There are probably as many explanations offered as to why people dream as there are researchers studying them. The following are some of the theories. They range from the scientific to the unusual, but the fact is no one really knows why it takes place.
Thinking of the Day’s Activities
One theory is that what we see are twisted images of our activities during the day. It’s not unusual for someone to dream of something that preoccupied them during the day.
According to this line of thought, even when we sleep the subconscious still thinks of what transpired that day. This is even more likely to happen when we think of it before going to sleep. The answer to why people dream would be simply the subconscious doing the thinking for the conscious mind.
Repressed Emotions and Desires
Some psychologists suggest that these images are mirrors of one’s fantasies. The reason they’re obscure and hard to remember is to prevent guilt. This hypothesis is in line with Freudian thought. That is, they form part of one’s sexual / hidden desires.
Clean up Time
A recent concept is that of the brain as a computer. Using this analogy, the sleeping state would be the time the computer / brain performs maintenance. This includes cleaning or removing files (memory). Based on this hypothesis, the reason why people dream are due to the cleaning activities of the brain.
This theory proposes that what takes place is the creation of new concepts. Based on this theory, the ideas are culled from generations of thoughts. These thoughts may be shared by the subconscious. This is similar in a way to Jung’s theory of the Collective Unconscious / Subconscious mind.
During ancient times people believed that they contained hidden messages and portents. The Biblical story of Joseph is one example. Through the years, there have been reports of people being able to see in their dreams things that would eventually happen later. Although most scientists are skeptical, these stories persist.
Aside from premonitions, some cultures and individuals believe that the images contain messages from departed people. Some also think that they can provide help. There are some stories of people who sleep on a problem and dream of the solution.
There are those who believe there’s no point asking why people dream, because it doesn’t mean anything. They attribute the scenes to nothing more than the random actions of brain neurons.
Other scientists believe that it has a biological function. In this case, it would be to reduce the stress level in the body. Others think that what happens is the brain draws random images from memory.
These are joined up by the brain in various ways. Ultimately though, they have no meaning. The images we see may also be wish fulfillment of some sort. Some researchers are now of the opinion they are a subconscious form of psychotherapy.
Only future research and discovery can answer the question why people dream. In the meantime, people will continue to be enthralled and mystified by it.