Role of Dreams in Psychology

Dreams are a sequence of emotions, thoughts or images passing through an individual’s mind when asleep. In the scientific world, the study of dreams is called Oneirology that regards the dreams as the ones referred to different things as argued by various authors. They argue that dreams reflect the past, refer to the future, and the present. Dreams play different roles in the lives of people; for some, however, dreams have no meaning. In ancient days, dreams were used to convey information to people or predict an outcome of a certain situation (Hartmann, 1998). Dreams were the main piece of communication used to read and forecast the events in the society or an oncoming calamity.

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History of Dreams in Psychology

Dreams have an extensive history in the lives of humans being the subject of constant debate and disagreement. Dreams have been explained physiologically as a reply to neural activities when an individual is asleep. Riverdale said that “some cultures have practiced dream-incubation with the aim of cultivating dreams that contained divine messages.

For example, Judaism celebrates a traditional ceremony known as Hatavat Halon, literally interpreted as making the dreams a good one” (Krori, 2011, p.76). It is possible to transform the dreams that have been experienced so that they could offer a positive explanation of the events that occur within the society.

Important Psychologists in the Study of Dreams

In the late 1800s, dreams were claimed to have come from household noises experienced by individuals. Sigmund Freud holds the idea of reviving the importance and significance of dreams in people’s lives. Sigmund Freud managed to pass his theory to people because of the great influence he had on society.

He worked with Carl Gustav Jung who was influential as well by Freud’s theory. Freud and Jung were able to take a different approach to enlightening people about their dreams. They were psychologists and psychiatrists and their views on dreams changed people’s perceptions towards dreams (Riverdale, 2012). Their work has influenced the study of dreams by other psychiatrists to discover what Freud and Jung did not manage to do.

Dream Memories

Individuals vary in terms of their dream memories given that some people can remember their dreams while others cannot. Those people who remember their dreams have vivid dreams; their level of anxiety or their sleep eminence result in recalling dreams. If dreams are not transferred from short term memory to long term memory immediately after awaking, they are lost. People hold different brain neurochemicals (used for consolidating memories) during sleep and when awake.

People who forget their dreams do not pay attention to their dreams during sleep. To remember dreams, individuals should concentrate on their sleep. REM sleep determines whether an individual will remember their dreams after awaking or will not. Individuals under the influence of alcohol, sleeping pills or any other drugs may not remember their dreams after waking. Other factors that make people forget dreams are an inability to wake up, traumatic events, biorhythms, weird dreams, and lack of interests in dreams (Hartmann, 1998).

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Dream Meanings

Dreams arise from the mental exposure of an individual, an individual’s stress, anxiety, and frustrations that are reflected by dreams. Human brains are mostly unaware of the emotional and psychological issues that are accompanied by major adjustments in our lives. For example, if an individual feels nervous and insecure, the dreams might be full of encouraging images, for instance, the previous ways of life and familiar surroundings.

Also, an individual’s dreaming mind shows anxiety about the transition of activities. Changes in dreams sometimes indicate the direction an individual should take giving warning in regards to potential dangers, or giving guidance and comfort during the time of transition (Krori, 2011).

The body is an important tool in interpreting dreams. The left side of the body in dreams represents the unconscious side of life while the right side represents the conscious side of life. Human bones represent the spirit of things. For example, a cut to the bone signifies a sudden insight, and broken bones suggest fundamental weakness.

Human eyes represent the symbolic access into the clues and soul of spiritual health. For example, bright eyes might suggest a healthy way of life. The human heart represents the archetypal relevance as the hub of emotional like, and particularly the symbol of love (Ratcliff, 2003). Human hair symbolizes vanity, for example, in the ancient times a dream of one being bald symbolized loss of the heart, a strong beard stood for vitality, and a white beard signified the age of wisdom.

Freud suggested that human mouth may represent obsession at an early age of psycho-sexual development noticeable by juvenile characteristics such as credulity or verbal aggression. Human teeth and mouth are regarded as a house where the right side is viewed as males and the left side as the female residents. Fallen or broken teeth symbolize the focus anxiety (Riverdale, 2012). Dreams were the main piece of communication used to read and forecast the upcoming events in the society or an oncoming calamity.

Change and transition activities as a dream interpreting tool; they are classified into objects; an inanimate object that appears in a dream may symbolize a previously unrewarding inner potential which is ready for development. If the change is terrifying, inner strengths may need acceptance. Transformation is an adjustment of seasons that may result in deep inner changes within the visionary.

