Schizophrenia has many symptoms. It would take more than one monograph to list them all. This is due to the polymorphism of the disease, which causes the unpredictability of its course. Even hallucinations, which are usually attributed to schizophrenics, are not always observed in schizophrenia spectrum disorders. In the article, we will consider the phenomenon of colored dreams, which are often considered a sign of schizophrenia.
General information about schizophrenia
Schizophrenia is an endogenous disease of the psyche, accompanied by the breakdown of emotional reactions and thinking. Many believe that this diagnosis hides a “split personality”. However, this is too superficial a look at such complex psychopathology. In fact, it is not always accompanied by a splitting of consciousness into two different persons. Although it is worth recognizing that the person with this disease suffers in all cases. There is a risk of its complete loss.
The mechanism and causes of the development of schizophrenia are unknown. At the disposal of scientists and physicians, there are only factors that are hypothetically capable of provoking this disease. The main one is genetic. Also, the impetus for the manifestation of a schizophrenic disorder can be injuries, alcoholism, improper upbringing, etc.
Schizophrenia can develop at any age, but more often its debut occurs at the age of 25-28 years.
One of the main features of schizophrenia is its polymorphism. This means that it can occur in different forms – paranoid, latent, fur-like, hebephrenic, etc. There are several dozen types and subtypes of schizophrenia, from which approximately 1% of the world’s population suffers to one degree or another.
There are many symptoms of schizophrenia spectrum disorders. But they are all divided into two types:
- Positive (productive): delusions, hallucinations, and catatonic disorders. The presence of these signs indicates the activity of the psyche, which is in a state of attack or exacerbation.
- Negative: passivity, apathy, lack of will, isolation, emotional coldness, resentment, etc. In this case, the mental apparatus is practically inactive, and the person is more immersed in his own world.
This is the basic information about schizophrenia. Now let’s move on to dreams. First, let’s briefly describe the phenomenon of dreams and find out why people dream about them.
General information about sleep and dreams
The science of dreams is called somnology, and the science of dreams itself is called oneirology. The latter, by the way, is defined as the subjective perception of images that arise in the mind of a sleeping person. This happens in the short phase of sleep, that is, every 1.5-2 hours.
Some people claim they don’t dream. Most likely, this is a delusion, since everyone has this ability. Few people just remember their dreams. As for the colorfulness of the images that appear to people in dreams, this is an individual matter. Some really see only images of objects in black and white. But children and people with developed imagination often have colorful dreams. Moreover, this pattern is often associated with mental disorders and schizophrenia.
For 70 years, a person sleeps for about 23 years, 8 years of which fall on dreams.
If little is known about the causes of schizophrenia, then science knows even less about dreams. Psychoanalysts suggest that in a dream a person sees what he would like to realize in reality. While he sleeps, his consciousness becomes open to those desires that he suppresses during wakefulness. The interpretation of dreams in psychoanalysis is based precisely on this message and is associated primarily with the sexual theme.
Esoteric teachings associate dreams with travel to the past or even to other worlds, in which we meet the souls of the dead and other beings. Most people adhere to the same point of view and therefore look for the meaning of dreams in astrological dream books. Whether they are true or not, it is rather difficult or even impossible to find out, since this phenomenon does not lend itself well to scientific analysis.
Basically, scientists agree that unfinished situations are played out in dreams. We see what happened in life but in a greatly altered form. There is also a version that during sleep, the distribution of memories occurs when they move from short-term memory to the archive. In a sense, we observe this process during sleep.
Also, science still does not know why a person dreams. While we are dreaming, our brain is working in an enhanced mode, experiencing real stress, as evidenced by the activity of its various departments, studied using MRI. Why the brain needs such a load several times a night is not clear. Perhaps in the future, scientists will be able to find answers to this and many other questions related to dreams.
Linking color dreams to schizophrenia
Schizophrenia is studied from different angles, which is associated with the diversity of its symptoms. There are so many types of hallucinations that dozens of monographs have been written on them. The dreams of schizophrenics have also been studied. One of the studies was carried out in the USA by Professor Bravin Sten. It involved three groups of people aged 25-47 years:
- Patients diagnosed with schizophrenia;
- People with a genetic predisposition to schizophrenia;
- Mentally healthy.
The study was lengthy – about a year studied the activity of the brain during dreams, as well as the nature and content of the dreams of the subjects. In particular, such moments as brightness, plot, and other parameters of the images that were seen by the sleepers were taken into account.
The results of the study showed that vivid, colorful, and bizarre dreams are 20 times more likely to be seen by people with schizophrenic disorder. Healthy people, including those who were at risk, talked about such dreams less often. Scientists have also noticed that schizophrenics often have nightmares.
Can we conclude from this that colored dreams are a sign of schizophrenia? The researchers suggest not to rush and not deduce such patterns. Perhaps there is another connection here. The fact is that vivid dreams are more often seen by people with a rich inner world. As a rule, in life, they are more closed and vulnerable. It is in such individuals that schizophrenia usually develops. But this is only one of the factors, therefore, it is wrong to say that a person who has vivid dreams is a schizophrenic.
At the same time, almost all experts agree that sleep disturbances, including insomnia, are a characteristic feature of schizophrenia. But it is not among the specific symptoms of mental disorders.