Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Medical Monsters in the subconscious

  1. Nov 27, 2005 #1

    Math Is Hard

    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    What biological or mental health purposes do you think bad dreams serve? Could they be warnings of something physically wrong in the body? Expressions of buried guilt that need to surface? I think Freud said that they manifest because of intra-psychic conflicts, but I am not sure I agree.
  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 27, 2005 #2
    There are all kinds of possibilities and theoretical explanations. Here is a brand new one. Perhaps the persistence of "monsters" in the subconscious, or dream state, is a perceptual attempt to metaphorize brain physiology, for instance perhaps monsters that one battles with, are actually chemical compounds or waste products that the brain is breaking down into excretable components. To accomplish this requires some component of the chemistry of anxiety. The human brain, always anxious to explain things, or using a shortcut, comes up with a handy scenario that creates a certain necessary neurochemistry. Since the brain is such a glucose addict, perhaps dreams, fraught with anxiety, are a way to get the liver to kick out some glucose in the middle of the night when we are generally not involved in high energy metabolism.
  4. Nov 27, 2005 #3
    This would be a possible explanation for recurrent dreams, they are actually part of a process.
  5. Nov 27, 2005 #4

    Math Is Hard

    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    Wow! That is really interesting, Dayle. I have not heard that hypothesis before, but that was exactly what I was wondering. In my biology class we've been talking about sympathetic nervous system responses, and my thought was that since a frightening event elicits various physical responses, maybe there is some benefit that its gained from scaring ourselves. I assume the physical reponses would all be the same (pupils dilate, blood sugar increases, heart rate increases, etc.) regardless of if the stimulus was from a dream or a real event.
  6. Dec 1, 2005 #5


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor

    This concept rears it's head in science fiction from time to time with interesting twists, I remember some movie where an alien was scaring it's victims prior to their death to increase adrenaline in their systems which it (the alien) then sucked from thier bodies. Another example comes from a series of books by C.S Friedman where one character gained sustenance/power from evoking nightmares in his victims and feeding off of their fear (https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0..._1_img_T2/002-8396934-2102463?_encoding=UTF8"- good series BTW).
    I've never heard it applied quite like Dayle puts it, but it is an interesting theory and my scientifically trained mind wants to point to numerous metabolic pathways that have been well defined and have complete mechanisms that require no such stimulation, but I also know biology, and nature tends to find a way to make exceptions to almost every rule. I would, however, argue that why would the body evolve asystem of wastwe management that could cause it to suffer the potentially damaging effects of collecting these waste products until it can incite one of these nightmares? You don't have nightmares every night do you? Also, I remember having many more nightmares as a child than I do now (anyone else?). Did I have a greater need for that processs during development than now?
    My thoughts are that nightmares are simply reflections of what we think about/encounter during the day (and significant historical expriences) and we are simply re-visting them as a function of some sort of brain organization/consolidation process. This works with the increased incidence of nightmares during chidhood since we are typically more afraid as children because we are inexperienced, weaker, vulnerable, impressionable.....
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 21, 2017
  7. Dec 1, 2005 #6
    dreams serve purposes sometimes. there are theories that dreams are messages from your subconcious trying to tell you something in your sleep.

    or if you believe in metaphysical creatures like angels and demons it could be something attacking your mind at night
  8. Dec 1, 2005 #7


    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    Someone summarized dreams one time by telling me that they are "Unfinished business".

    Physiologically I don't have an answer.
  9. Dec 1, 2005 #8


    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    Looking back, I've noticed that most of my nightmares were at times of elevated stress. Which would concur with what Doc Toxyn said about children, they are more prone to frightening themselves (stress).
Know someone interested in this topic? Share this thread via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook

Similar Discussions: Monsters in the subconscious
  1. Montauk Monster? (Replies: 19)

  2. Subconscious mind (Replies: 8)