Settings In Dreams

The environment in which the action of the dream takes place signifies the background of experience or circumstances that support the situation dealt with in the foreground.

A helpful way of defining this is to give it a name, such a name such as one does with dream people. You do this by trying to sense what your main feelings are about regarding the place, or what happened to you there, and how that left you feeling. You might have felt a lot of conflict in a certain town or while living in a particular road. So you could call that ‘My conflicts’. Or a place may be linked with a loving relationship, so could be called ‘My ability to Love’.

Example: I was near a lake in the countryside. Everything was frozen. I saw some horse droppings still steaming and this seemed to be the only living thing around. Kevin K.

Kevin’s comments on this are that the frozen lake and countryside express his feelings about the world around him. He sees it as cold and uninviting. It is frozen and there is no life in it for him. That is, he cannot find anything in life to excite him or have meaning. The horse dung he realised is the resources he can use to change his life. The dung can be manure or food for growth, or fuel to burn for energy and heat. This made him feel as if there is a way to transform his old unsatisfying patterns of ‘frozen’ emotions into something growing and satisfying.

So Kevin’s dream setting illustrates his view of the world – that it is a cold uninviting place. So it is the feeling state he lives within most of the time.

Example: ‘I was in a crowd around a church.’ Efrosyni G.

If we looked at the rest of Efrosyni’s dream we might lose the impact of this very first ‘scene setting’ statement. If we look up crowd, we find under, Talking to, leading, or part of crowd at a central event: ‘An impulse or idea that unifies many parts of ones own nature.’ So here is something which Efrosyni is deeply interested in. Many of her feelings are involved in it. Looking up church we find, ‘Religious feeling or beliefs, including moral code, or our feelings about organised religion.’ So it is against Efrosyni’s religious beliefs the rest of the dream drama unfolds.

Example: ‘I was in a house with old clothes and was washing up.’ Mrs P.R.

The entry on house says it is P’s everyday feeling state, her general image of herself. The old clothes are a sense of being old or unattractive. Washing up suggests she feels there are things to clear up concerning what is happening in her life. But it also suggests she sees herself as unexciting. Having clarified that – she feels old and uninteresting, and this needs to be cleaned up or dealt with – the very next part of the dream explodes into view with meaning. ‘My daughter’s husband to be came in. I admired the way he dressed and he turned his back on me.’ At the end of her dream P feels ‘lost and rejected.’ By clarifying the opening scene, it seems likely P looks at her daughter in her new romance – P being 50, a divorcee, and at the tail end of a ‘whirlwind romance’ – and feels jealous. Maybe she even hopes to attract her daughter’s man away from her, but he indicates there is no hope. Basically, after her romance, P feels unwanted and rejected. The helpfulness of the dream however, is that the first scene shows P. the sort of feelings about herself she is living in daily – feelings of being old and uninteresting. Shifting those feelings can change the way others react to her. See: The series of dreams used to explain active imagination.

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