Sunday, August 22, 2010
Precognition: A dream come true
Most of us would have certainly heard the word “Déjà vu” which is French for "already seen." The term was coined by a French psychic researcher, Émile Boirac to relate to precognitive experiences. Those who have experienced the feeling, describe it as an overwhelming sense of familiarity with something that shouldn't be familiar at all. As much as 70 percent of the population reports having experienced it in some form. It seems to occur quite commonly among adults and children alike. However, a higher number of incidents occur in people 15 to 25 years old than in any other age group. David Ryback, a psychologist in Atlanta, used a questionnaire survey approach to investigate precognitive dreaming in college students. His survey of over 433 participants showed that 290 or 66.9 percent reported some form of paranormal dream. He rejected many of these claims and reached a conclusion that 8.8 percent of the population was having actual precognitive dreams.
Precognitive dreaming is one of the many psychological phenomenons which have yet not been fully understood through medical science although there are many different theories to explain it. Since it occurs in individuals with and without a medical condition, there is much speculation as to how and why it happens. Several psychoanalysts attribute this extra sensory perception to simple fantasy or wish fulfillment, while some psychiatrists ascribe it to a mismatching in the brain that causes the brain to mistake the present for the past. Many parapsychologists believe it is related to a past-life experience. However, to get a closer picture we need to understand the science of dreams in the first place.
Studies in neurobiology reveal that dreams are random brain impulses which combine our verbal, visual and emotional stimuli into a sometimes nonsensical but often entertaining story line. In 1953, University of Chicago researchers, Eugene Aserinsky and Nathaniel Kleitman discovered that our brainwaves undergo five distinct stages during sleep. The last stage also known as the “Rapid Eye Movement” or REM is when we actually enter our dream world and start running through the cobweb of memories and desires in our brain. Although most dreams occur during REM sleep there is a chance of them occurring in the remaining four stages also. During REM the brain state is at ALPHA (same as when we are awake) operating at 8-13 Hz and affecting several physiological changes. This includes heart rate and breathing pacing up, blood pressure rising and release of “glycine”, an amino acid from the brain stem onto the “motoneurons” which causes temporary paralysis in the body. This also increases the levels of the stress hormone “cortisal” which causes decreased communication between active parts of the brain. Such suppression allows the brain to work with signals only from itself and lets our hidden desires and distant unrelated memories do the talking.
All the heavy medical words used above might give a brief idea of how our past memories help us create our dreams. But then how can we explain the concept of precognitive dreams? It’s something our brain doesn’t know about in the first place; leave apart having a memory of it. A most likely explanation from years of neurophysiological research is that this may result from an overlap between the neurological systems responsible for short-term memory (events which are perceived as being in the present) and those responsible for long-term memory (events which are perceived as being in the past). The events would be stored into memory before the conscious part of the brain even receives the information and processes it. Now does this make any sense to the one who had experienced it even once? I for one, do not believe so. I can swear by the very creator of Universe that when I had my first precognitive dream I could recollect right up to the very day when I woke up having similar experience in my dream. It could never ever have been a brain anomaly or illusion. Now how can one possibly explain that?
There are tons of informative web pages and online journals on dream analysis and their interpretations but possibly none on how to decipher precognition in dreams. Ironically, you can possibly find tons of famous events validating the same. Now let’s take a second look at precognition from a psychological point of view. Dreams have also been described as reflections of the subconscious. One of the problems science has encountered in trying to find proof that precognitive ability truly exists, is that in order to predict the future, one must somehow defy the concept of linear time. Albert Einstein theorized that the past, present, and future are all an illusion. To understand this, one must also understand how the human brain works. The conscious mind seeks to compartmentalize information in a never-ending quest to have things in their nice little place. The subconscious mind, however, realizes that there are no boundaries, and reaches past the illusion of confinement and time. So is dream premonition just an intuition or does our mind really work overtime even on a subconscious level to fix things for us in advance?
The best we can do is to get a good night sleep to probe into the fascinating gifts nature has in store for us !!