TOWARDS A THEORY OF DREAMS
One day a long time ago I had an argument with a friend. That night I had a dream about a dog barking at me and threatening to bite me. I quickly learnt that dogs barking and biting could represent an argument with a friend. Using such dreams which follow on from big arguments or events I have built up a huge knowledge of dream symbols and how they translate in practice to our thoughts and feelings. As time has progressed I have started to build up my knowledge about dreams generally and have started to build up a knowledge of dreams in general.
Since the era of Freud and Jung it has been believed that dreams are connected to our thoughts and feelings. This book tries to take this belief a stage further. If dreams are connected to our thoughts and feelings, then surely if only one thing is going through our minds the night before, then we will dream about it. So then if we collect such dreams together then we will start to learn how the mind works. If we had an argument the previous day then surely we will be bound to dream about it. This book has concentrated on this one type of dream. I believe that this has allowed me to gain an insight into how the mind truly works. If you accept the basic idea that dreams link to thoughts in your mind right now then it becomes much easier to study them accurately. It is not often that there is more than one negative thing in your mind so any negative dream is easy to understand. So understanding a dream about a snake is not so complicated.
Dreams are important
Some people say that dreams are unimportant and mean nothing. But just try going without sleep for more than 24 hours and you will soon find that you will very quickly start to go downhill. You will become a total wreck unable to think clearly. Your physical and mental health will be impaired.
It is true that dreams are just one aspect of sleep. But surely something very important and essential to the human existence takes place in sleep. If you go without sleep it very soon damages you. One small American town held a sleep deprivation contest with the winner picking up a car. One contestant went completely insane walking into a nearby Gunmart, bought a gun and ammunition, then went on a shooting spree. Clearly if you go without sleep you very quickly lose your mind. That's why many Governments use sleep deprivation as a form of torture.
True it may not be dreams which are so important. There are many stages of sleep and it is maybe one of the other stages which is important. However, if we go without sleep for long periods then we start to catch up with REM (dream) sleep. So it must be very important to the human condition. Indeed one feature of sleep deprivation is hallucinations. These hallucinations are in fact dreams which instantly break into our conscious mind. If going without sleep and particularly REM sleep causes so many problems then surely something vital takes place.
Thetawaves could be very important to sleep and may give a hint to the meaning of dreams. These were discovered in the 1960's by Jon Winson. Thetawaves are a brainwave which only emerge during sleep. During the day thoughts are stored in short term memory banks. During sleep these are transferred into long term memory. The short term memory blocks are then wiped clean ready for the day ahead. So dreams tap into these vital brain processes during sleep. They represent the vital conclusions that the mind has come to during sleep. Many animals function like this. If we had to process all memories and long term thoughts during waking hours our brain size would have to be increased massively. This method of storing vital thoughts during the day in short term memory then transferring it at night time makes the human brain highly efficient. Though, the disadvantage is that we need to sleep on a regular basis.
Sleep can have a very noticeable and positive effect on you. Think of the times when you went to sleep worrying about something then woke up feeling refreshed and able to put things into perspective. Sleep and dreams are part of this process where you allow yourself to calm down.
Many children try to cram revision in the night before an exam but this is the worst tactic. If you lose sleep then your short term memory is affected. You lack concentration. Sleep and dreams improve both concentration and thinking.
Dreams are also very creative. Many mathematicians and computer programmers have reported how they can go to sleep thinking about a complex problem and when they wake up the answer that was eluding them suddenly appears in their mind. Dreams can be positive both intellectually and emotionally.
People suffering from depression tend to dream much more. This is connected to the continuous processing and reprocessing of bad memories. The mind desperately tries to cure itself. The dream mind may attempt through the night to solve the dreamer's emotional problems. However, many depressed people cannot snap out of a continuous cycle of depression. They can dream and dream and it will not do them any good. Depressed people often wake up feeling drained of all energy. They simply go round in circles seeking a solution that is elusive. Their problems may indeed not have an immediate solution. So going over a problem in their mind will not be any help.
