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Can dreams ever tell a therapist anything useful?


The definitions of the word dream is the subjective experience of imaginary images, sounds/voices thoughts or sensations during sleep. Also, they are referred as an altered state of consciousness (ASC)
The definition of the word therapist is the person you is skilled in particular kinds of therapy.



Courtesy of Buzzfeed

Everyone dreams, but most of the time we forget all about them. Some people dream about mysteries of the future while others dream about traumas from the past, but to get a good night’s sleep we all need to have some sort of dream (Colville, 2009). The meaning ascribed to dreams, the methods used to assessed them, important figures in dreams, and much more will be attempted to discuss in this page for a thorough understanding. Although there is much research conducted on dreams, there is still much to discover.

Colville, C. (Director and Producer). (2009). Why Do We Dream? (BBC Documentary). United States: Horizon.

Dream Interpretation

Previous research has shown that dreams interpretation can help in decreasing psychological distress, feeligns of isolation lack of support, coping strategies for stresses, coping with addictions, and romantic relationship issues (DeCicco, Donati, & Pini, 2012). Many people tend to think dreaming is more influential than waking thoughts because dreams are perceived to be internal and within one self whereas waking thoughts are influences by the external world (Morewedge & Norton, 2009). If a woman as a dream that her husband is unfaithful then she is a lot more likely to confront him about it then if she had a waking thought. The reason for this may be that the waking thought can be ascribed to an outer factor, like watching a movie about infidelity, but if she dreamt about it then she would think that this is what she truly believes but does not realize (Morewedge & Norton, 2009).
Many dreams are motivationally interpreted because they are interpreted in ways that go along with the dreamers' beliefs and desires. For example, if one has a dream about a sexual encounter with his/her partner compared to if they have a dream about a sexual encounter with their friend’s partner then they are more likely to give more meaning to the dream about their own partner and disregard the other one because many people believe that dreams contain hidden truths (Morewedge & Norton, 2009). However, dreams are ambiguous and fluid so one shouldn't rely on them too much (Hollan, 2009). It is hard to determine what they may mean, if anything they mean anything at all, so to think that dreams contain answers about everything may be a long shot.

DeCicco, T. L., Donati, D., & Pini, M. (2012). Examining Dream Content and Meaning of Dreams with English and Italian Versions of the Storytelling Method of Dream Interpretation. International Journal of Dream Research, 5(1), 68-75.
Hollan, D. (2009). The Influence of Culture on the Experience and Interpretation of Disturbing Dreams. Culture, Medicine and Psychiatry, 33(2), 313-322. doi:

Morewedge, C. K., & Norton, M. I. (2009). When Dreaming is Believing: The (Motivated) Interpretation of Dreams. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 96(2), 249-264. doi:

Motivational Inpterpretation

“Dreams incongruous with existing beliefs and desires are less likely to be endorsed and influence diurnal life” (Morewedge & Norton, 2009)
Morewedge, C. K., & Norton, M. I. (2009). When Dreaming is Believing: The (Motivated) Interpretation of Dreams. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 96(2), 249-264. doi:

Influence of Dreams

A national online survey of 270 randomly chosen Americans was conducted. Subjects were asked to describe a dream they had about a person they know, they were also asked to rate how much they like the friend on a 5-point scale, and the importance of that dream to the participants. Dreams about liked individuals were seen as more influential than about disliked individuals. In other words, the more a person was liked by the participant the importance was granted for that dream. This was especially accurate for pleasant dreams compared to unpleasant dreams.
(Morewedge & Norton, 2009).

Morewedge, C. K., & Norton, M. I. (2009). When Dreaming is Believing: The (Motivated) Interpretation of Dreams. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 96(2), 249-264. doi:

Affects of Dreams on Frienships

135 particiaptns from Cambridge volunteered to participate in a study to see how dream interpretation affected people’s perception of their friendships. Particaptns were asked to dream of one of two scenarios about a friend; either that friend kissed their most recent/current significant other or their friend defended them from danger. Particpants were also asked to rate how meaningful that dream would be to them and how close they were to that friend. It was found that dreams with their friends defending them were more signcant and meaningful than dreams where their friends kissed their significant other. The hypothetical dreams also impacted how close participants felt to their friend because those who were defended by their friend felt closer to that friend than those who were not. This study showed that particapants tended to disregard dreams that conflicted with their waking desires and beliefs (Morewedge & Norton, 2009).

Morewedge, C. K., & Norton, M. I. (2009). When Dreaming is Believing: The (Motivated) Interpretation of Dreams. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 96(2), 249-264. doi:

Agnostics vs Believers

In this study of 60 undergraduates Rutgers University in New Brunswick, New Jersey, agnostics (those doubtful of the existence of God) and believers (those with no doubt about the existence of God) were recruited by rating their beliefs in the existence of God on a 5-point scale. Participants were asked to imagine that God spoke to them in a dream about something they would enjoy or something they would dislike.
A pretest was conducted on 20 undergraduates to determine which is more pleasant; taking a year off to travel or taking a year off to work in a leper colony. Taking a year off was, unsurprisingly, rated as more pleasant.
The 60 participants from Rutgers University were asked to imagine that they had a dream where God spoke to them to either take a year off and travel or take a year off and work in a leper colony. The participants were then asked to rate how meaningful the dream would be to them. It was found that believers thought both of the dreams were (fairly) equally meaningful. Agnostics tended to find the dream about taking a year off to travel more significant than working in a leper colony. This study shows that people tend to interpret situations based on their personal beliefs (Morewedge & Norton, 2009).

