If you’ve ever heard of a Freudian psychologist telling you what your dreams mean, you’ve probably imagined a psychic with a crystal ball or a dream dictionary (and it sounds a lot like cigars and sex).
Dream analysis, on the other hand, does none of the above. This is a great approach to learn more about yourself.
Jeffrey Sumber, a clinical psychotherapist, explains why we dream, the importance of analysis, and how to begin reading your dreams below.
Why We Dream
For Sumber, who studied worldwide dream mythology at Harvard University and Jungian dream interpretation at the Jung Institute in Zurich, “dreaming is crucial for our development and progress as metaphysical beings, not just for our survival as a body.”
According to him, dreaming is a form of communication between the conscious and unconscious minds that aids in the process of self-actualization. It’s possible to move back and forth between what we think we know and the truth through our dreams.
Dreams are a secure place for us to express difficult or confusing feelings or experiences. Because they place us in a world that is both emotionally real and physically unreal, “dreams” give us a safe haven in which to digest upsetting or confusing information or occurrences.”
According to Sumber, analyzing one’s dreams is an essential part of one’s journey toward self-discovery. A person’s “darkest wants and deepest hurts” are revealed in dreams. You can learn more about yourself by examining your dreams.
Do Dreams Have Meaning?
A noteworthy dream may have made you ponder what it signified when you woke up the next morning. Dreams have been examined by neuroscientists and psychologists for decades. Why we dream and what our dreams imply, if anything, still remain mysteries. Experts, on the other hand, have proposed numerous hypotheses.
Sigmund Freud, a psychoanalyst, felt that dreams were a gateway to the subconscious. Personal experiences, external stimuli, internal stimuli and mental processes during sleep are all components of dreams, according to him. It was Freud’s belief that the unconscious meaning of a dream was hidden and distorted by the dream itself. We can better understand ourselves and our hidden aspirations through the study of dreams, according to Freud.
Carl Jung, a renowned psychiatric physician, shared some of Freud’s ideas. Dreams, according to Jung, do not distort but rather disclose our underlying wants. There are also symbolic aspects in our dreams, according to Jung. It’s possible that, for example, you’ve had a dream in which you’ve been pursued by an unseen force.
Alternative hypotheses about the meaning of dreams have been put forth by modern researchers. Dreams are seen as an attempt to make sense of the high levels of brain activity that occur while you sleep, according to the activation-input-modulation paradigm. Dreams, according to neurocognitive theory, are based on memories that have been stored in the brain. Dreams, according to this view, are distinctive because they mirror our own unique methods of interpreting and processing information. There are no guarantees that dreams are a reflection of the previous day and can be linked back to specific events in our lives.
Psychiatrists and neuroscientists can work together to better understand how dreams function and how to interpret them.
Keeping a Dream Journal
1. Next to your bed, keep a dream journal. Dreams are a part of your life, even if you don’t remember them at all. The act of writing down your dreams can help you remember them better. Keep a pen or pencil with your dream journal. When you wake up, this will remind you to record your dreams.
- Traveling? Don’t forget to pack your diary of dreams.
- It’s a good idea to include a date with your entries. Please feel free to add your own dream interpretation under each entry if you’d like.
2. Keep your eyes closed as soon as you wake up and try to recall as much of your dreams as possible. Then record them. Make it a habit to write down your dreams as soon as you wake up in the morning. The most vivid memories will flood back to you as soon as you awaken. The dream will begin to disappear from your recollection if you wait even a few minutes.
- Take a shower instead of using the restroom, as that allows your mind time to forget.
- If you hadn’t already woken up, take note of your initial thoughts after waking up, as these thoughts may have appeared in your dream. Are you suddenly thinking about a word, color, or tune that you haven’t thought of in a long time? Your interpretation may benefit from this.
- If you can recall more specifics, your interpretation will be richer.
