PJ Media

Dreaming as Emergency Training

I was leafing through span style=”font-style:italic;”Psychology Today /span recently and came across a href=”http://psychologytoday.com/articles/pto-20071029-000003.xml”an interesting article on dreaming/a entitled, span style=”font-style:italic;”Dreams: Night School/span (you have to subscribe to get the whole article). The article takes a look at why we dream according to one Finnish researcher, Antti Revonsuo:br /br /blockquoteA dream researcher at the University of Turku, in Finland, Revonsuo believes that dreams are a sort of nighttime theater in which our brains screen realistic scenarios. This virtual reality simulates emergency situations and provides an arena for safe training. As Revonsuo puts it, “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.” br /br /Faced with actual life-or death-situations–traffic accidents, terrorist attacks, street assaults–some 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. Threat simulation, Revonsuo believes, is why. br //blockquotebr /br /Revonsuo began studying dreams and had his students keep logs. He found that dreams were filled with “dangerous events, negative emotions, monsters, chases, escapes, fights and near-death experiences. These weren’t the misfirings of diseased brains. Threat dreams were span style=”font-style:italic;”the norm,/span accounting for a staggering two thirds of all dreams.”br /br /So, next time you have nightmares and wonder what the heck is wrong with you, just remember, it may be nothing more than a rehearsal for dealing with real life danger and your mind’s way of learning to more quickly and efficiently respond to that danger.