Matt Wilson at MIT's Center for Learning and Memory, has conducted research into the brain and sleep. He concludes that dreams help create wisdom. He placed rats in mazes during the day then noticed that similar patterns of neurons fired during REM sleep as had fired during the previous day at choice turning points in the maze. The rats were repeating important learning events during sleep. Dreams then helped reinforce crucial moments of learning the previous day. Presumably other irrelevant data is ignored and forgotten as the brain processes through recent memories deciding what should be ignored and what should be remembered. So these crucial moments of learning or of wisdom will be stored. Other memories from the day will be forgotten.
It makes sense that our brains use the night time to process through thoughts. It is quiet and when we are asleep we are about to concentrate all of energies into the previous days activities. We work through what has happened and transfer thoughts from short term to long term memory banks.
Francis Crick and Graeme Mitchison also theorised about dreams in 1983. He argued that the brain fires much more randomly during sleep. This allows us to loosen old pathways and so unlearn certain ways of thinking. New pathways will also fire that help the mind think in new and rather exploratory ways. This is important in learning.
This has relevance in trying to spot dreams. Look for fresh new intuitions in your mind. Say for instance that your sister had been acting strangely and later you realised that something might be wrong. Your mind makes rather speculative thoughts which may indeed be completely off the mark. But our minds are built to think in this way. If your sister is behaving in a different way then it may signify some problem. The change in behaviour may not be connected at all with a problem but the mind looks for peculiar connections like these.
Fresh new thinking and insight allows us to make progress. A rather cautious person will never become a genius since they will never make rash decisions. Sometimes you have to be bold to gain insight into a situation. So we need to think of ideas which may be wrong.
Years of experience
For eight years I have studied dreams and I honestly believe I know as much as anyone on the subject. At first I knew very little. I interpreted dreams on the internet on forums. I was just guessing using standard dream symbols. Then I decided to collect dreams which I believed I knew the meaning of. I homed in on dreams where people gave plenty of background information. I then picked out dreams which seemed to be linked to reality.
My collection has helped me to build up a knowledge of how dreams work. I base my ideas on the following assumption ? if dreams link to the mind then if we are thinking about just one thing then surely any dream we have will be about that one thing. If we have just had an argument the day before then any dreams we have will be about the resentments we have or the wish to resolve any bad feelings. This single technique has helped revolutionise the study of dreams. Previously any dreams we had were difficult to interpret because we often had no idea of what had caused and triggered the dream. But if this basic assumption is accurate then if we are only thinking about one thing we know for sure what any given dream is about. Now we can concentrate all our efforts on interpreting any given dream, with the sure and certain knowledge that we know what the basic subject is. It's about the project that we were thinking through the night before! It's about the bad foot that has been disabling us! Or it is about that argument we had yesterday. It's about any issue which has been dominating our minds. This method of study has proved immensely successful. It has pushed forward the understanding of dreams.
In particular the collection of dreams has revealed the possible purpose of dreams. They are highly symbolic and perhaps link to the language which the mind uses to store information. It's all symbolic and hidden. This is the language used by the mind to store vital new ideas and emotions. Symbolism has always been linked to dreams. But I believe that the various symbols together build up to form thought processes. The dream therefore represents the way the mind stores complex ideas and emotions.
Dreams use a collection of symbols which together form crucial new thoughts and feelings. Take the following dream.
THE DREAM - I am on a very old and slow bus going uphill. The hill is so steep that I have no confidence in it's ability to make the hill. I feel it will come crashing down.
The symbols interact together to form a crucial new thought. The symbols have the following meaning when translated into the dreamer's real life circumstances.
UPHILL: "I am doing things that I find difficult (difficult because it's harder to go uphill)"
CRASH DOWNHILL: "I fear that I will get overwhelmed and heading for an emotional crash."
Together these two symbols join together to form the new thought that was in the dreamer's mind which was "I am doing things I lack the confidence to do. I fear I will come crashing down to reality".
It is vital to see how dreams interact with the symbols. Take the following dream which also deals with hills.
THE DREAM: I am going uphill and confidently speed up without any difficulty.
In this case the dreamer was on a high. He felt confident and able to perform any task. The speed with which he went up the hill represented his ability to handle difficult tasks. Most dreams deal with the formation of thoughts. Some dreams will deal with emotional feelings. The intuition also deals with the formation of emotions so dreams will also deal with the new feelings as they form. Take the following dream.
