It seems it has become dream week on my blog. That totally happened by accident. :D
As a therapist I have had many, many people ask me about dreams. Do I believe in interpreting them? What does a particular thing represent? Can a dream mean something?
There are many theories on dreaming. Day residue where you dream things that seep into your dreams from your experiences during the day. Activation- Synthesis theory where your brain continues firing while you sleep and this stimulates different centers of your brain creating dreams. Psychoanalytic Theory (aka Freudian theory) where your dreams are windows into your unconscious. Conflict Resolution theory where you use dreams to work out problems in your life. And there are many, many more.
I believe strongly in day residue because so many times I dream about something relevant to something I am experiencing. But I also think there has to be some combination of many of the theories. One night I dream about working through something that is stressing me out and the next night I am married to Chase Utley.
Whether or not dreams serve a purpose can be debated. To me dreams definitely serve a purpose. On a basic level we need dreams to keep our minds conscious enough to register our child crying or our alarm going off or a smoke detector sounding. On a more abstract level our dreams allow for creativity and problem solving and blowing off steam. You're mad at your friend... you tell them off in a dream. Your job sucks... you go in and quit.
In college I had to keep a dream journal for a class. It was a lot of fun and very interesting to see patterns and themes in my own dreams. Because the memory of a dream typically wears away in seconds writing it down allows you to retain the information. If you are curious about your own dream patterns I highly suggest it.