Mac one day only to find it's suddenly running Vista!

That's no Mac! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21884782)

Maybe that's why I keep having that nightmare about turning on my Mac one day only to find it's suddenly running Vista!
Look at the size of that thing!

Repeat dreams? (1)

AtariDatacenter (31657) | more than 6 years ago | (#21884726)

My own experience is that I'll have dreams that will repeat several times over the course of a year or two. When there is some sort of challenge, my first time may end in failure, but I end up doing much better my third or fourth time around.

It is very strange to repeat a dream, but it is very pleasant to do much better with it. So I think I do end up learning things in my dreams.

Re:Repeat dreams? (1)

Marcion (876801) | more than 6 years ago | (#21884942)

Yeah I tend to have repeat dreams also sometimes in the same night. As a teenager exposed to the Alien movies and to the Doom computer game, I learned how to hack such dreams. If you wake up with a nightmare (e.g. you are running away from some horrible thing), then go to sleep thinking about flamethrowers. Whatever the nightmare is, it can usually be solved the second time around by having a flamethrower.

A fine theory on the imaginations of rats (3, Insightful)

ooutland (146624) | more than 6 years ago | (#21884772)

The article covers *rats*, and it explains what happens to a small, limited rat brain when it can't dream. And yes, it explains *some* human dreaming. But, what is going on in my human head when I dream of dead loved ones? What does that prepare me for? Are my dreams of being naked in public just training ground to remind me to get dressed every morning? Or do they reflect buried insecurities or anxieties? Maybe dreams started as a way for our primitive, simple brains to train themselves to survive, but their reason for being today, in our more advanced brains, is still a mystery.

Re:A fine theory on the imaginations of rats (1)

bumby (589283) | more than 6 years ago | (#21884892)

We have all got "primitive" brains under our shiny new cortex. Maybe your "dreams of being naked in public" is just your neocortex interpretations of a more primitive survival training going on in your reptile brain.

dream of the way things ought to be (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21884774)

then go ahead & believe it's possible. you may be surprised at the results.

Then I will be prepared.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21884788)

... for the undead uprising of 2008!

OK, what kind of threat is this? (1)

Iphtashu Fitz (263795) | more than 6 years ago | (#21884828)

My brother had a recurring dream as a kid. He was chased over and under his bed by an octopus. What kind of threat was he preparing for?

Re:OK, what kind of threat is this? (2, Funny)

bcattwoo (737354) | more than 6 years ago | (#21884878)

My brother had a recurring dream as a kid. He was chased over and under his bed by an octopus. What kind of threat was he preparing for?
Rising sea levels as a result of global warming. Duh.

Re:OK, what kind of threat is this? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21885006)

The warnings have been with us far longer than mere scientific observations. The end is nigh! repent and ... err... download pr0nz while u still can!

Re:OK, what kind of threat is this? (1)

stewbacca (1033764) | more than 6 years ago | (#21885080)

What kind of threat was he preparing for?
Being chased around his bed by an octopus, maybe? Or maybe it's preparing him on how to cope with bad acid trips?

Who's handing out the redundant mods? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21884844)

What fucking spoil sport. Just because YOU have no imagination...

There's nothing more "asshole" than Redundant mods.

Who were the test subjects? (1)

Nykon (304003) | more than 6 years ago | (#21884848)

"We have 300 to 1,000 threat dreams per year -- one to four per night and just under half are aggressive encounters: physical aggression such as fistfights, and nonphysical aggression such as verbal arguments."

I think I have maybe 10 angry or scary dreams a year. Most of the times my dreams are weird but nothing like they describe.

Two that come to mind that were odd and a bit geeky too (well I AM on Slashdot) was one I always use as an example when telling about the style of dreams I typically have and the second was one I had last night.

The one I had last night literally just involved me and Zach Braff (JD from Scrubs) hanging out playing Wii and then driving to some fast food place drive thru to get food. Though keep in mind I watch a lot of Scrubs too, but that isn't an uncommon style of dream for me.

