By Jonny Lupsha, Wondrium Staff Writer
A woman’s dream of swallowing her engagement ring occurred at the same time in real life, NBC News reported. The California resident dreamed she was the victim of a train robbery and protected her ring by swallowing it, then woke up to find she had done so in real life. Do dreams really have meaning?
According to NBC News, dreams really do come true. “Jenna Evans was on a high-speed train that was racing down the tracks, her fiancé by her side, when some ‘bad guys’ appeared,” the article said. “There was only one way to protect her 2.4 carat diamond engagement ring—swallow it. So that’s what Evans did.
“Then she woke up.”
NBC News said that Evans, a chronic sleepwalker, couldn’t find her engagement ring anywhere upon waking, leading her to the conclusion that she had swallowed it in real life as well as in her dream. Gastroenterologists performed an upper endoscopy and returned her ring to her.
Evans’s dream may have been a simple expression of concerns over a burglary, but some might say it was indicative of a greater fear.
Only in Dreams
One of the foremost advocates of dream study is Sigmund Freud. Though some of his work has since been dismissed as unscientific, he did devote his career to understanding why we dream what we dream.
“Freud proposed that dreams are evidence of a disguised censorship in our minds,” said Dr. Indre Viskontas, Adjunct Professor of Psychology at the University of San Francisco and Professor of Sciences and Humanities at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music.
“By interpreting the dreams of his patients, he noticed that the language of dreams is not direct, but he felt that psychoanalysts can suss out a person’s true fears, wishes, and desires if they can uncover the information that is being censored during the dreaming process and unshackle themselves from past disappointments.”
Freud argued that we dream in veiled imagery and scenarios because our real fears and wishes are so disturbing that taking them on headlong would make us wake up. He said we need a cushion to encrypt them.
However, Dr. Viskontas said, Freud’s theories aren’t immune to criticism.
“The problem with Freud’s theory, of course, is that it’s not testable or, more specifically, falsifiable,” she said. “Since science works by eliminating hypotheses that we know are wrong, we can’t call his theory scientific—even though his methods were very thorough.”
Additionally, different analysts interpret our dreams different ways. That means that dream interpretation is subjective at least to some extent rather than concrete across the board. This openness to conjecture and interpretation doesn’t lend itself well to the scientific method.
“And science must be objective,” Dr. Viskontas said. “That’s the whole point.”
The inability of the scientific community to be able to develop a test that could prove Freud’s theory right or wrong is part of what makes it so dicey. It’s an untestable hypothesis, and a major fabric in the tapestry of science is making data quantifiable as reliable or unreliable.
In light of this, Jenna Evans swallowing her engagement ring may continue to seem unintentional in the eyes of science.
Dr. Indre Viskontas is an Adjunct Professor of Psychology at the University of San Francisco and Professor of Sciences and Humanities at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. Professor Viskontas received her Bachelor of Science degree with a Specialist in Psychology and a minor in French Literature at Trinity College in the University of Toronto. She also holds a Masters of Music degree in vocal performance from the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. She completed her PhD in cognitive neuroscience at the University of California, Los Angeles.