3. Everything you can remember should be recorded. There is no limit to the things you may think of that could be interpreted as a sign or a symbol. Make as many notes as you can. This isn’t the first time people have tried to depict what they observed in their dreams. Among the items to jot down are:
- Emotions that you felt.
- The dream’s inhabitants.
- The dream’s setting.
- If only there was a way to get around.
- As though one were embarking on a voyage.
- If there’s a plot.
4. If there isn’t a storyline in your dream, don’t invent one. Dreams that don’t make sense are common. Your conscious mind, on the other hand, will seek to weave a tale from the details of your dreams. Resist the temptation! If you can only recall a series of fleeting emotions and images, that’s all you need to include in your journal entry. This is a more accurate portrayal than a fiction concocted in your head.
- Rather than trying to make the dream into a story, focus on the feelings you had, what you saw, and the words you used.
- A wolf might hunt you through the woods in a dream, for example. To help you remember what happened and how you felt, you may sketch numerous trees to symbolize a forest from your dream, along with words like “lost,” “chased,” and “wolf.”
5. Recording a dream does not necessitate interpreting it. This could have an effect on your writing, causing you to edit or remove aspects from your dream that would otherwise be included. To begin, simply note down the events that transpired. It’s up to you to make sense of it.
6. Title your dreams. This is a good way to get your brain to focus on a single idea or detail that stood out the most to you. However, refrain from attempting to give your titles any significance. Let your imagination run wild. Helps you better understand your own feelings regarding the dream.
- As an example, the woodland dream described above could be titled “The Chase,” “Scary Woods,” or “Running Scared.”
How to Figure Out What Your Dreams Really Mean
Sleep in rapid eye movement (REM) is a dreamlike experience that might be difficult to follow. The trampoline you were on in Indonesia was for a different reason. Mark Smaller, PhD, president of the American Psychoanalytic Association, states that “a major role of dreams is to offer us access to thoughts and sensations we may not be aware of.” Smaller was kind enough to walk us through the steps of understanding dreams. Just grab a pen and delve into your psyche for a few minutes.
To get the most out of your dream journal, write down whatever you can remember about it the moment you wake up. Smaller, according to him, “You may learn a lot about yourself by paying attention to what you dream about. Many details are squeezed into a little space.”
Each detail has a personal meaning to you, so write down what it means to you. A good starting point would be to think about the significance of the setting and how it relates to your dream’s overall theme.
Make a note of the feelings that were evoked by the dream. What was your state of mind at the end of the day? How did you feel when you first awoke?
Ask yourself whether there is anything else in your life that elicits the same kind of reaction. Suppose your childhood house brings up memories of being bullied by your elder brother. Consider what is happening in your life now that resembles this experience.
Then, go back to your list of associations and see if you can weave them together into a cohesive storyline. You’re reminded of the bullying you endured as a child because of your childhood house. You can’t help but think about Florida whenever you eat an orange. Yesterday’s meeting with your employer, a native of Miami, was a little abrasive, to say the least. Then, armed with a better understanding of what’s going on inside your thoughts, go about your day.
9 Common Dream Interpretations
For many years, people have been interested in learning how to interpret their dreams. To gain insight into your own thoughts and feelings, it is helpful to understand the underlying meaning of dreams.
According to famed psychotherapist and psychiatrist Sigmund Freud, we can discover the hidden and unconscious urges that cause neurosis by investigating the obvious content of dreams.
There are several ways in which people use dream interpretation as both amusement and self-reflection today. Is there a deeper purpose to the dreams we have? Is it possible to gain insight into your repressed wants and motivations by analyzing your dreams?
But despite recent research suggesting otherwise, such as the possibility of dreams being more biological3 or even a result of one’s sleeping position4, dream analysts and interpreters have continued to publish an abundance of material in an attempt to decipher the deeper meanings behind the most common symbols and themes in dreams.
Some of the most common dreams and their interpretations will be examined in this article.
1. Dreams About Falling
It’s not uncommon for people to have dreams of falling from tremendous heights. Even while it’s common belief that people who die in their dreams will die in real life, this is simply not the case. How could dreams of falling be interpreted?
