What Do Our Dreams Mean?

Emma Priske, Journalist

Have you ever been in a dream where you are trying to reach a certain item or goal but somehow are not able to? Then when you wake, you are confused as to why you were even trying to reach that goal in the first place. Sigmund Freud, a well-known psychologist, created a theory that “dreams represent a disguised fulfillment of a repressed wish” and that “dreams represent unconscious desires, thoughts, wish fulfillment, and motivations.”  

More often than not, people have common dreams such as falling, being naked in public, being chased, losing teeth, dying, flying, etc. When you look at these dreams from a psychoanalytical perspective, there could be hidden symbolism such as a desire to flee from a certain aspect of your life. Listed below are several common dreams with potential explanations for why they occurred and what they may symbolize.

  • Falling 


According to Cathleen O’Connor, author of “The Everything Law of Attraction Dream Dictionary”, falling dreams can have a physiological basis. “Falling” typically occurs during the first stage of sleep so as your body drifts off into REM sleep, a cycle in which most dreams occur, our body resembles “falling” effects such as your blood pressure and heart rate dropping. 

“It is a symbol of fear in real life- perhaps of failing at work or in your love life. Falling often expresses a need to let yourself go and enjoy life more.” states Russell Grant, author of the “Illustrated Dream Dictionary”

Another author of “Dream Dictionary”, Theresa Cheung, believes that “falling dreams may be your dreaming mind’s way of drawing your attention to feelings of frustration and loss of control”. If related back to Freud’s Theory, falling may symbolize or indicate that you are contemplating giving in to a sexual urge or impulse. All of these theories lead to the fundamental question: what in life makes you feel like you lack control? 

  • Being Chased


In many ways, your dreams are a reflection of your day. There was a study produced in 2003 during which 29 people had kept a dream journal. Out of the participants, 65% stated that what happened during their dreams was influenced by their days. 

According to Cheung, “The way we respond to pressure and anxiety in real life is typically manifested as a chase dream.” Chase dreams may represent your ways of coping with fears, stress, or various situations in your waking life. Instead of confronting it head on, you are running away from it. It is also believed that the person chasing you represents your own feelings of jealousy, fear, or love. Or, on a simpler level, it may be the fear of being chased which is often portrayed in various forms by the media. 

  • Flying 

“Dreams of flying are very common and vary from dreamer to dream,” states Cheung. English Physician Havelock Ellis wrote in his book, The World Of Dreams, that it is our breathing while asleep that stimulates flying sensations. Freud believes that dreams in which flying occurred showed a desire for sexual freedom. Flying dreams can also be representative of your own personal sense of power. If you feel as though you are flying with ease, then you are on top of the situation. If you feel as though it is difficult to fly then that may signify that you are lacking power or control. 

  • Being Naked in Public 


This is one of the most common and embarrassing ways to find yourself in a dream. 

“Nakedness may represent a longing to return to a childhood innocence, as the dream represents the real you, stripped of pretence and social conditioning.” Freud obviously has a theory for this, that it simply represents your inner desires. Jungian Theory for being naked in a dream believes that nakedness suggests aspirations for love and rebirth. Many psychologists like to believe that these dreams are an “expression of your anxieties towards yourself, and the way you appear to others. Perhaps you fear failure or rejection if you were to reveal your true self.” If you have these dreams, you may need to overcome feelings of vulnerability and you need to regain a sense of self-confidence in your waking life.

  • Losing Teeth 


In regards to losing teeth, Cheung states that “Dreaming about teeth falling out of your mouth represents feelings of insecurity or inadequacy, and such dreams often occur at transition time’s in a person’s life. If your teeth are rotten or decayed in your dream, perhaps you have said something you regret.” 

According to Jung “if a tooth is being pulled out in a woman’s dream, this represents giving birth and in general it has associations with some kind of painful experience or loss that will lead to a new beginning.” 

Consider what may cause your feelings of insecurities or what you may be insecure about- and work towards achieving confidence in that specific area of your life. 


Example of a Reoccuring Dream 


Cayen Foye, FMHS senior, has experienced a reoccurring dream. She had dreamt the first half of the dream one night then a week later she was given the backstory to that same dream. 

“I was on some sort of a battleship with my dad and I fell overboard and I was drowning. Some whales had come up to me and gave me a drug that allowed me to breathe underwater. After this I had made it back on the boat and the humpback whales went on their way. This was the first part of the dream. A week later I got the background of the dream. The humpback whales used to be people that were heroes on a quest and they were fighting an evil god. They lost, but because they fought so well the god granted them the ability to turn into an animal, but they knew that because he was evil he would turn them into the evil form of whatever they chose. They knew that humpback whales could never be evil so they chose humpback whales and that’s why they saved my life.” 

Michelle Carr states that “recurring dreams are connected to unresolved conflict in the life of the dreamer.” This may not be true for Foye’s dream, however if she is experiencing an issue that will not go away-the dream may be trying to tell her that. Dreams may symbolize a certain aspect or feeling about your life, but they also may be completely random. Never delve too deep into the meaning of your dreams unless you are certain that they are trying to tell you something. As William C. Dement said, “Dreaming permits each and everyone of us to be quietly and safely insane every night of our lives.”