Dream Function; Mystical Transference or Unconscious Symbolism

By Karen Barna

The dream, itself, is the true language of the unconscious, and is its means of expression, although not its only means of expression. A dream is always the fulfilment of a wish, although that wish may not be clear in the dream as remembered. The dream as remembered is termed the manifest content. The wish is concealed in they underlying thoughts which produce the dream. These underlying thoughts are termed the latent content. Although a dream may be thrown into activity by apparently insignificant thoughts or incidents during the day (dream instigators). The latent content of the dream, which contains the dream wish, may become so distorted and symbolized, that its real origin may be unrecognized in the manifest content. Occurrences during the day or things read, do not cause the dream; they merely throw the latent or unconscious thoughts into activity.

A dream is made by the large mass of latent thoughts [and emotions] of the dreamer becoming condensed into the momentary dream as it is remembered on awakening. We are aware only of the manifest dream, the latent dream thoughts can only be known through an analysis of the dream.

The dream is the most common symbolic representation of repressed thoughts, and although the unconscious manifests itself in symptomatic actions. . . . it is to dreams and their symbolism that the psychoanalyst looks for the surest and most vivid expression of the personality.

Symbolism is a term used to express the manner of unconscious thinking in a form in which it would be unrecognized by consciousness. A dream is often symbolic, likewise a nervous symptom, when it is an expression of hidden and forbidden wishes repressed in the unconscious. Nervous symptoms are masks behind which a person takes refuge. Symbols are not invented; they are only discovered. The symbol is not an arbitrary choice, but has its source in the unconscious, either of the individual or the race. Hence the close resemblance between dreams and myths, since the myth is the unconscious symbolic expression of the race and the dream the unconscious symbol of the individual. Symbolism has its origin in the remotest ages of the past. [These symbols are sometimes represented in dreams and termed primitive content of the dream.] The symbolism of dreams draws it material from this remote ancestry, showing how often the dream is merely a fragment of the mental life of our prehistoric ancestors.

Analysis operates on the primitive, unconscious tendencies by raising them to a higher cultural level; in other words, it refines and “sublimates” them.

Working with people who have experienced long-term emotional and physical abuse it is not uncommon to see dreams that may be a wish for protection. Some dreams can be quiet fantastical in there representations and appear much like an “Alice In Wonderland” experience. The mind is a creative instrument after all and, used as such, can be quiet remarkable. Some highly successful individuals have used their dreams to write books, films, and even songs.

The following is the recorded dream content of woman whose family suffers from episodes of domestic violence and explosive psychopathy. I do not believe this to be a dream of wish protection. There are some interesting aspects to the dream itself. Here is her recorded version of the dream.

“During one of my entrances to a local medical center near my home, I experienced a paranormal event. After I was admitted into the hospital I was placed in a hospital room. I felt the strangest feeling, an uneasy feeling about the room. I couldn’t’ quiet explain it, couldn’t quiet tell you why. It felt like this room was being occupied by someone else but no one was there. It felt like this was someone else’s space. (Rosicrucian) The nurse at the nurse’s station asked me how I felt about the room. I told her I felt uneasy about it. She asked, “What is it about the room?” I explained I couldn’t quiet put my finger on it but there was something about it, something there. She asked me if I wanted another room. I replied, “No. I’ll just try and make the best of it. I’ll be okay.” She assured me that it wouldn’t be a problem, that other patients reported strange events and strange feelings about the room. I still insisted I would be okay.

That evening I got into bed and tried not to let the atmosphere of the room bother me. I fell asleep with no problem and even had a restful night sleep. During the early morning hours just upon awakening and receiving my conscious state of awareness, during this twighlight realm of semi-consciousness I received the message. The realm where the subconscious and the conscious mind meet. Just as my subconscious awareness was falling away I became aware of a female presence standing next to my body and next to the head of my bedside. Just as I became aware of her she went into a full fit of violent rage and started pounding on me with her fists and hands. I can still recall the blows because I felt each one as if they were real. Each hit stung my body from the velocity of her forceful throws. As she was hitting me, she was screaming, “Get out!” “Get out!” The dream only lasted a matter of moments before I woke up, but when I awoke I still felt the stinging pain from the punches on my right should and arm.

Psychologist will tell your dreams are trying to tell you something. That past events or current events in your life are being played out in the dream imaginary of latent content. All one needs to do is decipher the symbols and the meanings behind the imaginary. I could correlate this event to a number of past events, and perhaps even some current events as well as I have had past arguments with my family. Domestic violence was a problem in my household too, but the nurse’s awareness of the past history of the room and my uneasiness? Why did she ask me if I was okay with the room? Did she think it was haunted? What about past patients that complained about the room? Even despite the domestic violence I have experienced in my past, and even being a victim of rape, never once did I ever experience a violent dream. Ever! Who or what was the person screaming at my bedside? What was she screaming about? Why was she so angry?”

