Dream Interpretation

Dream Interpretation When we sleep we do much more than just “rest our weary bones”; we tap into our subconscious mind (Ullman and Zimmerman 1979). The subconscious has much to offer about oneself. The average human being spends one third of their life in sleep and during each sleep approximently two hours is spent dreaming (Ullman and Zimmerman 1979). These dreams are important because they are the voice of our subconscious. Dreams and theories on dreams go as far back as 2000 BC in Egypt.

One of the first organized glimpses into the diagnostics of a dream came in an Egyptian book called the Chester Beatty Papyrus, its author is unknown. In ancient Greece dreams were believed to be messages from the gods. In later centuries, Hippocrates (a Greek physician), Aristotle (a Greek philosopher), and Galen (a Greek philosopher) believed that dreams often contained physiological information that may be cause of future illnesses. Artemeidorus documented and interpreted thousands of dream reports in his book Oreiocritica (meaning “critical dreams” in Greek). His ideas were later abandoned, and no further progress was made in the study of dreams until the late 1800s. That was until Sigmund Freud wrote his book The Interpretations of Dreams in 1900.

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After its publishing, dreams became a popular topic once again. The modern day idea that dreams come from our daily life is partially accurate. When I say”partially” I mean only a specific aspect of dreams comes from daily life interactions. The imagery in dreams comes from daily life (Freud 1900). You must understand that the subconscious can only talk in a language that the conscious can understand, therefore it uses imagery.

So to put it in lay terms “Youll never see an object in dream that you havent seen in your daily life”(Ullman and Zimmerman 1979). This statement raises an interesting question. “What do blind people who never see anything dream about?” The answer to this question is even more puzzling. The subconscious speaks to blind people using all other sensory modalities such as hearing, taste, touch, and smell. Instead of seeing things blind people will hear or smell things in their dreams. Helen Keller talked of “seeing” in her dreams much as she saw when she was awake (let it be stated that Helen Keller was blind).

The subconscious is usually the right side of the brain or the opposite side of persons writing hand. Within the subconscious lie different types of things such as suppressed emotions, creativity, and basic human instinct (Ullman and Zimmerman 1979. The conscious part of the mind works when people are awake and is the part of the mind that handles things that people can understand. No one truly knows why a person cant interact with the subconscious while awake, however studies show that dreams are a way in which people can better comprehend its behavior. The condition of the body during dreaming is interesting because the brain shuts off all sensory receptors thus, canceling all somatic impulses (Ullman and Zimmerman 1979).

This puts the body in an almost paraplegic state. The brain however continues to control all autonomic functions such as blood flow, heart pulsation, and lung inflation. During the sleep, homeostasis will fluctuate because sleep occurs on four stages (Davidmann, 1998). The individual goes from awake to stage 1, then to 2, 3, and finally 4, the deepest stage of sleep. After spending about twenty minutes in stage 4, they return to stage 1 and progress back to stage 4.

The individual will continue to make these cycles throughout their sleep. Most individuals will experience about 4 to 5 cycles a night (Davidmann, 1998). This is why humans are more apt to wake up at specific times in the night and not sporadically (most people do not notice this however). During stage 1 the individual will experience what has been named REM (Rapid Eye Movement), I will make further elaboration on REM momentarily. For now I would like to point out that during REM the body will show more signs of consciousness by spontaneous muscle contractions, flagellate excretion, and oculomoter coordination (eye movement).

The body will experience these tensions and reactions because this is the active time of sleep in the average human (Davidmann, 1998). I spoke earlier of REM (Rapid Eye Movement); it is the time in which the individual will have their dreams. Nathaniel Kleitman discovered it in 1953. It always occurs in the lightest stage of sleep, stage 1. It has been given its name because of the muscle contractions in the eye motor receptors. These electrical impulses originate from the brain stem and then travel to the eyes to produce imagery. The catalysts for these impulses are triggered by the subconscious mind and the emotions within it (Davidmann, 1998).

The REM will usually begin ninety minutes after sleep is initiated and will last roughly ten to fifteen minutes (Davidmann, 1998). It is during the ten to fifteen minutes that dreams occur. The REM will end and the individual will slip into deeper sleeps, until the forth stage is reached. Once this occurs the mind begins to come out of the deeper sleep stages until it reaches the REM once again. The interesting factor is that each time the sleeper enters the REM phase of sleep the REM phase will increase in length.

