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Dreams are successions of images, ideas, emotions, and sensations that occur involuntarily in the mind during certain stages of sleep.

A connection to the human subconscious, dreams can range from normal and ordinary to the overly surreal and bizarre. Dreams can at times make a creative thought occur to the person or give a sense of inspiration. Dream imagery is often absurd and unrealistic, and the events in dreams are generally outside the control of the dreamer, with the exception of lucid dreaming. Dreamers are usually not self-aware in their dreams; thus the dreams seem as reality. Dreams can have varying natures, such as frightening, exciting, magical, melancholic, adventurous, or sexual. Sigmund Freud explained dreams were manifestations of the dreamer's most deepest desires and anxieties. Dreams have also been described physiologically as a response to neural processes during sleep; psychologically as reflections of the subconscious; and spiritually as messages from the soul, from a god or from the deceased, or as predictions of the future.

A nightmare is an unpleasant dream that can cause a strong negative emotional response from the mind, typically fear and/or horror, but also despair, anxiety and great sadness. The dream may contain situations of danger, discomfort, psychological or physical terror.


  • Science has proven to an extent that all mammals dream.
  • Other hypotheses about the function of dreams, including:
    • Dreams allow the repressed parts of the mind to be satisfied through fantasy while keeping the conscious mind from thoughts that would suddenly cause one to awaken from shock.
    • Sigmund Freud suggested that bad dreams let the brain learn to gain control over emotions resulting from distressing experiences.
    • Carl Jung suggested that dreams may compensate for one-sided attitudes held in waking consciousness.
    • Sandor Ferenczi proposed that the dream, when told, may communicate something that is not being said outright.
    • Dreams regulate mood.
    • Hartmann says dreams may function like psychotherapy, by "making connections in a safe place" and allowing the dreamer to integrate thoughts that may be dissociated during waking life.
    • More recent research by psychologist Joe Griffin, following a twelve-year review of data from all major sleep laboratories, led to the formulation of the expectation fulfilment theory of dreaming, which suggests that dreaming metaphorically completes patterns of emotional expectation in the autonomic nervous system and lowers stress levels in mammals.

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