There are two ways to handle this. My understanding of the subject is that it is either a form of magical thinking, or just not real. It’s a matter between science and religion; but of course to this person this is nonsense, because magic is something you can do in your sleep. Not just in your dreams.
But this would be a silly conversation if someone didn’t tell you all the weird ways that people have tried to explain it away.
1) It is an illusion due to “mental projection.”
This is the most commonly-quoted interpretation. The “moody side of man” has been said to cause his mind to project imaginary images onto objects. The whole point of having a mental projection is that the imaginary object itself is an illusion, because if you really saw it, it would resemble a real object.
It’s not like our physical reality is like that, though. Magic can’t be achieved through a “mental projection.” It is an illusion, as is the fact that people can and do imagine that things that can’t be physically observed, such as people, are real.
2) It’s caused by a “mental illness” or a “false memory.”
In some very rare circumstances, mental projections can be caused by disease. Mental illnesses aren’t a thing that happens to most people at all, and the idea that the mind can cause an object to look like anything is just that, an idea. When an illness causes a mind to create a mental image of any object it can, it’s called a “false memory.” And since the most typical mental illness is schizophrenia, you should probably not rely on this theory unless something like what happened to Daphne Green is involved.
There is even a medical term that describes something like this, “psychotic disorder” or “delusional disorder.” It’s possible that this phenomenon is caused by a faulty mental image (or memory) and that the real world is only one side of that coin.
3) It’s an illusion that only works in dreams…
Some of the most popular explanations for the phenomena sound a lot like the first two.
There is a kind of confusion about this that should be resolved before anyone gets too deeply confused by it. Most people have a vivid dream-state when it comes to their imaginations, so if there are visual impressions in their dreams, they wouldn’t be able to replicate them in their waking life. It’s not