In this information age, the more one knows’ the better will be his response to his
world. What better way to know oneself than through ones dreams and their
interpretations. Take Joe for example. He dreamt that he was lying in bed crying. When
his mother came in to see what was wrong they had sex. Initially Joe woke up, thinking he
was in the middle of a nightmare. Now there are two choices for Joe. He could either feel
weird, that he had feelings about his mother, or he could look at what symbols were in his
Joe decided to analyze his dream. Since he was in his own bed, it showed that he is
comfortable in his life. Secondly Joe, needed to decipher if there was a predominant color,
and yes it was deep brick red, that meant Joe was going to experience good things in the
near future. Next Joe needed to understand that he was showing signs of regression, by
sitting and crying. Once he realizes that, Joe remembers being reprimanded at work,
where he felt like crawling under a rock. Lastly, Joe needs to understand that just because
he was with his mother in his dream doesn’t mean that he feels for her in that way.
Because he was having sex with his mother most likely means that, he needed to take on
some of the qualities that she possesses. Although it is a matter of interpretation, many feel
they have found the right way’ to understand theirs and others dreams.
Dreams have been a curiosity since ancient times. Recently psychologists like
Sigmund Freud and Karl Jung have become well known for their studies. There are many
reasons to study dreams. At dreams research laboratories, they use machines,
electroencephalographs (EEG) to tell when dream sleep occurs.
Dreams have been studied since ancient times. For many centuries dreams have
been interpreted, and each culture has its own set of guide lines. During ancient Greek
times men believed that gods used dreams as a matter of communication, so they could
speak to humans. Ancient Roman culture looked at dreams as real. They saw phantoms,
who took on many forms to convey the message. Many people, because of the ancient
Romans, had trouble differentiating between dreams and reality. They believed dreams
were as real as waking events. Theoretically ancient Oriental people didn’t see a difference
between the two, either. As one moved geographically west and to more recent times,
people began to understand the meanings of dreams better. Most Westerners, as opposed
to Asians, are better able to distinguish between dream and reality.
Psychologists like Sigmund Freud and Karl Jung are famous for their dream
studies. Freud’s most famous work, The Interpretation Of Dreams, argues that the
unconscious drives and desires contributed to conscious behavior. Freud also felt that a
dream was the fulfillment of a wish. Psychologists like Robert Van de Castle, Ph D., have
concluded that children and adults dream in the same way. Though their dreams may be
different, they also serve the same purpose (Short 30). Oona Short, author of “Sweet and
Not So Sweet Dreams” from Working Mother, says that small children, mainly infants
dream more often than adults do. While adults only spend about twenty percent of their
nights in dream sleep, infants spend nearly half of all sleep time dreaming (30). Dreams are
put in two categories: good dreams and nightmares. Between the ages of three and seven,
one begins to develop good dreams (Short 30-1), which are simply characterized as what
makes the individual happy. Once they have established these dreams, they last
throughout one’s life. In one year some have as many as 1000 dreams, but remember very
few. For that reason many people claim to be “nondreamers” (Faraday 19).
Remembering dreams can be difficult for some, but dreams are remembered like all other
memory. People only recall the things they are interested in. When trying to recollect a
dream, it is much easier to forget a good dream rather than a nightmare. According to
Ann Faraday, Ph, D., women are more likely to remember their dreams, due to the sex
roles that are placed upon one as a child. (21) She means that because much of
interpretation is based on feelings, and the nurturing side of people, which is characteristic
of females, it is easier for them to explain and recall dreams. It is also easier to remember
dreams when one is awakened during that period of sleep.
Dreams are studied for many reasons. Most dreams are, to a certain degree,
oneiromancy, more commonly known as dream deviation (Time Life 26), which is a main
reasons scientists choose to study dreams. Not a bad thing, oneiromancy is easily defined
as dreams that vary from the accepted norm. Dreams vary from individual to individual,
but some feel they understand what dreams are about. Faraday says that dreams are what
has been on one’s mind, or the feelings that one was unable to pick up on, the day of and
prior to the dream (3). Basically, dreams are messages forms one’s subconscious, where the
true you’ is defined. Dreams also let one know their real, or hidden talents, dreams show
people how special they truly are (Faraday 10). Dreams are not merely about what has
already happened. Through their dreams many feel the ability to see what will happen in
the future (Time-Life 26). Many also claim that their dreams inspire them to write, poems,
songs, etc…., and invent things (Faraday 160). Dreams are also a defense mechanism, they
help one express regression and/or displacement. (Fosshage 24). An example of showing
regression would be, to dream of lying in a bed crying until a parental figure comforts the
dreamer. Displacement can be shown in many forms, hitting or beating something, other
than who upset them, or just a yelling match for no apparent reason. Whatever the cause,
message, or interpretation style, dreams are “where reality meets illusion” (Time-Life 22).
