Ten Common Dream Images & What They Mean

Psychoanalysts, psychics and other individuals have been concerned with the purpose and messages of dreams since the beginning of time. Various cultures have maintained that our dreams are anything from messages from ancestors and spirits to random images created by consuming spicy food (my grandmother’s favorite theory.) Both C.G. Jung and Sigmund Freud did extensive research and provided much toward our modern understanding of dream interpretation. Their focus on the messages of the subconscious has shaped our view of the role of our dreams in guiding our waking life. Here are ten common dream images and what they may mean for the lay person trying to decipher these messages from the unconscious…

1. Animals – dreaming of animals is common and most analysts urge the dreamer to pay attention to what type of animal occurred in the dream and what their feelings are about that animal. Freud believed that small animals represented children and/or siblings of the dreamer, while large and wild animals were symbolic of exciting, sexy people or objects of the dreamer’s sexual desire, evil urges, passion or sexual stimulus.

2. Baby/Child – historically, a dream involving a baby or child was considered a portent of good luck, good news, upcoming success in life or the promise of love.

3. A dream involving a wall, barrier or cage is another common dream image and it is believed to represent a feeling of being stuck – a challenge at work or in other areas of life where the dreamer is feeling unable to move forward, restrictions or limits inhibiting progress.

4. Blood – While blood in a dream can seem ominous and threatening, experts actually believe that blood is symbolic of passion for life and/or love, excitement and desire for something or someone new in life, and a deep, fiery connection.

5 Car, Automobile, Driving – This is a very modern dream image and is thought to represent movement, transformation in terms of work, status, or other life changes – as in “moving from one place to another, or moving up”; can also represent sexuality and urges.

6. Death – although dreaming of death can be disconcerting, it is commonly accepted that death rarely means an actual or real physical death. Death is often a positive image and Jung believed that dreaming of a death represented a new beginning or life transformation was on the horizon. This can also symbolize a need for change or to let go and to accept personal growth opportunities.

7. Loss of Teeth – This is such a strange and common dream element, that analysts have offered up various opinions about what it might mean: some believe it represents concerns about money, while Freud and Jung both thought teeth in dreams were a phallic symbol. It has been discovered that women may dream about losing teeth during menopause. Also, teeth are said to represent friends, relatives and lovers – so dreaming of losing them, may mean a fear of losing loved-ones.

8. Person – a person in a dream can represent anyone in the dreamer’s life – so the dreamer is urged to pay attention to who and what people are doing. A person can also represent different sides or personality traits of the dreamer – as in male or female, young children or older people in dreams may represent the dreamer at different life stages or a need to pay attention to parts and pieces of the “inner” person.

9. Money – Money is common symbol in dreams and it seldom actually represents financial issues, as much as it represents power or what money “can do” for a person. Both Freud and Jung suggested that money symbolized sex – sexuality, sex drive, personal sexual self-image and identity. Money can also represent passion.

10. Failing a Test – This dream is so common, people often chuckle and compare notes on the “failing the college exam” dream. This dream actually represents a fear of failure, public humiliation, insecurities about performance, and low self esteem.

These are only ten common dream images and some suggestions about what they may mean. Experts recommend keeping a notepad or journal beside the bed and not only recording dreams, but the dreamer’s feelings about dream images to examine the personal connections a dreamer may have with individual symbols. Dreamers are urged to pay close attention to reoccurring images and reoccurring dreams as these may be the immediate and urgent “messages” from the subconscious.

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