Morewedge, C. K., & Norton, M. I. (2009). When Dreaming is Believing: The (Motivated) Interpretation of Dreams. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 96(2), 249-264. doi:

Cultural Interpretation of Dreams Around the World

Italy vs Canada

30 Italians and 30 Canadians in therapy for relationship and life adjustment issues participated in a study designed to see the cultural difference in dreaming and interpretation. “The Storytelling Method” was used, which means that participants were asked to be describe dreams and answer open ended questions about associations, metaphors etc. about their dreams. Dreams were recorded and charted in terms of dream content and discover made in the dream.
Both groups interpreted their dreams in ways to help them solve waking problems. As much as 70% of Italians made a discovery about their romantic relationship e.g., “me and wife need to start spending more time together” compared to the 34% of Canadians who made similar discoveries. Italian males tended to have a high amount of dreams on discoveries about family issues. These findings are significant because one of the major reasons participants were in therapy was for relationship issue. These dreams seemed to be displaying clues about issues that were bothering the participants in real life.
Italians tended to have more discoveries about family and romantic relationships while Canadians tended to make more discoveries about themselves. This makes sense because Canada is more of an individualistic society while Italy is more relationally oriented. Italy is more cultural and values creativity a lot, which could be why Italian males also had a higher amount of colour in their dreams than Canadians. This study showed the cultural differences in dreams and interpretation for individuals (DeCicco, Donati, & Pini, 2012).

DeCicco, T. L., Donati, D., & Pini, M. (2012). Examining Dream Content and Meaning of Dreams with English and Italian Versions of the Storytelling Method of Dream Interpretation. International Journal of Dream Research, 5(1), 68-75.

Native Indian in Canada

The Sesekinika Lake in Northern Canada has a native Indian tribe where dream interpretation is central to their culture. The members wake up in the morning and share their dreams. The elders are usually incharge of interpretations and do so by relying on folklore. In this tribe a dream about rising water means sickness and low water means that a sickness will be cured (Documentary).

Colville, C. (Director and Producer). (2009). Why Do We Dream? (BBC Documentary). United States: Horizon.

India vs Korea vs America

Approximately 50 undergraduate and graduate students from Korea, India, and America each were asked to rate how much they endorse four theories of dreaming on a 5-point scale:
1. dreams contain buried truths (Freudian)
2. dreams give us important information on how to solve our daily problems
3. dreams are there to help us learn and process the information given to us throughout the day
4. dreams are randomly created and are more like “vivid hallucinations”
56% from America, 64.9% from Korea, and 73% from India rated the Freudian theory to be the most used. Although professionals still debate the importance of dreaming, the average person places a high value on the meaning of dreams (Morewedge & Norton, 2009).

Morewedge, C. K., & Norton, M. I. (2009). When Dreaming is Believing: The (Motivated) Interpretation of Dreams. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 96(2), 249-264. doi:


In a study conducted at South Station in Boston, 180 participants were surveyed to see how important the average person considered dreams to be. The night before a hypothetical plane crash, four scenarios were given:
1. thye had a dream about a plane crash
2. the had a wakening thought about a plane crash
3. a plane crash actually occurred
4. the government sent out a warning against planes
Using a 7-point scale, participants were asked to rate which scenario would be the most affective in order to prevent them from flying. It was found that dreaming about the plane crash would be most influential compared to the other three scenarios. Dreams were seen as being able to provide insight on worldly events much more than actual events that could occur.
(Morewedge & Norton, 2009).

Morewedge, C. K., & Norton, M. I. (2009). When Dreaming is Believing: The (Motivated) Interpretation of Dreams. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 96(2), 249-264. doi:

Indonesia vs American Puerto Rico vs Cambodia

In order to study trauma and disturbing dreams, three studies were analyzed for important information. Many researchers have previously focused on the symbolic and metaphoric aspects of dreams rather than on what they might be saying about the social and personal lives of the dreamers, this study looks at the impact society and culture may have on the individual.
Cambodians refugees tended to dream about their escape from the Pol Pot regime. They dreamt about the spirits of the people that died during the conflict because they were not buried with the proper Buddhist rituals. The dreams led to high anxiety, guilt, panic etc. for the escaped Cambodians.
There were symptoms of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) in the Acehnese of northern Sumatra in Indonesia while researchers were studying the aftermath of a decades long war where thousands were killed. In this primarily Muslim society, repeated dreams are thought to be significant and an extension of the soul and are hold much value to the Acehnese . Yet repeated dreams that show signs of PTSD are a foreign concept to the them, which is surprising since some traumatic dreams literally replay their past experience.
A group of American Puerto Ricans’ dreams were assessed for a variety of dreams and interpretations. “Afro-Caribbean folk spiritualism” and some forms of Christian beliefs are the main contributors in determining interpretation for these people. People in this group have a general shared understanding and agreement of spiritual entities such as incubus (demon) attack dreams.
Although some of these religious beliefs predispose groups to having certain kinds of disturbing dreams, the beliefs can also be used as protection against these dreams e.g., praying for protection from an incubus.
(Hollan, 2009). By studying the cultural and societal difference for people's dreams, researchers were able to study the different meanings people use for interpretation.

Hollan, D. (2009). The Influence of Culture on the Experience and Interpretation of Disturbing Dreams. Culture, Medicine and Psychiatry, 33(2), 313-322. doi:

“Dreams certainly capture feelings and perspectives on what happens to people, but whether they capture “reality” is another matter” (Hollan 2009). Many of the dreams and their interpretations are a result of social construction since they have different meanings for different people in different societies (Sheese, March 19, 2014). One society may interpret a dream to be encouraging while another may believe it to be disastrous, and as the previous section has shown, the interpretation of dreams becomes even more ambitious when people's personal agendas come in context because the same dream can mean different things to two people from the same society.

