A dream is like a movie during sleep. Dreams can be defined as a series of thoughts, images, and sensations occurring in a person’s mind during sleep. Pioneers in the field of psychology have extensively done a lot of research on the meaning of dreams and have carried out various studies trying to understand dreams- their purpose and importance. There are a lot of books, journals, articles, and encyclopedias that claim to help people decode their dream meanings and help them identify what dream themes mean and what symbols they hold.
The Interpretation Of Dreams
Sigmund Freud, regarded as one of the greatest neurologists to have walked the Earth is the founder of psychoanalysis, a popular theory which holds ground that one’s unconscious mind plays a very important role in explaining human behavior and that the unconscious, is a storehouse of all repressed thoughts and emotions of a person. Freud’s theories remain controversial to date; nonetheless, his contribution to the field of psychology is insurmountable.
Freud emphasized the importance and meaning of dreams and considered dreams to be the royal road to the unconscious. He believed that dreams represented repressed wishes and desires. Freud was of the opinion that studying dreams would provide an insightful tool in understanding the unconscious activities of the mind.
He stated that dreams have two parts: a manifest content, which is the actual subject matter (storyline) of the dream, and a latent content, which is the underlying hidden meaning of the dream.
Freud’s book- ‘The Interpretation Of Dreams’, comprises dream research based on Freud’s personal experiences and that of his clients, remains popular to date, as Freud uses innovative methods to analyze and interpret the meaning of dreams and their themes.
Dream interpretation has gained a lot of popularity over the years and many psychologists, who use a psychoanalytic approach in therapy, focus on what their clients’ dreams mean.
Do Dreams really weave a meaning?
Many scientists believe that dreams are a result of random brain activity while sleeping and have considered dreaming to be an unintended consequence of sleep, ‘a byproduct of evolution without benefit’.
The scientists reckon that dreaming can oftentimes be random based on random events and the dreamer would hardly remember 5-10% of what he dreamt after he woke up. Which in its true sense implies that the majority portion of the dream would be forgotten the following day and the remainder would involve the vivid part of the dream. So, do dreams really weave a meaning then?
Hey of course they mean something
A lot of studies have also shown that many people believe that their dreams hold meaning and are not utterly useless or random. Research suggests that every individual has about 90 minutes- 2 hours of dreams each night and that dreams usually occur during REM (Rapid Eye movement) stage of sleep, however, they may occur during any stage of sleep but it is the REM stage of sleep when the dreams are more frequent and vivid.
Dreams have a universal language and some dream themes are common across gender, race, color, etc. and hold some common symbols and dream meanings. Some research also suggests that many mammals also dream.
Whether dreams hold meaning or not, it definitely holds a certain level of truth, as one dreams mostly about day to day events, people they meet, and places they visit. Anxiety, fear, excitement, and individual experiences can also show up in their dreams and reflect their inner state.
7 Common Dreams And Dream Meanings
Let us look at some common dream themes which people all across the globe have and what these mean- Dream Meanings
1. Dreams about losing teeth
Penny Peirce, the author of Dream Dictionary for Dummies, suggests that dreaming about losing teeth could mean that one is losing power, courage, or grasp on a situation. It could also mean one is concerned about their appearance and self-worth. It may also indicate a person’s denial of reality. Freud believed that the dreams about losing teeth could bring about feelings of powerlessness in a person.
2. Dreams about being naked in public
This is a very common dream theme and it is not very unusual for people to dream about being naked in public. Clothing represents protection, and dreaming of one being naked in the presence of others could indicate that one feels vulnerable or a victim of ridicule and shame.
3. Dreams about falling
Dreams about falling from a great height could indicate an unconscious need to stay alert. It also could indicate insecurities, anxieties and a feeling of being out of control.
4. Dreams about being chased
Dreams about being chased by a known or an unknown attacker can be terrifying, however, this dream theme is very common. Dream interpreters suggest that such dreams mean that one is trying to avoid something in their life. Tony Crisp, author of Dream Dictionary, suggests that being chased in a dream might indicate a desire to escape from one’s fears or desires.
5. Dreams about dying
Dreams about death of a loved one or of oneself can be quite terrifying and concerning. Dream research and interpretation suggests that such dreams reflect anxiety about change.
Sumber, an author and psychotherapist, suggests that dreams about death indicate an ending of a job, relationship or any phase. Death dream themes, whether of oneself or of a loved one, can have multiple meanings.
6. Dreams about taking a test
Studies have found that dreams of this theme may indicate an underlying fear of failure. Examinations can be a stressful experience for many people, in which one faces challenges and hurdles, which is why many individuals dream about failing an exam, being late for one, or being unprepared.
7. Dreams about infidelity
Dreaming about being cheated on by a romantic partner or spouse can be a very harrowing experience. Dreams of such nature do not indicate that one’s partner is cheating on them, but could possibly indicate one’s trust or insecurity issues. It could also indicate one’s fear of abandonment.
It is interesting to note that people widely across dream about the above dream themes and even more interesting to note what these dreams could possibly mean. Again, the above-mentioned dreams and their underlying dream meanings are not facts or truth; however, extensive dream research and interpretations have quantified these to be possible underlying dream meanings.
To make more sense of one’s dream
1. Dream record or journal
One can keep a dream record or journal and record their dreams. They can highlight frequent dream themes and their nature.
2. Talk to someone about your dreams
especially if it is a recurring dream theme.
3. Trained Psychologist or Professional
You can talk to a trained psychologist or an expert in the dream interpretation field, to make sense of your recurring dreams.
Dreams are not facts or realities. They can be an insightful tool and be reflected upon, however, assuming that one’s dream is the truth and guides their future actions should be avoided.