Theories & Techniques of Dream Analysis

Dream Interpretation

A castle in the sky, a monster taller than any man-made structure, and public escapades in your underwear are just a few of the scenarios you could encounter in your dreams. Nobody quite knows why every night we drift off to distant lands and encounter bizarre scenarios, but in seeking to understand this great mystery researchers have contributed vast amounts of information to the area of dream interpretation. Thanks to the work of scientists and laymen alike, now anyone can take part in the rewarding experience of decoding your own dreams.

Two primary theories have been presented to explain why we dream – the conceptualization theory and the static theory. The first presents dreaming as a sort of evolutionary advantage, similar to one’s imagination. While you dream, you are able to conceptualize scenarios you have not experienced firsthand or imagined in your waking hours. With this theory, nightmares are advantageous because they can potentially help you avoid a similar, dangerous situation in real life. On the other end of the spectrum, happier dreams represent what you should pursue. Unfortunately, the latter theory is a tad more macabre. Some scientists argue that because our brains are so complex and never shut off during normal functioning, dreams are analogous to static electricity. Dreams are not intentionally produced by these organic processors, but are rather the consequence of built-up charges and constant operation. In other words, your brain cannot enter an extended period of your stasis like your body can, and thus you perceive this hodgepodge of thoughts that make up your dreams. No matter which theory you personally prescribe to, both present the idea that dream topics are somehow related to what the dreamer has on their mind the most, which is the core concept behind dream theory.

While dream analysis is a fulfilling experience, its exact benefits varies between individuals. Not only is your mind unique, and therefore so is your personal experience, but how you decide to act on the information you gain from dream interpretation plays a critical role in determining its rewards. Generally, by understanding the underlying concern or driving force of your dreams, you can discover what is subconsciously bothering you, such as a hidden fear or buried traumatic experience. Once you uncover this information, you can identify the source of the problem and address it. Of course, what you gain is also dependent on the quality of your dreams. Workaday dreams will yield fewer benefits, as will dreams that are the products of obvious concerns.

Though shrouded in mysticism, the technique behind dream interpretation is rather clinical and based on countless empirical accounts. However, be aware that despite centuries of established information on dream analysis, this subjective field of study is not generally regarded as real science…at least based on the limited knowledge we have today.

Before you begin your analysis you must first develop and perfect your dream recollection. After all, what good is interpretation if you cannot even remember you’re supposed to be interpreting? Dream recollection can easily be improved through the maintenance of a dream journal, which must be updated every morning. Your early entries will be devoid of details, but as time progresses, your ability to recount your dreams will greatly improve. Once you can actually remember your dreams with relative clarity, you can then begin to analyze them. Analysis is quite easy in theory, as all you need to concern yourself with is contemplating the question, “What would make my mind conjure up such an experience?” Yet, the subjectivity of this process, and the lack of any confirmation for a proposed answer, will be challenging to most people. No one can answer this question but you, and with more abstract cases it often requires a bit of meditation, so don’t feel discouraged.

Dream analysis is largely a personal and solitary venture, though a litany of mystics would like for you to believe otherwise. Using a dream dictionary may seem tempting, but it’s ultimately a waste of time and money because there is no universal interpretation of symbols. Such books and resources are scams which rely on vague traits that the authors hope will resonate with most readers, such as a fear of bugs or falling to your death. However, if you consider these notions critically, it’s readily evident that even the most straightforward symbols cannot be applied to everyone. For example, consider a dream about a snake slithering across your toes. To a pastor, the serpent might represent the devil. To a Amazon tribesman, it might embody the very real threat of living in the jungle. Yet to a herpetologist, it might be a part of a very mundane dream about work. In the end, regardless of your personal phobias, the steps for learning how to interpret dreams are always the same, but the application of this process will always be different. No one can pull from your personal life experiences and understand what your own unique symbolism means but you.

  • Jim Harris

    I’m amazed that my mind can generate images of things I’ve never seen, put me in relationships with people I don’t know, and develop plots as good as novelists. My dreams feel like they are better than CGI images in the movies. How is that possible?

    • Jason Carr

      I think this speaks volumes about your creativity Jim. The brain is a magnificent thing…far more powerful than we understand today. If we ever do completely figure out how it works and truly tap into those areas where our dreams are generated, I think the world could truly be transformed in ways we can’t even imagine.

      • Jim Harris

        I don’t think “I” can take any credit. I believe my subconscious works entirely on its own.

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