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Dream Analysis and Interpretation Are Imperfect Sciences
Understanding the deeper meaning of dreams can bring about realizations about how you feel and think, which can be beneficial for providing personal insight.
Analyzing dream symbols and ascribing meaning to them has become a source of both entertainment and self-reflection in popular culture.
What your dreams tell you and whether they reveal your true feelings depends on various factors. While some modern theories of dreams suggest that the answer is no—that dreams may have a more biological component or even be due to sleep position—this hasn't stopped interpreters and analysts from attempting to identify what common dream themes and symbols mean.
Researchers have found that the most common dreams involve being attacked or chased, being late, loved ones dying, falling, flying, school, and sex.
Let's take a closer look at some of the most common dreams and what dream interpretation books have to say about them.
While there is a popular myth that if you hit the ground in your dream you will die in real life, it simply is not true. So what exactly could dreams about falling really mean?
Falling dreams may be a sign that something in your life isn't going well. It might suggest that you need to rethink a choice, for instance, or consider a new direction in some area of your life.
Falling may be an expression of a need to let yourself go more and enjoy life more.
Have you ever had one of those awkward dreams where you show up at school or the office in your birthday suit? Don't worry. Dreaming about being naked is hardly unusual.
Dreaming of public nudity might indicate that you feel like a phony or that you are afraid of revealing your imperfections and shortcomings.
Dreams about being chased may suggest that you are trying to avoid something in your daily life. It might indicate a desire to escape from your own fears or desires.
The key to understanding what such a dream might mean depends partly on the identity of your pursuer. If it is:
Dreaming about losing teeth can have multiple meanings.
It might mean that you are worried about your attractiveness or appearance. It may also indicate that you are concerned about your ability to communicate, or that you are concerned that you might have said something embarrassing.
The real essence of teeth is their ability to bite through, to cut, tear, and grind. If your teeth fall out, you lose personal power and your ability to be assertive, decisive, and self-protective.
Dreams about dying may reflect anxiety about change or a fear of the unknown.
Like death, change can be scary because—also like death—we do not know what is 'on the other side' of the change, which is why the dreaming mind may equate change with death.
Dreaming about the death of a loved one can reflect a similar fear of change, especially with regard to our children. As a child grows up, a parent's mind begins to wonder where the younger version of the child went.
Taking an exam in your dream might reveal an underlying fear of failure.
Examinations are stressful experiences in which you are made to face up to your shortcomings. To dream of failing an exam, being late for one, or being unprepared may show that you feel unprepared for the challenges of waking life.
While these dreams might be the reflection of fears of infidelity, such dreams probably don't mean that your spouse is cheating or will cheat.
Dreams about infidelity may indicate issues with trust, loyalty, and communication in a relationship. If you or your partner cheated in your dream, may mean that one of you isn't getting what you need from that relationship right now.
Flying dreams can be exciting and even liberating, but they can also sometimes be quite frightening (especially for those afraid of heights).
Dreams about flying often have two very different sides. They can represent feelings of freedom and independence. On the other hand, they can also indicate a desire to flee or escape from the realities of life.
Because flying often involves positive feelings of pleasure, flying may depict our sexuality…especially aspects of it expressing freedom from social norms and restraints.
Dream interpreters often suggest that dreams about pregnancy represent everything from creativity to fear. Pregnancy dreams might sometimes represent a woman's fears of being an inadequate mother.
Another take is that pregnancy dreams may indicate that the dreamer is developing some area of potential or deepening a relationship, or that these dreams presage difficult times.
There are other dream themes that tend to be fairly common. They include:
How do you analyze a dream? The first step is to write down everything you can remember as soon as you wake. Dreams are often quickly forgotten, so jotting down the details can help aid in recall. Next, look at the dream's contents and think about what it might mean in your life. What association do you have with the events of the dream? What kind of feelings did it evoke? In many cases, you may find that your dream reflects the events or concerns of your waking life.
Psychoanalyst Carl Jung believed that if you dream about someone close to you or someone who is important to you, that might represent how you feel about that person in real life; whereas if you dream about a person you are not close with (such as someone in your past) or an unknown person, that person is more symbolic.
Sigmund Freud suggested that the environment around the person you're dreaming about may matter as well, such as dreaming of your parents in places you would normally find a king and queen, which would be a sign of your respect for them.
There is no way to answer this question with any certainty as dream interpretations are both individual and subjective. They are individual in that the meaning of dreams for one person may not be the same for another. Dream interpretations are also subjective in that they are based on the meanings that you assign them, and these assigned meanings can also differ from one person to the next.
The self-organization theory of dreaming implies that dreams are a reflection of one's physiological and psychological activities, thus providing important information about the person's thoughts and emotional state. Psychoanalysts can then use the person's dreams to better understand what is going on in their mind, perhaps on an unconscious level.
Some researchers theorize that regular, recurring dreams represent being frustrated about psychological needs that are unmet. Recurring dreams are also common after experiencing a lot of mental distress, such as with post-traumatic stress disorder.
In some cases, having vivid or highly intense dreams is a result of major trauma.
Dreams that are vivid generally occur during REM sleep and could also be due to fragmented sleep, sleep deprivation, a sleep disorder, stress, pregnancy, or a medication you are taking.
“To understand the intricacies of life, study the antics of your dreams.”
-Michael Bassey Johnson , The Oneironaut’s Diary
“I am accustomed to sleep and in my dreams to imagine the same things that lunatics imagine when awake.”
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