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Understanding Dream Meanings

Updated on June 4, 2012

Before one can understand what their dreams are trying to tell them, they first need to know the definition. Those who study dreams are known as oneirologist’s. It’s generally accepted by most researchers dreams are a series of images, ideas or emotions, occurring involuntarily during certain stages of sleep.

Dreams are unique to each individual. That’s because no two individuals have the same background, emotions or circumstances. Dreams connect us with our own reality and some believe we can learn much about ourselves if we could unravel their meaning. Many think we can and a plethora of books have been written on the subject.

There are those who say they find it difficult to recall their dreams or don’t have them at all. To remedy that, many have taken to keeping a diary of their dream experiences, keeping it on a night stand next to their bed. When awakening, they immediately write down any dream they may have had including as many details they can possibly recall. Details are important in determining what a dream represents and usually are disguised as something else. They actually are an extension of one self and can reveal a lot about subconscious feelings.

When in a dream state, the brain can access information not available while awake and may provide deep insights into how one perceives them self. Knowing this can be valuable in solving deep seated problems and help correct behavior.

However, interpreting a dream is not an exact science because of so many variables. Although individual dreams may be similar, there meanings can be entirely different. But interpreting dreams today has little resemblance to how they were viewed in antiquity.

According to historians, clay tablets have been found dating back to 3000-4000 B.C, shedding light on what people of the time thought about them. If they are accurate, societies were unable to separate the dream world from reality and saw the dream realm as a more powerful world. To them dreams were prophecies, warning signs, or messages from the spirit world. Actions of political and military leaders were frequently dictated by their dreams. Early medical practitioners also used them in diagnosing a patient.

However, by the early 1800s, dreams no longer held the same fascination. Most people casually dismissed them as being caused by anxiety, stress, or even indigestion. That is, until noted Sigmund Freud appeared in the later part of the century and revolutionized the study of dreams. There were other pioneers in the field such as Alfred Adler, Carl Jung and Frederick Perls. Carl Jung studied under Sigmund Freud, but eventually, their differing views clashed and each went their own way.

Most researchers generally agree, the meaning of a dream is conveyed by symbols or actions that can be confusing. In trying to analyze a dream it must be remembered no one but the individual is better qualified. Even the most trivial and minutest details of a dream are important. Each symbol, be it a character, object, place, color or number, can represent something from the unconscious world. However, there is no “one size fits all” definition, although there are dream dictionaries one can consult to obtain the most common symbols and meanings. But they should not be construed as being the only meaning.

There are dreams common to many, such as flying. Rarely does the dreamer experience a fear of heights or falling. Some say it symbolizes liberation from some problem that’s been weighing heavily on a person’s conscious.

Another common dream is falling or the sense of it and usually accompanied by anxiety. Most psychologists associate this with a loss of emotional stability or lack of self control. It may represent insecurity, lack of self-confidence, or fear of failure.

To get a lead on what a certain dream may mean, consult a dream dictionary. A good one can be accessed at:


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    • JY3502 profile imageAUTHOR

      John Young 

      6 years ago from Florence, South Carolina

      Thank you Pam. It is an interesting topic. People are fascinated by it.

    • Pamela99 profile image

      Pamela Oglesby 

      6 years ago from Sunny Florida

      I go through stages where I remember many of my dreams and other times I don't remember them at all. Often they don't make much sense but every once in a while, one will fit right in with what is happening in my life. This is an interesting topic and I enjoyed your hub.


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