This chapter considers the question of whether everything in dreaming is meaningful, which seems doubtful since so many dreams are filled with bizarre images and outlandish activities that have no connection to the individual’s waking reality. After a discussion of the findings of research on bizarreness in dreaming, the chapter looks at this dimension of dreaming in relation to metaphors and the cognitive processing of new experiences in a context of previous knowledge. The metaphorical nature of human thought is a helpful way to account for the seeming “bizarreness” of dreaming. More broadly, the chapter locates dreaming within the sphere of mammalian play as a behavior that enhances adaptive flexibility and creative problem-solving. This line of research suggests a new definition of dreaming: imaginative play in sleep.
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