It’s widely accepted that dreams of falling are a warning that something isn’t going well in your life.
Consider rethinking a decision, for example, or going in a different direction in your life.
“It’s not uncommon to have dreams of falling. It’s a metaphor for fear of failure in the real world, whether at work or romantically “”The Illustrated Dream Dictionary” author Russell Grant is of the opinion that It’s common for people to fall because they feel a need to let go and enjoy life more.
2. Dreams About Being Naked in Public
Awkward dreams in which you show up at school or work in your birthday suit are not uncommon. Don’t worry, I’ll take care of it. It’s not rare for people to fantasize about being naked.
As suggested by Penny Peirce in her book, “Dream Dictionary for Dummies,” having a dream about public nudity could mean that you are terrified of being exposed for who you really are.
3. Dreams About Being Chased
Dreams about being chased by an assailant, whether they’re well-known or not, can be very disturbing. Many people have these kinds of dreams, as well. But what do your dreams of being pursued reveal about your mental state?
People who specialize in interpretation of dreams typically interpret them as a warning sign that you’re attempting to avoid something in your waking life. Being followed by someone in a dream could represent a desire to flee from one’s own fears or wants, according to Tony Crisp, the author of Dream Dictionary.
It’s important to know who’s pursuing you in your dream if you want to figure out what it means.
- Animal chasing: If you’re being chased by an animal, it could mean you’re trying to run away from the sentiments of rage and passion you’re trying to suppress.
- If your pursuer is a strange, unknown character, it may reflect a childhood experience or a past trauma that you’ve been unable to overcome.
- You are being stalked by someone of the opposite sex because you are terrified of love or haunted by a previous relationship, according to Crisp.
4. Dreams About Losing Teeth
When your teeth fall out in your sleep, what does that mean? Many different interpretations can be found in Penny Peirce’s Dream Dictionary for Dummies when it comes to dreams involving loosing teeth.
This could be a sign that you’re self-conscious about the way you look. Your lack of confidence in your ability to communicate, or your fear that you could have said something embarrassing, could also be a sign of this.
As she notes, “the fundamental core of teeth is that they are capable of biting through; cutting, tearing and grinding.” If you lose your teeth, you lose your ability to assert yourself, make decisions, and protect yourself.
5. Dreams About Dying
Another typical theme in dreams is death, which can be an especially jarring experience. Dreaming of the death of a loved one or even of one’s own death is a common occurrence. Such dreams are commonly interpreted as a sign of apprehension about change or apprehension about the unknown.
Lauri Loewenberg writes in her book Dream on It: Unlock Your Dreams, Change Your Life that “shift can be scary because–like death–we do not know what is ‘on the other side’ of the change,” explaining why the dreaming mind connects the change with death.
According to Loewenberg, anxiety of change, especially in relation to our children, might manifest itself in dreams about the death of a loved one. Parents wonder where their child’s younger self went as they see their children grow up. As a result, dreams of death are a way of lamenting the passing of time.
According to research, dying people and those who love them have vivid dreams about the presence of a reassuring presence, preparing to pass on, witnessing or conversing with those who have passed on, upsetting memories, and unfinished tasks.
6. Dreams About Taking a Test
Dreams about taking tests are also common, according to research. Craig Hamilton-Parker, who wrote The Hidden Meaning of Dreams, believes dreams of taking a test imply a fear of failing.
Written exams force students to confront their insecurities, and he describes the process as “stressful.” Being late, or being unprepared for an exam in your dreams is a sign of your anxiety about facing life’s difficulties in the real world.
7. Dreams About Infidelity
Imagining that your significant other is having an extramarital affair with another person is really upsetting. Some people even begin to question whether or not their dreams are real. Do dreams of your lover cheating on you indicate that it will happen? Is it possible that it has already occurred?
