Symbols and Dreaming

Words are themselves symbols of objects, ideas, or feelings. Whether we look at mathematical equations, a film, a novel, or a business logo, each involves the use of symbols. When we look at a thermometer we lose sight of it as a real object, and see it as temperature. Throughout our everyday life we use things symbolically without noticing. A name on the label of goods may depict quality to us. A face can represent love or brutality. In the struggle toward human awareness, and its increasingly subtle use of symbols such as language to think and express with, there must have been stages of development. This is a side of ‘history’ seldom given attention, yet very important. Perhaps our dream ‘thinking’ is using an earlier form of symbols, one which might have been more an everyday event prior to language.

Even though we exist as an individual integrated with today’s world, our earlier levels of thinking still exist. Unconsciously we still see the thermometer as temperature; the car as status, independence or ease in getting to work; inside our house as an expression of ourselves – if we didn’t we would not take pains to make it nice for guests. Through these unconscious feeling connections or symbolic views we have of things, dreams create their store of images and scenes. Processing a dream is an attempt to discover what values we ourselves unconsciously place upon the people, animals, objects and situations around us.

The way we unconsciously use symbols relates to more than simply our dream life and feeling connections with such things as a car. Because symbol ‘thinking’ is now partly unconscious, and links with more basic emotional responses, we often unconsciously use symbols in our body and life. A physical disability or illness can sometimes symbolise a powerful emotion or hurt the person cannot meet consciously. Often people take on a profession that symbolises important fears or attitudes they have. A Jewish doctor who worked with me as a client was the only child of two people who were the sole survivors in their families of the Holocaust. He discovered during analysis that his motivation to become a doctor arose because he knew within himself that one could be killed for simply being a Jew. Doctors were the last ones you killed.


-ida 2013-03-03 11:28:33

old house. every night i dream about my old house where i lived for 32 years. i have not settledminto my new house, where i have lived now for 6 years

    -Tony Crisp 2013-03-03 16:14:19

    Ida – I cannot really comment on a dream because you haven’t described one.

    But any house you lived in for 32 years leaves you so full of memories and experiences that you faced and grew through that it is not unusual to keep dreaming of it. So please read and instead of reading husband or partner read house.


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