THE DREAM: I am in a house and feeling very depressed. I am then outside looking out over this beautiful new view. It stretches across the hills. The sun is shining gloriously. The sky is full of life with birds flying.
The dreamer had been extremely depressed but had woken up in a very good mood. The beautiful new view symbolised his new mood. He woke up with a fresh new perspective on things. His dream simply reflected this new mood. He had realised that someone who had been causing him a lot of tension was now being genuinely friendly. There was no need to be depressed.
It is surprising how much information can be stored in dream symbolism and how accurately they capture exact thought processes. Take this dream.
THE DREAM - I am with someone who is threatening me. This tough looking man has a knife and looks vicious. But luckily this policeman is there to arrest him immediately. Even though he has been arrested he is still in front of me and still appears very threatening. Later, I am on the south beach at Scarborough. Then suddenly I see this huge tidal wave. It's mountainous. I start running up the hill to escape the waves. I run as fast as I can. The waves come up the hill but they are much smaller than I expected them to be. Later, I am on the beach at Cayton (a remote beach up the coast), and another tidal wave is building up. This one I cannot escape as it hits too quickly and I am trapped against the cliffs. I try to save my life as best I can.
My basic method is to try to guess what any dream means then match it up with the dream symbols. The night before this dream I was thinking about a situation at work. I was suspicious of a woman who had been causing me trouble. I felt that if I complained about her then she would be sacked. However, I was suspicious of the dubious people she mixed with. I was scared to report her because I feared the backlash. I thought that I would be protected in the workplace but I feared this woman would hold a grudge against me. That eventually she or her friends would catch up with me in a dark and cold alleyway and seek revenge.
The dream portrays all aspects of this thought the previous night. Here are the various symbolic meanings.
TIDAL WAVE: "I fear a backlash from her"
FIRST TIDAL WAVE: "She will seek revenge at first"
FIRST TIDAL WAVE IS SMALL: "I am sure that she cannot get to me within the workplace if I complain"
SECOND TIDAL WAVE: "She will always want to get even with me"
POLICE: "I am sure that I will be protected in the workplace whilst I make a complaint"
TOUGH MAN: "I am sure that she will try to threaten me"
MAN STILL THREATENING: "She will remain angry"
REMOTE: "An excellent place to seek revenge!"
TRAPPED AGAINST REMOTE CLIFFS: "Eventually she will catch up with me in a dark alleyway and seek revenge"
Overall the dream portrays this rather complex thought process "I want to make a complaint against her. I think she will get the sack so she will be really mad. She has some really dubious friends and though she will not be able to get at me in the workplace I will eventually bump into her in some cold dark and remote alleyway. I will be trapped!"
So the dream portrays every aspect of this thought process. The two tidal waves are symbols of a huge unstoppable force (a belief that this vindictive woman will seek revenge with the help of her dubious friends). The first tidal wave is avoided but the second is too big to escape. This is symbolic of this exact thought "I may escape her at first, then she will want to get back at me". The first beach is in a very public place but the second is miles up the coast. The second beach is a hidden and remote beach ? an excellent symbol for a remote and dark place which would be ideal for someone seeking revenge. So the dream actually portrays a thought process. That's the way that the mind stores this key new thought.
The thought is stored in a collection of loose metaphors. There is no attempt to make the dream understandable. The symbols are not really very good poetry in that they do not really hang together and make any real sense. They are strong metaphors but the story seems random and disjointed. The tidal wave is the vital clue and represents any potential backlash. Although the mind believes this is an excellent symbol to portray a revengeful person (a tidal wave is a huge unstoppable force) it's not a metaphor which is immediately understood. A poet would definitely not use it so clumsily but the dream mind does not feel it necessary to make itself understood. It's like an eccentric poet making random metaphors which seem complete nonsense.
The following dream is very interesting and for me proves my whole theory. Many dreams are linked to recent events and if something big happens to you then it will very likely cause a dream. The symbols within it will definitely link to the dream its just a matter of working out how and what they represent.
THE DREAM ? There is a golf match. A man is stabbed with knives repeatedly.
