Wednesday, December 8, 2010

...dream interpretation...

(Image produced digitally in PSE using multiple free images and textures from the web.)

"..Five common dreams explained..."  This is the title of an article appearing in The Mark News.  While no one can claim to tell you exactly what any of your dreams mean, Christina Becker, Jungian Analyst offers some good general jumping off points if you wish to analyze a dream for its deeper significance.  Take the broad interpretation and apply it to your life.  Play with the fit.  It may not be exact, but a word or two may trigger your own inner knowing. 

Remember dreams do a vital work of releasing energy whether we remember them, understand them - or not.  If you do not remember your dreams - don't worry about it.  It is interesting to know that once you begin to demonstrate interest in your dreams by writing down, thinking about, or talking about them, your psyche sees that interest as an invitation to remember - and you just may begin to recall more of your dreams.

Interpreting and understanding a dream can serve as an impetus for change.  While we can all use help, on occasion, understanding the psychological symbolism of our dreams, in the end WE ALONE should make the final interpretation of our dreams.  The way you have classified symbols and meanings in your mind may be very different from someone else.  Even when working with a therapist, YOU are the one who should be making the connections to your life situation, world views, current issues.  The therapist is there to provide the environment, support, prompts - but ultimately it should be YOU making the final determination. 

People who have studied dreams have noticed many common themes, symbols and meanings that we can use to better understand our own dreams ... if we are so inclined.  See if any of the information in the following article helps you to understand a past or present dream.  (Yellow text is the article, green text is added by me.)

The Mark News – Tue, 7 Dec 11:16 AM

“The dream shows the inner truth and reality of the patient as it really is . . . not as he would like it to be, but as it is.” wrote Carl Jung in 1933. Since then, the meanings of our nocturnal adventures have remained a puzzle for psychologists and laymen alike. 

 "The Mark News has chosen five common dreams and, with help from Jungian analyst Christina Becker, unearthed their meanings:

5) Missing First Day of School

You've got an important appointment, but due to circumstances beyond your control you're not going to make it. Panic and confusion set in. This dream suggests you’re feeling disconnected from yourself, says Becker. You're distracted, not in the here and now. That's why you can't seem to find what you're looking for, including that pesky chemistry lab.

(If I had such a dream, I would ask myself what appointment with myself, what developmental task have I missed that is pressing on me or causing anxiety?  Also, pay precise attention to the words in a dream AND the words used to describe the dream.  The psyche often slips important information in the words, or double meanings of the words of a dream, or description of the dream.)

4) Teeth Falling Out

Ever had the dream where your teeth feel loose or rotten? Despite appearances, it has nothing to do with your dental hygiene. The subconscious often communicates through metaphors and idioms, explains Becker. Losing your teeth in a dream may indicate that your life has become too complex or harried – that you've bitten off more than you can chew.

(If I had a dream about teeth falling out, I would also be inclined to ask what core or imbedded beliefs, assumptions, values have fallen away OR need to fall away?  Again, pay attention to the exact words used in the dream and then to describe the dream when you recall it and you may find a clue to its meaning there.)

3) Being Chased

Being chased by an angry mob in a dream is enough to wake you up in a cold sweat. Chase dreams could suggest you're feeling trapped in some facet of your daily life. Whether you're stuck in a dull job or a problematic relationship, in your dreams you are being chased because you've chosen flight instead of fight. By failing to confront your problems, you will have that pitchfork-wielding mob returning night after night.

(In dreams where I am being chased, I would  ask what key psychological, emotional, spiritual insights might I be running from?  As well, if I can manage to re-enter the dream, as in lucid dreaming, I would encourage myself to turn around and speak to whatever is chasing me.  Surprisingly, the thing/person in pursuit is often not nearly as scary as we imagine,  and is actually there to bring important growth-related information.  Sometimes when we have not come to conscious terms with the harsh realities of existence, they (the realities) can stalk/chase us (in some menacing form) at night in our dreams - just trying to get our attention.)

2) Naked in Public

If clothes really do make the man, then being naked in public is an emasculating experience. Dreams of nudity could indicate vulnerability, says Becker. While the function of clothes is to cover us up and keep us warm, they also help to determine our role in society. Feelings of social anxiety, rather than that late-night ham sandwich, may be triggering this one.

(In dreams where I am missing apparel or naked, besides wondering about vulnerability, I would look at where I have dropped protective boundaries, where in my life I am feeling exposed?  I might also ask myself if there is value in dropping or letting go of outmoded coverings or personas.  Am I naked in the dream because I've been trying to walk around in 'apparel' that no longer fits?)

1) Falling

Among the most common nightmares, dreams of falling could mean anxiousness or a loss of self-esteem, says Becker. They can also come about when someone has placed too-high expectations on themselves.

(Where does the ground not feel solid any longer?  Where have I lost my footing?  Where and how am I feeling unsupported?  If I let go into the fall ... could I fly?)

