December 18, 2009
One thing I find interesting about this site is it demonstrates so clearly there are different *kinds* of dreams. Some are just fragments of fact or memory or imagination or letting the mind wander or play: I dreamed I was walking with my boyfriend. Some are simply "wish fulfillment". A happy outcome corresponding to what you generally desire or find pleasant; gettin kissed by a celebrity. Dreams like these don't really offer much opportunity for, or need, comment or interpretation.
Then there are the ones that seem to have emotional color or a psychological/feeling charge that can tell something about what's going on subconsciously with the dreamer. They may have elements, items, which have personal meaning to the dreamer, meanings that have to be teased out by "feeling into" them. These are the dreams that can trigger an insight in an observer who might be able to see some significance that the dreamer may not be aware of, or be able to access, because of the general fact that we all tend to be "too close to ourselves".
Another category is the dream that has more or less obvious "universal symbols" or elements that correspond to what Depth Psychology calls the "archetypes", which are images that show up in all human dreams, mythologies, and folk-tales, such as the Father, Mother, gold, stars, water, sun, moon, ocean, flight, things that come in patterns, of, say, threes or sevens, ... and such like, though the list is infinite. These elements can be "worked with", "dialogued with", while awake, sometimes with help of an "interpreter" or counsellor, and be used to help the dreamer to "plumb the depths", "integrate" or transform/tame his subconscious "material" for the purpose of healing and growth (incidentally, the word "heal" has the same root as the word "whole". The goal of Depth Psychology, originated by Carl G. Jung, is "psychic wholeness"). [And, of course, this working and therapeutizing can also be applied to the category above, the emotional, personal, or feeling dreams.]
It seems there is another category of ... "night-time consciousness phenomena" (to call them something), which is rather controversial because of general lack of agreement about the relationship of the brain to the mind and associated issues. This is called "astral travel" which is related to / same as / "out of body experience". I think this is also perhaps closely related/parallel to "lucid dreaming" because in both there is a sense of "being awake" while in the dream state or "astral plane" ...if we ever come to understand what's really meant by these terms.
I feel I should mention another sub-condition/category found in this latter category, which is erroneously called "sleep paralysis" -- the experience of being "awake/aware" that one is in one's body in one's bed, but not able to move it or feel it. The reason, as I have understood it (and had some limited experience of ), is that you are "in" the "astral plane / dream world" and semi-"awake" or "lucid"..., *and* at the same time still located in the same physical location as - congruent with - your physical body, and aware of it. So, while you are actually in the same state as "asleep", i.e., not-in-the-physical-body, not "in touch with it", so to speak.., you know you are "right there" in bed, in the "same space" as your body, and wondering why you can't access it or move it. Hence, the sensation, and common associated panic, of "paralysis".
I have here tried to just briefly and rather crudely set out, from my present knowledge, four (or so; are there more?) categories or "levels" of what is generally referred to as dreaming, but have not done exhaustive research on the subject: 1., fragments or slices of life or memory of daily material or random mental 'play', and/or wish-fulfillment, self-pleasuring or self-scaring/exciting, etc., 2., psychologically revealing or affecting, 3., "archetypal/universal", useful for "wholizing" and healing, and 4., 'dream realm' phenomena (whatever that might actually be). Of course, with respect to any particular dream, any one, or more, or even all four, of these types or categories of material can appear simultaneously, and any attempt at interpretation can apply or employ any number of these approaches simultaneously. I intend this article to be just a very preliminary over-view which I hope will be added to or amended by future bloggers.
I also want to give recognition to an approach to interpretation that has been used a lot on this site, and which can, of course, sweep across all the "categories" -- and that is the *intuitive* approach used by many interpreters/commentators to express immediate impressions they receive reading any dream. I don't want my above "categorizations" to have any effect of discouraging that, or to devalue, or limit to only one category, any dream or insight that may be offered, but simply to help clarify what we're dealing with and perhaps offer a variety of "lenses" through which to view, or ways of approaching material.