Movement in the converse direction may offer the need for convalescent periods or more understanding of the visionary. Unfamiliar surroundings make the dreamer lost; the dreaming mind might be trying to retain the old way of life. If the background is full of excitement, the dreamer might be ready for a change (Riverdale, 2012).

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Direction and identity act as a dream interpretation tool, which is classified into mazes; a maze dream mostly relates the dreamer’s drop into the unconscious. Masks represent the mode that individuals present themselves to the external world. When the dreamer is incapable of removing a mask forced by others to wear a mask, this shows that the real personality is gradually becoming more obscured. The next type is loss of car control; anxiety concerning a loss of path in life may bring such dreams.

Similarly, uncertainties of loss of individual identity can force dream experiences, for instance, where the dreamer seeks desperately for the right road or a shop in a new to him or her town. The next stage is weird reflections on mirrors; it is alarming to see oneself in a mirror, but see someone else’s reflection. This kind of dream represents an identity crisis and a rapid sense of lacking self-identity. Closed eyes could represent reluctance to face reality (Krori, 2011).

Success and failure act as a dream interpretation tool, which is divided into prizes first of all; trophies hold significance far above their material value, however, it depends on what the trophy can hold. In dreams, even when the character of the prize is ambiguous, the sense of victory is unmistakable. Another type is communication failure which consists in the fact that failure to pass information makes an individual experience the feelings of failure. By presenting these feelings to a dreamer, the dream shows the need to confront the feelings in the waking world. Miscommunication on a telephone suggests weakness in the dreamer’s ideas or lack of convincing power. Winning a race portrays the potential within an individual for doing an action and making achievements (Riverdale, 2012).

Lastly, anxiety acts as a dream interpretation tool that includes falling; angst dreams often place individuals in situations in which they are defenseless to act in any way. Amid the most frequent ones is the dream of falling from a tall building. This image emphasizes that the dreamer climbed to great heights either personally or professionally but he or she must be ready for a big fall (Riverdale, 2012).

Recurring Dreams

Recurring dreams are the dreams that keep on reappearing during one night or a series of several nights. People will hold on to their childhood memories for a long time, either because they were nice or because they are hurting. However, a frequent dream could also be significant to some present setbacks or preoccupation. A good example is a recurring dream where a lion or a giant appears in a horrific situation the dreamer is in. This dream could possibly be based on an involuntary fear for dogs (Riverdale, 2012).

A nightmare (recurring dream) is unpleasant to a dreamer. Nightmares bring about the following responses to the sleeper as strong, repulsive, and emotional responses normally referred to as fear or horror. The situation of danger, agony, post-traumatic experiences or psychological stress brings about a nightmare to their victims.

In some occasions, the individuals retrieve from disclosing the traumatic events leading to the nightmare. “If an individual experiences psychological trauma, the said experience haunts an individual in their nightmares” (Riverdale, 2012). Situations of distress might awaken sleepers and affect their dreams to such an extent that they are unable to resume sleeping. Dining before “bed triggers an increase in the rate of the body’s metabolism and brain functions”, and thus stimulates nightmares (Riverdale, 2012).

Effects of Sleep Patterns on Dreams

Sleeping patterns are the way human beings rest or fall asleep either during the day or at night. Individuals choose their appropriate sleeping patterns according to their schedule. Sleeping patterns affect an individual’s ability to retain dreams and to dream as well. Mid-day sleep may attract dreams related to day activities while night sleep may attract scary and horrific dreams. People tend to dream more when they sleep during the day time than at night time (Krori, 2011).

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This essay has enlightened on the psychological point of dreaming, and how individuals should perceive dreams. Dreams are the general expressions of people’s emotions, namely, fear, happiness, anxiety, and hopes among other issues. Freud and Jung being the fathers of inventing the dream psychology have helped many psychiatrists resolve patients’ problems. Dreams in psychology help in determining the human characters and their ability to handle stress.


Hartmann, E. (1998). Dreams and Nightmares. New York, NY: Berkley.

Krori, S. D. (2011). Dreams History and Concept. Homeopathic Journal, 4, 20.

Ratcliff, A. J. (2003). History of Dreams. Whitefish: Kessinger.

Riverdale. (2012, 9). Dreams. Riverdale.

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