Dreams and Dreaming
Meanings, Interesting Info, Research, Articles, Resources, Links, Books & More
When I was a kid, I couldn’t understand what people were talking about when they recalled “bad dreams” and nightmares. When I was having a bad dream, I would simply change the dream to something better…something fun. It was easy and natural.
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I didn’t realize this wasn’t normal until a round-table discussion in my highschool psychology class. The topic of discussion was dreaming and the subject of nightmares soon came up.
I questioned the other members in my class why they didn’t simply change their dreams to get rid of the nightmare qualities. Of course, I was met with blank stares and soon realized that being able to 1) know you are dreaming and 2) be able to control your dreams… is pretty rare.
My teacher took me aside and gave me a book about lucid dreaming, and also referred me to the work of Carl Jung. Fifteen years has passed since then (ouch), and I have studied the subject of dreams enough to think I have some unique perspectives to pass on.
This isn’t your typical page about dreaming, though it probably contains more unique and interesting information on the subject than most websites that are fully dedicated to the topic of dreams.
Dream Meanings, Symbols & Interpretations – Some Different Ideas
If you do a Google search for “dream symbols” or “dream meanings” you will find dozens of websites where you can get quick and dirty interpretations for tons of common dream scenerios and symbols. This is not one of those websites.
Dreams are complicated, and unique to the dreamer. I know that I am dreaming when I dream — most people do not. Some people dream in black & white, while others dream in color. Some dreams seem to speak to us from another level of our minds, while other dreams are simply wish fufillment. Researchers have found that some dreams may help us learn (see Tetris Effect) by prcoessing information for tasks we need in waking life.
Good Dreams Vs Bad Dreams – an interesting perspective:
A friend once invited me to a small seminar about dreams. The group leader asked each of us (about 20 people) to write down two dreams we had sometime in our lives on piece of paper. One dream that made us feel good or positive, and a second dream that was a nightmare or made us feel bad in some way.
The group leader then explained how dreams that really stick out to us (remember for the rest of our lives) and affect us the most can all be boiled down into a few scenarios. The seminar went on and we took turns reading our dreams outloud to the group. And to our surprise, most if not all the dreams fit into these few categories.
Unfortunately, I can’t remember this guys exact list but this is what I remember. Just for giggles — think of 2 dreams of yours that stick out in your mind… one negative/disturbing and one positive/happy. After you think of these, see if they fit into these common dream scenarios:
Positive common dream topics included: flying, celebrities, angels/spirit guides, euphoria, and other symbols / feelings of transcendence.
Negative topics included: falling, being chased, being naked in public, death & illness
Did your dreams fit into those categories?
Next the group leader asked us to remember what we were going through emotionally at time in our lives when we had the dreams. His theory was that when we are at our worst emotionally: such as when we are under a lot of stress, personal stress, death in family etc. is when we will have a really positive happy-thought-inducing kinda dream. Whereas, we are more likely to have negative dreams when we are actually content & happy in our personal lives.
Why? This almost seems counter-intuitive, but think about your dreams from the above experiment. Was your life a mess when you had the happy dream? And were you more or less content or stable at the time of your bad dream?
The group leader explained his theory in this way: our dreams protect us when we are really down, and try to “cheer” us up. When we are stable our unconscious thinks it’s a good time to learn a life-lesson.
So, if you are disturbed by your dreams lately — it could mean that your unconscious thinks you are ready to learn something about yourself.
Note: the group leader I write about was a school councellor who became interested in dream meanings because students would mention troubling dreams to him, and he would try to help them understand. And over-time had a reputation of being the schools un-official “dream concellor”, listening to hundreds of crazy teenager dreams over the course of his career.
Famous & Influencial Dreams
Some dreams have changed the world…at least 3 Nobel Prizes plus numerous scientific breakthroughs and inventions can be at least partially credited to the creative power of dreams. Here is a short list of famous / influencial dreams:
Niels Bohr – Dreams about the structure of the atom, revolutionizes science & wins Nobel Prize.
Otto Loewi – Recieved the Nobel Prize in Medicine after a series of dreams helped him discover acetylcholine.
Friedrich August Kekul? – Discovered the ring shape of the benzene molecule after having a day-dream of a snake seizing its own tail.
Srinivasa Ramanujan – Mathematician who often dreamed a Goddess that would present him with mathmatical formulae and other inspiration.
Elias Howe – Invents lockstitch Sewing Machine based on a dream.
Albert Einstein – Theory of Relativity (e=mc2) was inspired by a dream.
Dmitri Mendeleev – A dream helps him create the first version of the Periodic Table of Elements.
Frederick Banting – Canadian doctor discovers insulin after help from a dream, goes on to win Nobel Prize in Medicine.
Interesting Reads on Dreaming and Dream Research:
The Tetris Effect – Dream/sleep researchers coined this the “Tetris Effect”.
Documentaries worth watching on Dreaming
Carl Jung: Wisdom of the Dream – A three part, PBS series