This repeats four to five times in the average sleep. The reason the dreams occur in the REM or the lightest stage is because this is the only stage in which the conscious mind can interpret the imagery of the subconscious. This is not to say that the subconscious doesnt remain active in deeper sleep stages but the conscious mind isnt alert enough to decipher the imagery the subconscious creates in deep sleep. A good personification description of this is to say that the conscious simply cant swim as deep as the subconscious. The REM is also interesting because if a person does not experience it they will suffer from various sleeping disorders because it is required by the body just like sunlight is required.

People who experience exaggerated REM will suffer from fatigue and sleep depravation while they are awake. Usually, a fully-grown person has about 4 to 5 cycles of REM sleep, consisting of about 25% of a night’s sleep. A newborn child’s sleep can consist of as high as 50% REM type sleep (Davidmann, 1998). As I previously stated, a person would go through the sleep stage cycle four to five times a night, hence four to five dreams per night. With this in mind it can be calculated the average human being will have 136,000 dreams in a lifetime, spending about six total years in the REM stage dreaming.

Mentally retarded individuals or people with low IQs tend to spend less time in the REM type sleep, but other mental disorders are capable of initiating more REM type sleep. The reason for this is unknown. Now that the diagnostics of dreams has been covered I would like to focus on the origin of dreams from a medical standpoint. As a consequence, memory, sensory, muscle-control, and cognitive areas of the brain are randomly stimulated, resulting in the higher cortical brain attempting to make some sense of it. The reason for these stimulations is unknown but various medical researchers believe they are the after effects of certain chemical reactions in the brain.

This, according to the research, gives rise to the experience of a dream, but there is controversy of the question of whether dreams have intentional meaning. Many psychotherapists agree that dreams are stimulated by impulses from the brain stem but they have actual meaning and are not just hallucinations. Thus far, I have established that dreams have both a metaphysical existence and a physical. The metaphysical is the imagery within in them and their relation to the subconscious. The physical aspect is the chemical reactions occur within the brain during dreams and the REM. The tie between physical and metaphysical cannot be established but it safe to say that one does exist.

Thoughts are not physical in nature, we cant touch and see them but in order for them to occur the brain must go through chemical and hormonal changes, dreams are the same in character. “The dream uses collective figures because it has to express an eternal human problem that repeats itself endlessly, and not just a disturbance of personal balance”, (Jung, 1945). Carl Jung is very right on that point. The act of learning what dreams encompass and occupy has become known as Dream Interpretation. There are many methods used for understanding dreams but the two most popular and practiced methods are the Freud method and the Jung method.

The other is always the personal method of dream interpretation but it can sometimes be misleading. Once an individual establishes a method of dream analysis they must decide what type of dream they are analyzing. There seven types of dreams according to the facts I have researched. The superconscious dream, lucid dream, nightmares, night terrors, sexual dreams, repetitive dreams, and the plain subconscious dream. Freud believed in the superconscious dream, the repetitive dream, the sexual dream, and the regular subconscious dream. Ullman and Zimmerman believe in all seven types of dreams.

The first type of dream known as the superconscious dream isnt well known. The superconscious is o …

Dream Interpretation

December 7, 1999
It Was Only a Dream
She awakens in the night, the visions from her mind still vivid. The dream was amazingly realistic. A long hallway stretched before her. Several doors lined the hallway, each with a padlock. A ring full of keys weighed heavily in her hand. What did it all mean? Did this hallway symbolize her life? The doors could have meant many things, possibly the choices she faces daily. As she drifts back to sleep, thoughts of the dream cloud her mind. She hopes to remember it in the morning and search for answers.
The description of this woman could match any number of people. Years of research have produced findings that everyone dreams. While not everyone may remember his or her dreams, sleep studies have shown that each person does dream as he or she progresses through the stages of sleep. Whether or not these dreams contain any significant meaning for the dreamer is a source of arguments today, as well as in years past. An in depth study of dream interpretation will reveal the benefits of exploring the meanings behind dreams.

