The weirdness of dreams

Pubblished by Bruno Bara Nicoletta Causi on Dream Psychology Dream Research Dreams How To
September 6, 2013

Hi Dreamboarders,

A new week is ending and we wish you a great weekend full of dreams to track with Dreamboard.

With this new post we would like to explain the meaning of “weirdness” in dreams. Maybe at first sight it is a difficult concept to understand, but if you read this article everything will surely be clearer.

Enjoy reading about it and let us know what you think and what your experiences have been.

The predictability of our lives

In everyday life, our perceptual frames allow us to jump from the details of any given stimulus (a hoof and a tail, or a growl and a dark spot) to the overall perception (an ox, or a panther), thus making it possible to quickly select the information from a context that is most relevant for us in that moment. For example, if we go to a party to conduct public relations, we tend to notice people who may be useful socially or for our career, but if we go there to enrich our emotional life, then we tend to select someone we think might be a good partner in life, or for the night.

These frames, integrated into other cognitive patterns based on our experience and the culture in which we are immersed, also allow us to formulate something like rules or scripts, which help guide our actions. For example, for us Westerners it is a good idea to steer clear of an armed stranger who looks threatening, unless he is wearing a uniform, while it is appropriate to accept the company of a kind and friendly stranger, unless he is overly kind and friendly. Of course you can make a mistake and end up getting robbed by a corrupt policeman, or miss the chance to make a new friend, but the benefits of applying these frames are so obvious that they justify the efforts we make to teach them to the children of our species.

The unpredictability of our dreams

In dreams – as we explained in the Introduction to the theory of dreams and DB – all of these efficient frames and rules that normally help us predict what will happen in the environment around us are suspended: we can move freely in a dream world where there are no real dangers to our survival, where everything, absolutely everything, can happen.

It is precisely this surprising unpredictability that makes it necessary to pay great attention to the details of our dreams – they can no longer be taken for granted. In normal reality we never check to see if a cat is wearing pants or if the color of our significant other’s eyes has suddenly changed, but in dreams animals can wear expensive clothes and someone’s eyes can suddenly become red when the moment before they were green: everything should be carefully examined, nothing can be taken for granted. The weirdness of certain details in our dreams, their obvious inconsistency, the continuous sense of surprise, everything is linked to the deactivation of our frames and scripts while we are asleep.

The censorship of consciousness

While indeed anything can happen in our dreams, and the rules that apply during the day are suspended (physical ones like the law of gravity, but also the rules of social etiquette, and those governing the peaceful coexistence of different peoples, etc.), as soon as we wake up our consciousness resumes its work as an organizer of experience – a function as valuable to our survival as it is limiting. Most of the aspects of our dreams that are inconsistent with our perceptual-cognitive frames now become inhibited and normalized: cats lose their pants and changing multi-colored eyes become simply green, your child no longer provokes feelings of disgust, or, similarly, you no longer love someone who is despicable. Elements that are considered usual are emphasized at the expense of surprising ones, which are drastically reduced, and the original dream is transformed more and more into a familiar script that is consistent with the experiences we have when we are awake. Nevertheless, at times, particularly striking or somehow acceptable abnormalities in our dreams are maintained, and indeed we often remember a dream because of the presence of some exceptional element, something out of the ordinary. These are the aspects that make dreams “weird” in varying degrees.

Observe the weirdness of your dreams

One of the objectives of DB, other than that of helping dreamers draw closer to knowing in a more immediate way the emotions from which their dreams originate, is to weaken the automatic inhibiting force of consciousness as much as possible. Our goal is to give people the chance – in their conscious life –  to read and experience the world and themselves without necessarily applying the usual stereotyped frames, thereby increasing their freedom.

This goal is very difficult to reach, but not for this should we give up trying: using the observations you have tracked with DB, in fact, you can attempt to inhibit the censorship of consciousness as much as possible, opening yourself to the original experiences of dreams, especially the emotions, just as they are. Similarly, it is useful to monitor the degree of weirdness in your dreams: maybe, after observing your dreams for some time, or in a particular period of your life, this parameter will vary significantly. For example, you may find that as you use DB more often, you remember increasingly more bizarre and incongruous aspects of your dreams, thus opening an important window of awareness not only on how you work and which mental frames you use, but also on potential new ways of being or of seeing things and yourself.


In order to explain more clearly what the scientific bases of Dreamboard, we are publishing in this blog different articles written by Professor Bruno Bara and Dr. Nicoletta Causi:

Introduction to the theory of dreams and Dreamboard 
Emotions in dreams
The meaning of colors in dreams
Why is bodily experience also important in dreams
The weirdness of dreams
People, places, things


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