Footnote to “Dreams and Emotion”

[1] It’s hard to find a good analogy for the co-evolution of emotion and dreaming, but the idea of adaptations and counter-adaptations is surely familiar enough. Adopting a bipedal gait will require compensating adaptations to deal with issues of balance, for example. In fact virtually every adaptation will require some counter-adaptation to deal with unintended side effects. In the case of emotions we have an adaptation that has many unwanted side effects, requiring compensatory adaptations—enhanced rationality, self-control, self-monitoring, as well as the ability to dream. Emotions are a lot to handle, so the organism needs ways of keeping them to the straight and narrow. Dreaming emerges as a type of emotional massage. This is presumably why you feel somewhat better when you wake up in the morning, thankfully. It’s a hard life being an emotional creature, and dreams help you get through it.

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