Trish and Rob MacGregor, authors of Complete Dream Dictionary: A Bedside Guide to Knowing What Your Dreams Suggest, explain that while these dreams may mirror your thoughts of adultery, they are unlikely to mean that your partner is cheating or will cheat. These are just more “what if” fantasies, they say; you’re pushing the boundaries of reality.
For the Complete Idiot’s Guide to Dream Dictionary authors, Eve Adamson and Gayle Williamson’s theory is that dreams concerning infidelity signal problems in trust, loyalty and communication in a relationship. This partnership isn’t providing what you need right now if you or your partner cheated in your dream, they write.
8. Dreams About Flying
Many people have fantasies about flying in their sleep. Frightening (particularly for people who are scared of heights) and exhilarating are two ways to describe flying dreams.
There are two sides to dreams involving flying according to Tony Crisp, author of the Dream Dictionary. On the other hand, they might connote a sense of freedom and self-determination. However, they might also reflect a desire to leave or evade the reality of daily life.
Flight alone is the most common mode of transportation,” he argues, “demonstrating the autonomous nature of flying.” Flying, on the other hand, may be interpreted as a way to express our sexuality, particularly in terms of our independence from social conventions and limitations.”
9. Dreams About Pregnancy
A wide range of emotions can be expressed in a dream about pregnancy, according to dream interpreters. Pregnancy dreams, according to David C. Lohff, the author of Dream Dictionary, may indicate a woman’s anxieties of being an incompetent mother.
For an alternative view on dreams of being pregnant, author Tony Crisp proposes that the dreamer is exploring new possibilities or strengthening an existing relationship.
Russell Grant, a professional dream interpretation, believes that these nightmares foretell trouble ahead.
What does it mean when you dream about someone?
People close to you or people who are important in your life may be reflected in your dreams if they appear in your dreams, however people who are not connected to you (such as a person from your past or an unknown person) are more likely to be symbolic. There’s some evidence, according to Sigmund Freud, that the context in which the person you’re dreaming about matters, too. For example, imagining your parents in regal settings could be an indication of your regard for them.
How accurate are dream interpretations?
Individual and subjective interpretations of dreams make it impossible to answer this issue with precision. They are unique in the sense that no two people’s dreams are the same. The readings you give to your dreams are also based on your own interpretations, and your interpretations may differ from the interpretations of others.
Why are dream interpretations important in psychoanalysis?
The self-organization theory of dreaming suggests that dreams are a reflection of one’s physiological and psychological activity, and thus provide essential information about one’s ideas and emotional condition. It is then possible for psychoanalysts to gain insight into the subject by analyzing the person’s dreams.
What do sexual dreams mean?
When you’re awake, your thoughts and desires about sex may influence how often you have sexual dreams, according to some research. For others, a desire to be in an intimate setting is a necessary component of having a sexually arousing dream. More than 95 percent of people report having sexy dreams.
What do recurring dreams mean?
Regular, reoccurring dreams, according to some psychologists, are a sign of unfulfilled psychological needs. It’s not uncommon to have recurring dreams when you’ve been through a lot of emotional turmoil, such as with post-traumatic stress disorder.
What do vivid dreams mean?
Some studies have shown an increase in the number of people who have vivid or highly intense dreams following the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. There are many reasons why you might have vivid dreams while you are asleep, including sleep deprivation, a disruption of the sleep-wake cycle or a medicine you are taking.
What Is the Meaning of Nightmares?
A disturbing or frightening sort of vivid dream is a nightmare. Up to 8% of people over the age of 18 report having regular nightmares. Dreams like these are more common in those who suffer from:
- Post-traumatic stress disorder, sometimes known as PTSD.
- Disorders related to REM sleep, such as insomnia.
- Anxiety, depression, and schizophrenia are all forms of mental illness.
- Antidepressants, barbiturates and sedative hypnotics are all examples of drugs that might lead to withdrawal symptoms.
The substance of a person’s nightmares may differ from person to person, but they almost always reflect some level of emotional or physical suffering. Recurrent nightmares can be lessened with behavioral therapy.