I recently had a traumatic nightmare–the kind from which you wake up crying–and was so glad I had just read this particular chapter in Jeremy Taylor’s Dream Work. It helped with seeing the many different levels and meanings available to me–particularly when my subconscious was trying desperately to get my attention.
According to Taylor, EVERY DREAM:
- Comes in the service of wholeness and the effort to harmonize interior and exterior life.
- Contains an element of “libidinous,” sexual desire á la Sigmund Freud.
- Contains an element of unconscious wish fulfillment (once again via Freud)
- Depicts elements of the dreamer’s personality, interior life, and vital energies in its imagery (Gestalt school of dream work).
- Contains an element of reflection of the physical health and condition of the body at the moment of the dream.
- Demonstrates that both biophysical and biochemical behaviors accompany the act of dreaming.
- Has an element drawn from the memories of the preceding day or two, known technically as “day residue.” Ask yourself not only what event is being recalled, but more importantly, WHY it has found its way into your dreams.
- Has an element of the dream’s construction associated with the “information processing” of memory from short-term into long-term memory.
- Has an element representing power and dominance relationships in waking life á la Alfred Adler.
- Has an element of childhood and adolescent reminiscence, often associated with the question: When in my life did I first feel the way I am feeling now?
- Has an element of speculation about the future: What might happen if I did thus-and-so?
- Renders feelings and emotions into metaphoric images or symbolic forms as are thoughts, sensations and intuitions.
- Takes the shape it does because that is the best “fit” that can be achieved, given the multiple meanings carried by the dream.
- Has an element of archetypal drama, a universality, no matter how personal and/or mundane they may seem.
- Has an element of “anniversary” or “commemoration” of significant waking life and dream events.
- Contains an element of constructive self-criticism.
- Contains an element of creative inspiration and problem solving.
- Has an element of religious concern and intuition about the inevitability of death.
- Has a balancing or compensatory element relative to waking consciousness.
- Is constructed out of the seeming opposition between polarities.
- Contains an element of “synchronicity” (dèjá vu, telepathy, precognition, or the like).
- Has an element of “return to the womb” and “return to the crucible for melting and recasting” as in the evolution and development of personality and character, and every awakening is a rebirth into a potentially new life.
- Is related in theme to all the other dreams one has in a single night (whether you can unravel it or not as you may not see the particular layer that holds the key to the theme).
- Reflects a concern for waking life emotional relationships or the lack of them.
- Contains an element of humor even if it is only waking from a nightmare to discover that it was, in fact, “only a dream.” The fundamental basis of dream humor is often in the radical synthesis and juxtaposition of incongruous elements within the dream.
As Taylor notes, there is theoretically no end to this list. Some elements will dominate while others will be obscured at various times, but they are always there.