"Mistakes" In Our Memory In Dreams

An aspect of dreams that has been troubling me is that simple “mistakes” happen, almost constantly, in our subconscious recreation of people, places and things.

For instance, many people dream of their own house, a space that they’re very familiar with. Yet, in recalling the dream, it’s almost always the case that the (dream) house departs in small or significant ways from the real house. Your dreamt house has a piece of furniture that isn’t really there, for example, or it changes as drastically as having a river in the backyard.

The simplest explanation for this is that the memory is impaired during sleep. Indeed, sleep/neuro science confirms that this is the case. And yet, for those of us who continually write down, reflect on, and become lucid in our dreams, we know that it cannot be so straightforward.

Why? Well, when you’re lucid, you can actively notice and realize incongruities and “mistakes” in the projection of familiar spaces. As a matter of fact, this happens constantly to lucid dreamers. A few months ago I had a waking-induced lucid dream, set in my home, and I noticed right away two pianos in my front room that are not there in waking physical reality.

So the question is: If the brain is able to consciously remember the right configuration of a room, why does it project it incorrectly? When I saw the pianos, knowing that they didn’t belong, they didn’t disappear. Why?

A second example: In the last year, in a lucid dream, I summoned a friend of mine. When she arrived, she was noticeably younger than she is in waking physical reality. Also, she had blonde hair. I noticed both of these facts, immediately. I saw that she was both too young and had the wrong color hair. Knowing what my friend looks like, why would “I” project an incorrect image of her?

(I put “I” in quotation marks because, of course, in my LD I didn’t stand there and consciously strain to visualize her. I simply called out for her and she came. My dream-ego was not projecting her, but something else–my subconscious mind, let’s say.)

What adds even more mystery is that, in yet another dream, I called for my friend, and she appeared, looking exactly like herself.

It’s tempting to say that our memory is impaired during sleep, but is inconsistent in its impairment; sometimes it’s more accurate, sometimes less. But that theory doesn’t explain the facts: How can the brain’s memory be inaccurate at the same time that it’s accurate? How could my brain have mistakenly projected a young, blonde version of my friend when I knew instantly that it was untrue?

Well, it’s quite possible that memory impairment explains many of these discrepancies, but there’s an alternative explanation too: that these discrepancies are not mistakes.

Perhaps these discrepancies are intentional and meaningful.

Possibly, this oddity shows that the dream-ego and the dream-projector can run on separate memory “tracks,” and that, paradoxically, the brain can remember a thing accurately at the same time that it remembers a thing inaccurately. But I doubt this, because dreams otherwise show a lively interplay between ego and environment. Why would the Expectation Effect be weak in the case of these “mistakes” in image projection? Or, even more importantly, why would an image be presented to you that defied your expectations?

Which, again, brings us back to the interesting possibility that not all mistakes are mistakes, but represent a conscious change on the part of the dream-projector (the “sub”-conscious).

Finally, many discrepancies and inaccuracies related to DCs could be the outcome of the automatic associational processes of dreaming. Certainly, this is the case in many non-lucid dreams. But the random association explanation breaks down in the face of lucid dreams and discrepancies, since the associations can’t consistently be traced back to the lucid ego. Association could continue to happen underneath consciousness, automatically, as image-projection often does in an LD, but can this explain everyone’s experiences? I don’t think so.

Many great questions you stated in your post.

For the record I would say that’s the highest lucidity I experienced when I can consciously in a dream compare the waking reality with the dream reality.

For your doubt about why did you dream one friend much differently then the other might have to do something with Sigmund Freud’s theory behind the dreams. I might be way off with this but it was just my first thought. Maybe you liked the first friend more(sexually) when she was younger and maybe you imagined her with blond hair(subconsciously) because you find her more attractive that way, oppose to the second friend which you didn’t find attractive(sexually).

Like I said I might be way off with this so don’t get me wrong… :content:

As it goes for dream environment that really is a odd when you think about it. I really don’t have any idea why would mind create this differences except that it only does that because that’s somehow the function of the dreams. They represents everyday situations(as close as possible) in which we should learn subconsciously.

I was watching some documentaries about dreams in general and that was one of the hypothesis why do we dream and they presented few cases like when we are children we usually dream of monsters, spiders, animals and such things and they think that this is the subconscious way of the mind to teach us or alert us of the dangers that we may face the next day.

As we grow older we start to have dreams about failing tests, not paying bills, being late for the work which again subconsciously prepare us for not doing that or avoiding that situations.

That’s all logical and quite possible but they never discussed what happens when you put lucid dreaming in the equation. I guess that they still don’t know what really happens when you put consciousness and awareness into the story. The same rules and the same logic does not apply any more.

Like you said when you are in a LD and when you wish for someone or something consciously why it would look different then in looks in waking life from where we taking memory actually to create it in a dream?

Questions, questions, questions… I guess that we can just ask more questions, answers will come with time… :content:

Lucid dreams are of a completely different nature then normal dreams. Normal dreams come entirely from the subconscious whilst lucid dreams are set in a world spawned from the subconscious and controlled by the conscious mind of the dreamer. My theory is that the subconscious is not connected with the memory sections of the brain, which is why we don’t usually remember dreams, and therefore a normal dream would have little correspondence with the real world. However, this is at least partially incorrect because then our dreams would never look even remotely similar to the real world. In conclusion, I have no idea why I even posted this reply, since I don’t really understand anything of what I just said. Apologies for wall of text.