Dreaming, according to my personal and convincing analysis, is the reviewing of the previous day's activities and committing them to memory.
Each dream episode is symbolized by what we already have stored in our memory banks. Emotions or events will evoke a symbol that will appear in the dream along with other symbols already encoded to create a story line that seems strange, funny, or even slightly confused. The massive numbers of memories we have would be impossible to categorize separately. It is much more efficient to draw out these encoded symbols from our memory and store yesterday's memorable happenings in the same code. If we do not have a symbolic representation for something or someone, then that person, item, or activity will represent itself and create a new code. What compounds the mystery of symbolism is that each individual has established his own very personal ones throughout his own life experiences. Thus, no one is truly able to decipher another's dream.
A dream can even be the result of a radio or TV story heard during sleep and absorbed into the dream. The dialogue may be repeated quite accurately but the dreamer creates his own picture images. I have experienced this quite often, waking to ask, "Why did she or he say this or that?" and compare the reality to my dream scenes. (Perhaps we should give credence to the possibility that we might learn during sleep while a recorded voice recites the lesson repeatedly.) On the other hand, watching a TV program that impresses or evokes certain emotions can trigger a dream later with our own symbols to create our own episode.
A sound can produce a quick little dream. Instantaneously - between a click before an alarm rings and the ring itself can cause a flash of a dream according to what that sound conjured up from our memory bank. If a sound does not wake us, we will weave it into our dream story in marvelous ways. Just a touch that probably would be unexplainable unless one woke up to the ongoing sound and recognize it as having been in our dream.
Recurring dreams, I am convinced, represent a certain emotion or feeling that we experienced somewhere back in time and that scene is brought forward whenever it is needed to depict that emotion. The scene is representative of a prior emotional experience and comes forth as the same scene in our dream each time that same emotion is reflected from the previous day. Thus the recurrence.
Our life experiences being different, so would our storage areas be comprised of different methods of remembering. The swimming scenes that recur occasionally in my dreams are always very pleasing to me. Even though I do not swim, simply watching swimmers evokes a relaxing, soothing sensation within me. I'm sure the previous day had pleasurable times that were being reflected. On the other hand, when I dream of flooding or turbulent water, a negative experience in the previous day is revived in that same night's dream as an unpleasant water scene. Actually, the last swimming episode in my life was a near disaster for me and perhaps that particular occasion was the one that influences the negative evocation of water. Yet, strangely enough, watching people swim is a pleasure to me, hence the positive sensation. Other emotions anxiety, sadness, fear, anger, joy, etc., are represented in a symbolic manner that is unique to us alone, as is the original encoded episode.
We require codes or symbols as mental shorthand to store in a compact unit the massive number of thoughts, activities and emotions we experience during a lifetime. The recurrence of certain episodes or metaphors eliminates the necessity to store another code. I believe it is erroneous to infer mystical or psychological interpretations. Dreams are a natural function of the marvelous composition of the human body such as blinking, swallowing, smiling, etc. There has not been a single dream that I have been unable to reconcile with the activities