The electroencephalograph is used to monitor when dream. Since ancient times,
psychologists have come up with alternate ways to tell if someone was dreaming. Thus
inventing EEG’s. At sleep laboratories doctors hook up patients, to EEG’s which detect
eye movement (REM) and brain wave activity. Once that information is taken, the doctor
then interprets when dreams have occurred. REM, rapid eye movement, or light sleep, is
the point in sleep when the brain becomes very active, it alternates in occurrence with deep
sleep (Altered State 50). Usually beginning an hour after falling asleep, REM sleep
lengthens each time it occurs, on that particular night.
Not everyone agree on what dreams mean, so many things have more than one
meaning. Colors can give a great deal of insight into a dream, sometimes more so than the
dream itself. The shapes in dreams can have several meanings, depending on who I
The colors in one’s dreams may be more informative than the actual dream.
Certain colors can lead once to have a reaction to or memories about a particular dream.
Colors can dominate dreams, and each color can represent a different feeling or action.
Bright red has many meanings. One is a forewarning, for people to control their tempers,
but deep red is also a sign that good news is in store for the dreamer. Some colors are very
specific, like brown mean financial success, and white leads to success with other and/or
society, and pink just hints towards success in general. Tony Hazzard author of, Dreams
and Their Meanings, says that green signifies either travel, or news from foreign places
(42). Shades of purple predict happy times, but lilac, forecasts temporary bad times
(Hazzard 42). Black is a hard color to interpret, and is only good to have in a dream if one
is in mourning, during that time, it shows, “…triumphs over problems and eventual
success” (Hazzard 42). Usually happy colors can have totally opposite connotations when it
comes when it comes to dreams. Bright colors like yellow, and orange symbolize delays,
that for every step forward, one has to take two steps backwards (Hazzard 42). Although
orange and yellow predict delays, they are only temporary. Blue has many significant
meanings, it shows one that they are close to overcoming difficulties, but for them to be
completely successful in that endeavor, they must seek help. Though colors are significant
in trying to understand dreams, there are two other factors that must be addressed here,
the next one being shapes and figures.
Many shapes and figures have several meanings also. Not everyone agrees on the
meanings behind certain symbols, and some even consider dream dictionaries to be useless,
but there are common themes that do have similar meanings in dreams. One figure in
particular has been around since ancient Egyptians, yet still has the same two connotations
today that is the snake. The snake has a duel meaning; one is that an evil temptation is
near, while the other is that the dreamer will show a more nurturing side. Seems like the
two opposite ends of the spectrum, but dreams are like that, they don’t always make sense,
it is up to the dreamer how to react to the information given in the dream. The symbols in
a dream, are a form of displacement (Fosshage 24). Dreams about houses can explain a
great deal about the personality of the dreamer. Each room of the house represents new or
different feelings or actions, that the dreamer possess (Hazzard 28). Telephones are
another popular topic, especially ones when the caller can not get through. This type of
dream may mean that the dreamer and who they are trying to call are having a
communication breakdown (Faraday 213). Water in a dream can have more than one
meaning depending on how it is depicted. If it is rising, then the dreamer usually feels
overcome with uncontrollable emotions. However, diving into water, is usually showing the
dreamer “diving into the unconscious” (Hazzard 30).
There are other factors in determining the meaning of a dream, than colors and
figures. Sex is another main topic of dreams, according to Freud, everything that we think
about is related to sex, and repression. When people dream about sex they are not limited
to feelings of unfulfilled desires. Another common thought with sex dreams is that the
dreamer needs to be more unified with their partner. A sex dream can meant that the
person should try to take on the characteristics of the person who they are with during
their dream (Hazzard 29). Things that have a negative meaning in conscious life, are not
always taken as bad omens in dreams. Death is one that can be both good or bad. Death
in a dream can mean that something is going to come into one’s life, it may signify a birth,
or just good luck approaching. On the other side of the spectrum, it can also mean that
one’s ego is having trouble dealing with a change. Travel is a very general theme to have in
a dream, as it refers to the journey through life. The type if transportation can be
significant, as well. If they are operating a car, or train or plane, then it is usually means
that the dreamer is in charge of their lives. It can also represent whether or not one is
going to crash (Hazzard 30). A dream of trying, unsuccessfully, to get somewhere, is a way
of expressing frustration. More often than not dreams are usually full of weird
characteristics, or strange images. Generally the images in ones dreams are not going to fit
together like a puzzle, but may be connected in a more disjointed form. Dreams are bound
to be filled with puns (Faraday 111). Though they may seem to be abstract, dreams often
act as advisors about everything.
