Dreams are fascinating things. My daughter and I dream in colour and remember them vividly. This is great for happy ones but with nightmares it would probably be better to forget them!
Anyway, of late the littlun has not been sleeping properly due to bad dreams and, although she is seeing the doctor about this, I decided to look into it myself.
Dream interpretation has been around for centuries! In ancient Egypt and Greece they believed it was a form of divine communication and had specific temples that dreamers attended to predict omens or cure sickness.
Medieval Islamic psychology suggest that some dreams may be true, some ran in families and others were false and meaningless. In 16th century China they also studied the dream phenomena.
As for Europe, one of the first men to examine interpretation was Thomas Browne in the 17th century but the area of study really took off in the 19th century with Sigmund Freud. He described dreams as the “disguised fulfilment of repressed wishes”.
Carl Jung developed the Freud theory further by dividing dreams into 2 catergories. Objective, where people within represent themselves, and subjective, where the characters are actually a part of the dreamer’s personality and not themselves.
Calvin Hall suggested that, in fact, they were manifestations of personal conceptions. For example, if you saw a cat in a dream it was telling you that there is more than one way to do something.
Nowadays you can get dream dictionaries and do-it-yourself books, like those written by Ann Faraday in the 70s. These tend to be very literal. So, failing an exam within a dream could mean you need to prepare better for those in your waking life.
Then during the 80s and 90s Wallace Clift and Jean Dalby Clift simply said that your dreams consist of events etc that are on your mind whilst awake.
The ideas of Professor Antti Revonsuo and Keith Stevens are very interesting. They both conclude that dreams are a practice run for real life in a way. You are basically rehearsing your instinctual reactions so, should events occur in the future, you know what to do.
Stevens also went on to say that our dreams are important to our development. Dreams of sex and relationships leave the desire to procreate etc whereas those that highlight your social or economic status either make you feel content with your life or incite the need to better yourself.
Now, I have had some bizarre dreams in my time but for a lot of them Freud makes sense. Lately in my dreams I have plenty of money and a big house. Enough said!
My neighbour literally found it hysterical when I told her the Islamic theory about dreams following a genetic path. However, I have personal experience of this.
Between the ages of 7 and 8 I had a recurring dream of 3 men standing at the end of my bed. They were black, wearing bright white suits with beaming white smiles but no eyes. Before anyone starts it’s not a racist thing. I was not scared by them. Seeing them made me feel peace.
My younger brother had the exact same dream when he was around the same age. Ok, so it was slightly creepy and noone could figure out what the dream even meant.
Imagine my surprise when my daughter gets up one morning and tells me about the dream she had which was also exactly the same! Since then though I have come up with an explanation of sorts. I went back through my diaries to look at events happening around us at these times. For me, they lasted a year, during which time my grandads both passed away. My brother’s occurred before and after the death of our nan and my daughter had these dreams before and after the death of my other nan. Not being deeply religious I am reluctant to call the figures angels, however, I do think that they were sent from somewhere both to prepare us for the loss and to give us peace afterwards.
I also agree with Stevens to an extent due to the fact that I did dream about being a mother beforehand and have had dreams of car accidents and fires etc where I have had to deal with the situation and protect my loved ones.
Anyway, I started this for my daughter but still can’t really figure her out. Basically the main nightmare she has is being buried alive and having worms etc crawling over her while she is rotting away. Horrible, I know! Freud’s theory doesn’t fit and clearly this is not a life rehearsal. If you listen to Jung then it would suggest that she has homicidal tendencies! That’s ridiculous. Going by the work of Hill it could imply lack of trust in her family that we would let that happen to her. Obviously, I hope this is not the case.
The doctor and myself agree that she is very fearful of death, in general, both her own and other people’s. We are working with her on this. Also, it seems she feels lonely much of the time. Despite being surrounded by family and friends, she is an only child and did have an imaginary friend when she was younger. She treats her teddies etc like living entities a lot of the time too. She told the doctor in her latest visit that she didn’t want to die alone.
After my research and the discussion with my baby’s doctor I think that she can’t dissociate her life from her dreams therefore worries about it even when she’s awake. It’s horrendous really considering she is so young. I suppose that the fact that her dad is older may increase the thoughts of death and loss but, in all honesty, I really don’t know.
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