March 19, 2014. Butt, Chapters 3 and 4: Lecture Outline. (Sheese, R.)
Hollan, D. (2009). The Influence of Culture on the Experience and Interpretation of Disturbing Dreams. Culture, Medicine and Psychiatry, 33(2), 313-322. doi:

Freud's Dream Interpretation

When we are talking about Dreams, the one theorists that knows the purpose of dreams is Sigmund Freud (the first person to propose a theory on dream)
Sigmund Freud
-he believes that dreams are a manifestation of shameful thoughts and emotions that human encounter in their everyday life
-he also believes that dreams are the most riches symbol that gives the true meaning of emotions to the human beings
-Freud calls the words dreams "royal road" to the unconscious
-Freud believed that dreams serve a dual, compromise function
-Through his theories, we can realize that the unconscious drive pushes for discharge thus moving towards the expression of a consciously unacceptable impulse.
-The unconscious characteristic of sleep symbolizes a hidden wish or thought that's repressed
-In Freud's book of Interpretation of Dreams, he states "…every dream reveals itself as a physical structure which has a meaning and which can be inserted at an assignable point in the mental activities of waking life", here he basically points out that every dream has a meaning to it. These dreams come from a previous or upcoming experience that symbolizes something.-
-Freud compared dreams to "a firework that has been hours in the preparation, and then blazes up in a moment", meaning dreams are like the fireworks, it lasts for a specific time and then when it blazes up, he compares that to the moment the dreamer awakens. Additionally, Freud believed that the events that take place in one's dream can be connected to memories of the past or the future. He stated that "wish-fulfillment is the meaning of each and every dream." In simple terms, Freud means that our dreams are like our wishes that needed to be fulfilled. It'd make more sense when the dream is unfolded in terms of the dream context. Moreover, Freud assumed that people forget most of their dreams due to repression. Repression is the state of rejection where there is no experimental evidence to back up what is being thought. The two main general idea being drawn from scientific evidence is that:
1. Dreaming is a cognitive process that draws on memories to conclude a stimulation of the real world
2. Dreams have psychological meanings that can be unfolded to see how it connects to the waking-life

Domhoff, William, G. (2000, March 01). The interpretation of dreams. American Scientist, ({88}) (2), 175, Retrieved from

-In this image, it portrays the patient by accidently leaking his unconscious thoughts into reality. He unintentionally blabs out his initial thoughts about his mother instead of asking her politely for the butter. This image relates to the unconscious vs conscious theory and also involves the id, ego and superego. Unconscious thoughts include all those unwanted thoughts that are not under the conscious' control.

-Video: In this video they talk about Freud's interpretation of dreams. Freud's theory highlights that the sensors in our minds is what that "edits" our dreams. The powerful emotions is what that forces us to wake up. The multiple thoughts occurring in our dreams are then interpreted to one single idea which symbolizes to one common subject. Freud states how dreams are important to our lives. A real life example is told by a fellow citizen. He dreamt that he and his mom were in church singing until they were all interrupted by a man covered in blood and while everyone else ran away, his mother was just standing there trying to make sense of the situation. Five days later, he finds out that his mother has passed away. In this scenario, it is evident that most people's dream are trying to send out a message. In the case of the man in the video, the blood symbolizes death. Since it was only his mother just standing and not running away, it foreshadows that something bad was going to occur to his mom.

Courtesy of the Discovery Channel

Freud's Interpretation of Dreams. (2012, October 7). YouTube. Retrieved from


Courtesy of Alltime10s

Some people believe that nightmares have important functions in our waking lives. Scientist Antti Revonsuo explains that even our ancestors had dreams and they lived in very dangerous situations. So many of our nightmares may be due to genetics. They may have functioned to help the organisms stay alert for danger and preparation for that danger that they would have faced on a daily basis (documentary).
Dreams of children have helped lead Revonsuo to this conclusion because children’s nightmares are very primitive (e.g., monsters, wild animals). As we grow older, however, these primitive nightmares become start to become the bad situations we face today e.g., losing your wallet, not fidning a class (documentary). This may be because we get adjusted to our new lifestyle that our species previously would not have lived in.

Hartman (1984) found that many dreams tend to be metaphoric rather than displaying the actual content. For example, Belicki and Cuddy (1996, pp. 52-53) wrote that women who were sexually assaulted would have dreams about violence rather than about sexuality. These dreams show that the assaults were seen as sexual as much as they were interpreted as violent acts towards the women (Hollan, 2009).
Nightmares were also found to be prevalent for people under stress. A study conducted in 1989 in San Francisco showed that the closer subjects were to the earthquake epicenter the more more likely they were to have nightmares (Morewedge & Norton, 2009).