For many years people have wondered whether or not they should interpret dreams.
There are many advocates for the interpretation of dreams. As well, many feel dreams are
better left uninterprated.
Many have wondered whether or not one should interpret dreams. There are six
main types of dreams, instinctive, digestive, integrative, creative, true-dreaming, and lastly
“big” dreams (Wilde 14). An instinctive dream is usually associated with primary life
functions, digestive dreams related to remembering the previous days. In some dreams one
learns how to cope with conflict, dreams such as these are called integrative dreams. In
such dreams one may struggle with a decision, in the dream however, it is the conflict that
would have been greatly dramatized. Creative, true, and big dreams are easily explained,
there is not much more to them than what their name implies. There are two ways to
interpret dreams, literally and symbolically. Taking a dream for what it is, waking up in a
strange place, that is all it is, but one could also understand that to mean that something
new or interesting is going to happen. When people interpret dreams they should try to
understand what “face” they are using, because there are “three faces of dreaming”
(Faraday 139). Looking outward is making the topics of ones dream, relevant to their life,
“through the looking glass” means that one is looking at their dreams subjectively, and to
look inward would be to interpret the dream, try to understand each characteristic of what
happened during their dream (Faraday 139). Psychologists, though they feel children and
adults dream for the same reason, as previously stated, believe that children’s dreams are
more significant. Children are just “‘small people living in a big world’ Van de Castle
stated” there fore causing children to vent their anger, fear, or resentment in dreams
better, because they feel powerless (Short 30).
Many feel that dreams should be analyzed. “Like an urgent fax from your
subconscious, a recurring dream contains an important message” (Graves 191). If not
understood, one could miss a lot of vital information about himself, through dreams. One
can learn his true feelings, and thoughts through the understanding of the dreams he has.
But, to make dreams relevant to one’s life, they must look inward (Faraday 139).
Recurring dreams are basically reinforcing the significance of a particular there in the
dream. “In the Hebrew Talmud, it is written A dream not interpreted is like a letter to the
self not read'” (Time-Life 23). The ability to learn from one’s dreams is there, it is up to
the dreamer to follow certain guide lines about how to interpret them. Short says that to
be able to learn from dreams one must, “share dreams….don’t judge dreams…….don’t
impose your interpretation on others…….encourage dreams as a road to understanding”
Yet others feel dreams are better left uninterpreted. Many people feel dreams are
better left alone. Although there is a great deal of information on how to, these people
don’t try to understand theri dreams. Many people feel that they don’t have enough time
to read about dreams, and others just say it is too confusing. Dreams are a matter of
interpretation, but many seem to think they understand dreams. They are na expression of
a person’s inner self, a window to the soul. Proper interpretation of ones dreams can lead
to a sense of fulfillment. However, reading too much into ones dreams can be as destructive
to one’s psyche as any real episode. Dream interpretation can be and should be a tool
modern man can use to better understand himself.
Works Cited Page
Altered State Of Awareness. San Francisco: W.H. Freeman, 1972.
Faraday, Ann, Ph. D. The Dream Game. New York: AFAR, 1974.
Fosshage, James L., Ph. D., and Clemens A. Loew, Ph. D. Dream Interpretation: A
Comparative Study. New York: Spectrum, 1978.
Graves, Ginny. “What Your Dreams Are Trying To Tell You.” Glamour, Aug. 1998:
Hazzard, Tony. Dreams and Their Meanings. UK: Ward Lock, 1994.
Short, Oona. “Sweet and Not So Sweet Dreams.” Working Mother. Feb. 1997: 30-32. New
Time-Life Books, editors. Dreams and Dreaming. Alexandria, VA: Time-Life Books, 1990.
Wilde, Lyn Webster. Working With Your Dreams. UK: Blandford, 1995