I went to a lecture on “Dream Interpretation” at our Thursday Senior’s Discussion Group given by Celia Livermore, a psychologist with an interesting background. She is an Israeli who moved to Australia and was very successful there, but after retiring she moved back to Beer Sheva where she grew up.
She is an expert on dreams and gave an interesting talk on the subject. She pointed out that modern interpretation of dreams does not rely on simple allegories as in the Bible nor on the largely sexual analysis of Sigmund Freud. Dreams tend to include some form of conflict, which is now often interpreted as the attempt by the brain to bring issues that bother the individual from the subconscious mind (the id representing the child and the super-ego representing the adult) into communication with the conscious mind (the ego or self).
Dreams are known to occur during the last stages of sleep (after 5 or so hours) during REM (rapid eye movement) sleep. Some people (like myself) who never or rarely dream may be because they never have continuous sleep for up to 8 hours, and if sleep is interrupted never get to the REM stage. Alternatively they may not “remember” their dreams. In order to help remember dreams Celia recommended having a note pad and pen next to the bed and writing in it whatever comes to mind immediately you wake up. Sometimes in this way dreams are remembered that would otherwise be forgotten. Once people start to record dreams their dreams often become more easily remembered.
The interpretation of dreams is quite complex and often includes recent happenings in one’s life, that the brain is trying to deal with and interpret. Complexity comes about partly because the sub-conscious mind uses symbols to represent people or things in the real world. Celia related that there is a specific kind of dream that is particularly vivid and often involves two people talking about a serious subject. These are known as “lucid” dreams and often are an attempt by the conscious mind to resolve some specific personal problem. For example, Celia had dreamt that she was talking to someone who had jumped out of a plane. After analyzing the dream she realized that both people were versions of herself, her conscious self and her sub-conscious self (or id) and that the plane represented a relationship she had recently terminated. Jumping out of the plane was her sub-conscious mind’s way of dealing with the ending of this relationship.
I mentioned the famous short story of 1938 by Delmore Schwartz, the American Jewish intellectual and writer, entitled “In dreams begin responsibilities,” in which he dreams that he is watching a movie of his father and mother meeting, and he tries to stop the film. In this he intimates that dreams are a way of dealing with the sometimes difficult reality of life.