Science Articles

An Emotional Pattern In Dreams: Part Two

Wed, 27th Apr 2005

Dan Gollub

In Part One we examined the theory that dreams are consecutive emotions of love, desire, nondesire, and hatred. We looked at relatively simple dreams in which this pattern readily could be perceived. Now we shall see how even highly complicated dream content can be analyzed and understood. Sentiments In The Dream Plot A display of sentiment within the dream plot such as a dream figure laughing or crying will be one of two types: it will either be revealing a genuine emotion or it will instead be opposite to emotional reality. Fortunately, it's not hard to distinguish between those sentiments which are genuine and those which aren't. A dream sentiment is genuine if the figure who is displaying it simultaneously uses words which help to express or explain that sentiment. Any sentiment displayed by a dream figure who doesn't simultaneously speak is opposite to reality. Also, a sentiment will be opposite to reality if words are involved but precede or follow the sentiment.

A woman was invited to a party and that night dreamed at the end of a dream that she was crying. Her dream image didn't speak while crying so this is an example of an opposite-to-reality dream sentiment. She was in a good mood because of the party invitation and for that reason would hate to experience the sadness depicted in her dream.Here is an example of laughter in a dream ending. A woman who was significantly overweight dreamed this in the last half of a dream:

"I recited: 'I like peanut butter and jelly. I like peanut butter and jam. I like peanut butter and mustard. And I like myself just as I am.' And then I laughed heartily."

Her words in the nondesire section were a reflection of her conscious self rather than of inner values. Those words depicted the conscious complacency about her incorrect eating habits, and the location of that dream content in her nondesire section shows that such complacency was undesirable to her inner self. The words her dream image spoke didn't overlap with her laughter, so that laughter was opposite to her emotional reality. At an inner level she felt pain about being overweight and therefor would hate consciously feeling merry about that aspect of her life.

This next example shows a genuine sentiment in a dream. A grown woman dreamed about a boy she'd known in grade school and in the dream ending she began crying and said, "They told me to be afraid of you and I believed them." The sadness was genuine and her words in the dream explained why. She'd had unnecessary barriers against that person who could have become a friend.

Speech And Language In Dreams Speech in the dream plot can help to identify the conscious self's boundaries. A general rule is that anything spoken by the dreamer's image reflects an aspect of the conscious self, and words spoken by anyone else might instead present a view which the conscious self opposes (although speech by other dream figures can have a variety of purposes and won't always represent a suppressed perspective). The following example helps illustrate this rule.

A pregnant woman dreamed in the desire section of her dream: "I was back home from the hospital holding my new baby boy. An unidentified man was looking at my baby. I said something about newborn babies being ugly. The man replied, 'I don't think he's ugly.' I looked down at my infant son and saw that he had a perfectly shaped head, blue or green eyes, and was extremely beautiful." Her image's words indicate that she consciously tended to think of newborn babies as ugly. Her inner self didn't want her to think that way and therefore created another dream figure to express a differing view. The plot in the desire section after that conversation shows that she wanted a beautiful baby, and we see that her conscious attitude didn't eliminate that inner desire.

Dream pattern analysis can help clarify any abstractness involving the use of speech or language, as we see in this next example. This was the first half of a woman's dream (so it shows love and desire scenarios): "Grandmother and I were walking down a street that turned out to be a dead end. Just as we got to the end, we discovered it. A nice man was there and we asked permission to cross by the little pond in his yard and go though to the next street. He said we could and then helped us across. I commented on how clear and clean the pond was. He was pleased. Then he showed us his baby seal. I asked if I could pet it. 'Of course,' he said, and I began petting it and playing with it. Then his wife began talking to me. It wasn't clear what she was saying but she continued to talk with me. The seal became a baby." The man's words and accompanying behaviour show the dreamer's wish that a property owner would be permissive and kindly while she was going for a walk.

That's simple enough, yet the wife's verbal behaviour might seem confusing. What is the purpose of dream speech which doesn't include specific words? We note that the wife's talkativeness occurred in the desire section, and a conclusion is that in a friendly environment such as the one shown in the dream the dreamer desires being spoken to and it wouldn't necessarily matter what the conversation was about. Instead, the other person's sociability would be the desired aspect. The desire section in that dream also reveals that the dreamer has a wish to play with a cute, cuddly animal such as a seal. But then that seal is transformed into a human baby. The dreamer's wish to interact with a pet animal evidently is a sublimation of her stronger desire to respond maternally to a child. Her inner self saw that maternal desire and constructed the dream partly to help her get in touch with it.