Colville, C. (Director and Producer). (2009). Why Do We Dream? (BBC Documentary). United States: Horizon.
Hollan, D. (2009). The Influence of Culture on the Experience and Interpretation of Disturbing Dreams. Culture, Medicine and Psychiatry, 33(2), 313-322. doi:
Morewedge, C. K., & Norton, M. I. (2009). When Dreaming is Believing: The (Motivated) Interpretation of Dreams. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 96(2), 249-264. doi:

Dreams and Personality

Dreams and personality can be correlated depending on the situation of the dreamer. Schredl, M., Erlacher, D., the authors of this article performed an experiment that involved 444 students and 636 online respondents. They were assigned to answer a questionnaire about dreams based on what they have gone through in a given time period. It has been concluded from their experiment that dreams that stimulated waking-life creativity played a significant role in their daily lives. Their dreams either have reflected onto their real life or it has in some extent helped them solve problems in their life. It's been said that dreams stimulate people to think or try something new in their waking life. Personality factors were closely related to the frequency of creative dreams than to dream call frequency. Moreover, the relation of dreams and personality depends whether or not the dreamer can recall that dream in the morning. It depends on several factors such as memory, sleep parameters and stress.

Schredl, M., Erlacher, D. (2007, January 01). Self-Reported Effects of Dreams on Waking-Life Creativity: An Empirical Study. Journal of Psychology, (1), 35, Retrieved from

Rem Sleep

One of the most influential contributors to rem sleep would be Nathaniel Kleitman. About 50 years ago, Kleitman conducted a brainwave test on subjects who were asleep. He founds that at first the brainwaves were long, but soon they got short as if the subjects were awake. This proved that the brain changes states when it is asleep. He also noted that when people were asleep they moved their eyes rapidly and called this “rapid eye movement” (rem) sleep. He found that when subjects were awakened while doing this they reported dreaming vivid dreams (Colville, 2009).
He discovered that sleep is divided into 90 minute cycles and that the first two are deep sleep and soon after alternate between rem (more negative sleep) and non rem (positive sleep). This could be because during rem sleep the amygdala is activated, which is in change of emotions like aggression and intense fear. Depressive people tend to go straight to rem sleep rather than normal people who go through non rem first and then alternate with rem (Colville, 2009).
Those who do not sleep, due to factors like suffering from a stroke, wake up several times during the nights, especially during rem sleep when they are suppose to be dreaming, and still feel tired when waking up. This means that dreaming plays an important role in sleeping (Colville, 2009).

Colville, C. (Director and Producer). (2009). Why Do We Dream? (BBC Documentary). United States: Horizon.

watch from 15:58 to 18:48

Courtesy of BBC

Lucid Dreaming

In short, lucid dreaming is being conscious while asleep. This discovery was made by Dr. Stephen LaBerge in the 1970s. It was previously believed by most sleep experts that consciousness during sleep is not possible. However, LaBerge conducted an experiment where subjects were to move their eyes left to right when they see the flash of a light. When the subjects dreamt, a light was shown at their eyes and the subjects moved their eyes proving that consciousness during sleep was possible. LaBerge is a firm believer in the power of lucid dreaming and now holds sessions to teach people how to become lucid dreamers (Colville, 2009). Example Below.

Watch from 53:44 to 55:40

Courtesy of BBC

Colville, C. (Director and Producer). (2009). Why Do We Dream? (BBC Documentary). United States: Horizon.

Types of Dreams
-Lucid Dreams

Lucid Dreams
-"sometimes people are aware that they are dreaming, even though they are sleep"
-this type of dream can direct and exert the dream and have control of the dream
-Two theorists had different views on the Lucid Dreaming; the theorists name was Hearne (1981) and LaBerge (1992)

Hearne (1981) believed and created an experiment that makes people control their dreams by getting electrical buzz to their wrists.
LaBerge (1992) came up with a situation that increasing the lucid dreams, which makes people get into their dream and wake up but after waking they can quickly go back to their dream; to make them recognizing what was actually happening in their dream.

-"is categorized as a level of consciousness between sleep and weakfulness thought of as semi-awake, they are also a ASC"
-this type of dream can also be seen as a manifestation of the true feelings because people daydream when they want something in their life (basically making a wish in their dream)
-throughout the world, the researcher have found out that people daydream from 70-120 minutes a day (basically 2 hours od daydreaming)
-another concept of daydreaming is people worrying

-are indication of fear, anger, jealous, and being emotional content
-everyone in the world have nightmares and they are quite normal
-when having a particular nightmare, there is the possible that when you wake up in fear or anger; you will remember the nightmare and the details because when you were dreaming it was frightening so when you wake up; you will remember it.
-there is one reason why people have nightmares; that may be because of the unconscious to get the attention of others around you or the problem that you were trying to avoid.

Evolutary theory of dream
-dreams has the way to survival in the future
-some theorists says that having nightmares is a product of our ancestors' and how they used to have a living
-having similar dreams these days is a reason, our ancestors had the same dreams; but experienced them differently
"today our nightmares consists of things such as entering a room naked or losing our teeth!"


Children Dreams
Gender Differences
-girls and women tend to dream about people they know, personal appearance concerns and an emphasis on family and home
-boys and men tend to have more male characters in their dreams, which are also typically outdoors or unfamiliar settings and may involve weapons, tools, cars and roads

With Freud talks about how children dreams can be draw conclusions with great cease and certainty; and that children dreams can occur in older children and adults under certain kinds of conditions. But he also explains how children dreams are not senseless, but they are intelligent, completed mental acts that can work well in their future lives. "A child's dreams is a reaction to an experience of the previous day, which has left behind it a regret a longing, a wish that has not been dealt with. Nevertheless, the stimulus that disturbs sleep is a mental one-the wish that has not been dealt with and it is to this that they react with the dream"

With children dreams, they are different from adults because adults has the elaborate dream where it is rich, and vivid dreams as the children they are simple dreams that become more complex throughout their own childhood. Researchers believe that children do not have the complex dreams as adults because with younger children their language isn't rich enough which dreams can not be described properly. Addition, children when they do have dreams they are indicated to have dreams which are great deals to them and they show more emotions in their dreams; than adults do.

