From the neurophysiologist’s point of view, dreams are said to be the results of rapid eye movement (REM) when a person sleeps or is in a semi-conscious state. We see vivid images that keep flashing one after another to suggest a sequence of events that either make sense or don’t at all.
The father of modern psychiatry, the legendary Sigmund Freud in his historical work, Interpretation of Dreams, stated that dream content is motivated by our longing for wish-fulfillments, and dreams are often instigated by daily events that precede the dream. He called it the “day residue.” In adults Freud observed, dreams occurred from “latent” dream-thoughts present in their unconscious or subconscious minds.
The Interpretation of Dreams: What Dreams Convey
Your dream may be a collection of simple images like a grand event, the reappearance of a dead relative or friend or even a euphoric you winning the lottery jackpot. However, dreams don’t tell simple stories always. This is more so because people from different backgrounds and cultures report having the same dreams.
In a recent study on dreams, it was found that most members of the sample group saw the following fourteen most common images while dreaming.
Being Chased: A very commonly reported dream. May be interpreted as a result of anxieties within us that we go to sleep with. Often, it’s not the fear of being chased actually, but what we’re running from causes such images to be seen. Dream of being chased help us understand that we may not be addressing important issues in our waking lives that require immediate attention.
Vehicles: Be it a car, train, airplane or ship, any vehicle that we see in a dream reflects what direction we would like our life to take. Moreover, these are also suggestive of the quantity of control we think we have over the path ahead. Vehicles empower us to make transitions and point towards a definite destination. They are also known to highlight obstacles we think we are facing and need to overcome.
Water: Water is a typical symbol of our unconscious minds or emotions. The state of the water — clear or cloudy; calm or turbulent — often gives insights into how effectively we manage our emotions.
Classroom or School: Yet another very common situation. We often find ourselves in a classroom, confronted with a difficulty which we aren’t prepared to take. A classic case of the “dream pun” or the mind using a concept or word and defining it differently. The unwanted “test” that we face indicates that we have to learn from past mistakes. Reported mostly by people who have left school long ago.
People: When you see other people while dreaming, take it as a reflection of the self’s different aspects. People who flit by in dreams may relate to special characteristics that need development. When you see specific people, you are directly relating to interpersonal issues or existing relationships that need to be worked upon. When you dream of your lover, in particular, it denotes a certain detachment.
Death: Often perceived as a negative occurring, it often directly relates to dramatic changes that may happen in the dreamer’s life. It could indicate the ending of one thing and the beginning of another new phase in your life.
Paralysis: When you dream of turning paralytic, your body actually assumes a paralytic form as you dream and this prevents it from performing any action or actions that occur in the dream. Dreaming paralysis is interpreted as an overlap between the REM and waking stages of sleep. It also indicates that the dreamer lacks control in his waking life.
Falling: Reported quite frequently by dreamers. However, not all dreams about falling are negative or scary. Slow falling indicates a smoothness and serenity as also the letting go. However, images of falling from great heights indicate that something in our waking life is completely beyond our control.
Flying: Indicates how poorly or effectively we control our lives and our confidence levels in achieving our goals. When you fly high, you are euphoric. Flying low or skimming and getting caught in obstacles like power lines indicate frustration somewhere deep down.
Even images of babies, food, houses and sex seen in our dreams, have their own stories to tell. A baby usually represents something new — a new project, idea or development. Food symbolizes hunger for new insights and information while a dreaming of a house can be read as different aspects of dreamer’s degrees of consciousness. Last but not least, sex, as Freud put it, is best interpreted as an outlet for sexual expression, and close connections with others.