Famous psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud suggested that the latent content of our minds manifests in our dreams; that the qualities and desires lying dormant day-to-day come to light at night, when our minds become active during REM sleep.
Freud theorised that certain symbols and stories represented different things when they appear in our dreams, and that we can work backwards from the content of our dreams to understand more about ourselves, our wants, and our needs.
It’s almost impossible to prove or disprove any psychological theories, and the validity of dream analysis is no different. Carl Jung believed dreams to be the brain trying to balance internal conflicts, and G.W. Domhoff suggested they were simply a by-product of the brain’s normal functions, but many people now believe dreams to simply be the brain processing the previous day’s events.
Whatever the case may be, below are some of the most common dreams and, by Freud’s theory of representation, what they could possibly represent.
To kick us off, what does dreaming about flying mean? Most often, you might notice, when you dream about flying, you’ll be flying alone. It’s no surprise then that dreams about flying are often read as positive ones, representing freedom and independence, whether you’re dreaming about flying in a plane or freely in the sky like a bird.
This can also be interpreted as overcoming hardships, or finding the liberation of self-expression, particularly when it comes to discovering your sexuality or gender identity.
However, dreams about flying can also sometimes be seen as a desire to escape; the want for freedom, rather than the feeling of freedom itself. However, this is more likely to manifest as a different dream, namely, being chased.
Dreams about being chased are typically read as representing a desire to run away or avoid something prevalent in your life. You can further specify the meaning behind this dream, though, by who your pursuer is.
For example, being chased by an animal can be read as running from your own feelings, particularly ‘animalistic’ or base-level emotions like anger or passion. Alternatively, running from an unknown figure could represent past trauma or something that’s been repressed.
Dreaming about your teeth falling out can have multiple meanings but is typically believed to represent a general loss. Our teeth give us power; to talk and eat, to animalistically bite or to fight and assert dominance. Losing them can represent a loss of personal power or ability to communicate.
It can also symbolise self-consciousness, or concerns about your appearance.
Like losing teeth, dreams about falling are believed to represent a loss of control. Unsurprisingly, it can be directly connected to dreaming about flying; where flying represents freedom and success, falling means the opposite.
It could suggest a need to rethink a choice you’ve recently made, or that you need to let go and enjoy more things in life. Focus less on goals and achievements that will make you feel stressed and/or unsuccessful if you don’t meet them. Instead, try to enjoy experiences as they come.
Metaphorically, a pregnancy dream can easily be understood as representing a project, or something you’re personally working hard on. In particular, it’s often considered to symbolise a creative process. What happens during the pregnancy in the dream could then represent how you feel about the project.
If you lose the baby in the dream, for example, it may represent your project not going to plan, or disappointment regarding its progress or outcome.
Dreaming about being naked is one of the most common dreams out there. It could be a manifestation of imposter syndrome; feeling like you don’t belong, or that you’re afraid of being exposed in one way or another.
Nakedness is a sign of vulnerability, so it’s no wonder it’s such a common dream trope, as imposter syndrome is something believed to be experienced by approximately 70% of people at some point in their lives.
Death is most commonly understood as representing significant change. Much like death, it’s often difficult to know what to expect on the other side of a change, and letting go of something we’re accustomed to can be a distressing experience.
If you dream about the death of a particular person, it might be worth considering what that person means to you emotionally, and what their death could symbolise the death of in your life. For example, dreaming about the death of a close school friend could symbolise the end of your education if you’re soon to graduate.
Many researchers theorise that recurring dreams represent needs that are unmet, and that you will keep having the dream until its source is addressed or resolved.
This ties into the fact that recurring dreams are often a symptom of PTSD or generalised anxiety disorder; they often occur or become more frequent during times of stress.
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