To begin this study, it is helpful to first understand the different aspects of sleep. In Atkinsons Introduction to Psychology book, she states that sleep contains five stages, including four depths of sleep and a fifth stage, known as rapid eye movement (REM) (193). In various sleep studies, most adults go through all stages during their normal sleeping hours. While they drift from one stage of sleep to another, activity in the brain increases and decreases. However, this study is interested mostly in the fifth stage, REM sleep. Individuals incur a great amount of details during the course of any given day, including dates, places, times and people. During REM sleep, the brain creates a story line that allows this large volume of events to be stored and remembered in a coherent form, albeit at an unconscious level (Chopra 107). REM occurs at different times throughout an individuals time asleep, and consumes from thirty minutes up to two hours of an individuals non-waking moments.
Every individual is subject to REM sleep, and some suffer from REM Sleep Disorder. The disorder involves a severe attachment to a persons dreams. Dotto reports that while sufferers consist mostly of men over fifty years of age, it can affect anyone. She also states that research has discovered that 60% of the disorder is due to aging, while 40% can be blamed on neurological problems (119). This disorder is no laughing matter. One case in England resulted in a man shooting his new bride to death while he was dreaming of being pursued by gangsters (Maas 161). The severity of this problem is treatable with medication; but sufferers are encouraged to sleep in protected surroundings, with no sharp objects in the room, and no open windows.
With a better understanding of REM sleep, progression can be made toward the history of dreams and the study of their meanings. In Restful Sleep, Chopra relates that dreams were first believed to tell the future of entire communities (102). The Bible also gives evidence of the importance to dreams. Joseph was told about Mary carrying the Christ child during a dream. At the beginning of recorded history, and for the millennia thereafter, dreams were considered divine messages in virtually every religious culture (Maguire 2). Thus, the importance of dreams to a vast array of cultures was made quite evident from a very early time.
However, not everyone believes in the importance of dreams. Some scientists today attach almost no importance to dreams. They are only random thoughts drifting into our minds during sleep, no serious relationship to our waking life (Kavey 33). While some of the arguments presented may have validity, the benefits of dream study and interpretation far outweigh the possible conflicts these studies uncover. For instance, the Journal of Mental Health Counseling published a study concerning ways dream interpretation could benefit individuals with mental health disturbances. The elements of a dream should be examined in detail for two reasons. First, the dream is a symbolic depiction of something in the clients inner world. The second reason for exploration is that the dreamer often does not remember all of the dreams elements at its first telling (Barrineau). By delving into the contents and meanings of these dreams, the mental health professional may be able to better understand the patients underlying problem, thus allowing more appropriate and effective treatment.
Additionally, exploring childrens dreams can be very beneficial when a child begins having problems in his or her daily life. Childrens dreams often hold clues to the same anxieties and insecurities that plague their parents (MacGregor 69). Children can gain approval of dream sharing when encouraged to do so by the adults they live with. In The Everything Dreams Book, MacGregor states If they live in households where dream sharing is simply a part of the family routine, theyll be more apt to remember and relate their dreams (69). Therefore, parental encouragement is key to helping unlock the mysteries contained in a childs dream. Dream study can also give the counselor or parent a handle on what type of dreams the child is experiencing.
For example, nightmares make up one element of dreams. A person suffering from a nightmare may wake up scared, experiencing heavy breathing and a racing heart. Chopra states this person will recall the dream in its entirety with a lot of detail. He also writes that themes are frequent in nightmares (109). Often, nightmare sufferers experience the feeling of pursuit, of falling, or of dying. Perhaps a person exposed to frequent nightmares will find a study in dream interpretation especially helpful as a start toward a smoother nights sleep. A person tormented with repeated nightmares may wish to end them because nightmares can influence how you feel and how you behave the following day (103). Thus, putting an end to the torment would be essential to that individuals well being, both personally and professionally. Nightmare sufferers could benefit from the knowledge of how to begin exploring those dreams.

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The first step to dream interpretation is vital. It concerns actually remembering the dream. Many people say they dont remember dreaming when, in fact, they forget them (Dotto 36). When the dreamer first awakens, the dream may be vivid and fresh in his or her mind. However, these impressions fade quickly, seemingly in seconds. An article in USA Today reveals the following tips to remembering dreams:
Write down the details as soon as possible.

