Plot of the dream
In attempting to understand our dreams, it is important to honour their drama or plot. Dreams appear to be very specific in the way they use the characters, objects and environs occurring in them.
Example: ‘I was walking up a steep hill on a sunny day when my husband came running down the hill with blood pouring from his right arm. He couldn’t stop running. As he passed me he called to me for help. I was happy and peaceful and ignored him. I calmly watched him running fast down the hill then continued on my way.’ Joyce C.
Out of the infinite number of situations Joyce could have dreamt about, this was the one produced. Why? There are many factors that appear to determine what we dream. How events of the day influenced us; what stage of personal growth we are meeting – we might be in the stage of struggling for independence; problems being met; relationship situations; past business such as childhood traumas still to be integrated; are some of them.
If Joyce had dreamt she and her husband were walking up the hill the whole message of the dream would have been different. If we can accept that dream images are, as Freud stated, a form of thinking, then the change in imagery would be a changed feeling state and concept. If the language of dreams is expressed in its images, then the meaning stated is specific to the imagery used.
In processing our dreams, it is therefore profitable to look at the plot to see what it suggests. It can be helpful to change the situation as we have done with Joyce’s. Imagining Joyce walking up the hill on a sunny day arm in arm with her husband suggests a happy relationship. This emphasises the situation of independence and lack of support for her husband that appears in the real dream. Seeing our dreams as if they were snatches from a film or play, and asking ourselves what feelings or human situations they depict, can aid us to clarify them. As a piece of drama, Joyce’s dream says she sees, but does not respond to her husband’s plight.
Our internal ‘dream producer’ has an amazing sense of the subtle meanings of movement, positioning, and relationship between the elements used. Some of these are subtle. A way of becoming more aware of what information our dreams contain is to use visualisation. Sit comfortably and imagine yourself back in the dream. Replay it just as it was. Remember the whole thing slowly, going through it again while awake. As you do so, be aware of what it feels like in each scene or event; what do the interactions suggest; what does it feel like in the other roles? We can even practice this with other people’s dreams. If we imagine ourselves in Joyce’s dream, and replay it just as she describes it, one may arrive at a feeling of detachment from the husband. If we stand in the husband’s role we may feel a great need that is not responded to as we go ‘down hill fast’. In this way we gather a great deal of ‘unspoken’ information from dreams.
Looking at our own dreams in this way can be more difficult, simply because we do not always want to see what is being said about ourselves. See: Techniques for Exploring your Dreams; settings; Secrets of Power Dreaming; Creating a New You