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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Then it actually happened. Her boyfriend came over to her apartment that afternoon. Picked up the mobile and “accidentally” dropped it. The mobile shattered into many pieces—as in the dream. That evening, when Katherine came to the laboratory, she was asked (as was always the case) if there had been any important events occurring during the day (the study being in part about the presence of “day residue” in the subject’s dreams). Katherine reported to the researcher that the mobile had been dropped by Steve and she was still very angry and wasn’t sure if she would rebuild the mobile – or remain involved with Steve (she soon broke off the relationship with Steve).

The researcher broke the established protocol by revealing to Katherine the content of the Shattered Mobile dream she had the previous night. Katherine reiterated that she did not recall this dream. However, both Katherine and the researcher acknowledged that somehow the dream might have remained at some level in Katherine’s sub-conscious and might have somehow influenced Steve’s actions regarding the mobile.

Katherine revealed that she had several other dreams in recent years that were “prophetic.” As a “scientist” (she was majoring in biology and psychology), Katherine found it very hard to believe that these dreams were actually predicting what would occur in the near future and she had never revealed to anyone that she had these predictive dreams. Both the researcher and Katherine paused to reflect on what all of this might mean. They didn’t talk more about this matter, though Katherine came to the lab for two more nights of sleep and reported another 7 dreams. The researcher reported several months later that she was still pondering what this Shattered Mobile dream reveals about the potential function of dreams.

Types of Dream Insight

There are many perspectives that can be taken on dreams and both the function they serve (see Bergquist, 2022) and the meaning that can be assigned to them. While one does not have to agree with the meaning(s) assigned to dreams by Sigmund Freud (1900/2010), one can agree with him that dreams might have multiple meanings—much as in the case of many human creations (myths, legends, poetry, art, music).

Like many other interpreters of dreams, Freud found them to be very economical in making use a few images to convey multiple meanings. We saw evidence of this in the dream reported in one of our earlier essays when the term “bridge” seemed to be used in three ways within a single dream: (1) the game of Bridge, (2) bridge of the nose, and (3) a structural bridge. Given the potential multi-layers feature of dreams, we face the challenge of finding a specific perspective to take in approaching dreams such as the three presented in this essay. I offer two perspectives and then show how they might be applied to our three dreams. The first of these perspectives concerns the nature of the narrative contained in the dream.

Poetic or Dramatic

A dream can convey multiple meanings through the use of a poetic form–a metaphor. We see this in the face cutting portrayed in Sarah’s dream. While her colleague would never actually cut Sarah, the use of a razor to cut Sarah potentially conveys several different meanings. First, the razor can cause Sarah to feel wounded. Second, the razor might cut without Sarah actually knowing that she has been cut. Third, the razor is small. It could be wielded without Sarah actually knowing that it is being used to wound her.

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