In spite of the increasing activity in the field of dream research, there appears to be little study or imaginative theoretical work being done which specifically considers the fundamental question : what is a dream.

Dreams need to be brought right into the mainstream of scientific thought and theories need to be developed which investigate the relationship between dreams and the new physics, in particular the area of quantum mechanics which appears to best suit the study of dreams: the many universes interpretation.

This text offers some suggestions.

Dream researchers state that dreams are real, but for them this reality is psychological - it belongs in the mind. Their sense of reality in many ways is outside the realm of physics, which is understandable, for where are these dream worlds located if not in the mind - there certainly is no sign of them on earth.

Parallel universes

The many universes interpretation of quantum mechanics gives a possible location for dreams beyond this earth, yet in a certain sense in the same space. This interpretation, proposed by Hugh Everett in 1957, states that there are very many or perhaps an infinite number of parallel worlds existing beyond this one. Many of these universes are almost identical to ours, but others are quite different. New universes are constantly being created in phenomenal numbers. Every time a quantum event takes place the universe splits so that all possible outcomes occur but in different universes.

With each split whole entire universes are created and in each of these universes is a copy of ourselves, but they are not ordinary copies for they are actually us. Before the split "I" am one person and after the split I am still one person only in more than one universe. It is after this split that differences begin to occur for then each world is on its own, though with an identical past.

The many universes theory tells us that there can be no physical contact between the split universes, however because our doppelgangers inhabit these other worlds we have no need to make physical contact - we are in a sense already there.

Visiting ourselves in other worlds

When our minds are unlinked from this world in sleep, the way is open for us to experience the other universes through our doppelgangers. Our consciousness is the same as their consciousness and when in sleep we become unconscious of this world we have access to all our other selves.

Dreams are the result.

Our dream journey is realized by our consciousness "piggy-backing" onto the consciousness of our doppelgangers and sensing / experiencing exactly what our doppelgangers experience. Because our experience is their experience there is no sense of interference or taking over of the body of someone in another dimension ........... everything continues as normal for our hosts.

The number of parallel universes we "visit" in the course of a dream may be as few as one or could be in the billions. Like with splitting universes there is no actual cataclysmic sense of being ripped asunder when moving from one world to another. We may experience bizarre scene shifts, anomalies in perception, strange sensations, etc., but we have learned to accept these as normal elements of the dreaming process. If we visit 10,000 worlds per earth second our doppelgängers in those 10,000 worlds may not perceive the same thoughts or sensations we perceive. Our stay in any one world may not be long enough for us to experience events in the same context in which our doppelgangers experience these events.

Visiting worlds which could have been ours

One indication that we are moving from one world to another is the difficulty encountered in reading a piece of text in a dream. Even with the force of will available in lucid dreams it is nearly impossible to stabilize the image and stop the words from changing at every blink of the eye or even before your eyes. Larger elements such as rooms, buildings or streetscapes appear to have greater stability in dreams. Major changes that have occurred in other worlds can be noticed. Locations which are accepted as familiar (e.g. home) can in dreams look very different to what they look like on earth. This same difference can crop up consistently in a large number of dreams, giving the impression that this altered world is actually "out there" - that some time in the past(?) a significant number of universes followed the same different path and built the same different buildings. For example a planning permit may have been issued and all the houses around yours may have been demolished for a car park. In half of all the parallel worlds the permit may not have been issued and the original houses remain. Thus in half of the universes you are in the middle of a car park .... and that may become a "recurring" feature in your dreams - "I keep dreaming that we live in the middle of a car park". The issue of a permit may not have even been considered in this world so no clue exists as to why you continually dream of a car park. "Why do I always dream of a car park? It must be significant .... Let me consult my analyst".

Predicting the future

The direction of time may have no bearing or influence on where or how our consciousness travels in dreams. The "future" and the "past" (as long as they exist) are both valid destinations for our exploration, which could explain the "prophetic" dreams reported by a large number of people. These dreams take place in a future or many futures which could be similar to the one which is eventually experienced.

Configuring magnificent experiences

The similarity / familiarity of locations, people and events between our world and dreams indicates that a large percentage of the other universes inhabited by our doppelgängers probably aren't significantly different from our own. It is just that when our consciousness moves / shifts from universe to universe the "dreamlike" qualities of a dream are created giving dreams their unique appearance and feel and adding to the notion that "this couldn't possibly be real". In a sense the dream isn't real - being a synthesis of a large number of worlds, however the worlds from which the dream is constructed have a physical reality similar to this world. Because the dream is a unique compilation of other worlds, the dream itself does not have a "concrete" future or past in the way an actual parallel world has. For this reason it is difficult to backtrack in a dream (e.g. return to a place about which you have just dreamt) or to predict what will be around the corner - even if you are familiar with the surroundings (in this world).

If we pass through 10,000 parallel worlds in one second we would not know if we were perceiving more than one world in an instant. One image could be a composite of a number of worlds. This means that utterly bizarre images and sensations are possible even though these things don't actually occur in other universes in a physical sense. In other universes anything that is "possible" can occur, but not everything that is imaginable, for these other universes probably obey the same physical laws as our own - (at least they did before the split from our world).

Dream research misses the mark

Because anything it possible in dreams, it is problematic to develop dream theory based primarily on content analysis. Dreams tend to give you what you want - especially if you are professionally involved with them. They display a remarkable "awareness", almost an intelligence.

This makes it very difficult if not impossible to develop a usable "sample" in dream research. Because of the immense variety and subjectivity of experience, it may only be possible to study dreams on a case by case basis. And the problem with physiological data obtained under laboratory conditions is that this data only describes actions and changes occurring to an unconscious body without direct reference to a dream (which cannot be objectively penetrated). Any interpretation of this data which makes inferences about dreams (including the experimental "successes" in linking rapid eye movement "signals" to corresponding actions in lucid dreams) must remain speculative and as yet unverifiable, no matter how attractive or elegant or even "obvious" such explanations may seem at the moment.

Because of these difficulties it is essential to develop detailed theories which place dreams in the quantum mechanics universe. Only then will it be possible to give dream research a context.

Last updated June 10, 1997.

Comments should be addressed to

Peter Nagels, wave@netspace.net.au