"Dreams are of three varieties: some dreams are glad tiding from
God, some are from Satan, and some dreams are people communicating to themselves and they
see it [in a dream.]"
"Dreams are [a gift] from God, and Nightmares are from Satan"
"[Dreams are a ] a branch of forty-six branches of prophecy ...[anyone]... may see a true prophecy"
Muhammad, Messenger of God [570-632 AD] (Ibn Serene, 1993)
Statement: People can gain insight into their inmost feelings and fears by interpreting their dreams.
I believe that the above statement is true and I shall try to prove it in this essay. Dreams are a very old subject that is as old as humanity itself and is open to many theories and interruptions. In the biblical story of Joseph all the dreams are prophetic and symbolic. It is a dream that gets Joseph into trouble with his brothers and a dream that gets him out of prison later in life. Dreaming is a natural bodily function which is part of sleep. Dreams also tend to take place in " real time" (Rathus, 1993)
Many dream theorist, researchers, and practitioners agree that bits and pieces of recent life events will show up in your dreams. (Mahrer, 1989) Freud has also supported this thought by stating that:
...Our dream-thoughts are dominated by the same material that has occupied us during the day and we only bother to dream of things which have given us cause for reflection in the date time. (Freud, 1900)
as quoted in (Mahrer, 1989).
The meaning and interpretation of dreams is a very old subject as old as dreams themselves. According to Freud is that dreams reflected unconscious wishes and urges. Further Freud said that the content of dreams was symbolic of unconscious fantasized objects such as genital organs. (Rathus, 1993) However not all share this view as C. G. Jung states:
I could not share Freuds almost exclusive interest in sex. Assuredly sex plays no small role among human motives, but in many cases it is secondary to hunger, the power drive, ambition, fanaticism, envy, revenge, or the devouring passion of the creative impulse and the religious spirit. (Jung, 1990, p. 95.)
It could very well be that Freud having done most of his research in Europe and based many of his theories on the actions of his patients that he tried to help. European societies of the early 20th century (Vienna where Freud had a practice at the time) had repressed their sexuality behind much formalism and tradition. Their strongest urges could well have been sexual in nature whereas Jung had studied most ancient cultures and beliefs, especially those of Asia and Africa.
The reality in the dreams is dissimilar to the reality of our real world as in a title of a book on dream therapy -Where People Fly and Water Runs Uphill. The juxtaposition of reality has led many to believe that visions in dreams are symbols of our real world reality. For example according to Ibn Serene -a Muslim Scholar of the 8th Century AD- a dream that contains bees could mean attaining a leadership position. (Ibn Serene, 1993, p. 272). According to Mahrer dreams can provide, a message from alien sources (p. 144) namely God, resolution of a personal problem and prophecies of the future (p. 146). Ancient Egyptians divided dreams into three categories:
(1) unsolicited dreams in which the gods appealed to mans conscience, demanding repentance, pity, etc.
(2) warning dreams, in which the gods warned the dreamer of dangers ahead; and
(3) dreams which were answers to questions put by the dreamer before the gods. (Wolf, 1952, pp. 10-11)
in (Mahrer, 1989, p. 146.)
Dreams can also provide information about the nature and content of personality. (Mahrer, 1989, p. 152.)
In the Islamic tradition dreams are of three categories, one such categories is pleasant dreams which are considered a gift from God. Sometimes these dreams could contain a prophecy of things to come such as good fortune and hope of a better life. Some have had visions of righteous family members and colleagues in paradise. a second categories are nightmares and the source of these is Satan in which he attempts to scare the righteous and fill their hearts with grief. Muslims are to seek refugee in God from Satan, to recite prayers and enlist Gods help. The third and final category is unconscious self trying to send a message to the conscious self, perhaps to rethink of a bad decision that the person has made, recall a pleasant memory or a lost item.(Ibn Serene, 1993).
In Conclusion interpretation of the content of dreams is inherent in many cultures of the world and throughout history. Many Scholars, Dream specialist and cultures believe that we can much from our dreams. The most valuable of that knowledge is what we can learn about ourselves. Dreams should be used for our betterment and all around well being not to cause us grief and anxiety.
Hartmann, Ernest (1984) The Nightmare: The Psychology and Biology of Terrifying Dreams. New York, NY: Basic Books Inc., Publishers.
Ibn Serene (1993) Tafseer al-Ahlam al-Kabeer [The Unabridged Interpretation of Dreams]. Ibrahim Ramadan (Ed.). Beirut, Lebanon: Dar al-Balagha Publishers.
Jung, C. G. (1990) The Undiscovered Self with Symbols and the Interpretation of Dreams. R. F. C. Hull (Tr.) The Collected Works of C. G. Jung. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.
Mahrer, Alvin R. (1989) Dream Work: in Psychotherapy and Self-Change. New York, NY: W. W. Norton & Co.
Rathus, Spencer A. (1993) Psychology. Fort Worth, TX: Harcourt Brace College Publisher.
Taylor, Jeremy (1992) Where People Fly and Water Runs Uphill: Using Dreams To Tap The Wisdom Of The Unconscious. New York, NY: Warner Books.