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What Is A Dream English Literature Essay

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: English Literature
Wordcount: 1291 words Published: 1st Jan 2015

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Dreams are symbolic in order that they cannot be understood; in order that the wish, which is the source of the dream, may remain, said Carl Jung, author of Psychology of the Unconscious. A dream is one of the most extraordinary and fascinating experiences any of us can have. It has fascinated men, women, and children in every culture throughout the ages since mankind began. A great amount of tests and experiments of the nature and meaning of dreams has been conducted in our time; however, understanding the message, the meaning, and why we dream is still a mystery for philosophers and psychologist to this day.

History and Definition of Dream

What is a dream? What’s in a dream? Is it a story or an image that evolves in your mind? Are they messages or thoughts of your emotion that you’ve accomplished or fail in your life? Or are they just mere thoughts or imagination when you sleep? According to Longman Dictionary of American English (2000, pg. 231), the word “dream” is define as “a sequence of sensations, images, thoughts, etc. passing through a sleeping persons mind.” There are a wide variety of views as to what dreams are and what certain role they in life. Many centuries ago, people in many cultures believed that dreams were presented by their belief in their Gods or Goddess, or by some outside force, and intended to serve as oracles. As centuries and decades past, people started to theorize that dreams were caused by hallucination or anxiety. When you’re dreaming, images pass by, people from our past emerge, people who we have never met may become our friend or enemy, or seeing an event that predicts the future. Dreams will often reveal to you what you fail to see about yourself while awake. They show the directions and signs you are taking in life and reveal things that lie beyond any boundaries of your sense.

Type of Dreams

Everybody has a particular kind of dream. We all dream differently and there are several types of dreams. Soldiers returning home from war or a person experienced a horrifying traumatic event tend to have nightmare throughout their lives. A nightmare is a disturbing dream that causes the dreamer to wake up feeling anxious or frightened. Nightmare features a kind of replay of real life traumatic event that occur in the past. It may purpose leave psychological scars. For example, seeing a close love one die within your eyes or the tragic event in 9/11, where one of workers in the twin towers jumps. Events like these will affect your life for a long time. Fantasy or daydream means any events in your mind conjure up while awake. You’re basically awake, but your mind begins to wonder.

The Variety of Dreams

Dreams may be fascinating, but what happens if you had a dream and eventually it comes true? Paranormal dreams are dreams that contain knowledge of events that have not yet occurred to the waking mind. Scientist uses the Greek letter psi to refer to paranormal occurrences such as extrasensory perception (ESP), mind over matter (psychokinesis), and telepathy. According to Montague Ullman and Nan Zimmerman (1985) book in Working with Dreams, “The existence of these phenomena suggests that while asleep, we are not only able to scan backward in time and tap into our memory, but are also able to scan forward in time and across space to tap into information outside our own memory” (p.10). There are four types of psi dreams: precognitive, clairvoyant, telepathic, and mutual. Precognitive dreams represent an event that later will happen. For example, you dream that your tire goes flat, then, within days, you have a flat tire. Clairvoyant dreams or “clear-seeing” dreams are a person dreaming an event or object that truly exists in the waking life without any foreknowledge of it. It’s a French expression called “Deja Vu,” already seen. The person, place, or thing turns out to be exactly the same as it happen in the dream. Telepathic dream are dreams that carry a direct communication or message between the dreamer and another person. This type of dream tends to be someone who you are very close to, a twin or a close love one. For example, you dream that your girlfriend tells you that she’s pregnant, and day or two later, she calls with the happy news. Mutual dream occur when two or more people are dreaming on the same night. Scientist believed that these dreams offered proof that telepathy exists. Although these dreams take place on the same night, they don’t exactly occur at the exact same time period.

Dream Theorist

Most psychologist, philosophers, and scientists have all come up several ideas or explanation of why we dream. Dream theorists, such as Sigmund Freund and Carl Jung, have explained many of their theories of why we dream. Sigmund Freud, author of The Interpretation of Dreams, had come up two different levels of dreams elements: the manifest content; the dreams story line, and the latent content; the unconscious wishes the dreamer expressed directly. Freud believed the latent dream content is where the true meaning lies. He suggested that the mind masks inappropriate desires of symbol or objects. For example, if you saw a gun in your dream then Freud would say you’re dreaming of a penis, or any container type object might be a symbol of a vagina. However, a lot of his critics have criticized Freud that dreams may be interpreted in many different ways. Carl Jung had worked with Freud for several years until Jung had a dispute over Freud theory of his sexual and aggressive wishes. Jung focused more on the manifest content, rather than what a dream might conceal. Jung suggested a dream serve to guide you and offer solution to a problem when you’re facing in your waking life. For example, Jung identifies seven symbols as a major archetypal, universal symbol or mythical dream, characters: The Persona, The Shadow, The Anima/Animus, The Divine Child, The Wise Old Man/Woman, The Great Mother, and The Trickster. The Persona is the image you present to the world in the waking life. The Shadow represents the darker side of you. The Anima/Animus is the feminine and masculine parts of the opposite sex, Anima being a man’s feminine side, and the Animus being a woman’s masculine side. They serve as a reminder that you must learn to acknowledge or express your masculine or feminine side. The Divine Child is your true self in its purest form; it represents your aspirations and full potential. The Wise Old Man/Woman is the higher in your dream. They serve to offer guidance and words of wisdom into the right direction. The Great Mother is the nurturer. The Great Mother appears in your dream as your own mother or grandmother and provides you with positive reassurances. But, if it appears a witch or old bag lady, they can be associated with death, seduction, or dominance. The Trickster plays jokes to keep you from taking yourself to seriously. They may appear in your dream when you have overreach or misjudge a situation or find yourself uncertain decision about your life. However not all dream theorist agrees with Jung, but they remain interested in the research he did about symbols or messages and what they represents.


There are a lot of things in life that cannot be explained and dreams are one of them. Understanding the meaning and why we dream will always be the biggest question. Dreams have been around since man took the first breath of life. Psychologists, philosophers, and scientist have come up several ideas and theory about dreams, but none of them came close to a conclusion.


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