A Requiem of Dreams

Healthy brain (bottom) versus brain of a donor...

Healthy brain (bottom) versus brain of a donor with Alzheimer’s disease. Notable is the “shrink” that has occurred in Alzheimer’s disease; the brain was decreased in size. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Most of us dream while we sleep. For some, it’s reason to speculate on the possibility of spiritual communication, a type of assisted second sight. Others interpret dreams like tea leaves, hoping to divine the future. Some consider dreaming a process where our brains exercise, while others suppose it’s a cleaning of memories.

For not a few people, dreams can become haunting, troubling, and even terrifying. We’ve all probably witnessed friends, spouses and children twitch and turn, kick and jerk, and occasionally scream out in their sleep. We wonder what they could be seeing, and who – or what – might be visiting them in the night. Perhaps we’ve woken in panic ourselves, screaming as we open our eyes.

Dreams remain a mystery, nightmares the most mysterious. But some think nightmares are no mystery at all.

In research published in 2010 in the Journal of Neurology, nightmares were, in many cases, found to be warning signs. In many ways they are premonitions. The researchers asserted that violent dreams were often a precursor to dementia.

Diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s don’t necessarily sneak up on a person, but can begin decades before the most obvious symptoms appear. The scientists are convinced that violent nightmares are sometimes the beginnings of brain disorders.

This may itself be an exercise in speculation, but many doctors and researchers have associated dreams with medical conditions.

If this research holds true, some of us are carrying a little future insanity around inside.

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8 thoughts on “A Requiem of Dreams

  1. Violent dreams as a precursor to dementia? The speculation here is new and interesting. If there turns out to be any truth in it, this suggests the possibilty that the organ that is the brain, which we see to be ‘ours’, may well have its own inner workings alien and separate to us. I have heard of some studies such as where the two halves of the brain aren’t able to communicate with one another: this results in lack of control of one hand, as if taken over by another force. That the brain can do this is scary in itself. So, I digress: the brain as an entity in its own right? Story material too . . .

  2. That research is enough to give me nightmares now. I dream a lot but fortunately I haven’t recalled any violent nightmares recently. What happened to dreams being a reflection of our thoughts during the day and our subconscious?

    • Of course, they probably mostly are that. This was one study, but it seems that those with some disease processes also experience nightmares. Dreams are very mysterious things, perhaps that’s why we forget them so quickly.
      Thanks for sharing your thoughts with me!

  3. Now I’m afraid. Not only do I have violent dreams, I actually remember most of them – something that I’ve been told is unusual and unsettling. Any additional info on what it means to be able to remember your dreams?

    • Thanks so much for the comment. I make no assertions at being a dream expert. I’ve tried writing mine down a few times, and have found them to be confusing and often dark. I’m not a believer in interpretation, I personally think it’s a byproduct of random brain activity with whatever is stored in those particular cells at the time. And perhaps that is even more frightening than the dream itself – that we are an organism capable of recording reality, and also creating it without trying.

      • Nice observation… and scary too, like you said. But then, I guess that’s what authors thrive on – the ability to create. That reminds me of something Michael Crichton had mentioned in Sphere – the one true power that human beings have is their imagination. Money, power and everything else would not exist if not for the imagination that preceded it. Reminded me of how amazing it is to be able to be imaginative without trying!

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