To overcome your nightmares, try lucid dreaming, a practice in which you become aware that you are in a dream and then take control of it. In time, you can turn your freefall into a flight to the moon."

I once had a dream that I was planning a trip with my husband to the United States.  At first I thought it was a very banal little dream about planning a summer vacation.  When I gave myself a little more time to think about the dream - and once I recalled that the unconscious can provide very literal symbols (PAY ATTENTION TO THE DOUBLE MEANINGS OF WORDS IN YOUR DREAMS) - I realized that the effort we had been devoting to revitalizing our marriage was working - as my dream had so wisely informed me - we were going to the 'united states'!  Get it?  A more 'united state' in our marriage!  How basic and how literal - and how easy to miss if we don't devote a little thought to the message being sent by our unconscious.  It was fun to share the message from my unconscious with my husband!

Okay, now it's your turn.  Any interesting dreams and/or interpretations you are willing to share with us in your comments?


  1. When I was much younger, I occasionally had dreams of finding myself naked in a public place. Now that I no longer have that dream, does that mean that I am free from social anxieties? I don't know, but I must confess that I am not enthusiastic about Christmas parties.

    An interesting post, Bonnie. I will have to come back for more self-analysis.

  2. George: Well, if you are like most of us, you are never entirely free of social anxiety - but with time and experience you have probably developed good skills at dealing with social situations and at managing your own anxiety. Thus you would have no more need for such a dream.

    I share your lack of enthusiasm for Christmas parties too! Fortunately neither of us, it seems, are having nightmares about them! :-)

  3. I have a recurring dream of never being able to find a public toilet when I need to go. I know, it can really be bothersome. My interpretation? It goes back to my childhood obsession for not having indoor plumbing. Or, having secrets that will embarrass me if they came out.

    I know, I should have gotten over these things by now.

  4. I have had a recurring dream of being able to fly or more specifically to hover over a landscape. It's very empowering and uplifting to experience this dream.

  5. lakeviewer: That is the blessing of our dreams. They show us where we still have work to do. Thanks for sharing.

  6. Paul: Those are the most exhilarating dreams, aren't they?

  7. how intriguing...probably the most vivid dream i had recently i was in a large room filled with worshipers...thre was a large screen in the i walked through they were in various acts, hands raised, kneeling...i walked through a door in the back and there were a small group of men gambling at a table and they tried to get me to join them....

  8. Brian: Interesting dream about the realm of opposites. You prefer not to add your interpretation?

  9. I like your advice on letting the dreamer interpret his or her own dreams with guidance since we have our own symbols. Those were interesting interpretations. Your US dream is funny. In college I took an elective seminar on Freud just for fun. We spent a lot of time on dreams.

    I tend to dream about missing trains/planes or skiing too fast to stop when I’m anxious. Easy to interpret that one! A sign that my novel is working is the characters chatting to me in my dreams. I keep note cards by my bed to scribble plotlines.

    In my writing, I use dreams symbolically and to show the inner psyche of my characters, especially what they might be repressing. Naked dreams are obvious ones for teens to reveal both social insecurity and emerging sexuality.

  10. Sarah: How interesting that when a novel is working, your characters chat to you in your dreams. Imagine the enriching content that could be missed if you did not pay attention. A little notebook is an essential resource as the material from our dreams can be fleeting.

    Dreams clearly do not simply work overnight on our complexes, but are replete with creativity. My dreams are always full of interesting contraptions or devices that I have never seen before. My husband says I should have been an inventor/engineer. He often asks me what I 'invented' last night!

  11. All the themes on your list were recurring, dreams for me in my teens, 20s and 30s (except the naked one). Nowadays I still dream prolifically - but the dreams tend to be much less disturbing and nightmarish, less obsessive, less one-themed, less anxious.

  12. Great post, Bonnie - dreams are so interesting.

    The most commonly recurring theme for me is where someone I love is in danger and I am powerless to help them. There is one that I've had many times where my girls are being stalked by an unseen danger (not sure if it's a monster or an animal or a person, as I never get to see it). They are unaware of its presence, and I can't move my feet or call out to warn them. I always wake up at that point feeling so completely helpless and afraid.

    There's another variation I've had several times where they're all trapped in a house that's on fire, and I can't go in after them, either because I can't move, or some unseen force is holding me back. It's very disturbing.

    I guess it's my mind's way of reconciling my need to protect them, against the knowledge that there are things I can't protect them from.

  13. Robert (Solitary Walker): Isn't it wonderful to see how, as evidenced by your dreams, you have moved through an anxiety fraught childhood? Dreams give us a lovely little glimpse into where we are emotionally on our life's path.

  14. Jeff: Dreams are interesting - there is SO much more going on inside of us than we know!!
    Your dreams make a lot of 'sense' based on your past experiences. Would you ever feel comfortable enough to approach the 'stalker' to see what it is, what it wants ...

    We must all come to terms with certain givens of life against which we are powerless. It is hard to come to terms with that - especially as a parent.

