- Mental Health
Do Your Dreams Mean Anything?
It is common to have strange dreams. Some dream of places they’ve never been to, people they haven’t met, and events that are strange. Some see their dreams come true while other dreams are so bizarre that they are quickly dismissed due to their unlikeliness. Some look at dreams as a window to the subconscious while others displace them as the mind’s imaginative detailing of what the consciousness sees. There is also the idea that dreams are due to fear and anxiety. Whatever the reason for dreams is, people are baffled as to what they could mean. But the bigger question is: do they really mean anything at all?
Different Definitions of Dreams
In psychology, there are different theories on why dreams happen and with each theory there is a different meaning that can be associated with a dream. Even outside of Psychology there are also different theories as to what they could signify and what their importance to one’s life is. Some say that it is just a collection of random images that the conscious mind has seen but may not have interpreted while others go for a different road, saying that dreams are the key to one’s hidden desires, dreams, and real thoughts. Dreams are so baffling to some that they seek the help of others in interpreting them. It doesn’t help in the theory that dreams are only random imagery, that there are dreams often shared by many and that some dreams recur throughout one’s life.
Common Dream Themes
Some theories look at dreams as proof that there is a shared subconscious which could either be giving the dreamer information about something that will happen or that happens to other people. The fact that different people can sometimes dream of similar things seems to strengthen this theory. However, even with the presence of common themes in dreams, the interpretation still varies depending on the unique circumstances. Some common dream themes are:
- Being naked – Most dream interpretations relate being naked to being “exposed,” and the circumstances in the dream change its meaning: being naked in public and trying to hide it apparently means you are trying to hide something; being naked without anyone noticing could signify that one is comfortable with himself.
- Falling – Many people experience falling in a dream and it is likened to insecurities and anxieties. A dream where you are falling could mean that something is out of control in your life and you can’t stop it.
- Being chased – Some interpreters look at dreams where the dreamer is being chased as running away from problems. Interpretations would depend on who is chasing the dreamer which could give an idea of what the problem is.
- Taking an exam – Taking an exam, not remembering that you have an exam, not being able to find your room for an exam, or a pen not working during an exam are interpreted as you feeling like you are being scrutinized for something.
- Flying – One common interpretation of flying in a dream is that you are in control of things in your life or that you have gained new knowledge or perspective about something. Having problems with your flight, however, could mean losing control or facing challenges you don’t feel you’re ready for.
- Running – Wanting to run but not being able to leave your location could be a symbolism for having too much on your plate or that you’re trying to do a lot at the same time and can’t get ahead of anything.
- Teeth falling out – Interpretations of this dream liken teeth to a sense of power or an ability to communicate, and with the teeth falling out, it could mean that you feel your power being lessened or that you are not speaking your mind. It can also be related to one’s insecurities about his appearance.
Throughout time, scientists and experts have tried to come up with a theory on why people dream and what their meanings could be. By trying to identify how the brain produces dreams and whether they symbolize something, experts aim to come up with a sound theory on what they mean. Some of the more popular dream theories are by:
- G. William Domhoff – With no concrete explanation of how or why people dream, some theorists consider dreams to serve no purpose. Domhoff is one to have such an idea, although he stipulates that dreams do have meaning in that it reveals something about the dreamer which can be as unique as a fingerprint. According to him, dreams are a reflection of the waking life of the dreamer. Domhoff also suggests that dreams can be forgotten without regret.
- Sigmund Freud – Freud’s book entitled “The Interpretation of Dreams” goes with the theory that dreams are associated with wish fulfillment and that the manifest content of a dream is the mind’s way of disguising the latent content. His theory divides dreams into four elements: condensation, displacement, symbolization, and secondary revision. According to him, dreams consist of different ideas and concepts that are expressed in a single dream through condensing them into a single image or thought. He also theorized that dreams hide the emotional or repressed ideas which are then reorganized into a more comprehensible thought resulting in a baffling, if not bizarre, reorganization that makes little to no sense.
- Carl Jung – Carl Jung theorized that dreams represent more than just repressed wishes and desires. He suggested the presence of a collective unconscious and that dreams represent underdeveloped parts of the psyche in the waking life. He also believed that interpreting dreams are personal and would require knowing the dreamer.
- Calvin S. Hall – According to Hall, the traits of a person in a dream is the same as those in waking life which disproved Jung’s theory of underdevelopment in the waking life. He also believed that dreams serve as conceptions of elements found in one’s personal life. Through analysing dream diaries from his study’s participants, he concluded that knowing the actions of the dreamer inside the dream, the objects and figures, setting, transitions, outcomes, and interactions within the dream can help interpret their meaning.
- Cartwright and Kaszniak – Cartwright and Kaszniak look at dream interpretation from a different angle, saying that interpreting the meaning of a dream gives more information about the interpreter and not the dream itself.
Meaningful or Meaningless?
The argument of whether dreams are meaningful or meaningless continues, and more experts on the subject continue to come up with theories that either prove or disprove already existing ones. There seems to be no conclusion to the question in the near future. With this, can you assume that your dreams mean anything? The answer to this will remain subjective until scientists come up with conclusive proof of why and how people dream and what their relation to the waking life is. In the meantime, a person is free to believe in dream interpretations and a particular dream theory. What one must remember is that the belief in something is already enough to make them come true. For things open to various interpretations such as dreams, once you have set your mind for it to mean one thing, you will soon notice it being relevant in your life.
Whether or not dreams have meanings, it is testament to how complicated the brain is. Some people will have very uncommon dreams while others could have simple ones. Until the matter is resolved for good, a person could dismiss dreams or seek their meaning. In the end, if knowing a dream’s possible meaning makes you feel at ease, then so be it.