Interpretation Of Dreams – Some Factors That Are Involved

The Dream Mystery Explored

 The method of interpretation dealt with in the last chapter is basic to all dream analysis as currently known. It can be summed up as remembering the dream; recording of dream; listing of symbols; and association of ideas. It was also seen that symbols must be interpreted in their right context, or can even be understood because of that context; which is rather like arriving at the meaning of an unknown word because of the way it is used in a sentence. Several other things were mentioned or hinted at while the dreams were being analysed. Some of these are so important or helpful, that they will now be further explained.

Main Phases Of The Dream

If we look at the structure of the last dream analysed, we see that it can be split into four main phases. These are (1) episode with the dwarf, (2) being saved by the couple and directed to London, (3) wandering, (4) the search for refreshment. In any long and difficult dream, especially where little or no associations or information have been forthcoming, it is worth breaking the dream into its phases. When this has been done, instead of associating ideas with the symbols, see whether the phases have any meaning. In the case of the last dream, we would have something like this:

(1) Episode with Dwarf I am captured and stripped. Do I feel imprisoned or restrained by anything? What has frightened me or uncovered phases of my life I wasn’t aware of or had kept covered or hidden before?

(2) Being saved by the couple and directed to London If I can find any sense of being imprisoned or captured, how did I deal with it? How did I ‘save’ myself from it? Having dealt with my restraint, what did the ideas or emotions I had used indicate I should do?

(3) Wandering Presumably, I could not accept this direction, and was left in a quandary, fearful of a possible blackness – depression. Is there any indication of this? Has there been a wandering or dithering over some decision?

(4) Search for Refreshment This suggests a need for some refreshing experience. A thirst for something – a hunger – but a doubt about the cost in effort. Has there been a desire for a ‘refreshing’ change – a hunger for something to satisfy my feelings? Is there a doubt about what we will have to sacrifice or give up in exchange?

It can be seen that dealing with the dream in this way is an enormous help in asking oneself the right questions. As previously suggested, when dealing with our own dreams, we have to be both patient and analyst. But not all dreams are as easily broken into the different parts. Some dreams cannot be segmented in this way, while others have far less phases. The next dream is an example of the latter.

‘I had gone to Sheila’s and Uncle Frank’s house at Spearing Road. They had promised I could have a room there, but I found all the rooms occupied and people were sleeping on the floor instead of in beds. Seeing there was no room I turned away and the next thing I knew I was in a train; it had rather luxurious blue leather seats but again was almost full. It contained, as far as I could see, all ladies, and I explained to them that I had been promised sleeping accommodation. Even while I was explaining this and expecting to occupy a length of three seats, I could see they had as much right there as I, and I took the single seat offered still protesting that we were promised sleeping room.

This dream can only be broken into two, or at the most, three parts. That is, the house, the train and possibly, accepting the seat. If this is set out as was the previous dream, we have a clearer idea what the dream is about.

The House – Searching for living space in a childhood setting. Found ‘no room’ – What have I been looking for in childhood attitudes? Was the ‘promise’ of childhood unfulfilled?

The Train – Exorbitant expectations, annoyance at the fact that these high expectations cannot be fulfilled. This in a setting of getting somewhere-train. Have my expectations in getting somewhere not been as great as hoped for?

The Single Seat – Grudging acceptance of practical offer. Can I see anything of this in real life?

The whole idea of using this method is to take the general events, implications and settings of a dream, and use these as a reference for asking oneself questions.


One of the things that is often overlooked in dreams is what we might call the ‘because factor’. This factor is fairly noticeable when once pointed out, but difficult to see until much dream interpretation has been done. The ‘because factor’ also applies in our everyday life, and can be seen when we say, ‘I was waiting for a bus and began to talk to a stranger who was also waiting. Our conversation became so interesting, that after a few minutes we went and sat in a restaurant, letting the bus go, because we had so much in common. Before he went he gave me his card because he wanted me to contact him again. I could see from what we had spoken about, that he was thinking of offering me a job in his firm. But I never followed it up because I didn’t think I could fill the post.’

