Emotions in dreams

Pubblished by Bruno Bara Nicoletta Causi on Dream Research Dreamboard Inc. Dreams
August 2, 2013

Hi Dreamboarders,

this post to explain how our emotions are important, especially in our dreams.
Dreams are a window through which observe ourselves  and they are determined primarily by the active emotions of the dreamer, so they can be used as a tool, if captured appropriately, to understand these emotions more directly than during wakefulness.

For this reason with Dreamboard it’s possible to track your dreams describing your emotions as soon as you wake up.

Here a brief explanation:

Emotions are an essential part of our dreams, no matter how well we are able to remember or narrate them when we wake up.

In addition to evidence from the field of Neuroscientific researches, has shown that during REM sleep the parts of our brain dedicated to emotions are more active than those dedicated to rational thought, it is an objective fact that dreams affect us more for the emotions they trigger than for the thoughts and memories connected to them. If, for example, we dream of our first love from long ago, we can observe the things we remember and even how we remember them. But certainly what will strike us most will be the emotions we experience during the dream and the ones we remember when we awake, as well as those that might stay with us throughout the day, perhaps even influencing some small decision of ours (for example, we might phone our significant other more or less than usual).

Furthermore, when we dream, we are neither responsible for our actions in the dream nor for the emotions we feel, although they belong to us. Dreams are therefore a privileged channel for the expression and recognition of emotions that in themselves can be very conflicting or inconsistent with those we normally feel when we are awake.

That’s why using DB to track the emotions we feel when we wake up, as well as the ones we felt during a dream, is so important: putting aside the rationalizations and prejudices that usually accompany us during wakefulness helps us get closer to a deeper understanding of the emotional significance of our dream, and thus of ourselves.

 The importance of emotions in our lives

While emotions play a crucial role in dreams, they are also very important in everyday life, though it can be much more difficult and tiring to recognize and listen to them when certain patterns of consciousness have been activated. Perhaps this is because we are too focused on our thoughts (like, for example, “I have to do this, I have to do that”, etc.), or because we deem them inappropriate, or unnecessary, or harmful, or because we don’t accept situations in which we feel contrasting emotions.

But as Darwin has taught us, all emotions are useful. All are related to our ability to adapt, which is necessary to our survival.

Consider anger, for example. Our culture often sees it as a negative emotion. It is actually an alarm that warns us that we are not in touch with our values and that our needs are not met, and it can help us to set things right. (The anger we feel, for example, when our significant other ignores our request for help helps us to understand our frustration. We can thus act accordingly by protesting with that person so the situation does not happen again, or we can decide to end the relationship).

All emotions, therefore, play an important role in our lives. They prepare us for action (for example, fear allows us to escape in time when faced with danger), provide information about our condition in a given situation, communicate to others what our condition is and what we want (for example, if we have a sad expression, others will tend to act as caregivers towards us), and, conversely, they help us to understand the condition of others and help make sense of what happens to us.

The tracking of emotional experiences in dreams through DB

By using DB to note the general feeling of pleasantness or unpleasantness of a dream as soon as you wake up, you record the earliest information about the emotional climate linked to the dream and avoid slipping too quickly back into rational judgment, which could make the emotional dimension harder to reach.

Next, emotions must be explored one by one, starting with those that Paul Ekman has called “basic emotions” (anger, fear, surprise, joy, sadness and disgust). Studies on the recognition of facial expressions in different cultures have demonstrated that these emotions are universally recognized and present from birth; they are innate, ancient, and have been inherited from our oldest common ancestors. Even infants or children who are blind from birth show the typical expressions related to these emotions. They are thus the easiest emotions to detect, due to the fact that they contain minimal amounts of cognitive and social mediation. In addition to these, we can consider many more emotions that are more complex or related to our own culture (e.g. shame, guilt, jealousy, etc.), and for this reason are more difficult to recognize and distinguish.

So let us stop for a moment – without thinking too much – and listen to the emotions that resonate thanks to our dreams, maybe starting with the simplest ones while steering clear of judgment and the search for explanations. Do not ask why certain emotions are present, but ask what they are and how they are composed. In this way we can gain access to a huge amount of information about our dreams and ourselves.

Next posts: keep on following us

In order to explain more clearly what the scientific bases of Dreamboard, we will publish in this blog different articles written by Professor Bruno Bara and Dr. Nicoletta Causi:
The meaning of colors in dreams
Physical presence in the dream
The weirdness of dreams
People, places, things


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