Home Personal Psychology Sleeping/Dreaming Dreamer Beware: The Insightful Dreams of Sarah, Dan and Katherine

Dreamer Beware: The Insightful Dreams of Sarah, Dan and Katherine

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Is there really a committee of sleep wandering around our psyche setting up agenda for our night of dreams and crafting dreams to teach us something? This sounds a bit too imaginative—a bit like envisioning a war going on in our psyche between the forces of the Id, Ego and Superego. Are some dreams actually purposeful—or are they acting like Rorschach ink blots on which we project our waking needs and aspirations. Perhaps dreams are simply random neuronal firings to which we add our meaning-making proclivities. We see castles and mythic figures in the clouds that stand before us on a summer day. We might see richly textured metaphor and compelling dramas in our dreams during a summer night. If all of this is the case, then we should applaud our imaginative abilities when awake and recalling our dreams, rather than applauding our ability to create purposeful dreams while asleep.

Yet, it is hard to dismiss the potential messages conveyed in our dreams. Can’t Sarah and Dan learn something given the scene they have observed (and created) in their dreams? Given that Katherine’s mobile was actually dropped, can’t we conclude that her dream was something more than just a clustering of random cortical images that are set free during her sleep?

There is indeed much that is not known about dreams—about where they come from and what if anything they mean. However, there is one thing that we do know for certain. We know the author of our dreams. Fromm (1951, p. 4) puts it this way:

“When we are asleep, we awake to another form of existence. We dream. We invent stories which never happened and sometimes for which there is not even any precedent in reality. Sometimes we are the hero, sometimes the villain; sometimes we see the most beautiful scenes and are happy; often we are thrown into extreme terror. But whatever the role we play in the dream we are the author, it is our dream, we have invented the plot.”

Unlike during our waking hours when we are influenced by the environment in which we are living and working and must often abide by the dictates of other people who have power over us, the dream is exclusively our own personal domain. Given our ownership of the dream’s contents–the poetic metaphors and dramatic episodes contained in the dream—it seems appropriate that we listen to what we are teaching ourselves. At the very least, we are honoring our own internal wisdom when we attend to our dreams. We are appreciating our own unique perspectives on reality. Isn’t this an important act of attention to take after we have had an eventful night of sleep (and our committee has done its important work)?

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