The following was written by Father Augustine and may represent the Catholic Church’s stance on dreams:
“The Nature of Dreams A dream is an illusory psychic activity, particularly of a visual nature that occurs during sleep. It is essentially a psychological phenomenon with many philosophical, religious and moral implications.
Scientific findings on dreams have shown them to involve perception, creative and reproductive imagination, association of ideas and images, memory and emotion. Thinking and reasoning may also occur in dreams but on a superficial and uncritical level (this is important in relation to the moral relevance of what one does in the midst of a dream). At times one is aware of a type of “choosing” within dreams — such as resistance to temptation; however, such “willed acts” do not stem from a free decision-making ability but rather from behavioral habits and automatic responses.
The critical powers of the mind such as reality testing and decision making are greatly impaired in dreaming, which accounts for the incoherent and chaotic nature of many dreams. In a dream the distinction between reality and imagination is totally lost or at least impaired. Dreams can be natural or supernatural.
If they are supernatural then their origin lies in God, angels or demons. Dreams can also be induced by hypnosis. What causes dreams can seldom be traced to one well defined external or internal stimulus. Rather, they are brought about my many interacting factors of a perceptual, emotional, motivational and physiological nature.
Dreaming occurs in cycles following the fluctuation of sleep stages. It appears when the dreamer emerges from the stage of deep sleep. In an average night’s sleep a person dreams from 1 to 2 hours with dreams distributed in three to five periods, lasting from 20 to 30 minutes, and each sleep period followed at intervals of about 90 minutes.
Dreams are primarily made up of visual imagery. Most of the images are black and white. The content of dreams is usually very personal and intimate, and has to do with one’s attitudes toward oneself and toward important people in one’s environment.
In terms of emotional content, dreams range from ecstatic fantasies to nightmares. There is a preponderance of unpleasant dreams caused by fear, anger or sadness. Dreams of sex and aggression are quite frequent.”
My views do not conflict with the Catholic Church; however, I do take a more expanded view of dreams which I think is acceptable to nearly every religion. I also like Buddhists’ view of reality and dreams.
Find out what you really believe in dreams at http://www.drstevenfox.com