When I am working in a daycare, the children are taking naps; I have noticed that some kids will have nightmares and some children will have peaceful dreams but mostly preschoolers at daycare are consider to have plain, steady dreams like thinking about animals or eating and also, they will not fear in the dreams because children at that age do not experience fear, or negative emotions at a young age.

Reference: The dream life of children. Retrieved from:

Reference: The Freud Museum. Children' Dreams Retrieved from:

-REM means a stage of sleep characterized by the rapid and random movement of the eyes
-REM are used by therapists to figure out what their patients are dreams and if they dreaming or just in a deep sleep

REM treatment is relatively simple but uses no type of surgery. REM therapy is completed by going inside the patient’s body or mind. Overall, Rapid Eye Movement Therapy is completely safe towards the patient.

Rapid Eye Movement Therapy is the best known treatment for anxiety. The patient works with their therapist to find their any kind emotional trauma or fear and be able to fix it permanently. "The patient and therapist can find painful memories and mental blocks that have built up over the patient’s lifetime, and begin changing them during the first session. From there, the patient and therapist can adjust many of the patient’s feelings to be more constructive. In time, the patient ends up feeling far better than before."

Reference: (No Author) (2014) The Anxiety Tips: Rapid Eye Movement. Retrieved from:

Babies and Dreams
-In some studies show that babies are spending mostly about 66% of their sleeping time in the REM state
-but dream researchers indicates that there is "a correlation between REM state and brain development" towards the babies dreaming states.

Reference: (Sahoo,Sonalika) (2010) Dream. Retrieved from:

Different therapists use different methods, which result in different outcomes. There are multiple methods therapists use to analyze dreams, whether it be, writing in a personal dream journal, the sleep laboratory, and psychotherapy relationship.

Dream Journals: writing in a dream journal is a way of describing your dreams out on paper as a form of a personal document. This personal document is then further analyzed by dream analysts and can lead to them getting a better insight of their dreams and sometimes gives analysts an understanding of that individuals personality.

Sleeping Laboratories: when sleeping in a laboratory you are being monitored as you sleep. There will be awakenings by during REM periods, which helps the individual recall the dreams one has had, even remembering 4-5 story lines a night. The only main problem with sleeping laboratories is that it is very time consuming and expensive.

Psychotherapy Relationship: comes hand in hand with the dream journal. Not only expressing your dreams and thoughts on paper, but you also express your dreams to a therapist.

Dream Theories
-some dream theories that therapist can have in handle is how dreams are still thought of an unconscious emotions
-dreams are making the brains way of making sense of the all the images or feelings people come across or experience during everyone lives
-people also are to be believed that dreams have a way to help people reinforce the actions or ideas the have
-"dreams are a product of our evolutionary development"


Two Different Types of Dreams
Manifest Vs. Latent

-meaning the dream is actually real
"if Nicole had a dream in which she was trying to climb out of a bath tub, the manifest content is exactly that-she was climbing out of a bathtub?

-the true meaning of the dream which expresses the symbol that was developed in the dream
"in the dream, the water in the tub might symbolism the waters of birth and the tub itself is her mother's womb. Nicole maybe be dreaming about being born in Freudian terms


Dream work weren't accepted in the past. Some of the critiques, for example, were about the fact that pharmaceutical companies didn't think that dream disorders were important and serious, so they didn't care to make researches into finding a solution to treat these disorders and study into the meaning of dreams. Psychotherapists didn't like how dream theories were connected to psychoanalytic or Jungian theory. This meant that the dream work that these psychotherapists learned about would contract and contrast the psychoanalytic or Jungian theory. Besides, there were many models on dream theory and interpretation, which were valid and vague; that meant that it was difficult to use these models and choose just one.
We are rather all ignorant about dreams, though we shouldn't be, because we don't understand the true meaning of our language and we don't know how to connect with our dreams, according to Gayle. We do not put dream work into certain categories, such as the family system.
This is important as to being aware that dream work weren't always been available to use and to learn. In fact, all these dream works are recent as psychology is.

Critiques against Freud's Dream Theory and Interpretation

Frank Sulloway, a visiting Scholar and visiting Professor, said that Freud has two theories of dreams, not one. The first theory was that dreams are hallucinations in the sleeping mind, according to the book, Project for a Scientific Psychology. By the biological reductionism of psychoanalytic theory, Sulloway said that there was a theory about genetics and that Freud's dream theory can be termed as genetic and evolutionary. He came to this conclusion by the fact that Freud has mentioned, which is that every dream is a representation of a wish. This theory of genetics is based on the human psychosexual development and Sulloway said that we dream because "the infantile id clamors for nightly-self expression (Robinson, 1993, p. 56)."
Adolf Grünbaum was against the idea of Freud's theory of dreams and slips being universal hypotheses because there were other ways for these phenomena to occur.


Caption: Adolf Grünbaum. Retrieved from

He "contends that dreams and slips do not provide genuinely autonomous evidence for the unconscious (Robinson, 1993, p. 140)" and he said that dream theory is the theory of neurotic symptoms. This is because Freud has mentioned that dreams are similar to neurotic symptoms many times. Adolf stayed firm with his statement as he states that the analogy of dreams and slips from the theory of neurotic systems doesn't include an important factor, which is that the disorder can heal by its repressed cause. He said that Freud's theory didn't have enough empirical evidence and depended on therapeutic achievements too much. The "free association" that Freud used as a method to find out and examine the clients' repressed memories was not the best method, because it would be difficult to know which are the clients' real memories and which are imaginary memories. Adolf agreed with Eyesnck that Freud's theory is not science, since a lot of the facts about the theory are untrue.
These critiques holds a significance as to why all of Freud's dream theory and interpretations aren't used as of today by therapists who specialize in dream work, but the therapists' studies on dreams are based on Freud's dream theory.

