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Decoding Dreams

This article was written by Henry Woodhouser
posted under Dreams

There are numerous "dream interpretation" books available today, but none quite like Dreams: Working Interactive. What makes this title unique is the combination of its authors, Stephanie Clement, a Minnesota professional in Transpersonal Psychology, and Terry Lee Rosen, a computer programmer at Front Range College, in Colorado. Together, they have created a straightforward system to document , decode, and analyze dream images in a book and software presentation.

The accompanying compact disk allows for journalizing our dreams in the context of Dr. Clement’s interpretations. These are primarily of a Jungian nature, in that the identity of dream types are perceived as rooted in the subconscious, our inner voice expressing itself in the psycho-dramas we experience, although do not always remember, every night. I was especially attracted to the book’s third part, its Dream Symbol Dictionary. Here the visual elements are alphabetically listed, each with their own succinct definitions.

Dr. Clement argues that dreams are composed of many significant details forming themes and patterns connecting waking conscious with its subconscious underpinnings. An understanding of the archetypal symbolism involved can real much about the deep-seated motivations activating our attitudes and behavior. Beginning with A, I read through the entire Dictionary section, looking for those elements remembered from dreams past. Although psychologists tell us we dream every night, we cannot recall most of our dreams, and those we do are usually fragmented. Clearly remembered dreams are relatively rare for most dreamers.

Even so, I have several times dreamt of cats, always in sympathetic is sometimes bizarre situations, undoubtedly because I live with a beloved feline, Sally. In one such dream, she suddenly sprouted wings and flew through the air, attacking a sea-gull, which she dropped at my feet. In looking up the various details of the dream in the dictionary section, an interpretation suggested itself.

Dr. Clement writes that a cat “symbolizes the depths of a dream, and therefore the mystery you are facing in your waking life.” Sally’s untypical wings indicate spirituality, “and also the ability to remove oneself from a situation literally or figuratively.” The gull she caught “reflects your personal relationship between the world of logical intellect—objectivity—and the world of the unconscious —hidden emotions.” Clement points out that proper dream interpretation can only be achieved in the context of one’s waking state, which is symbolically reflected in such psycho-dramas.

Following her observations, my dream recollection changed its character from a someone amusing piece of nonsense to an insightful comment on the state of my conscious mind. Sally, in other words, represented the psychological problem, as it were, “the mystery you are facing”; namely, a struggle between external attempts at behaving rationally (i.e., in a socially acceptable fashion) and inner feelings which, if expressed, would today be condemned as uncivilized behavior. This conflict is underscored by Dr. Clement’s observation, “A lesser-evolved animal in a dream may indicate a primitive instinct, or that the instinct is emerging from a deeper level of the unconscious.” Sally’s wings, however, suggest “the ability to remove oneself from a situation”, an ability she presented as a gift.

The meaning of the dream is as follows: The dreamer is conflicted in his daily life between what is expected of him by others and his innate, contrary emotions, but should have confidence in his ability to avoid the conflict without compromising either his own feelings or duty toward others.

Recurring dreams commonly take place in the lives of many persons, but so too certain themes often show up more than once in our psycho-dramas. Motifs that appear time and again in dreams I’ve experienced all my life belong to cities, clocks, a deluge, a house, serpents, and water. I’ve never read a truly satisfying explanation of any of these recurring themes until Dr. Clement’s interpretations. Remarkably, she writes that these six elements are among the most frequently experienced by dreamers in the Western World, implying that their reappearance is culturally inflected.

To dream of cities, she explains, shows deep concern for the workings of social life, while a clock is a kind of mandala of the subconscious mind, significant less for the passage of time than the division of life into phases of development. To dream more than once of a deluge usually means that the dreamer feels overwhelmed by circumstances, although such a frightful metaphor also possesses a purifying aspect in the thorough cleansing of old ways. Carl Jung associated dreams of a house with the dreamer’s self-image, particularly his or hers own body. Dr. Clement expands this concept to include the dreamer’s entire being of body, mind and soul.

Whenever I dream of serpents, they are not invariably threatening or even frightening, a reaction in keeping with her definition of this archetype as symbolic of the potent force of spirit. “Because it sheds its skin in order to grow,” she writes, “the snake is a powerful symbol of transmutation ... the serpent is a powerful creative force when it appears in your dreams.” Water, too, sometimes recurs in those nightly dramas that fill the subconscious mind, for reasons I never consciously recognized until Dr. Clement explained that its appearance in a dream “reflects something about the way you see life at any given time.”

With a book like Dreams: Working Interactive, readers will be able to save a great deal of money by canceling all further visits to the psychiatrist’s couch. Everything they need to help them properly analyze and interpret their dreams and connecting with their subconscious lives is available in this single, insightful volume with its attractive software.

 


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