Dreamwork or working with dreams is the process of remembering and exploring dream and their inner meanings. Research suggests that dreams are a source of psychological insight, creative inspiration and scientific innovation.

Furthermore, some specialists argue that dreams are the brain’s way of staying healthy and achieving wholeness and also that dreamers are the only ones capable of understanding what their dreams mean as they are coded in metaphors and symbols.

Goals of Dreamwork

Dreamwork is a self-exploration process that can enhance and energize efforts to change by breaking down prejudices, opinions, ideologies and world views.

It is also believed that there is no such thing as a bad dream. Nightmares are viewed as dreams that take a negative form in order to make you aware of the importance of the issue. Also, a dream has more than one meaning.

Sigmund Freud argued that dreams are a disguised fulfillment of a repressed wish[1].

"If we can uncover a dream's motivating force, we shall obtain unsuspected information about the repressed impulses in the unconscious; and on the other hand, if we can undo its distortions, we shall overhear preconscious thought taking place in states of internal reflection which would not have attracted consciousness to themselves during the daytime", says Sigmund Freud.

When is Dreamwork Used?

Scientific research suggests that everyone dreams. There is an impressive historical record of the way dreams have served as vehicles of creative inspiration.

Albert Einstein admitted in his last years of life that the idea behind the Theory of Relativity first came to him in his adolescence after having a dream about riding a sled. He was going faster and faster until he reached the speed of life and everything distorted into amazing patterns and colors[2].

Kekule came to the conclusion that the molecular structure of benzene is ring shaped as a result of dreaming a snake biting his own tail and Elias Howe invented the sewing machine after having a dream of being kidnapped and eaten by cannibals.

“When the effort to remember, record and reexamine dreams is made, it often results in startling insights, creative ideas and more conscious understanding of confusing emotions”, argues Jeremy Taylor.

How Dreamwork Works

While awake, we use language as a way to organize reality and be able to talk about our experiences. The human need of communication goes even beyond as it sometimes need a more expressive language. In waking life we resort to the arts. While asleep, we resort to dreaming. Both rely on metaphors but there are significant differences. A writer for instance rearranges words to create metaphors that can convey the feeling he or she wishes to communicate. The dreamer however shapes images into metaphorical statements. While the arts are directed at the outside world, dreams are a message for oneself. Also, dreaming can’t be controlled. It happens with no direct or deliberate action from the individual.

Researchers argue that dreams place us in an immediate relationship with the feelings that are generated by the dreaming process, which represent certain residual feelings that our sleeping self is concerned with.

“A person who pictures himself or herself in a dream driving down a steep hill and having the brakes suddenly fail will experience the sensation of being in an uncontrollably dangerous situation far more powerfully than ordinary language can convey”, notes Gayle M. V. Delaney[3].

As we fall asleep, we receive no new information so what we thing about or what our brain processes during this time is the starting point of the dream and it is something that happened before dozing off. Freud named this starting point “day residue”.

“What gives this recent residual feeling it’s extraordinary power lies in the fact that, regardless of how trivial or insignificant it may seem at the time, it connects with unresolved issues from the past”, argues Delaney.

While we sleep, our brain is able to reassess the significance of recent events in the context of past experiences. This self-exploratory process takes place effortlessly and instantaneously.

Promoters of this theory argue that the healing effect of dreaming consists in the fact that while asleep we are able to make these connections that are not easily available to the conscious. Delaney theorizes that a dream is similar to a mirror that allows the individual to see his true self. What we see in our dream is described as a “privileged portrait of intrinsic value to the dreamer in search of a more honest self-concept”.


[1] Freud, Sigmund (1st published in 1899), Interpretation of Dreams. Books.google.com. Retrieved August 19, 2013 from http://books.google.com

[2] Taylor, J. (1993) Dream Work: Techniques for Discovering the Creative Power in Dreams. Books.google.com. Retrieved August 19, 2013 from http://books.google.com

[3] Delaney, G. (1993), New Directions in Dream Interpretation. Books.google.com. Retrieved August 19, 2013 from http://books.google.com

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