What Does Your Dream Mean Part II
Emotional State and Dreams
Exploring one's emotional state through dream has been an ongoing experience since primal times. Human history has documented how beliefs and perspectives on dream and dreaming has evolved over time. Cultures throughout the world interpret dreams differently and have placed varying degrees of significance to the meanings of dreams and their impact on their daily lives. Wikipedia defines dream as a succession of images, thoughts, sounds, or emotions passing through the mind during sleep.
Dream analysis is the act of assigning meaning to dream. Understanding our dreams hold much intrigue and fascination for many people, from as early as 3000-4000 BC. Greek and Roman era related dreams to emotional and spirituality. Christians, such as St. Augustine and St. Jerome, claimed that the direction of their lives was dramatically affected by dreams that they had. Other religions, such as Islam, believed in the significance dreams had to offer our lives. Mohammad "received" much of the text of the Koran from a dream he had, as well as interpreting dreams of his disciples. Middle Eastern dreamers, such as Gabdorrhachamn was the earliest and most well-known of the Arabic dream interpreters. He was a strong believer in that dreams were prophetic and could only be interpreted by a person with "a clean spirit, chaste morals, and the Word of Truth." Alfred Adler (1870 -1937) believes that dreams are an important tool to mastering control over your waking lives. They are problem-solving devices. Alfred Maury, a French doctor believes that external stimuli are the catalyst to all of our dreams.
Modern Dream Theorists
Sigmund Freud (1856-1939) revolutionized the study of dreams with The Interpretation Of Dreams. Freud begins to analyze dreams in order to understand aspects of personality as they relate to pathology. He believes that in order to live in a civilized society, we have a tendency to hold back our urges and repress our impulses. However, these urges and impulses must be released in some way; they have a way of coming to the surface in disguised forms, such as through our dreams.
Carl Jung, (1875-1960) was a student of Freud, his views differ from his teacher as Jung sees dreams are a way of communicating and acquainting yourself with the unconscious. Dreams are not attempts to conceal your true feelings from the waking mind, but rather they are a window to your unconscious. They serve to guide the waking self to achieve wholeness and offer a solution to a problem you are facing in your waking life.
Frederick Perls (1893-1970) believes that dreams contain the rejected, disowned parts of the Self. Perls rejects the notion that dreams are part of a universal symbolic language. He believes that each dream is unique to the individual who dreams it.
Calvin S. Hall, 1953, developed a theory of dreams in which dreaming is considered to be a cognitive process. Hall argued that a dream was simply a thought or sequence of thoughts that occurred during sleep, and that dream images are visual representations of personal conceptions.
Hobson & McCarley, 1977, said that dreaming is the result of random impulses coming from the brain stem. Using an EEG machine, Hobson & McCarley were able to track the regular REM states of people during sleep. They used this data to form a predictable mathematical model and conclude that dreaming is a freak physiological (bodily) occurrence - rather than a psychological function.
Cultures and Dreaming
Chinese Perspective: The first recorded information about dreams can be found in the Yellow Emperor’s Classic of Internal Medicine, a Chinese manuscript that talks about the relationship between dreams and illness. Chinese believe your soul leaves your body for the dream world. If awakened too suddenly, they fear the soul might not return to the body. Duke of Zhou is often referred to as the god of dreams with zhou gong meaning sleep.
People of African Descent: Many people of African descent believe that their dreams serve as a sort of life road map intended to prevent and reveal certain occurrences or to decipher what is not completely understood in the conscious state. According to Jermaine Archer, Ph.D., One mode of remembrance of African cultural and spiritual practices within the slave milieu was through the symbolism of dreams. Major Arthur Glen Leonard, Southern Nigerian writer, found that the dreaming of a snake meant that one’s enemies were seeking to cause tremendous harm and quite possibly death to the dreamer.
Muslims Perspective: Within the world of Islam, dreams and visions have often served the purpose of linking the mysterious space that separates man from God. Dreams and visions may provide a unique way for Muslims to seek out future decisions, seek out the relevance of present conditions, and ultimately, seek out truth. Dreams and visions have historically served a major role, for example, the naming of a child.
