The New York Times has an eye-opening article on research that has looked at how contents of dreams can be linked to emotional concerns – particularly when they relate to lost loved ones or turbulent life events.
‘Dream interpretation’ has got a bad name, partly due to the proliferation of books that claim to ‘decode’ dreams on a seemingly random basis (e.g. lemon = unrequited love), and partly because of its importance in the history of Freudian psychotherapy, which is now deeply unfashionable in some quarters.
Unfortunately, this has meant that research on the content of dreams has also fallen out of favour, despite the fact that it remains an interesting scientific topic and is still of clinical concern.
Modern psychotherapists will occasionally get into discussions about dreams, but, these days, will tend to avoid a strictly Freudian approach of trying to ‘interpret’ them.
Instead, they might use them as a point of discussion to make sense of real life concerns.
For example, if you’ve been particularly disturbed by a dream about work, it might be an opportunity to reflect on how you’ve been dealing with work-related stress, particularly if your reaction to the dream was quite a surprise in itself.
The NYT article looks research on the content of dreams, particularly ‘big dreams’: those of a more profound nature, often concerning deaths or other significant losses.
“Back to life” or “visitation” dreams, as they are known among dream specialists and psychologists, are vivid and memorable dreams of the dead. They are a particularly potent form of what Carl Jung called “big dreams,” the emotionally vibrant ones we remember for the rest of our lives.
Big dreams are once again on the minds of psychologists as part of a larger trend toward studying dreams as meaningful representations of our concerns and emotions. “Big dreams are transformative,” Roger Knudson, director of the Ph.D. program in clinical psychology at Miami University of Ohio, said in a telephone interview. The dreaming imagination does not just harvest images from remembered experience, he said. It has a “poetic creativity” that connects the dots and “deforms the given,” turning scattered memories and emotions into vivid, experiential vignettes that can help us to reflect on our lives.
Link to article ‘Winding Through ‚ÄòBig Dreams‚Äô Are the Threads of Our Lives’.