Reference: Robinson, P. (1993). Freud and His Critics. Retrieved from;brand=ucpress
Auld, F., Hyman, M., & Rudzinski, D. (2005). Resolution of Inner Conflict: Introduction to Psychoanalytic Therapy. Retrieved from

Clara E. Hill's study

Clara E. Hill, a psychologist, focused on changing dream interpretations to become more significant. She focused on synthetic and integrative for her dream interpretations. One of the advantages of using these methods was that there was no need to give an oath of allegiance to one psychotherapy model and one can use all kinds of theoretical models. She used cognitive-experiential as influenced by Freudian and Jungian models. She used cognitive-behavioral techniques and experiential techniques as well that have been "developed by humanistic, existential, client-centered, gestalt psychologists and tested in traditional psychotherapy, personal growth and expressive-arts workshops (Hill, 2004, p. 9)." She permitted people to use her model and then make it their own to meet the needs of their clients. Her work was also beneficial because dreams build on "her extensive research on effective methods for teaching psychotherapists how to work with dreams (Hill, 2004, p. 10)." She was one of the people who worked on dreams (there are many organizations, for example, that focuses on the study of dream interpretations, such as Associations for the Study of the Dreams) and made a new approach to the psychotherapy of the 21st century.
A psychotherapist, according to her, isn't an expert provide dream interpretations to the client. The metaphor for therapist is a facilitator, so the therapist guides the dreamer through these three stages: exploration, insight, and action. The client has to participate in dream interpretations, not only the therapists. The therapist is not there to know the meaning of the dream, but to help the dreamer to understand and know about their dream to make decisions based on their dream. In addition, they need to have expert skill in that particular dream work field in order to use the basic therapeutic skills. They need to be trained before doing any dream work, such as know how to manage sessions and how to manage difficult clients.
"Dreams are a continuation of waking thinking without input from the external world (Hill, 2004, p. 16)" and when people go to sleep, during REM (non-rapid eye movement) sleep, they continue to think about the unresolved issues that have been bothering them in their waking states. The dreams are the metaphors of these problems and people make a story of their problem, trying to solve it.
Everyone has their own meaning for their dreams, so meanings of the dreams are personal. Each individuals have their own experiences, so just standard interpretations alone isn't helpful as one might think. For example, an elephant might represent good luck for some people based on their culture, but it may also represent bad luck for someone, because they were almost trampled on by that elephant.
Dreams are for individuals to understand about themselves. This is because dreams often reveal a new information about the individuals—something that they haven't been aware of consciously before. Dreams also "involve cognitive, emotional, and behavioral components (Hill, 2004, p. 17)." It is cognitive, because people are thinking when they're dreaming. It is emotional, because people awaken themselves with strong feelings, such as feeling extremely happy. It is behavioral, because dreams has to do with actions.

Three-stage model:

-Exploration: The therapist shows the way to the client through the process of studying the individual image of the dream, which allows the dreamer to re-experience the thoughts and the emotions. The purpose of this stage is to help the client change their way of thinking and increase the client's emotional arousal. The dreamer has to trust the therapist and the therapists have to offer ideas. The therapists' job is to understand and learn about their client to give a feedback. This stage is client-centered therapy, because the therapist isn't someone who has all the answers and the client has to be involved in the dream work. In fact, the therapist must assume that the dreamer has the answers to the their dreams and they need to work themselves through self-healing. The therapist just makes the framework so that client can examine and explore their dream. Therapists uses "DRAW (description, re-experiencing, associations, waking life triggers) to help therapists remember the four steps (Hill, 2004, p. 36)" for exploring each image. The dreamer's thoughts and feelings plays an important role in dream interpretations, because thoughts and feelings are related to each image. To get clues as to what the image is related to in the dream, one makes associations by therapists encouraging clients to use their memories to find out what their memories connect to the image of the dreams. There are Freudian associations, which are chain associations that are useful for eventually leading up to an important information. There are Jung associations, which is different from the Freudian associations; the therapists keep going back to the image, to remember the specific image. Hill uses the Jungian associations because she wants her clients to recall back to the specific image and make some significance in the process. The association must involve more than one-word or one-phrase. She also mentions about the extended associations, which are "thoughts, feelings and memories that come to mind in relation to the image along with what those thoughts, feelings, and memories mean to the individual (Hill, 2004, p. 41)."