If we look into this, we see that important events occur, directions followed, decisions taken, all because. The word ‘because’ in fact hides all our background, our feelings, our predisposing urges and thoughts. The word ‘disposition’ can in fact be used to sum up what lurks behind the because factor. A little thought will show that history is made up of this ‘disposition’, acting through the because factor.

I hope this doesn’t sound mysterious or complicated. This is such an important thing to understand. Our whole life, the events and outcome of it, rest upon it. Our life is what it is because of what we are – our disposition. We take an offer or reject it because of this. We succeed or fail in life because of the same factor – ourselves. ‘The fault, dear Brutus, lies not in the stars/But in ourselves, that we be underlings.’ When understood, we can see that every move we make in life is conditioned by subtle feelings of fear or pleasure, pride or love. At every decision we are directed by intangible hopes, despairs, conflicts and ideals. So, dreams also, arise out of the because factor.

Two dreams illustrate this. ‘I was waiting for a visitor. Suddenly the man I had been expecting came round to the back window and peeped in. I didn’t see him clearly, but took an immediate aversion to him and refused to let him in.’

Here we see that something ‘waited’ for by the dreamer, when it actually arrives, is not admitted due to feelings of aversion. It is not admitted because of aversion.

A clearer example is this. ‘I was surrounded by a thick wall of briars, beyond which were wild animals. I was trapped and couldn’t get out. I wondered what to do. Suddenly I noticed a hole in the ground. I looked in and saw it was a tunnel. I was just about to explore it as a way of escape, when I saw a dirty animal-like man looking up at me. I drew back from the tunnel in disgust and woke up.

Here we see that the dreamer is trapped by his own tangle of problems, and destructive instinctive urges. A possible way out is shown in the tunnel of unconscious exploration (i.e. discovering one’s hidden contents), but the dreamer, on looking within, sees an undeveloped and repulsive part of himself which disgusts him. It is because of this disgust that he cannot get out through the tunnel. The whole dream revolves around that point. It is also because of this inability to explore further due to disgust, that the dream ends. The dream is showing that it is the feelings of disgust that are keeping him trapped in his unpromising situation. In real life, he is stuck in the middle of painful experiences because of his own feelings of disgust about a part of his nature. Thus, the because factor in dreams is very important, and is the central point in numerous dreams.


If we fail to understand an individual dream, light can often be thrown upon its meaning by looking at the dreams that precede and follow it. In this way one sees that the symbols are used in a gradually evolving manner. A dream series of evolving symbols is also one of the most striking proofs that dreams are not mere nonsense. The dreams that follow were all dreamt within about a month.

(1) ‘Visit to M. Very nice house, high on the cliffs overlooking the sea. M. and others their usual welcoming selves. Met other pleasant friendly people, but we had to go down the hill to meet them and then some of them pointed out another way up the hill to another beautiful view, and came along to show us the way, which M. actually knew, but didn’t want to spoil their pleasure in showing me. A few of those in M.’s house were not quite as nice as I had believed from M.’s description, but I liked them anyway.

Here we start off with a house overlooking the sea – a state of looking over one’s hidden contents, one’s unconscious. Or we might – say the dreamer is ‘overlooking’ certain things about herself. These things she has overlooked begin to become known in the people, -parts of herself, that were not quite as nice as she had believed.

(2) ‘Met uncle George. Then he and I and a few relatives and friends went on to a small boat and began a journey. I didn’t know where we were going but others did, and it was such a new and pleasant experience for me that I didn’t bother to ask. As it grew dusk a strange but pleasant and friendly woman, who was obviously familiar with the boat, came and closed the curtains and put the light on, so that we could be comfortable during the night.’

Just previous to dream number one, the dreamer had begun, with the help of a friend who knew a little about interpretation, to analyse her own dreams. So we see that from ‘overlooking’ the sea she has quickly gone on a sea voyage. The dream sums up her situation wonderfully, ‘I didn’t know where we were going, but – others did.’ She didn’t at the time realise where the interpretations and dreams would lead her. Also, the sea is now much closer, and night is coming. That is, darkness and the unconscious are already making themselves felt, for the night sea journey is a classical dream of the exploration of one’s unconscious contents, as with Jonah and the whale.

