Freud was right – dreams are a distorted continuation of reality

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Credit: Stanislaw Pytel/Getty Images

Whereas ancient civilisations may have interpreted dreams as having supernatural or spiritual origins, in modern society, we’re more likely to analyse our dreams in terms of our waking life, looking for meaningful connections linking the content of dreams with lived experiences from our day-to-day existence.

“It turns out that everyday life impacts dreaming (e.g. anxiety in life leads to dreams with negative affect) and vice versa (e.g. dreaming impacts problem-solving skills),” [said computer scientist Alessandro Fogli.]

These psychological theories date back to the work of Sigmund Freud and others in the 20th century, who spearheaded the notion that the hidden meanings of dreams could be unlocked when examined within the context of a person’s real-world experiences.

The team’s dream processing tool simplifies the Hall and Van de Castle system, parsing the text of dream reports and focusing on characters, social interactions, and emotions words.

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“These three dimensions are considered to be the most important ones in aiding the interpretation of dreams,” the team writes, “as they define the backbone of a dream plot: who was present, which actions were performed and which emotions were expressed.”

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The researchers… found in their data evidence to support the continuity hypothesis – the notion that dreams are a continuation of what happens in everyday life.

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