Sometimes unspoken words appear in dreams. A woman with a seizure disorder had begun experiencing an increase in fits. Also, she had learned from her dentist that her gums were in bad shape and that she needed to have several of her teeth removed. She began feeling emotionally vulnerable to life's misfortunes. Then her boyfriend told her he wanted to start dating other women. One night, while feeling especially sad, she dreamed this in a dream's nondesire section: "A knight from a chess set had lost its bottom half, and its head had toppled onto the floor. Someone said to it, 'You have violated the fire god.' Suddenly I saw a page from a bible, and on it were the words, 'Christ comforts.'" The knight evidently symbolized both her dental problems and her loss of a romantic/sexual relationship, since its head was shown in harmful contact with the floor and it was missing its bottom half. The words spoken to that symbol presumably were attributing her seizures to religious wrath against her. Yet that undesirable message was only a prelude to the dream's constructive solution, expressed by the unspoken words. The implication of those unspoken words in her nondesire section was that it would be undesirable for her not to seek religious solace.

Unspoken words which appear in dreams can be deliberately misspelled, and if that happens a special message will be involved. The misspelling is, in effect, a warning: the dreamer either should avoid the related situation or at least be cautious about it.

For instance, a man who had spent an evening in a smoke-filled room dreamed that night in his dream's nondesire section the unspoken word, "aer." The meaning was that his inner self wanted him to avoid such polluted air if possible.

Here is an example of a similar message. A man had been planning to take his old car on a long mountain journey. Then he dreamed in the nondesire section of a license plate which was similar to his car's license plate rather than identical to it. The purpose of that "misspelled" license plate was to indicate he probably shouldn't use his car for the trip.

A difference between dream thoughts and dream speech is important to understand. Dream speech which occurs in the nondesire or hatred section can convey a correct or normal view about a negative situation, but any dream thought in the last half of a dream will not be correct or normal in relation to the dreamer's true reality. That guideline helps us understand this next example. A woman dreamed in the nondesire section that some dinner guests failed to compliment her about the food she'd prepared. She then dreamed in a hatred section: "I seemed to say, 'I can't stand it.' But it was unclear if I had said those words or instead had thought them." What was the reason for that mixture of speech and thought? It occurred because the woman's inner self had ambivalent feelings about the sentiment her dream image expressed. If being upset because the guests didn't praise her cooking had been fully acceptable to her, the dream would have shown her speaking the words but not thinking them. If being upset in that situation had been totally unacceptable, her dream self would have thought those words but not spoken them. Since she was shown as half-speaking and half-thinking them the implication is that the temperamental nature they depicted was acceptable to her, but only marginally so.

From such examples we see how the use of speech and language in dreams is consistent enough to be understandable to the interpreter and yet is sufficiently flexible for the inner self's purposes.

The Use Of Symbols In Dreams Dreams use symbolism for a variety of reasons, a principal one being to convey an abstract message in the dream's visual medium. Dream pattern analysis reveals the emotional significance of the symbolism, and the recognition of that underlying emotion assists in understanding the symbolism's purpose.

A man reported this about the beginning of a dream of his: "Robert (a talented guitarist) was using my guitar. He was playing in the key of F, which I usually avoid because of its difficulty." A love message was being conveyed, and with this in mind it becomes apparent Robert was a symbol of the dreamer as he would love to become. The dreamer's inner self would love it if he could play the guitar well, including in the key of F.

A woman having an extramarital affair dreamed in her dream's hatred section that she was looking for her wedding ring but it was lost. That plot in the dream's ending symbolically reflected her fear that the affair would cause her marriage to be "lost." Following is an example of a message which because of its abstractness was delivered via a visual symbol. A girl in a stressful home environment dreamed in the late-middle section that her stepmother said, "Here's your toast," and handed her a plate with a few bread crumbs on it. What was the meaning of that insufficient food? Dreams typically use images of food or money (which are easy to depict visually) to convey messages about amount and/or quality of love. In this dream, the crumbs of food in the nondesire section symbolized the inadequate amount of love the dreamer was receiving. A pregnant woman due to go into labour dreamed in a love section that she crossed a river without difficulty. The remainder of that dream was about her new child, so the assumption is that the dream's beginning was symbolic for giving birth. Perhaps her inner self sensed the birth symbol of crossing a river would be soothing to her and used it for that reason.

What you've now learned about dream interpretation can help you understand many of your dreams. In Part Three we shall encounter some additional examples of dream interpretation, and those examples may enable you to reach a level of expertise in which you can understand virtually all of your dreams.

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