The day before only one thing was on my mind. If you are only thinking about one thing the day before then you are likely to dream about it. I had been writing a report and frustratingly I continually wrote and rewrote it refining my answer several times. I wanted to get to the exact truth. I was highly involved in this task.
It was only some time later that I really made sense of the dream. Knives I have known for a long time link to highly involved thinking. If we are intensely involved in something then knives are an excellent metaphor. I was intensely refining and thinking about this report. Knives cut deep into the body of things. My thinking was very deep and intensive and was intended to give an insight into the subject.
The symbol I did not understand was the golf match. But on later inspection it's meaning was simple. The object in golf is to hit the ball and each time you get closer and closer to the target. That's exactly what I was trying to do in real life as I was getting closer and closer to the truth constantly refining my report until it was exactly correct.
So like everyone else I had a dream which seemed completely random yet on closer inspection it made perfect sense. So the dream was using metaphors extremely difficult to understand and which made no immediate sense to me.
The metaphors used by the brain seem completely bizarre. A game of golf representing a wish to get closer and closer to the answer! It's hardly a metaphor which makes immediate sense. Why would the mind make use of a comparison which makes no sense to the dreamer? It's symbolic value was not even immediately understood by the person himself! At some deeper level the mind obviously knew it's symbolic meaning. Together these symbols formed together to create a thought process. So the dream must in some way be used by the mind at some deeper level to record highly abstract thoughts. The dream comparison was not used for poetic value. It's purpose was to store vital information. The language used was symbolic using metaphors which are not immediately understood by the waking mind.
The following dream shows the complexity that dream symbolism can express.
THE DREAM - The dream starts with me choosing a magazine in a store. I want a magazine with lots of pictures of pretty girls in. There is this girl - she is very pretty. She is going in the opposite direction to me. I find out that her parents are not going to be away for the night. If the parents had not been home then I had the intention of having sex with the girl.
The dreamer reported thinking about one thing in particular the night before. That's usually a good sign that any dream will be about that one issue. His boss had been away for a week and was now back. He had had a great time during her absence. He realised that he would not have the same freedom when he returned to work the next day.
It's amazing how accurately this dream captures these thoughts. The attractive females are symbols for something that was really good. The dreamer was male and attractive females are appealing to men! In real life being left alone at work with no one to supervise is also a very attractive prospect! But these times are fast disappearing as the girl is heading in the opposite direction. That's the same as saying "those easy days are a thing of the past". The dream simply portrays a situation where the dreamer takes advantage (he intends to have sex whilst the parents are away is an excellent metaphor for the boss being away). The phrase opposite direction equates in real life to saying "it's fast disappearing" or "that's not so possible now"
Once you can guess what a dream is likely to mean then it's easier to spot ways in which the symbolism portrays those thoughts.
Dreams are inherently difficult to interpret. Interpreting people's dreams cold without knowing what they are thinking and feeling is almost impossible. Most dreams relate to day to day thoughts and feelings. They capture the ups and downs of our emotions. We constantly think through our relationships and life circumstances.
I know how my own dreams work. But knowing how dream symbolism works and how complicated it can be indicates to me just how difficult the task is. It's not easy at all. Dreams can be about quite trivial things and also about emotions which come and go. Your dream maybe about a mood which you were in at the time of the dream but has since been forgotten. A dream may feature people who you have not seen for ages. Many dreams give no obvious clues as to their meaning. But follow the basic methods and techniques in this book and you will find what is likely to have triggered the dream. From that moment it's much easier. Assume that a dream has been caused by some issue then try to see how the symbolism could portray some key thought or feeling about that issue.
But just look at the issues which have caused the dreams mentioned so far:
- "I am doing things I cannot manage. I fear I may come crashing down to earth!"
- "I am a lot more confident and able to handle difficult tasks"
- "I tried to get closer and closer to the answer whilst writing the report"
- "I fear her backlash! She may not get her revenge immediately but she will never forget!"
- "My boss is back tomorrow and so I will not be able to get away with murder like I did last week!"
All of these issues were very important to the dreamer but most people would not associate some of these issues with the sort of things we get dreams about. It would be extremely unlikely for such dreams to be understood. They are about personal circumstances which any dream analyser could not even begin to guess. Dreams have many and varied causes. You have to be aware of the different levels on which dreams work.
