Dreamer – The

What we are doing in our dreams is an expression of how we see ourselves at the time of the dream, our stance or attitude to life, or what could be generalised as our self image. It typifies what aspects of our character we identify with most strongly. To define what self image is portrayed in your dreams, consider just what situation you have created for yourself in the dream, and what environment and people you are with.

Example: ‘My husband and I are at some sort of social club. The people there are ex-workmates of mine and I am having a wonderful time and am very popular. My husband is enjoying my enjoyment.’ Quoted from article by the author in She magazine.

The dreamer in the above example describes herself as ‘a mature 41-year old.’ The dream, and her description of it, sum up her image of herself in just a few words. She sees herself as attractive, sociable, liked, happily married. She is probably good looking and healthy. But the dream carries on. She and her husband ‘are travelling down a country lane in an open horse drawn carriage. It is very dark and is in the area we used to live. We come to a hump -backed bridge, and as we arrive at the brow of the bridge a voice says, ‘Fair lady, come to me.’ My body is suddenly lying flat and starts to rise. I float and everything is black, warm and peaceful. Then great fear comes over me and I cry out my husband’s name over and over. I get colder and slip in and out of the blackness. I wake. Even with the light on I feel the presence of great evil.’

From a very positive sense of self, she has moved to a feeling which horrifies her. How can such a confident, socially capable woman, one who has succeeded professionally as well as in her marriage, meet such feelings? The answer probably lies in the statement of her age. At 41 she is facing the menopause and great physical change. The image of herself she has lived with depended, or developed out of, having a firm sexually attractive body, and being capable of having children. Losing whatever it is that makes one sexually desirable must change the image others have of one, and that one has of oneself. The hump of the bridge represent this peak of her life, from whence she will start to go downhill towards death – certainly toward retirement. So she is facing a mid life crisis in which a new image of herself will need to be forged.

Example: ‘I am a shy 16 year old and am worried about my dream. In it I am walking along the school’s main corridor. I try to cover myself with my hands as a few people go by, not noticing me. Then a group of boys pass, pointing and laughing at me – one boy I used to fancy. A teacher then gives me clothes. They are too big but I wear them because I have nothing else.’ H. M.

Adolescence is a time of great change anyway, when a lot is developing as far as self image is concerned. Her nakedness shows how vulnerable she feels, and how she has a fear that other people must be able to see her developing sexuality and womanhood. It is new to her and still embarrassing, particularly with boys she feels something for. She tries to cover up her feelings, and uses attitudes she has learned from parents and teachers – but these are not suitable. So we might summarise by saying that the situation she places herself in within the dream shows her present uncertainty and sense of needing clothes – attitudes or confidence – of her own.

Our current ‘self image’ is displayed by what we do in our dreams. If we are the active and central character in our dreams, then we have a positive, confident image of ourselves. The role we place ourselves in is also the one we feel at home with, or one which is habitual to us. If we are constantly a victim in our dreams, we need to consider whether we are living such a role in everyday life. Dreams may help us look at our self image from a more detached viewpoint. We can look back on what we do in a dream more easily than we can on our everyday waking behaviour. This helps us understand our attitudes or stance, a very growth promoting experience. It is important to understand the viewpoint of the other dream characters also. Although they depict views not habitual to us, they enlarge us through acquaintance. See: identity and dreams; Have a dialogue between two characters or objects.

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