Some Common Dreams Connection to Emotion
Many people have this dream of being out in public without their clothes. It symbolizes one's vulnerabilities. Freud would relate it to one's sexual desires that maybe suppressed. It fulfills an exhibitionist wish. Jung would argue that the subconscious mind is processing a shameful situation that was experienced in your wakeful life. According to DreamMoods.com, realization of one's nakedness in public, reflects their vulnerability or feelings of shamefulness. They may be hiding something and are afraid that others can see right through you. Perhaps a new work environment or a new relationship. You may be expressing fears or apprehension in revealing your true feelings in such situations. If you dream that you are proud of your nakedness and show no embarrassment or shame, then it symbolizes your unrestricted freedom. You have nothing to hide and are proud of who you are.
The commonality here is one of vulnerability or shamefulness. while Freud would relate nakedness to a suppressed sexual desire, Jung to some degree may be arguing that the dreamer may have suppressed the shameful experience, which then showed up in his dream as his subconscious. Both are agreeing that emotion is suppressed, and as a result showed up in the dream.
Teeth Falling Out
As a child, I remember family members saying that having a dream where your teeth was falling out was a bad omen; it usually meant that a family member or close friend is going to die. The type of tooth that is missing, will determine the relation or closeness of the person who will pass. For instance, if you lose an incisor tooth, then a sibling may pass away; losing a canine tooth means losing a parent or a grandparent or a guardian. As a child,this was a scaring dream to have as no one wants to loose a loved one.
According to dreammoods.com, dreams about your teeth reflect your anxiety about your appearance and how others perceive you. They argue that since our teeth as such important factor in our beauty, dreams about your teeth reflect your anxiety about your appearance and how others perceive you. It is also believed that falling teeth dream may be rooted in your fear of being embarrassed or making a fool of yourself in some specific situation. The loss of teeth in your dream may be from a sense of powerlessness or lack of being heard. According to the Chinese, there is a saying that your teeth will fall out if your are telling lies.
The commonality here is anxiety. What is the dreamer anxious about? The context of the dream, such as other themes in the dream would help to determine what is the root cause of the anxiety. In many cultures the lost of a loved one is the cause of the most anxiety, therefore it is reasonable to understand why the interpretation was derived.
Taking the Test Dreams
I didn't realize that the dreams about missing an examination or becoming blank during a test; unable to recall any information were common dreams that most people have at some time or another. I had several variances to this dream theme over the years while attending high school and university. I was so traumatized by one dream in which I suddenly became blank; that I almost made myself sick from worrying about the dream being reality. If anything, that dream motivated me to put more efforts in my study.
Dreammoods.com reports that to dream that you are taking an exam, indicates that you are being put to the test or being scrutinized in some way. They propose that such dreams highlight your feelings of being anxious and agitated. Globeoneness posits that because our lives are so busy; in a time driven society, we constantly worry that we might forget something important. Our dreams about missing an examination expresses the nagging fear that we may not get everything done in the time given. Our anxiety about appearing competent to others is fragile and often assaulted in dreams.
The commonality for this dream is the emotion of fear. The fear that one may not live up to the standard of others is a dominant feelings in some people. This fear is manifested in their actions, whether conscious or subconscious. As a student, I constantly worry about not doing as well as my last test. With that much pressure on myself, it is no wonder that I had dreams of missing my examination or blanking out during one.
Current Dream-related Research
Some current dream-related research includes: learning during sleep, gender differences in dream content, drugs and effects on dreaming, sleep deprivation and effects on dreaming, the healing properties of dreams, depression and effects on REM, emotions and effects on dreaming, and non-REM dreaming.
In the latest research, it has been shown that women in menopause have frequent dreams about teeth. This may be related to getting older and/or feeling unattractive and less feminine.
Our dreams can be opportunities to learn something about our emotions that the conscious mind has not fully explored. Our subconscious mind stores valuable insights into our feelings and offers us insightful perspectives on lives challenges in order to facilitate a fuller life.
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