Jung and Freud use the term unconscious mind but dreams are probably more linked to issues that we are conscious about. Most dreams if translated would probably link to actual thoughts and feelings which you are all too aware of. A dream if properly translated could link to thoughts like "I think my sister was behaving strangely last night, I just wonder if something is wrong", or "I am coping very well at work" or "I do not think he is as committed as I am!" These are the kinds of issues which dominate our thinking on any given day. Understand these and you will start to understand the kinds of issues which trigger dreams.
For many years people have been misled about dreams. The term 'Unconscious mind' has really confused the situation. We know there are two minds ? the left and right minds. These could be described as the intuitive mind and the rational mind. Freud believed that we could have unconscious thoughts ? feelings that we were not aware of. But, really what is the point of this. It does not make much sense. Why would we have feelings that we were not aware of! The brain would not waste time and energy forming feelings that were never to be used. The logic of Freud and Jung's ideas are that we need a dream analyst to help us understand these unconscious thoughts. That's just ridiculous! The dreams we have represent conscious thoughts. They link to key ideas and insights. They are just difficult to translate and understand.
Dreams use dream symbols
One main conclusion with my studies has been that dreams do indeed use symbolism. The connection between dreams and symbolism has been understood for centuries but this has often been a very simplistic understanding. A lot of the old dream books used simple definitions of dream symbols: A lion represented the need for courage whilst an angry dog represented an argument. Dreams do use symbols in such a way. But dream symbolism is much more complex.
Dream dictionaries need to be much more detailed and comprehensive. They need to be more like ordinary dictionaries. They need to feature the many and varied usages of dream symbols. Ordinary words are used in many different contexts and ways. A dictionary records all of these usages. Dream dictionaries need to do exactly the same. A lion in a dream may symbolize many things and each of these must be recorded.
Sometimes dream symbols can be very personal. Take the example of a tidal wave. Most people will associate tidal waves with something bad. A tsunami involves many emotions such as fear and the need to seek safety. Yet there will always be someone who does not fit the usual pattern. Take a big wave surfer such as Laird Hamilton. He seeks out huge waves around the coast of Hawaii. He then surfs these tsunamis which build up naturally over hundreds of miles of ocean. For him the tidal wave represents the ultimate challenge to his thrill seeking. So a dream dictionary must include every possible meaning. They should open the reader's mind to ideas and train them into understanding how the mind works.
Why are dream symbols completely unrelated to reality?
Dreams use metaphors and these by their very nature are unrelated to the actual situation that has triggered your dream. It would not make sense for a metaphor to compare itself to itself. It would be like a poet using the following metaphor ? "That sunset was the like the sunset I saw this morning (i.e. the same sunset)". The metaphor would be pointless.
Dreams then will use metaphors which by their nature are unrelated to the actual trigger of the dream. They will represent some comparison. A tornado therefore may be symbolic of some tornado like situation within your emotions. It maybe symbolic of someone's tornado like behaviour.
So do not expect dreams to be about the obvious things. A tornado dream will not be about tornadoes! A war dream will not be about a real war but instead some war like situation in your life.
But why do we dream using symbols? Why do the dreams seem totally incomprehensible?
Dreams are related in some way to the brain. That's obvious. They seemingly make no sense. But they are not intended to make sense. They are a loose collection of symbols which seem to form bizarre stories. Yet dreams are not meant to be remembered. Memory blocks are turned off during sleep so most dreams are forgotten.
Dreams must serve the purpose they are designed for. They must serve some useful purpose or why would we have them? This loose collection of dream symbols must represent how the mind stores complex ideas and thoughts. This is how the mind records key intuitions. They need not make sense because they are recorded in a language which is not meant to be understood. We do not need to interpret dreams. They can simply be ignored. Any message that is contained within them will filter through to the conscious mind.
Dream symbols and comparisons within the mind
I have always compared dream symbolism to the way in which the mind stores ideas and thoughts. The brain builds up connections between various differing subjects in rather loose ways. In this way each of the following could be used as a symbol for each other.
- a man acting in a sexist way.
- a woman who has had bad experiences with men.