(3) ‘Found myself in a place where I could go swimming every morning.’

Already she is beginning to enter the water, or her inner life.

(4) ‘Went into a church with someone who pointed out that I was facing the wrong way. I turned round and saw a bigger and lighter altar at the other end.’

Having begun to contact her inner life via swimming, immersing in it, she sees that her attitude to religion or her own innermost feelings had been wrong. This she corrects.

(5) ‘I was involved in a revolution. Everything around was collapsing, but I don’t remember being frightened.’

All her old ideas are being either revolutionised, or are collapsing.

(6) ‘I found myself being led in a particular direction by friendly pleasant people, who yet knew that on arrival I was to be executed. I had an immature woman of about twenty-five with me, and the same fate awaited her. I took her hand and tried to convey love and courage and to protect her from all her fears by behaving in a light-hearted manner.

As her old ideas collapse, her old self is to die. Also the immature twenty-five year-old part that still lives on in her is to die.

(7) ‘I found myself entering a tunnel where I encountered a rather frightening little animal, but we passed each other as he went out and I went in. Then I met a larger animal with the same results. Later I met a third, a real monster, rather like a 60ft caterpillar with a lion’s head and fore feet. I did not like the encounter as I continued to walk on the left side of the tunnel, into ever deepening darkness, and he passed me on the way out. Somehow I felt that Doctor (a friend and adviser) would not have been in the least afraid, and I borrowed his courage, and woke about half-way along this monster.’

Having been ready to die to her old way of life, she can begin the descent into her unconscious contents in earnest. The two frightening animals are two fears that come up and out. The third one is too big a fear to completely pass by at this time; and its shape shows its possible sexual nature.

Here, in just seven dreams, with very inadequate comments, can be seen how the symbols evolve as the dreamer discovers her real inner nature. The ‘overlooked’ sea becomes travelled upon. The coming darkness on the boat develops into the ‘deepening darkness’ of the tunnel; while each dream shows a development on the inward journey the dreamer was undertaking. Such a series need not be about the inward journey, however, but about commercial undertakings, health, ambitions, or even answers to intellectual queries.

These seven dreams were taken from about twice that many, dreamed during the period. The selection was based on how we can understand past dreams by seeing them in context with others occurring. The important point being that one might dream of looking at the sea for years, but never enter it. Then, with a change of ‘disposition’, a series of swimming and diving dreams take place. In interpreting our dreams in this way, we have to watch for similar symbols in changed conditions. The sea and darkness are obvious in the series. Also the crowd of people leading her, representative of her own desires to understand herself. The interpretation is arrived at by analysing the situations the dreamer finds herself in, and how the symbols change. Thus a seed seen in one dream, and a plant just growing in another, suggest growth and development. A person scorned in one dream, and loved in another, would be a change of attitude and relationship.

These three methods, the Main Phase – the Because Factor, and the Series method, all help us to see the underlying meaning of the dream through looking at the dream as a whole. Particular symbols are not worked on in the same way as in the associated ideas method. It is the relationships the dream suggests that arouse questions. In turn, these questions themselves clarify the dream for us, and help us analyse our experience to see if the dream explains or explores it. As we advance in ability to deal with our dreams, these various methods are called upon and used as required.



-Bev 2014-12-28 4:34:23

I recently had a dream that there were Iroquois in the distance, dressed in red loin cloths. I knew they were going to attack my homestead. I had decided that my sister and I were going to hide in a shed, but couldn’t decide if we should hide UNDER the shed instead. My sister said that if we were going to do that, we should hav done it days earlier because they would see the wet cement. (I had no intention of using cement). I woke up enough to ask my husband where he thought we should hide. I fell back asleep and my other sister came into the shed and asked, “well, couldn’t you have made it bigger?”

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