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Dream Interpretation – Example Two
When we sleep and dream we enter a completely different realm of experience than when we are awake. It would be foolish to try to breathe under water in the physical world, but in dreams this is not only possible but lots of dreamers do it. In dreams we can fly. We can make love to men or women as we please, without fear of social or physical consequences. While dreaming we can die over and over. The dead can be reborn, and the world around us can be changed simply by changing our attitude. A monster pursuing us one moment can in an instant become a warm friend because we changed our fear to love.
In the world of dreams our most intimate fears and longings are given an exterior life of their own in the form of the people, objects and places of our dream. Therefore our sexual drive may be shown as a person and how we relate to them; or given shape and colour as an object; or given mood as a scene. Our feeling of ambition might thus be portrayed as a business person in our dream – our changing emotions as the sea or a river; while the present relationship we have with our ambition or emotions is expressed in the events or plot of the dream.
A dream portrays a part of us, such as our ambition, as being exterior to us, because a thought or an emotion is something we experience, not something we are. By showing our urges or fears as people or places exterior to us, our dreams are able to portray the strange fact that while, for instance, the love we have for another person is intimately our own, we may find such a feeling difficult to bear, as when one is married and falls in love with someone else. While we dream, the subtleties of such dilemmas are given dramatic form. To observe our dilemma as if we were watching it as a play, has very real advantages. The different factors of our situation, such as our feelings for our marriage partner, our love of the new person, and social pressures such as our family’s reactions, might all be shown as different people or things in the dream.
We can therefore not only experience these as separate from our central self, but we define in the dream’s action how we relate to them. Most important, we can EXPLORE SAFELY the possible ways of living within, or changing the factors involved.
The two following dreams illustrate how dreams exteriorise your feelings or parts of you.
Years ago I lost my first husband at twenty nine. I had the same dream continually of being in a phone box trying to contact him, not understanding why he had left me. He died of cancer. Later I remarried and this husband died of a heart attack. Once again the same dream came back so much.
The woman’s desire to be with him continues year after year. This same part of her cannot understand why he died. We might put such feelings into words as, ‘But what had he done to die so young? Why should it happen to me twice?’ We can also assume that her desire to understand these questions, which is what contacting her husband represents, is expressed in the dream as the telephone. The dream process has dramatised her situation and inner feelings – given them form and made them experiential. Looking at this dream helps us see how an image, such as the telephone, performs exactly the same sort of function as a spoken word, although in a different way. Namely, it puts such feelings and thoughts ouside’ her where she can look at them more clearly. That the woman’s questions remain, that her problem is unsolved, is apparent from the fact she does NOT make contact on the telephone, and does not find peace. Understanding her dream shows her the importance of the questions she continually asks herself, and the need to release the emotions behind them. With this she could be free of the dream.
In the following dream there is no need for analysis. The word analysis suggests giving our own thoughts or opinions to the dream. However, processing the dream as describe in Dream Processing and Peer Dream Group, is a way of extraction information which leads to insight. With this particular dream, all it needs is a few facts brought to it to make clear what information it holds. The dream is that of a young woman, Mrs C. L.
It is a bright sunny day. I am walking across a large concrete car park. It is empty except for a huge trailer from a truck. It has BOOTS written on the side, and stands high off the ground. Being 4’ 9’ tall myself I decide to walk underneath. As I am half way the trailer starts to be lowered on top of me. I try to shout but cannot. I get onto my hands and knees and the trailer still kept coming down. I am now lying on my stomach, convinced it is going to crush me. Then it suddenly stops a couple of inches from my head. I wake feeling terrible.
The dream is interesting, although the information it holds may at first not be obvious. But with a minimum of processing the dream information will become clear. The first technique of processing the dream is to recognise some of the key words within it. These are I AM WALKING – I TRY TO SHOUT – CONVINCED IT IS GOING TO CRUSH ME. The reason these are key statements is because the dreamer is saying ‘I am walking’ – ‘I try to shout’ – ‘I …am convinced’. See Key Words.
This form of processing has not added anything to the dream. It has simply drawn attention to the information already there in the dreamer’s description of her experience – this is why it is useful to write the dream out fully. If we add a little more information which the dreamer herself connects with the dream, then it becomes even clearer. Mrs C. L. says, ‘I work for BOOTS the chemist. The employees at the shop I work in were told at the beginning of the year that Boots are selling our shop. When that happens I will be made redundant. We were supposed to finish on May 26th. It is now the end of July. The deal fell through so we are now just left hanging indefinitely until a new buyer comes along. I feel very unsettled as I can’t make any plans for the future.’
Having read these comments, it would be difficult not to see the dream as relating to the woman’s work situation, and to her strong anxiety connected with it. She herself says – through her dream – she is ‘convinced it – the situation – is going to crush’ her. She also feels her strong emotions about this – expressed in her attempt to shout – are not being expressed or ‘heard’. From just this one dream, we can be forgiven if we assume that dreams may express in dramatic form our feeling reaction to the circumstances of our everyday life. Taking this dream as information, Mrs. C. L. could see she is feeling crushed by the situation, yet not stating her feelings loudly enough to be heard. She might therefore speak to the manager to clarify the situation for herself.
This exteriorisation of internal feelings is clear in the above dreams. Dreams might do this because they frequently portray intimate parts of ourselves which have never been made fully conscious or verbalised. Put in another way, because some parts of our feelings may never have been consciously felt or recognised, they cannot be grasped by us as a thinking or perceiving being. We cannot see them with our eyes, touch them with fingers, or smell them, let alone think about them. After all, they are unknown and formless. But a dream can portray what has not yet been put into words or organised into conscious thought by portraying it in images and drama. Being able to ‘think’ in story form, about subtle areas of our experience, is a great additional faculty when added to our other modes of gaining information and insight. In this way dreams are able to bring to our notice, areas of our being which might otherwise never be known. The dream is thus another SENSE ORGAN, looking into areas we might not have any other way of examining.