2017-10-12 / Guest Column

Learning From Our Dreams

By Michael Feld, L.C.S.W.
Certified Psychoanalyst
Licensed Psychotherapist

Dreams are creative productions that we all have. We can learn a great deal about ourselves from our dreams. Freud was one of the first modern thinkers to recognize the importance of dreams. In his epic publication, The Interpretation of Dreams, he laid the foundation for understanding these unique productions of man. Freud saw dreams as a very important vehicle for understanding the workings of the hidden parts of our minds. He rightly labeled the dream as the “royal road to the unconscious.” Those that followed Freud, such as Jung, Bjerre, Fromm and Horney all added their own unique perspective to interpreting dreams.

Here are some helpful hints to consider in trying to understand your dreams, and in using them to learn more about yourself.

1. Look at the story of the dream without thinking of it as a distorted or crazy message. Instead, accept it as a message expressed in symbols.

2. Recognize that the symbols are yours. That they come from your mind and life’s experience. The symbols in your dreams are unique and particular to you. Only you can best know what or whom they represent.

3. Know that your dreams often express problems and conflicts you are experiencing in your life today, in the present, or they also may be related to problems from your past. Also, today’s problems or conflicts may be unresolved issues you have been struggling with for some time that you are still trying to solve.

4. Remember that dreams are attempts at finding solutions to a problem.

5. In trying to understand your dreams, consider everything that happened during the day of your dream. Pay particular attention to your thoughts during that day, and to what happened before the dream. Also consider your thoughts after the dream.

6. Try and recall what you were feeling. What were you feeling in the dream? What were you feeling after the dream? How do you feel about the dream?

7. Understand your role in the dream. How did you experience yourself in the dream? Did you feel like you were participating in the dream? Did you feel like you were an observer of the dream?

8. Accept that the dream will tell you a great deal about your feelings for both yourself and other people. But be careful. Often, other people in your dream can represent disowned parts of yourself. They can be symbols for qualities you possess that you don’t like or don’t want to see as a part of yourself.

9. Accept that your dreams will tell you a great deal about your personality, how you would like to be seen by others; what and who you like and don’t like; what you expect of yourself and others; what hurts your pride and makes you vulnerable to shame and humiliation and what you dislike or hate about yourself.

10. In order to remember your dreams, always sleep with a pad and pen on your night table. This way, you can write your dream down before you forget it.

Enjoy your dreams. Sometimes it can take many years to understand one dream. I am still learning things about myself from a dream I had more than twelve years ago. Just remember that dreams are expressions of yourself. As the late Dr. Karen Horney once said, “In dreams we are closer to the reality of ourselves…they represent attempts to solve our conflicts either in a neurotic or in a healthy way.”


Prepared as a public service from the office of Psychotherapist Michael Feld, L.C. S.W. (347) 248- 1092

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