-Insight: The therapist and client work together to understand the dream. The clients want to know the message of their dreams and understand themselves better, because by understanding dreams, they understand something about themselves. This stage is after the exploration stage. The therapists don't make an understanding of the dream, but help the clients to understand and search for ways to understand the dream. The goal is to get an emotional insight. This stage is based on psychodynamic dream theory, which is understanding the meaning of dreams. The therapist can help the clients to understand how the dream relates to their waking state and how the dream is connected with their inner self (parts of self, for example, are that dreams represent different parts of the dreamer). In addition, the therapist sometimes offers their thoughts about meanings. This stage is similar to brainstorming. Hill mentions three steps of this stage, which are an understanding of the dream, building the meaning of the dream, and summarizing the insights.
The first step is about what the client thinks about the dream and what the meaning of the dream might be. It's also important as to how the client can handle their dreams and what kinds of dreams they have. For example, people with schizophrenia have dreams that are about being lonely and lack of human contact. Furthermore, therapists have to see how much the dreamers understand their dreams. Sometimes the client understands their dream, but they are not satisfied with their understanding of the dream, so the therapist can help the client to explore further with the dream to find a better dream interpretation. As a result, the therapist has to discover what kind of dream interpretation will satisfy the client. Most of the dream interpretations are about the concerns in waking states, because most people know about that theory which is that dreams are related to the waking life.
The inner personality dynamics are parts of self, traumas that occurred during childhood, and spiritual-existential concerns and these are significant to making dream interpretations, because they are one of the many factors that affect the client's dreams. Spiritual-existential concerns are the reflection the dreams make "about the person's relationship with a higher power, or existential issues, such as meaning of life (Hill, 2004, p. 70)."

-Action: This stage is where the therapist works with the client and uses the client's thinking to make changes for the client. This stage happens after the insight stage. The dream shows the problems of the clients and based on behavioral theory, the therapists can offer their suggestions about possible actions of the clients when the clients have difficulty thinking of the behaviors in the dreams. There are three steps to this stage and they are changing the dream, relating these changes to waking state, and a summary of actions idea.
The clients are active participants in all of these stages in the dream work, because they are the creators of their dreams. It is important for clients to say something about changing their dreams; this means that the clients are ready for a change and the therapists can help them. At times, the therapists "suggest that clients invoke dream helpers when they feel helpless to cope on their own on the dream (Hill, 2004, p. 81)." In any case, to help clients to change their dreams and actions, therapists can use behavioral techniques. The therapists "can discuss with the client how the dream could be "honored" in some way through a ritual (Hill, 2004, p. 91)."

Some clients react strongly to dreams, especially those with nightmares. Thus, therapists need to help them with their client's anxiety by telling them to breathe in and out slowly, for example.

Waking life triggers: Images that aren't what might have started someone to dream.

This article is one of the important examples as to if dreams are useful to therapists or not. It tells us what therapists do for the clients who are in trouble, wanting to know about their dream and understand it, and how therapists can help the clients and handle with dream interpretations. It is informative on how her new methods made a new approach to dream work.

Reference: Hill, C. (2004). Dream Work in Therapy: facilitating exploration, insight, and action. Retrieved from

Gayle V.

His study is focused on the question, which is "can skills for dream work be accessible and be shared with everyone universally?" He believes that dream images should be indicators to social issues that are similar to personal issues. He also focuses on the difference between dreaming and dreams, what makes dream an important factor to our lives, dreamer's problem, the help that the person needs, and the method as to how to give that aide. His study is based on Jungian's dream theory. He used dream interview method to his clients.
Dreaming and the dream are two different terms, though they are very similar to each other. Dreaming means "an intrinsic part of the sleep cycle that recurs every ninety minutes during sleep (Gayle, 1993, p. 11 )" and this also has to do with psychological changes that marks an arousal. The dream, on the other hand, is a bunch of memories that are recalled in the waking state of what "we can bring back from the previous night's dreaming episodes (Gayle, 1993, p. 13)." The dream comes from dreaming and that experience turned into the waking mode of expression, which is also the dream language. The two languages that are mentioned in New Directions in Dream Interpretations are waking language and dream language. The waking language is how we communicate to others about the world and about the experiences we have in that world. The dream language is when we express ourselves and feelings using metaphors. It is similar to how a poet speaks with metaphors. However, unlike poets, the dream languages are private and there is no need to use any effort.
Dreams are connected to unresolved issues from the past. It is useful in terms of finding out which experiences and events we had that are emotionally related to the dreams.
"Neophyte in dream work has to learn to look at these images not as photographic reproductions of reality but as metaphorical ways of conveying the nature of the predicament felt by the dreamer (Gayle, 1993, p. 13)" and the primitive imaging ability we have is shared with animals. This ability is what we use for symbolic expressions. Symbolic expressions are easier and better to use to describe and explain feelings that one experiences in the dream.
To awaken ourselves, the only ways are to create strong feelings within ourselves or make a solution to a problem in the dream.
Content of the dream: "When we sleep, we close off our input channels (Gayle, 1993, p. 14)" so whatever we are conscious of during that time has the point of where the dream begins. He used Freud's term "day residue" to describe that origin.
Dream as an healing instrument: The best way to explain this term is by analogy. Gayle mentions a magical mirror that we can look at. This mirror can reflect the honest image of who we are and only the dreamer can use this mirror. In our waking life, we aren't aware of the personal and social choices that we see in our dreams; we tend to go back into our image structured by our society.

Stages to help the dreamer to understand their dreams:

-Stage 1A: The dreamer talks about their dreams without including their feelings, thoughts, and any other associations to a group. The dreams must be recent.
-Stage 1B: The group can ask the dreamer questions to clarify the dream (an example is are the people in the dream real people you met before?).
-Stage 2: The group starts making the dream from what they know from the dreamer. The dreamer may now talk about their feelings and thoughts about the dream.
-Stage 3: The dreamer either accepts the conclusion the group came up with or not. If not, which happens most of the time, there is more work to do until the dreamer is completely satisfied.
-Stage 4: The dreamer can make a review about the dream.
This is one of the best articles to determine if dreams are useful in general. It is similar to Hill's study and this article is informative on what dreams are and how therapists can help the clients to understand about dreams.

