I was pleasantly surprised to see a new article about the value of dreaming in the Oct 28, 2007 edition of Parade Magazine. In this piece, author Robert Moss discusses the role of dreams in creativity, problem-solving, emotional intelligence, and possibly human evolution.
Here’s an open secret: Dreaming isn’t really about sleeping; it’s about waking up. Dreams wake us up to the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead. They can tell us what we need to know and alert us to actions we need to take.
What I like about this article is that Moss does not stray into the sweet, sticky morasse that most pop-psychology pieces indulge in: that dreams are “messages from our subconscious mind” to our waking ego. Nay, instead Moss briefly discusses recent neurobiological research that suggests that dreams are inherently tied to our desires, concerns, and motivations. In other words, yes, there is meaning in dreams but it’s not necessarily a deeper source than our waking ego, but instead characterized by more flexible kinds of thinking.
Moss goes further, suggesting that dreams have a biological function. This is actually contrary to many researchers” beliefs in the field, most charismatically led by Bill Domhoff. Others will agree that dreams can have a psychological function, but it’s a post-hoc slapped-together social prop that has nothing to do with how dreams arose biologically, sort of like how your average scapulamancy reading has nothing to do with the biomechanics of pig locomotion.
But Moss’s rendering of human evolution is also much more flexible than most dream researchers as he considers psi phenomena to be evidence for dreams” evolutionary function. That’s pretty bold, and definitely an area of research that needs some more heavy investigating (as well as investing). Sadly, evidence for this possibility will remain anecdotal (because we all have stories, don’t we?) until a change in the dominant paradigm for Western science allows the Academy to look at the research that has already been done….
Perhaps Moss’s piece in Parade Magazine is an indication of this shifting worldview?
For more of Moss’s views on the possibilities of dreams, I recommend his Conscious Dreaming.