Dream interpretation

I was watching a show on the Sci-fi channel this morning (not usually up before noon, don’t usually watch the sci-fi channel, but that’s beside the point) called The Dream Team or something, where people would tell this guy about thier dream, and he would interpret it for them. This makes me wonder, is there any scientific basis for dream interpretation, or is it all just a bunch of new-age crap?

You forgot to google first?

New age crap.

Dreams are more-or-less a garbled replay of the day’s events (your brain sorts through the huge backlog of inputs it received during the day). Dreams are also related to long-term memory and learning. Rats and people who are not allowed sleep do not perform as well in memorization tasks.

This new wave of TV shows is just another take on psychic reading that does not blatantly shout of “scam” (ie. Madame Cleo).

There are many theories regarding dream interpretation. You could take the same dream and end up with several different interpetations depending on which discipline you use. Freud, Jung, & Gestalt were all big on dream interpretation but likemany psychological theories, they are based on completely different premises and there fore have different outcomes. Dreams are basically the thoughts of the subconscious mind which are organized differently than conscious thought. You can’t use a “translation” because everyone’s subconscious is organized a little differently. Dreams are extremely important to conscious functioning and people consistently deprived of REM sleep will sometimes experience cognitive malfunction and potentially breakdown.

As far as “meaning” some dreams probably are nothing more than random thoughts collected by the subconscious during the day - a way to vent stress, frustration, etc. Sort of subconscious “play”.

There are times when deams take on a more significant meaning. Particularly inthe case of recurring dreams, or recurrant themes in dreams. Sometimes issues can build in the subconscious that have an mapact on conscious thought but we aren’t able or are unwilling to see this during waking hours. An example would be repressed memories. This will manifest in dreams as a way of the subconscious trying to vent those issues or make the conscious aware that the issueneeds to be rectified.

As far as the guy on the sci-fi channel? I think it’s horse hooey but can be looked at as a game, kind of like going to a plam reader at a carnival. Maybe he gets lucky and is right abbout some things but more than likely, it’s a guess.

Thank you guys, you just confirmed my suspicions of it being a big pile of horse crap. To me, it doesn’t seem likely your subconcious mind would make use of symbols and such to try and communicate messages to your concious.

It seems impossible that any person would be able to tell another person what their dreams “mean”. Freud’s * Traumdeutung * is construed in such a way that every ‘symbol’ in a person’s dream can mean two entirely different (often opposite) things, based on the ‘non-dream’ information the psychiatrist has on the patient. If a shrink knows a patient is having trouble with his father, he could take any kind of aspect of a dream, and take it as a symbol of the patient’s father. In this way, Freud’s theory (as all theories regarding the ‘meaning’ of dreams) is not very scientific (then again, how could it be?). That’s not to say it’s ‘new age’, however.
I do believe that some dreams are significant, even if they are only a ‘backlog’ of input. It shows you (literally) what’s on your mind, and what you considered worth ‘remembering’ subconsciously. Ultimately though, it’s up to you to interpret this yourself.

I think I am personally pretty successful at interpreting dreams if I know the person well enough, but I don’t use any documented method.

The best way to think of dreams is as an attempt to clear the mind of stress, and/or learn something. The imagery and details of a dream are not as important as the way they fit together emotionally. However, I find that many people have symbolism in their dreams. But the symbolism is often very flexible and abstract. For example, a person might have a dream where a stranger or an animal represents just one aspect of his relationship with someone he knows very well. Or it could just as easily represent a common sort of problem or occurence in his life. The way the person deals with the symbol is an option he is exploring for how to deal with what it symbolizes. So, for example, someone might dream of a white rabbit that he hates for no apparent reason. He is trying to kill it with a rake, but it doesn’t hurt the rabbit, which just sort of cringes and hops away. He feels guilty for striking the rabbit, and frustrated that it is ineffective. Perhaps the rabbit reminds him of a coworker that is soft and useless but impossible to get rid of. The dream evokes questions such as, why don’t I just think of my coworker as a cute rabbit – someone that is nice to have around, but not useful? Why do I get so angry with the coworker? Or why don’t I forget this rake stuff and get a baseball bat?

Another sort of dream that is common is a dream about something that could never happen, but that you needed to make sure couldn’t happen. So, for example, you have a dream that you swerve to avoid an accident, into the median shoulder on the freeway but the car ahead of you does the same thing; but instead of getting into a horrible accident, your car miraculously slips past through a space too small for the car. So this would be a dream where you are making sure that your brain does not consider this as possible, in case you actually have to try to avoid an accident.

There are also very cyclical dreams (often reoccuring) which are about trying to solve a low-level problem that you have frequently failed to solve. So, for example, you have a repetitive dream where you ask person after person for the time, and no one will answer your question. This might be an attempt to learn how to be more persuasive to strangers, or to deal with a minor discomfort with strangers. It is some low-level brain or physical process that you haven’t quite gotten the hang of. These dreams are often exhausting because you are actually practicing, not resting.

Dreams are sometimes about something that you are not getting enough of in your day-to-day life. So for example, if things are dull at work for months, and nothing is going on in your social or family life, you may have a severe nightmare or a mind-blowing dream. If you have been sad for a long time you may have an extremely happy dream. If you haven’t had sex for a while…

Anyway, the point is, as long as you aren’t too mechanical about the way you interpret dreams, and use empathy, they can be very good tools for understanding peoples’ personal struggles and lives.