- a virgin girl who is scared of men.
- a Rapist.
- a cowboy builder who takes advantage of you.
These situations are all potentially linked together in the mind as potential metaphors for each other. A man acting in a sexist way is just a milder version of a rapist. A timid virgin girl can be scared of all men and sexuality. A woman who has been treated badly by men may see all men as potential rapists as she lacks trust. A rogue builder has a similar lack of respect for people and will enjoy humiliating his victims. Together these all capture certain emotions connected with rape: Humiliation and powerlessness. The mind is connecting together incidents where such emotions have been felt.
The brain needs to make comparisons. You will never get enough information to make many crucial decisions. We are constantly faced with dilemmas. Most of the time we cannot compare any given situation to a set of circumstances which are exactly alike. We have to compare a situation to something which is similar but also very different. That's why we need to use the types of comparisons that appear in dreams.
Take the following dream.
THE DREAM - I was watching a girl get raped and the guy that was raping her just kept kicking and hurting her. He had raped her so bad and beat her so much that you really couldn?t even see her face and her body was all covered in marks and bruises. She was crying and kept screaming at him and hitting him and telling him to stop, but he just kept hurting her. I remember seeing him biting her and waiting for a reaction from her and then would just get this satisfying look and bite her again. You could tell just by looking at her that she was in so much pain. I remember saying at one point why doesn?t she get up and run away? There was a voice that said back to me in response because she is in too much pain to move. I felt very sad for her but at the same time felt like she should have done more to get away from him. One other thing that I remember is that it was kinda dark and they were in very shallow water. It looked like in some kind of wooded area. I remember seeing a moon. I remember it being dirty (there was mud and stuff).
I always assume that if you were thinking about something a great deal then you are likely to dream about it. In this case the dreamer had been visiting her in-law's family and felt quite annoyed at the behaviour of her sister in law who had been proudly showing off her two little twin boys whilst subtly ignoring the dreamer's two beautiful little girls.
The dream seems totally unrelated to this! However, the dream mind is making comparisons between a rapist and her sister in law. Look at the phraseology. The dream is full of evocative phrases which are of great relevance to the incident such as "satisfying look", "waiting for a reaction" and "telling him to stop". The dream contains these vital emotions which pinpointed the dreamer's feelings - "My sister in law really annoyed me yesterday. She kept showing off her children and just ignored my two beautiful little girls. She went on and on. She was clearly enjoying it sat there waiting for me to react. She had that satisfying look on her face."
So subtle comparisons are very relevant to this situation. The sister in law acts in a similar way to a rapist. True their crimes are totally incomparable yet the sister in law acts in a similarly determined and callous way (at least in the eyes of the dreamer). The rape metaphor is a symbol of how strongly the dreamer feels. She felt that her sister in law was acting in this manner. Of course the dreamer does not seriously believe her sister in law is a rapist! It's a metaphor! We constantly make comparisons like these without thinking. We say "that was the worst day ever!" or "He is like Hitler!" These are not meant to be literally true. It generally just conveys strong emotion and strength of feelings.
The most important point here is that the two situations are comparable in some way. The actions of a violent rapist are compared to the actions of the dreamer's sister-in-law. One is in a friendly family atmosphere and the other is a brutal act. Yet in some way the mind is using these two situations to convey how the dreamer feels about the situation. That her sister-in-law's actions were deliberate and cruel in the same way as the rapist. In reality the dream is saying that the sister in law ?went on and on. She was clearly enjoying it and had that satisfying look on her face." This behaviour is similar to the rapist who deliberately enjoys inflicting pain.
So the brain uses loosely related experiences to build up complex thoughts. This is how the intuitive mind builds up insights into everyday life. The metaphors used in dreams must be related to how the dream mind stores imaginative ideas. These metaphors have no real poetic value. They are often difficult to understand and so why would they be any use to us. Short term memory is switched off during dreams so dreams are not meant to be remembered. If they have a use then it is automatic. You do not have to interpret a dream in order to benefit from it. If you did then surely you would remember them more easily and they would be less random. The metaphors would be easy to understand.