The other, is one I had a few months back but also a common style of dream. The dream was just a typical basement house party. We were hanging around downstairs, music playing, a keg in the corner, and I was in the dream sitting there talking to a few people. I wasn't dreaming about any party specifically in the past, the dream was just like a representation of a typical basement party. Anyway, the only thing that was different is that there were no doors in the basement. People were casually coming and going from the party via a worm hole in the floor of the basement in the middle of the room. But in my dream it was such a casual "matter of fact" that it was there like "duh, how else would you leave and enter a party?".

That's what my dreams are like. Though I am a pretty happy go lucky geek type. They need to stop running these dream studies with all these angry, people with pent up rage it would seem :)

can you train peaceful dreams? (1)

peter303 (12292) | more than 6 years ago | (#21884970)

I wonder if a eastern monk who learns to meditate on peaceful thoughts has peaceful dreams. This is not easy to achieve and takes some monks decades.

Maybe all the negative impulses are repressed into dreams then.

mod dOBwn (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21884908)

cuurent core were community at good manners a losing battle;

My problem with this... (1)

raving griff (1157645) | more than 6 years ago | (#21884910)

...is that it doesn't apply to me, personally, at all. Rarely will I have a dream where I am threatened and even more rarely will it be in a feasable, real-life setting. The only validity I can see in this is that I often face and deal with awkward social situations in my dreams, but these are wildly unrealistic and completely alter the personalities of the people involved in the dreams. (Essentially, I am saying that I see people I know in my dreams, but they act very differently than they do in real life.) However, I have dealt with threatening situations before, some very complex, but in a completely unrealistic setting. Once, several years ago, I had a dream where demons were possessing everybody in a wave-like pattern, starting from my block and expanding outwards, spreading their possesion by touch. I then found myself leading a party of twelve or so video game characters out of the city and away from the demons, searching for a way to set them back, which I eventually found. And this is supposed to help me in real-life situations?

I think people are mixing their domains (1)

cyborg_zx (893396) | more than 6 years ago | (#21885070)

The dreams are NOT supposed to be little "real-life" simulations such that they would represent some arbitrary scenario that could happen in the real-world. Instead the dream scenarios are merely meant to stimulate the appropriate areas of the brain so that they are trained to respond to the abstract threats - not concrete scenarios.

Therefore it doesn't matter if the dream is consistent with reality or not - that's not relevant. It doesn't matter if your aunt doesn't act like your aunt in your dream. It doesn't matter if the streets don't work the same, the train stations look odd, TVs don't have realistic shows etc...

My conclusive theory... (1)

argStyopa (232550) | more than 6 years ago | (#21884948)

...is that pretty much every dream researcher has his or her own f'cked-up dream experiences, and it's much less stressful to assume that everyone ELSE has the same f'cked up dreams than to go get therapy for oneself.

Having just been on vacation and getting ample sleep, I found myself remembering a large number of dreams over the past week. None were terrifying, none were in any way 'threat simulations', and most were quite pleasurable, if a bit weird.

Perhaps this particular researcher just needs to relax a little?

Dude... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21885122)

None were terrifying, none were in any way 'threat simulations', and most were quite pleasurable, if a bit weird.

I hate to break this to ya' but the thing with the 2 dwarfs, dairy cow, chihuahua and vat of lard... that wasn't a dream!

Sweet (1)

brunes69 (86786) | more than 6 years ago | (#21884952)

So this means my dreams of having a 3some with Jessica Biel and Jessica Alba are just preparing me for a future where it will likely happen!

Fell asleep to the feynman lectures... (1)

Bootle (816136) | more than 6 years ago | (#21884994)

Had a dream I traveled back in time to 1961 and had to teach richard feynman string theory so he could disprove it before I hit grad school, thereby saving me considerably heart/head-ache...

It was like back to the future meets sliders, starring liev schrieber. The critics were not fans, talk about hostile!