In mysticism there is a period called “the twighlight.” It is believed to be a portal to another world, one that lies on the outer boundaries of our reality. It is a realm where it is neither real nor unreal. This twighlight realm, is believed, to be a place where messages are sent through and where contact with the other side can be made. The Hindu mystics belief of astral projection ties into this very notion. The art of “astral projection” where a person can “mind” travel to remote places, even enter past time periods, and it is believed, they can enter other people’s dreams. Did someone astral project themselves in to my dream? Or did someone from the “other side,” a spirit enter my dream? Did I encounter a mystic trying to convey me a message? Or did I just have a nightmare?

In anthropological literature, aboriginal tribes symbolize female fertility as a being who is symbolic of “the Great Mother” and one who is represented as a perpetually pregnant woman. This mythical figure “who in the Dream-Time (at night while sleeping) let out from her uterus human beings, the progenitors of the present natives. She was responsible too for sending out spirits of the natural species from season to season, to ensure their continual increase. In this she did not act entirely alone, but in association with a Rainbow Snake, the symbolic Penis, which completed the dual concept [of fertility].” Here in tribal lore we see a reference to the entrance or gateway to a mystical realm, “the Dream-Time.” A place where “spirits” are believed to inhabit, communicate, and create new humans.

In Native America people believe in an afterlife. These indigenous peoples’ beliefs varied greatly from tribe to tribe. In the traditions of many Native American tribes, the souls of the dead pass into a spirit world, where they can occasionally still communicate with the living through dreams or the intercession of medicine people, otherwise known as mystics.

In ancient Greek myth their mythology personified the dream world with a figure known as Morpheus. He was the son of Hypnos, the god of sleep, and had the power to enter the dreams of mortal men to deliver “messages from the gods.” Although Morpheus could take the shape of a human when he was delivering dream messages, his true shape was a demon-like figure with massive black wings that allowed him to pass quickly through the dream world. Morpheus was chosen as a messenger because, out of Hypnos’ thousands of children, he was the best at disguising himself as a human.

Perhaps it was the Egyptian culture that most accurately explained dreams. They believed dreams were relatively straightforward and were simply a perception of things that existed but could not be seen or heard in waking life. If you think about it, this logic holds a credible about of reason in dream analysis.

On the shores of awakening
On The Shores Of Awakening

Upon leaving the hospital, the young girl reported back to me. She said while she was escorted from the hospital by a few of her relatives she told them of her experience. After telling them about the dream, a few months later her mother, who is mentally ill, beat her with her fists in their living room. She doesn’t believe she received the dream as a message, but she does believe her family members orchestrated the beating to make it seem like a “supernatural event.” She believed if she never told them about her dream, they would have never “given her” to her mother as fodder. When I asked her what she meant by “fodder” she said the two relatives literally moved out of the way so the mother could beat her, in a metaphorical consuming. In her opinion she feels like a “toy object,” one that can be picked-up and thrown about at will by someone who has the “playing advantage.” Still, to her, the dream seemed almost real, the blows intense and un-remarkably painful in nature. This dream is interesting in that the nightmare only disturbed the sleeper minutes before waking in the early morning hours. This is an interesting aspect to the dream. Nightmares usually occur during the middle of the night and are characterized by an inability to return to a restful state of sleep. This individual reported she had sleep soundly all night long and awoke “rested” aside from the violent disturbance which lasted about 20-30 seconds.

Perhaps the best answer is that dreams help us to regulate, analyze, explain, and remember recent events in our lives, in a kind of “mental housekeeping” process and the only type of dream which disturbs sleep is the nightmare. A nightmare is an anxiety dream and is very difficult to explain, since the element of fear in such a dream seems to contradict the theory of wish fulfilment and the protection of the mind through sleep. This contradiction is more apparent than real, however. An anxiety dream means that we have suppressed the desire for certain forbidden pleasures in the unconscious. The suppression produces conflict and pain, the pleasure is throttled and when it escapes it assumes the character of the suppressed pain, but this dream does not represent an anxiety dream, nor does it represent one of wish fulfillment. The individual to whom this dream occurred did not wish to be the victim of abusive family members. Unless there is reason to believe that the dream may have been prophetic in nature or the dreamer manipulated or exploited by an abusive mystic capable of “mind travel.” To some it might sound bizarre or crazy, but we don’t consider it too bizarre or crazy when a psychic helps the family of a victim who has went missing and was murdered. This opened up an interesting contemplation in my mind on how to explain paranormal events. If there are psychics who help solve crimes, why wouldn’t there be psychics help to perpetuate crime under the genre “paranormal events?” It is the anti-thesis to the thesis. Psychic individuals are believed to possess talents and skills that are exceedingly rare and uncommon, skills that go far beyond and above the normal individual’s capabilities. If some psychics can see the future, or past, of an individual life history, then might not some be capable of entering an individual’s dream and deliver messages? Or even entering their living space unseen? I don’t know. I am just pondering the possibilities. But then again, maybe I’m just entertaining a fantasy.




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