DREAM INTERPRETATION

Human beings experience dreams when sleeping; these occur during rapid eye movement sleep (REM sleep). Although we all have dreams, on waking it is often difficult to remember what they were about. One way of assisting the retention of the content of dreams is to have a pencil and pad by the bedside and record them immediately on waking.

Patients who are in psychotherapy are likely to remember their dreams more clearly when they have a therapist who emphasises their importance. The reason that dreams are so significant is that they are a link to the unconscious mind. Although dreams appear to contain a range of unconnected material, the patient and the therapist working together can begin to understand and make sense of the various fragments.

The simplest type of dream is referred to as a “wish fulfilment dream”. Here the subject dreams of something that he or she wishes were true. For example some one who is anxious about their forth-coming examinations might dream that the examinations are over and that he or she has passed. People who have failing vision may dream that they can see perfectly, while the starving frequently dream about food. Alternatively, a person who has great difficulty in social situations might dream that they are the life and soul of the party. These are all simple dreams, which are self-explanatory. However, dreams are very often much more complex than this and require expert interpretation.

Patients often believe that all they have to do is to present the dream to the therapist and that he or she will automatically be able to give an immediate interpretation. This is an unrealistic expectation on the part of the patient. In order to interpret a dream the patient needs to work with the therapist in a psychotherapeutic context to unravel the associations which link the dream with the unconscious. This can prove to be extremely helpful to the patient in that material, which was unconscious in the dream, has been brought into their conscious mind. It is particularly important in relation to recurring dreams as these signify that there is some very important unconscious material, which needs to be analysed.

 

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David Kraft

 


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