Sort out the elements of the dream.

Define these elements.

Consider the significance of the symbols.

Match the elements with a meaning (Your Life).

Because of the difficulty recalling ones dreams, it is vital to begin a form of journalizing if one wants to remember and interpret his or her dreams. By starting with a simple notepad and pen next to the bed, the dreamer has the first tools needed to begin the process of dream recall. Upon waking, the dreamer should write down notes immediately. The dream you remember is not the dream itself. By the time you are fully awake, you have forgotten 90%, if not more (Moss 64). Jotting down details is important, but extra wording is not necessary. The main points of the dream, or specific aspects, are of greatest importance when beginning this process.

After the dreamer gets in the habit of recording his or her dreams, the analysis begins. Most people find even casual analysis of their dreams helpful in understanding themselves and solving problems of everyday life (Kavey 33). Because dreams seem to mimic the events of daily living, with strange twisted details, it seems only natural to want to discover the hidden meanings of the dreams.People should analyze their dreams to gain personal insight and identify conflicts (Your Life). After reviewing notes of several dreams, the dreamer may begin to see patterns in the dream content. These patterns begin to take on the aspects of a theme in the dreamers life.

The first step to analyzing a dream is to identify the theme. USA Today states dreams mirror the themes in our lives (Your Life). Thus, when writing down the details of a dream, it is helpful to note a theme, if possible. The majority of what one dreams pertains to oneself. The typical dreamer is selfish and, while arriving at a theme is not the interpretation entirely, it does head the analyzer in the appropriate direction. Creating themes can be easy and doing so requires reasonable thought processes. During the process, it helps to match a theme to the emotions the dream represented. Noting the dreamers emotional state while dreaming is extremely helpful. Additionally, basic theme identity can set the tone for theme analization (Dream Basics). The feeling you have about it, rather than the memory of an incident, may suggest the focus of the message your unconscious is sending you (Parker 39). Essentially, the dreamer must be open to what the dream is trying to say. He or she should not force personal desire into the dream, but rather see the theme for what it really is, or presents itself to be.

The next step involves the intricate process of interpretation. Dreaming is a highly subjective phenomenon that has been interpreted in contradictory ways during different historical periods, in different societies, and by different individuals (Chopra 102). Therefore, it stands to reason that a variety of methods are available to those just beginning to search for answers. The Business Journal reports a CD-Rom is now available to help the amateur interpreter. This CD encourages and instructs the user to make entries in a dream journal and categorize those entries. It assists the dreamer with dream identification, as well as individual discovery. This tool provides an excellent starting point for those just beginning (Johansen).

However, those not interested in the CD-Rom are likely to find assistance through a variety of other means. Simply writing down the symbols from a dream can be an excellent starting point. Symbols signify the elements that make up details (Dream Basics). However, they do not always represent the same thing to different people. Dream dictionaries can be found in local libraries, bookstores, or on-line; but it should be noted that a single symbol will have as many different meanings as there are dictionaries that list it. Beginners can write down the details from a dream and then look up the possible meanings to those symbols. They must keep in mind, thought, that these dictionaries give the common meanings. Different meanings apply to different symbols, causing even the experienced interpreter to stumble when delving into the meaning of a dream.

Like the moon reflecting the sun, our dreams reflect our daylight life, but they also have an independent existence (Maguire 1). A persons dreams can reveal as little or as much as he or she would like, depending on how open that person is to exploring the subject matter contained in his or her dreams. Dream journals are an excellent beginning, even if detailed dream interpretation is not the desired goal. Participants of journalizing will be amazed at the themes and topics discovered after several nights. Learning what dreams mean is a daunting task, but well worth the effort for those interested in finding answers to questions raised by such dreams.


Works Cited
Atkinson, Rita et al. Hilgards Introduction to Psychology. Orlando: Harcourt Brace &
Company, 1996.


Barrineau, Phil. A Re-examination of the Role of Dreams. Journal of Mental Health
Counseling. 18 Oct 1999. http://search.inspire-indiana.net:8008/WebZ/Fetch
Chopra, Deepak. M.D. Restful Sleep. New York: Crown Trade Paperbacks, 1994.