Neural networks are a key part of understanding the mind. They connect together various unrelated insights. Indeed they seem highly linked to metaphors. Perhaps, neural networks are how the mind stores the various little insights which can build up into complex thoughts. The mind looks for small patterns and uses these as building blocks.
Guessing what has triggered your dream.
The secret to understanding a dream is to guess ? with great accuracy ? the issues which are likely to trigger any given dream. This is possible. Of course dreams work on many levels and it is true that dreams are not only about the previous day.
One basic tip is to look at which way your mind is pointing. Are you looking backwards to yesterday. If so then your mind will be reflecting over the previous day. But many times our minds are pointing forward to the day to come. In such cases we will be thinking and reflecting on what may happen. We are guessing what could happen and thinking about how we might react and behave. It may be fantasy as we allow ourselves to think how good things will be. Alternatively your thoughts maybe very rational and grounded in reality. They may even be paranoiac. But whatever your mood is your dreams will reflect your prevailing mindset.
Once we have decided on a possible cause of any given dream we can then try to use a process of analysis. We see if any of the symbols seem to pinpoint some key feeling. We can use a process of association to see if any of the symbols seem to be linked to the subject we guess that the dream is about.
Say for instance you have had an argument, then look out for any symbols which could clearly be associated with an argument. An angry dog could clearly represent bad feelings and confrontation. So look out for such symbols as they clearly link the dream to this possible trigger. But don't just look for angry dogs when you have an argument. Look for any possible symbols which could be used as metaphors for arguments. The dream uses a variety of metaphors to express any given emotion.
But of course if the issue is big enough then it will surely set off any dream. We simply know it does! So it's a matter of finding out what the dream symbols represent. Dreams really work on two levels. One type of dream captures a feeling or emotion. The dream mind is linked to the processing of emotions. Emotional thinking is something which sets human beings apart from many other animals. Emotions are really very complex feelings and they therefore take up lots of processing power. Such dreams are easy to interpret as they pinpoint key emotions. So if you felt very happy the day before then your dream may simply reflect those happy emotions.
Freud and Jung both recognised the link between many dreams and the previous day. Yet they both tried to concentrate on the bigger dreams. They dismissed many dreams as unimportant. They studied psychological dreams and ignored day to day dreams. In doing so they dismiss the majority of dreams.
I believe that these day to day dreams are very important and help us understand the way our minds work. First of all it's easier to link them to reality. They do feature little coincidences which link them to reality. If only one major thing happened the day before then we will almost certainly dream about it.
If we know a dream is linked to some issue then we can concentrate all our efforts on decoding it. We know it's about the issue we were thinking about. So we can think intensely about how the symbolism works.
Deep issues in the past
Freud especially tried to link dreams to the traumas we have suffered in the past. He loved dreams which dwell on the deeper issues of the mind. Of course dreams will be about these issues but try to view dreams from another angle. Freud saw deep issues continually reappearing and dogging our minds. Yes of course a trauma will persist over a time period but they will be viewed from the angle of the present. We constantly evolve! Deep dreams represent the way in which we are dealing with deep traumas from the standpoint of the present. We live and learn! We grow and change and so deep dreams represent this change within us. If dreams do deal with major traumatic memories from the past then they are viewing these from the present day perspective. So really we interpret the present by making reference to the past. It's just a slight difference of emphasis but important nevertheless. A Freudian approach would stress the following type of phrase "I have a deep phobia". My own approach would stress the following type of phrase "I handled my phobia very well yesterday". So any dream would probably represent the latest subtle changes in any phobias. It would place the phobia within the present context of your life. So it's necessary to analyse yourself for subtle changes in your own personality and how you are adapting to changing circumstances. These changes will probably be linked to the meaning of your dream.
Dreams and our intuitions
Understanding your dream will not really help you in real life. Think of the following analogy ? understanding how a TV works will not enhance your enjoyment of any films or programs. Understanding your dreams is a technical matter. You decode the dream symbolism but knowing how the brain stores information is not going to help you. Why would it! Dreams seem magical and many people intensely search for the meaning of their dream thinking it will improve them in some way. Dream analysis is interesting and fascinating but will not really help you.
