The Meaning of Dreams
The meaning of our dreams has fascinated us since the beginning of civilisation. Ancient shamans, poets, mystics, through to modern artists, psychoanalysts and neuroscientists have all attempted to shed light on what remains a uniquely personal subject.
For as long as we’ve been trying to work out brain physiology and the mechanics of dreaming, we’ve also wondered what our dreams reveal about our psyche. Aristotle wrote of dreams being a function of the imagination, examining them from a philosophical perspective. Centuries later, in his famous tome The Interpretation of Dreams, Freud described them as “…disguised fulfillments of repressed wishes.” He believed that dream analysis could help us understand our waking experience and created a system of interpretation as a curative part of psychoanalysis.
Jung, Freud’s one-time friend and professional rival, saw dream symbolism as a creative process. He believed dreaming patterns co-ordinate with life experience, helping a person develop their character and move towards self-realisation. Indeed, many great artists and writers have used their dreams as a source of creativity.
It’s said that Mary Shelley had the idea for writing her epic book Frankenstein after she saw images of corpses coming back to life as she slept. Salvador Dalí was known to be interested in Freud’s theories and frequently described his work as ‘hand painted dream photographs’. Paul McCartney is said to have woken up one day with the entire melody to Yesterday in his head. So, no matter how random or bizarre they may seem, it seems we cannot afford to ignore our dreams.