  15. Hey Everyone:

    Those of you who have returned to read others' comments or my responses ... I hope you will give another quick read to the post, as I have added a bit of extra material that might be of help in understanding your dreams.

  16. Yes -- years ago, I had assumed the presidency of a women's group that had a lot of discord. I dreamed that I was getting ready for a meeting and was quite distracted, worrying about all the competing interests and personalities. A woman I respected (who was a women's issues reporter at at local PBS station and thus not directly involved in any of the groups, but who was really media savvy and smart on many different levels) showed up at my doorstep, came in, and proceeded to set up the ironing board, plug in the iron, and start ironing clothes for me to wear to the meeting. Of course I realized when I woke up that I had a "sounding board" to help me "iron out" any problems that arose. And I was really amused at the witty way my subconscious reminded me there are many solutions to life's wrinkles.

  17. These are GOOD bonnie! My teeth are always falling out in dreamland- I am so pleased when I awake to find that they hadn't really...

  18. Meri: What a wonderful example of a dream reminding one that there are resources available. Great, too, that you were able to decipher and benefit from the unique communication.

  19. Linda Sue: Yes, dream are so vivid and real - when we are 'in' them - and it is sometimes a relief to awaken. Often, once you are able to decipher the dream's meaning, it stops using the symbolism ... and you can gain 'relief' that way.

  20. Very interesting post..As for me recently I am running on my dreams. I am not being chased or chasing somebody, just running really hard..Circumstances changes but running not...But the good thing is as I feel pleased with myself while running.. The thing is I dont like running in real life..

  21. Turquoise Diaries: You highlight an important point: It is important to notice the feeling we experience during the dream and upon awakening. Noticing that you feel pleased while running in your dream will help you greatly if you choose to interpret what the dream might mean.

  22. Your photograph speaks volumes-- the unknown, the loneliness, then again mystery. All poignant.

  23. I haven't remembered dreams much lately, though just the other night, my camera was broken in one.

    My recurring "stress" dream is similar to missing the first day of school: I realize I have to take final exams, and I have gone to none of my classes all term. Another like that is that I am a waitress again, and I have to wait on the entire dining room full of people by myself.

    I have also had the dream many times of teeth falling out! I thought it had something to do with the anxiety I went through starting with a car accident in college, and the ensuing caps I had to get on my teeth, a bad experience with a very old and out-of-it dentist. (Thankfully, his handiwork has been replaced in my mouth.) But next time I have this dream, I'll take note of the words in the dream and see if my life is too harried! Thanks for that.

    Fascinating post.

  24. I am one of those who does not remember my dreams. But one I do remember is after my very large dog died, I did have a dream that someone was in my house, actually in my bedroom as I slept. I awoke in my dream terrified. I awoke for real feeling the same terror and couldn't shake it for some time.

    I relied on that dog for a feeling of security, I was alone for the week and I know I was missing my security blanket. I have gotten over it, but I was feeling vulnerable without him.

  25. Bonnie, I meant to say before that I find the image very beautiful, just stunning. It's maybe my favorite of yours so far.

  26. L.W. I'm glad that comes through the image. We've all been in that place at one time or another. Thanks.

  27. Hi Ruth: I have had that dream too - where I have not attended the required classes to write an exam or graduate - which is very unlike what my conscious, conditionned self would do.

    I'm glad you enjoyed the post, and thank you for your feedback about the image.

  28. Sandra: Yes, our unconscious does register and alert us to the consequences of such losses - sometimes in an all to vivid way!

  29. I rarely remember dreaming but I had one a week or so ago which really threw me for a loop.

    I had become aware of a car which pulled up in my driveway and I felt as if I was in danger. As I watched through the glass, I saw that it was actually a police van. I relaxed. Then I realized it was a military police van and my anxiety rose to a full panic as I realized what was happening. The two officers got out of the van and one of them pulled a folded uniform - my son's - from the back seat and headed to my front door.

    I woke up with my heart pounding as in the dream I screamed that this was (literally) my worst nightmare.

    My son is indeed in the military but is safely on course just a few hours drive from home. Even so, that was/is my absolute worst nightmare.

  30. Hi Hilary: Dreams that highlight our deepest fears are terrifying. Hope you bask in the warmth of your sons' presence over the holidays while knowing that they are safe and sound.

  31. I wonder if you will see this post. I have been having a lot of dreams on the same theme for a while. It is a lot like "Missing the First Day of School" dream. I am always in a maze, often a house or hotel or work place. The setting is often very beautiful. I feel some fun and excitement but I am always trying to take care of something or someone or accomplish a task and I run into one setback after another. The common theme is always the maze of rooms. In one dream I was back at my old work place and trying to find the parking lot where my car is parked but the place is much bigger than before. In one dream I got on a huge elevator that started going up hundreds of floors at lightening speed. The working dreams make me think that I miss working now that I am retired and don't feel competent any more to return to that world. Any comments?


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