People continually make this mistake of trusting too much in their dreams. They see them as linking to some higher realm which offers perfect guidance. In fact, dreams will tend to represent our best intuitions. They capture our thoughts and feelings. Dreams represent our best guess. In most cases we do not know what is the best option. Sometimes we just have to trust in our intuitions. When exactly can you trust your child to walk to school on their own? If a previous boyfriend has cheated on you should you trust them again? If you have had a bad foot when should you start running again? These are the types of decisions that you need to make. Yet in each case these decisions are just guesses. We never know what to do in such cases.
Your dreams will therefore represent your best guesses. You hope that you have made the best decision. During the course of a night you may even change your mind. Your dreams may document these changes. Dreams tend to document the slight modifications in our views. We try to be "a little nicer" or "a bit more outgoing". We change the balance of our thinking. It's easy to trust someone one minute and then have doubts.
Dreams are like the latest news of the mind. They represent crucial moments when we change opinions. When we start to trust rather than distrust! When we realise that we should put more effort in! These are the crucial moments that our dreams record. These crucial changes are hidden in mysterious dream symbols and images. If we could understand dreams we would recognize in them the thoughts that have just been forming in our minds.
Why are dreams mostly negative?
Many people dislike dreams because they always seem intensively negative. Of course this tends to be true but why? The mind is always trying to improve the life that we live. It's much better to concentrate on the bad things in life. We can help relieve areas of tension. We can try to see why arguments have taken place. We can try to spot unusual behaviour amongst our friends which may indicate that there maybe a problem. We assess how badly we did something. We concentrate on making things better.
Dreams are about honest criticism. They capture our own conversations with ourselves. We say "I could have done this better!" Dreams seem so bleak because of this honesty.
Think of the following analogy: In the era of the communist countries in eastern Europe the press always covered good news and very rarely bad news. The western press always concentrated on bad news and tragedies. The communist press were accused of being propagandists. They served no useful purpose and simply tried to cover over the problems. The western press were critical of their governments and were allowed to say what they wanted. So the dream mind must always be brutally honest. When translated dreams will tend to concentrate on the bad things. That's because we must try to be open as we discuss our lives within our own heads. If we cannot admit things ourselves then there is no hope of finding a solution.
Why should the mind waste it's valuable time and resources on analysing situations which are ideal and providing us no stress. Instead our minds work through the various negative situations in our lives and try to assess what is the best way to proceed. Healthy individuals will concentrate their energies into improving their lives. They honestly confront the negative situations in their lives. Their dreams could easily represent these self critical intuitions. Look for ways in which you have been analysing your own behaviour and it's likely that any dream could be linked to these vital brain processes.
CREATIVE DREAMS : Dreams can be deeply creative. Artists and poets have found dreams deeply inspirational. They wake up with new and inspirational ideas. Explore how such dreams link to profound ideas as they emerge in our minds. Creative dreams - CLICK HERE
REHEARSAL DREAMS : Often we have been thinking how the next day we will 'say this' or 'do that'. Our dreams may reflect these urges to tackle the situations in our lives. Explore such dreams in detail Fantasy dreams - CLICK HERE
SEXUAL DREAMS : Dreams can be very profound - they may involve deep and creative thinking or even telepathy. But many dreams have simple meanings and are easily understood. Perhaps one group are distraction dreams. If the mind is able to concentrate it will think about the major issues and dilemmas in our lives. But if we are distracted then any dreams will reflect these distractions. So if you wake feeling very sexually aroused then any dreams will reflect that sexual energy. These are very much the sexual dreams that Freud spoke of. Look out for simple sexual metaphors - large towers and holes of any variety. We are distracted by our sexual urges. The same can be said if we are in pain, or if loud music is playing. Our minds are distracted. To read more more Sexual dreams - CLICK HERE
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Why is this the best dream website!
Towards a theory of dreams
Dream symbolism and neural networks
Dream interpretation techniques
Sleep deprivation - vital brain processes
Nightmares - why do we have scary dreams?
Dreams are like TV!
Dreams as sophisticated language
Other dream interpreters
WHAT DO YOU WANT TO KNOW?
Understand last nights dream
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look at dreams which feature a particular dream symbol
Why should you believe the information on this site
This website features hundreds of well researched and understood dreams. Below you can see examples of these dreams which feature particular dream symbols.
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