Dreams have always fascinated people because they feel that something is happening to them over which they have no control. There have always been people who will try to interpret other people’s dreams. The fact is that dreams are made by the people who dream them. They are the only ones who know what they mean but they don’t consciously know.
I have been trying to interpret my own dreams for many years. When I got it right I always knew and when I got it wrong I also knew, because there are many aspects of ourselves that remain unconscious until we work on them. Sometimes we can get help from a psychotherapist or someone who knows you very well, but if you can, it is better to find out for yourselves. It is a worthwhile task because the better we know ourselves the more power we have over our lives, especially in decision-making.
Freud was very interested in dreams. Quite a few of his ideas turned out to be wrong later: in particular, wishful thinking. It appears that we don’t dream for what we want but for who we are.
Here is a short list of some characteristics of dreams:
Everyone in our dreams is ourself, just as when we are awake we see others through our own lenses.
Our dreams are directly related to what we unconsciously noticed the day before. We all do this when we talk with other people. We don’t just talk but also may have deep emotions brought about by the talk. Have you noticed that you react very differently to different people? How we are affected teaches us more about ourselves. Dreams can do this, but it is all in a coded form. The unconscious won’t give up its secrets so easily.
Time and places get distorted. I once had a dream just like a story, about me of course. When I woke up I remembered everything vividly and I felt as though a year had gone by. I gleaned rich material from that dream.
Violent and frightening dreams are not uncommon. When we remember that most of us are taught to be ‘good’ one way or another it is hardly surprising that we tend to push our anger and hatred underground.
Dreams set them free. We all need to accept every aspect of ourselves. We are less likely to behave badly and criticise others if we have acknowledged our own dark side.
One of Freud’s best findings was how humour works in dreams, especially puns. Here is a short story:
Arthur, a gay man and Jane, a straight woman, very quickly became very good friends. They went out together and spent hours talking about music and books. One day Arthur said to Jane “This must be hard for you because you are attracted to men ad I am not attracted to women.”
Jane felt angry. That night she had a dream:
They were having dinner out together. Arthur chose plaice. Jane said she would like plaice too. “No” said the waiter “There is no plaice for you here.” The message of this dream is unusually clear.