What do dreams really mean?


Remember in Friends when Phoebe is really, really angry at Ross and she has no idea why? She spends the whole of the episode ignoring him/incredibly upset with him, and it all turns out to be because of some crazy dream she had? This happens to me on a semi-regularly basis. My partner often has to face the brunt of whatever Dream Him did, whoever he cheated on me with, whatever terrible excuse he blamed it on. And though I know in real life, my partner had nothing to do with me experiencing him cheating on me in dream world, I can't help but feel concerned about it in real life.

,My other regular, and slightly more concerning, dream, is a dream in which I drown. I'm normally in some kind of tsnami situation, and waves crash down onto me, and I've no way to survive. Some crazy part of me, even if it's a tiny fraction, is convinced this memory is coming to me from a previous (or potential future) life I'm to lead, because it seems so real every time. Why would I continue dream of drowning, monthly, for as long as I can remember?

What is my subconscious trying to tell me?! What do these dreams mean? 

Onierology is the study of dreams, although apparently no one really knows what the deal is with dreaming. There are lots of theories though -

1) Dreams help us process emotions by encoding and constructing memories of them. Often the emotion in the dream may be something we've felt throughout the day, even if the visuals aren't much to do with our experiences.

2) Dreams are a representation of unconscious desires, thoughts and motivations. "Disguised fulfilment of repressed wishes." Dreams are therefore made up of two types of content; Manifest content is made up of the actual images, thoughts and content contained within the dream, while the latent content represents the hidden psychological meaning of the dream. This is all Freud by the way, so how much we can really rely on it, who even knows. But a lot of modern day dream theory is based on it, apparently.

3) Dreams offer a kind of 'clean up' service for our mind, removing clutter and allowing us to be fresh in order for the next day (I'm not sure about this one, seeing as often the dream can be more disturbing than anything experienced during the day). 

4) Dreams assist us to process memories, aiding in the consolidation of learning and moving memories from short term to long term memory storage. 

5) The stuff we experienced in our dreams is actually part of some wild ancient defence mechanism, in which we role play situations to make sure we can survive. 

I suppose the answer is that nobody really knows why we dream what we do and that it's still a highly contentious subject for oneirologists. For the moment, check out this dream dictionary which could provide you with some ideas about whats going on in that head of yours.  For now, I'm off to bed, hoping for a good nights sleep.