Processing dreams can be used to diagnose and solve physical and emotional problems.
"Some of our dreamscapes are living dioramas of what is going on inside our bodies," explains Moss. "The ancient Greek physician Galen used dreams to diagnose patients' complaints. A friend of mine was alerted to a problem when her dead father appeared to her in a dream, accompanied by a doctor and yelled 'Get to a doctor at once! You have breast cancer!' She acted on that dream and believes that it helped save her life."
Eva Van Brunt is the West Coast media manager at the law firm DLA Piper. She thinks pregnancy is contributing to the intensity and vividness of her dreams. "It's been remarkable -- and a little annoying. Last night I dreamt I was in the security line at an airport and couldn't find my license. I woke up in an utter panic, and it took a few moments to realize the dream was not real."
But she's also found her vivid dreams helpful.
"A few days ago, I couldn't find my camera anywhere in my house. I grew quite anxious and ended up looking for it until bedtime without success. Eventually I got to sleep. Next thing I know, I am having a very vivid dream." The dream, she says, was about a concert she and her husband were at a month earlier. She was walking up to the gate and saw a no cameras sign and found herself getting flustered because she had one in her purse. Her husband suggested she put the camera in an inside zipper pocket of her purse because it likely wouldn't get searched. "In the dream, that's what I did. And it's also what I had done on the night of the concert." The next morning, she found the camera in the inner pocket of her purse. "The only thing I can think," she says, "is that my body triggered the memory to alleviate the anxiety."
Worrying About Weird Dreams
What are we to make of the crazy dreams of adults?