One of my friends used to tell me that she had frequent dreams. Her dreams used to disturb her mental peace, affect her mornings. As morning shows the day, she used to loose her day because of her dreams. Whenever I heard her complain about her dreams I told her to consult a psychiatrist and she never did. In the mean time I wondered what happened to all my dreams. I was surprised to see that I didn’t remember dreaming for a long time unlike when I used to in my childhood.
Now more or less I feel that I have found quite impressive answers to my doubts. The answers I found are from the work of one of the founders of modern psychology- Alfred Adler. Adler was a contemporary of Sigmund Freud and C. G. Jung. He was a core member of the famous Vienna Psychoanalytic Society of which he became a president in 1910. When he started having ideological differences with Freud, he resigned to found Individual Psychology.
Adler had following differences in the way Freud had interpreted dreams.
1. Freudian interpretation presupposed a difference between the working of the mind during the day and its working at night.
Adler opinioned that keeping ‘conscious’ & ‘unconscious’ thinking as opposite to each other & giving dream its own special law are contradictory to everyday thinking.
2. In Freudian view dreams are set against the background of sexuality.
Adler contradicts this view. He says this view separated dreams from people’s ordinary strivings & activities. If it were true, dreams would mean as an expression of only a part of the personality (sexuality) but not as whole personality. Freudians themselves agreed that Freud’s view was inadequate.
3. In the answer to the crucial question ‘why do we dream at all?’
Freud says the purpose of the dream is to satisfy the individual unfulfilled desires.
But Adler answers that this view by no means explains everything. For example, where is the satisfaction if the individual forgets the dream, or he doesn’t understand it? If the dream life is separated from the day life dreams would have no purpose to the waking person.
Now let us come out of the ideological differences between the two legends of human psychology and understand dreams. Here are questions that I have posed and the answers through Adler’s concept of Individual Psychology.
Q1. Is dream life different from waking life?
Dream life is not a contradiction to waking life. If by day we are engaged in striving towards superiority then we must be occupied by same at night too.
Q2. How does dream influence our day life?
Let us first answer this question. What is left with us after a last night’s dream?
Nothing? Something remains; the feeling that the dream has aroused is with us. Pictures, events, faces, nothing persists, only the lingering feelings. That lingering feeling is the one that influences our day life.
Q3. What relation does the dream associate with the dreamer’s lifestyle?
The feelings that individual create with dreams is always consistent with their life style. If during day we are troubled by problems, our sleep is troubled too.
Q4. Are we away from reality or real life when we dream?
In dreams we are less in touch with the reality, but there is no actual break with reality. Parents can sleep through the loudest noise in the street & yet waken at the slightest movement of their child which shows the connection with the reality during our sleep.
Q5. If our dreams are connected with our problems of the day then why don’t we feel as stressed while dreaming?
When we dream we are alone. The demands of society do not press so urgently on us and we are not obliged to deal so honestly with the situation around.
Dreaming is one disturbance to calm and peaceful sleep. We dream only if we are not sure of solution to our problem, only if reality is pressing in on us to find a solution. But our mind deals with it lightly.
In our dreams since we are not dealing with the whole situation, problems appear easier and solution offered will need least adjustment from us. Therefore the purpose of the dream will be to support & reinforce the dreamer’s lifestyle.
If the individuals are confronted by the problems that they do not wish to solve according to their common sense, they can confirm their attitude by the feelings that are aroused in their dreams.
Q6. So, there is a relation between dreams and common sense?
Dreaming and common sense are arch enemies. People who do not like to be deluded by their feelings, who prefer to proceed in a scientific way, do not dream often or do not dream at all.
Others do not want to solve their problems by normal or applying common sense solutions. Common sense is an aspect of cooperation and people who are not well trained in cooperation dislike common sense. Such people have very frequent dreams. They are anxious that there life style should prevail & be justified. They wish to avoid the challenge of reality.
Q7. So, what exactly are we doing when we dream?
In dreams we are fooling ourselves. Every dream is an auto-intoxication, a self-hypnosis. Its whole purpose is to produce the mood in which we are best prepared to face the situation.
Q8. What are dreams made of? Why do dreams look weird & unconnected often?
As one psychologist says ‘we are poets in our dreams’. Dreams use metaphors and symbols because if we speak plainly we can’t escape common sense. Metaphors are used for beauty, for imagination & fantasy, and that’s what dreams are.
Let us take the example of dream where the dreamer is not ready to face the life or to apply common sense solution to his/her problems.
When a student is faced with an examination, the problem is straightforward & he/her should face it with courage & common sense. But if it is his part of his life style to run away, he may dream that he is fighting a war so that he is justified in being afraid. Or he dreams standing on the edge of an abyss and that he must run back to avoid falling in. He has to generate such feelings as an avoidance tactic, a form of escapism and he fools himself by identifying the examination with the abyss.
Now let us go with the example of a dream where the dreamer is positive & has long term view of life.
With such person she wishes to complete her task & go through with her examination. She still needs support, however, wants to reassure herself-her lifestyle demands it.
The night before the examination she dreams that she is standing on top of a mountain. The picture of her situation is very much simplified. Only the smallest part of all the circumstances of her life is represented. The problem of the examination is a great one to her, but by excluding many aspects of it & excluding many aspects of it & concentrating on her prospect of success; she stirs up feeling for herself.
Next morning she gets up feeling happier, fresher & braver than before. She has succeeded in minimizing the difficulties she must face. But in spite of the fact that she has assured herself, she has really been fooling herself. She has not faced the whole situation in a common sense way, but she has merely stirred up a mood of confidence.
Q9. If we are fooling ourselves in our dreams, what should we do to stop dreaming?
The fact that dreams are designed to fool & deceive us accounts for the fact that they are rarely understood. If we understand our dreams they no longer have the power to arouse our feelings and feelings and they could not deceive us.
Conclusion: There are many varieties of dreams and every dream reveals the point where individual feel their life needs reinforcement in relation to the particular situation that confronts them. The interpretation of dreams is therefore unique to the individual. It is thus impossible to interpret dreams or symbols & metaphors by formulae. Dream is a creation of the life style, drawn from the individual’s own interpretation of their own particular circumstances.
Here we like to interpret some of your dreams if you would like them to be interpreted. You can share any of your dreams which you want to understand.
Understand your dreams; understand your life.
Its ash here..