Reference: Gayle, V. (1993). New Directions in Dream Interpretation. Retrieved from

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Myths about dream interpretation

There are seven myths about dream interpretation.

The first myth is that dream symbols have universal meanings. The second myth is that anyone can interpret dreams. One doesn't even have to include the dreamer. The third myth is that all dreams are literal. The fourth myth is that people don't dream. The fifth dream is that dreams don't have anything to do with real life. The sixth myth is that dreams don't make sense. The seventh myth is that understanding dreams is difficult and complex.
The first myth is most likely the biggest myths. This myth is not true, because only dreamer's know the dream symbol's meanings and only dreamers can describe what these symbols mean for them.
The second myth is untrue, because it is impossible to interpret a dream without the dreamer. There are two reasons as to why that is. The first reason is that symbols have meanings that means something only for the dreamer. The dreamer's the one who can talk about their dream symbols and describe them. One needs the dreamer to determine the meaning. The second reason is that the client knows on the surface what dreams mean, but that is not enough to know the dream completely. Thus, one needs a dream coach (the person who helps and guides the dreamer). The dream coaches goes through a distillation process, which is basically finding out the deeper meaning of the dream.
As for the third myth, it may seem to some people that dreams may be literal, because the dreams seem so likely to happen—for example, a woman might dream that her husband is going to be involved in a plane crash and the husband leaves for a departure for following week. But she doesn't need to worry. They're all symbols; for instance, husband is the symbol of masculine mind and the plane is the symbol of the authoritarian mind. The meanings of these symbols can be discovered through a distillation process. All symbols represent something of the dreamer. It is very rare for dreams to be literal and when it does happen, it comes from a form of a voice. A difference between literal and symbolic dreams is that literal dreams are much clearer. However, most dreams are symbolic and metaphoric, not literal.
The fourth myth is false, because we all dream every night. Even if we don't remember the dream, we still do dream. On average, we dream 5-7 dreams.
For fifth dream myth, all dreams' deeper meaning are related to the experiences we get on our waking states. Our experiences are created in the mind and in the reality, so our experiences comes from deeper meanings of the dreams that is connected between the real life and the dreams. According to David Dibble's video, deeper meanings can come before and explain the real life experiences.
Dibble argues that for sixth myth, dreams make sense and the only way to make sense of dreams is to learn the language of dreams.
As for the last myth, he believes that anyone can do dream work. Anyone can understand the powerful messages of dreams as long as they get some training from the dream coach and study about dream works.
This is significant as to knowing what common myths there are about dream interpretations and why they are myths.

Reference: Dibble, D. [David Dibble]. (2012, January 23). The 7 Myths of Dream Interpretation - David Dibble [Video file]. Retrieved from

Humanistic views on dreams

They view that people are innately good and it encourages viewing human beings as a whole as opposed to just some of the parts for example: Cognitive behavioural therapy focus’s more on thoughts and behavior whereas here in humanistic you study the whole person. It involves looking at creativity, free will and human potential. Carl Rogers was one of the early theorists to study humanistic psychology, particularly self-actualization and “actualizing tendency”. Humanistic deal with the “internal thought process of the mind to explain dreaming. Humanistic has several approaches to counseling and therapy. According to the humanistic view, dreaming is about the self and always has to do with the individual that is dreaming” The humanistic approach also shows how the self deals with the external environment and stimuli. For example: If someone hits you will a ball, your body will react to it, or if you watch something on the television that reminds you of an event that happened in the past that makes you feel a certain emotion. A drop of self-esteem, breakdown, anything that can cause mild shifts in your mood will put your body in a state of disequilibrium. To resolve this problem “Kohut thought that these dreams are a healthier aspect of the self to regain the balance again but only through visual imagery.” In simpler words, dreams are a way to regain a sense of self- balance again.

Calvin Hall
Calvin Hall, psychologist, focus on the cognitive dimensions of dreaming. He studied thousands of dreams collected from his students from around the world. He was the one that discovered the main cognitive structures that dreams reveal is:
- self the roles we play in our lives, how we appear to ourselves
- the different people in our lives and how we react to their needs
- the world our environment
- penalties what is allowed? What is forbidden?
- our inner conflict and how resolve these problems?
His work began before the discovery of REM sleep, so little was known about the biology of sleep and dreams. Hall was known worldwide for his cognitive theory of dreaming. Like Jung, Hall dismissed the Freudian notion that dreams are trying to cover something up. In his work The Meaning of Dreams (1966), Hall writes, “The images of a dream are the concrete embodiments of the dreamer’s thoughts; these images give visual expression to that which is invisible, namely, conceptions.”
How we envision our lives are played out in our dreams.

Reference: Ryan, H. The Cognitive Theory of Dreams. Retrieved from

Looking At Dreams
As humans we dream to organize our thoughts and mind. We gather so much information subconsciously and consciously everyday that we dream to relax our mind. In 1977, Hobson & McCarley's theory of dreams being random impulses from the brain stem was justified with dream research. According to them, dreaming was random, meaningless and abnormal function to our body. However many scientists believe that dreams do make sense and follow certain plots even if it doesn't sense directly or relate to real events. A number of researchers also believe that dreams are for problem solving. Fiss, a dreams scientist, claimed that dreams pick up on subtle hints throughout the day to provide a solution to a problem. But since we don't remember the majority of our dreams due to the shift in our mind's subconscious dream cycle as we sleep, it was deemed an unreliable conflict resolution method.

Reference: Alperin, R. (2004). Toward an Integrated Understanding of Dreams. Clinical Social Work Journal. Retrieved from Research Library.

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