Dreams use both real people as well as inventing imaginary characters for their stories. The real people may be persons who are known to the dreamer, from the present or the past, close intimate partners and friends or distant acquaintances, celebrities, historical or mythological figures.
There are two primary ways that the appearance of people in dreams is viewed.
The objective viewpoint holds that real people in the dream represent the actual people from a person’s life and from their larger environment. According to this perspective dreams can give us valuable information about other people and about the situations we are in. “The mind is constantly sorting out input and coming to conclusions about people and events during our waking period; there is no reason to suppose that the process stops once we are asleep.” (Broadribb, 1990 p. 28)
According to the subjective viewpoint, people in a dream represent aspects of the dreamer's own personality, representing the dreamer’s attitudes, inner feelings, fears, dreams, longings, experiences, interests and concerns. It is easier to see invented persons in our dreams as representations of what is inside us, but even “When real people turn up in a dream, the subjective viewpoint holds that they personify personality features of the dreamer.” (p. 26) Real people in our dreams may also “represent attitudes and viewpoints absorbed by the dreamer from the real persons or the real situation with them in the past or present” (p. 78)
The objective and subjective viewpoints clash, but both may have value in investigating our dreams. “Sometimes the one and sometimes the other viewpoint works best with a particular dream, while occasionally, we can get still more understanding of a dream by using both viewpoints. The objective viewpoint claims that dreams can give us objective information about other people. From the subjective viewpoint, dreams can only tell us something about the dreamer, though that something may be extremely valuable information”. (p.27)
Written for @jungsouthernafrica
Broadribb, Donald. (1990). The dream story. Toronto, Canada : Inner City Books
Image Credit: Diane Leonard
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