Have you ever been confused in your dream?

Have you ever been confused in your dream? I have. Earlier this year, I woke from a dream that felt unusual so I wrote it down in my diary as I usually do with vivid waking dreams. I did not think anything of it again until last month when I read the transcripts of this Quanta podcast about dreams1. I went back to my diary entry and I will reproduce it here. This is the entry for that day as I recorded it, except that I changed the names of people mentioned. Mary was a family member, John a classmate in University, and Lola a neighbour we had in my childhood.

Monday May 2, 2022

I had a peculiar kind of dream today: At one point I was confused in the dream. I was with Mary and we were looking to buy coke. We were in a shop owned by John and I asked him for some coke and I really meant the soft drink coke. But in this dream, we had spent quite some time looking for coke that while describing it to John, I remember I did say “hard coke”. John handed me a sachet containing a dark brown content that looked like dirty wood chippings. He gave it to us then left to attend to someone else. (He went into a compund where some moments ago we had sighted Lola sliding from a handrail on the first floor of the building down to the ground.) We (Mary & I) were confused by the package John handed us. We kept looking at it and turning it over until it struck me that this would be a hard drug (weed). We then took it to John and said we need coke, coca-cola, the soft drink, why was he giving us this. He was like “ohhh okay”.

The point I am making is that I was genuinely confused by that package. But I guess my brain was not. I find it interesting. It makes me think about dreams as a conversation between me and my brain. I have control over what I do but not over the other characters in the dream.

School starts today. […]

I cannot remember this dream itself (I don’t think anyone does) but I do remember having the dream and recording it. I don’t believe that I have ever seen hard drugs apart from in movies, and in the movies they certainly don’t look brown.

What is striking to me is that my brain knew something that I did not know. And it knew it in a kind of oh-you-did-not-know-that way.

It was as if the actual me was only a part of my brain while the rest of my brain operated independently. I find that this apparent nature of the brain has been well-documented in neuroscience and psychology literature 2.

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