From Shakespeare to Emily Bronte and beyond, many authors have given dreams the power to direct, challenge and reveal. In Dreamcatcher, young Indian playwright Kashyap Raja explores whether dreams may hold the key to unlocking your subconscious mind and your destiny.
The significance of sleep is a hot topic in modern science. Researchers have recently uncovered evidence that our brain has a plumbing network called the glymphatic system, which they believe may be responsible for clearing out dementia-causing toxins while we doze.
But dream analysis is still on the borderline with pseudoscience. Sigmund Freud’s idea that we act out our desires in dreams is undermined by a study showing that paralysed people dreamt about walking less than average, even though they all expressed a desire to regain that ability.
Carl Jung also taught that dreams are highly significant, containing truths and visions that emerge from different levels of our unconscious mind. This is the scenario that Dreamcatcher explores, with a machine that can look inside living people’s dreams, where, it’s revealed, you can always find your heart’s desire.
So does science support the notion that dreams can reveal the workings of the subconscious mind? Unfortunately neurobiological theory suggests that dreams emerge as we try to make sense of sporadic firings of nerves in our brain stem, which randomly activate memories.
But scientists continue to explore what’s going on in the brain’s unconscious. The latest experiments show we can do complicated maths, as well as making rapid-fire judgements that guide our behaviour, without even knowing we are doing it. Is this how our destiny asserts itself?
The more that experts probe how our brains work, the more we realise how much processing is going on in our unconscious without our awareness. Currently, though, the suggestion that dreams carry great significance seems like wishful thinking. (RM)
Dreamcatcher ran at theSpace @ Surgeon’s Hall until August 27th - https://tickets.edfringe.com/whats-on/dreamcatcher
The discovery of the brain’s glymphatic system: https://www.urmc.rochester.edu/news/story/3584/scientists-discover-previously-unknown-cleansing-system-in-brain.aspx
Significance of sleep to brain cleansing: https://www.nih.gov/news-events/news-releases/brain-may-flush-out-toxins-during-sleep
Neurobiological reasons for dreams: http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/neuroskeptic/2010/04/07/why-do-we-dream/#.V9m5A_krKUk
The power of our unconscious mind: http://www.bbc.com/future/story/20160315-the-enormous-power-of-the-unconscious-brain