Well defended indeed (1)

Bolen (4896) | more than 6 years ago | (#21885002)

In that case, I'm well prepared to defend myself from:

1. Naked girls willing to share my bed.
2. Inexplicably discovering I'm nude in public, even if no one else seems to notice.
3. Elevator doors that spring open, exposing a long fall down an open shaft.

lucid dreaming? (1)

vajaradakini (1209944) | more than 6 years ago | (#21885016)

What about lucid dreaming then? Usually when my dreams aren't turning out nice I'll make something better happen, I definitely can't do that in real life (otherwise I would have a harem of hot half naked men who would cater to my every whim and fan me with palm branches).

Sweet Dreams are Made of This (4, Interesting)

CristalShandaLear (762536) | more than 6 years ago | (#21885020)

The other night, I dreamed that I misjudged a car exit and drove through a rail, over an embankment and into a river. As the river got closer, the water turned the color and consistency of Google Earth water when you get too close and just as I submerged, my car bounced back out again and onto the road (just like Neo in the jump program). I was soaking wet, but otherwise unharmed. I don't think my brain was trying to prepare me for this type of emergency. I think it's more likely that I've seen the Matrix one time too many, that I just started a new gig where part of my job is to find aerial views of properties on Google Earth and that I'm from Ohio where 6 people from my home state died in an accident where a bus went over an overpass? And I kept watching Bourne 2 before Bourne 3 came out, a movie where a car dives into water. I think dreams are made of the total of our experiences. Our "weirder" dreams are our experiences combined with our imagination's flights of fancy, our experiences and our more subtle observations - things that may not register when we see them, but are still lodged in our memories - like people only remembering a license plate number through hypnosis.

Dream on (1)

stewbacca (1033764) | more than 6 years ago | (#21885034)

In my dreams, I'm a badass mofo that kicks butt and never loses a fight. In reality, I've never been in a fight in my life.

Evolving Reality with Age (3, Funny)

Sponge Bath (413667) | more than 6 years ago | (#21885050)

When I was a young child I had disturbing nightmares about scary monsters and falling.
Recently I had a dream about someone dinging my fender in traffic.

I guess that's the evolution of my reality:
From Earth shaking terror to bored annoyance.

Supporting idea (1)

LumenPlacidum (993751) | more than 6 years ago | (#21885128)

I like it. Maybe the mechanism has changed for us since horrible life-or-death situations are somewhat less common these days than they used to be, but there's a certain elegance to the idea. Also, as a weird thing that happens to creatures, it's nice to have some way of describing why it would come about in evolutionary context. I always think better of ideas about organisms that can be explained through evolutionary advantage; it makes them seem more solid to me. Of course, not everything should be attributed to natural selection, but it's nice for most biological aspects.

Psychology Today? (1)

aldheorte (162967) | more than 6 years ago | (#21885134)

Psychology Today is like the Glamour of psychology. If you want real scientific studies, consider the many journals of the APA (there are two of them, one psychology, one psychiatry). The only thing worse would be to read some crackpot theory on Slashdot.

On that note, this all sounds like fancy semantic correlations of the word 'dream'. Since anyone can have a theory, I propose that dreams are merely the replay of the day's events or the 'echo firing' of thoughts you have had that day. My (admittedly small) reading suggests that the conscious portions f the brain actually act more as a filter and control of a vast number of underlying random neural events rather than a generator.

It would make sense then that the conscious portions of the brain, needing to sleep at some point, shuts down the body with 'sleep paralysis' (this is state in which your motor functions are intentionally impaired and you cannot move your extremities even if you try - sometimes you can become conscious in this state briefly) and basically lets the unconscious portions of the brain have at it, which starts with the cohesive patterns the conscious brain had recently established and then, as the randomness takes hold without a controller, eventually corrupts into odd dreams. When the conscious brain starts taking control again at different times in the sleep cycles or upon awakening, this is connected to memory again and some of it bleeds over into conscious memory while the conscious portions of the brain are still establishing control.

That's my theory and I'm sticking to it.

Bothersome image (3, Funny)

stewbacca (1033764) | more than 6 years ago | (#21885136)

Am I the only one bothered by the high occurence of slashdotters dreaming about themselves naked? Ewwww.

I had a dream I ate a giant marshmallow... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21885162)

... I woke up and my pillow was gone!
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