Dream Basics. 15 Oct 1999. http://www.sleeps.com/basics.html
Dotto, Lydia. Losing Sleep. New York: William Morrow & Company, 1990.


Johansen, Erin. CD-Rom Helps People Interpret Their Own Dreams. Business Journal
(Phoenix). 24 April 1998. http://search.inspire-indiana.net:8008/webz/FETCH
Kavey, Neil B.M.D. 50 Ways to Sleep Better. Lincolnwood: Publications International, Ltd.,
1995.


Maas, Dr. James B. Power Sleep. New York: Villard Books, 1998.


MacGregor, Trish and Rob MacGregor. The Everything Dreams Book. Holbrook: Adams Media
Corporation, 1998.


Maguire, Jack. Night and Day. New York: Roundtable Press, 1989.


Moss, Robert. Conscious Dreaming. New York: Crown Trade Paperbacks, 1996.
Parker, Julia and Derek Parker. Complete Book of Dreams. New York: Dorling Kindersly
Publishing, 1995.


Your Life. Are Dreams Trying To Tell Us Something? USA Today Magazine. 18 Oct 1999.
http://search.inspire-indiana.net:8008/WebZ/Fetch

Annotated Bibliography
Atkinson, Rita et al. Hilgards Introduction to Psychology. Orlando: Harcourt Brace &
Company, 1996. The twelfth edition of a book originated by Ernest Hilgard, this text
covers a multitude of topics on a preliminary level with a purpose to scratch the surface of several psychological issues.


Barrineau, Phil. A Re-examination of the Role of Dreams. Journal of Mental Health
Counseling. 18 Oct 1999. http://search.inspire-indiana.net:8008/WebZ/Fetch Phil Barrineau explores the benefits of dream interpretation for use in the mental health field.


Chopra, Deepak. M.D. Restful Sleep. New York: Crown Trade Paperbacks, 1994. In this book,
Dr. Deepak details a new program created to help readers get a good nights sleep.


Dotto, Lydia. Losing Sleep. New York: William Morrow & Company, 1990. Lydia Dotto
describes the various benefits of sleep, as well as the problems that can occur with sleep deprivation.


Johansen, Erin. CD-Rom Helps People Interpret Their Own Dreams. Business Journal
(Phoenix). 24 April 1998. http://search.inspire-indiana.net:8008/webz/FETCH This site offers information about a CD-Rom available to anyone interested in trying to interpret his or her own dreams.


Kavey, Neil B.M.D. 50 Ways to Sleep Better. Lincolnwood: Publications International, Ltd.,
1995. Dr. Kavey outlines multiple tips on how to prevent sleep problems. He further explains how to cope with problems, should they arise.


Maas, Dr. James B. Power Sleep. New York: Villard Books, 1998. In his book, Dr. Maas shares
various ways to gain a sufficient amount of sleep.


MacGregor, Trish and Rob. The Everything Dreams Book. Holbrook: Adams Media
Corporation, 1998. Trish and Rob MacGregor present a comprehensive guide on how to incubate, recall and interpret dreams. Additionally, this book provides a glossary of symbols and common dream topics and themes.


Maguire, Jack. Night and Day. New York: Roundtable Press, 1989. Author Jack Maguire
Presents a complete program concerning how to use dreams to reach designated goals
and results.


Moss, Robert. Conscious Dreaming. New York: Crown Trade Paperbacks, 1996. The author
reveals a nine-step plan to understanding dreams, including ways to shape the dreamers future. He also details the use of a dream journal to tap into unknown resources.


Parker, Julia. Derek. Complete Book of Dreams. New York: Dorling Kindersly Publishing, 1995.

As the title describes, this book covers a broad spectrum of dream themes, including sample dreams. It also contains a dictionary of common dream symbols and their meanings.


Your Life. Are Dreams Trying To Tell Us Something? USA Today Magazine. 18 Oct 1999.
http://search.inspire-indiana.net:8008/WebZ/Fetch This magazine article gives a quick, surface-level guide to dream interpretation.
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