Dream Interpretation

Understanding your dreams

What is dream interpretation?

Simply put, it is the term that refers to the many different methods people have developed for centuries in order to make sense of the feelings, thoughts and images they experience when they are asleep. It is known that people dream when they enter a phase of sleep that is connected to rapid eye movement although the exact function of dreams – in evolutionary terms – has never been fully established. Given that nearly every person has experienced some strange and even surreal dreams, the desire to make sense of them in some way is understandable. This is what dream interpretation offers. Many people agree that dream interpretation allows them to ascribe certain meanings to their dream states even if none can be fully established beyond doubt.

 What did dream interpretation mean to past cultures?

Dream interpretation is known to have gone on for millennia. It is mentioned in some Sumerian texts, for example, meaning that it goes back to 3000 BCE, at least. In ancient Egypt, it is known that certain priestly functions were associated with dream interpretation. Ancient Greeks also built some of their divine culture based on the way they 'incubated' dreams. In later times, working out what dreams may mean has been the focus of interest among several Islamic scholars as well as the subject of some 16th-century texts in China. In Europe, Sir Thomas Browne, a 17th-century physician, was among the first thinkers to publish scholarly works about dreams.

How does dream interpretation inform psychology?

It was only when the founder of psychoanalysis, Sigmund Freud, first published his book, The Interpretation of Dreams, at the turn of the nineteenth century that widespread interest in dream interpretation took off. He argued that the subconscious was speaking to us in our dreams in order to play out wish fulfilment, something that may not always be direct or obvious according to the nature of the dream. His famous colleague, Carl Jung, developed and refined these ideas to an extent, arguing that dream interpretation should be more focussed on a wider range of mental complexes which spoke of a dialogue between the self and the ego.

How can you perform your own dream interpretation?

There are numerous books which will offer techniques and guidance on how to interpret dreams that you can follow. However, these only have any worth if you have paid attention to your dreams in the first place, looking and listening out for little details that will help to contextualise them. Therefore, it is important to record your dream in some way as soon as you wake up, or these details will tend to get forgotten.

What does dream interpretation say about not being able to move?

This is one of the most common questions put by people who want to understand their dreams. Although interpretations may vary according to small details and contexts, the inability to move in a dream is usually a sign of your subconscious worrying about a lack of control in one or more aspects of your life. Limited mobility is generally interpreted in the same way.

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