Dream interpretation has been part of human culture for thousands of years. We see it in ancient societies such as those of Israel, China and Egypt. People have traditionally thought of dreams as a means of seeing the future and/or communicating with God (or the gods). More recently, psychoanalytical theory has given us several newer ways of understanding our dreams.
Sigmund Freud was the first to develop dream theory in modern psychology. He believed that there are three parts to the conscious: the id, the ego and the superego. The id, being our primal, unreserved instincts, shows us our desires in our sleep. Because it usually tells us things that are morally disturbing, the superego, which wants us to be upstanding citizens, will disguise those desires in symbols. It doesn’t want us to experience a psychological crisis, so it tries to give us a misinterpretation of what the id tells us.
Carl Jung, a student of Freud, had a different notion of dreams. His theory was that there is a universal consciousness that we tap into when we dream. To support this, he pointed to certain symbols and character types that carry the same meaning throughout all cultures. The entire earth, he said, shares one psyche, and dreams are a way of being in tune with that.
Contemporary dream theories focus more on the individual. They ask questions like, “What do the things in your dreams mean to you?” and, “How do they relate to different areas of your own life?”
Say you have a dream about someone very close to you dying. You are devastated and you may even wake up in the middle of the night, depending on how horrible it is. Freud might say that your dream is actually your id expressing your desire to kill that person yourself while your superego is covering it up to make it more acceptable to you. Jung would say that you are just tapping into the universal notion of death. Other theorists would focus on what each part of the dream means to you on a personal level.
If you want to practice your own dream interpretation, keep a notebook and flashlight by your bedside and record your dreams each morning before you forget them. Try to remember as many details as possible because even the smallest things can be significant. Remember, dreams reflect the activity happening in your unconscious, so the more details you have, the more you will be able to learn from your dreams.
QUICK AND EASY DREAM
—Being Pursued/Attacked —
Usual meaning: You are feeling threatened by someone or by a strong emotion of your own. Occasionally your brain may be replaying an actual event in your own life.
–You are Injured, Ill or Dying–
Usual meanings: You feel emotionally hurt or damaged, or you fear becoming so. When another person dies in a dream, it may mean that you feel that a part of yourself represented by that person feels as if it were dead.
Usual meanings: Falling dreams often indicate that you feel as though you have no support. Drowning dreams often occur when you feel overwhelmed by having too much to do.
Usual meanings: You feel great, able to soar as high as you wish, you feel as though your possibilities are limitless and that you can transcend anything. Flying dreams can also be tied to spiritual aspirations.
Dressed in Public
Usual meanings: You feel exposed, vulnerable or awkward, or fear that you may have revealed too much of yourself. Many dreams about being inappropriately dressed occur when the dreamer is involved in a wedding ceremony in waking life.