What if I told you that without dreams, civilisation wouldn't exist?  Being a person who dreams so vividly almost every day, the topic of dreams have always intrigued me. Two months ago, I finally got to attend a Freudian Dream Interpretation Workshop conducted by Dr. Kirby from Singapore Institute of Technology (SIT), to understand more about Dreams. I've been meaning to write about this since last month, but with so many administrative documents to settle for my upcoming Bunion Operation and my school, I haven't really got the time to write.

Some may believe Dreams to be a form of a religious message, some may believe it to be an experience by the spirit that's leaving the body. Others may believe it to be a form of thought insertion or a message through archaic symbols.  During the workshop, we have labeled these beliefs as myths due to a lack of studies and evidence.

Everybody dreams. If someone ever mentioned that they don't dream, it's probably because they don't remember. We all dream when we are asleep. Everybody should probably have already heard by now the benefits of sleep and how crucial it is to get plenty of it. This is to allow our body to repair and recharge. It is also the only time where our brain detoxes itself. Dreams are also a way of detoxing but as a form of release of the anxieties we've experienced  during the day, week, or even childhood. We tap into our unconscious, which is a powerful part of our brain that's often inaccessible to our usual, conscious thoughts. It's where our true feelings and ideas flow, without the society's rules and constraints, without any reality principles in the way, with nobody to judge what's right or wrong. This only happens in the Rapid Eye Movement (REM) stages of sleep. If we dream in the Non-REM stages, it would often be dreams of recall, dreams of rehearsals, or lucid dreams.


[ REM Dreams ]

REM dreams are the dreams that truly show what's bothering you in your unconscious. Dreams are repressed materials. Its contents could come from your physical environment (e.g. hot environment), physiological functioning (e.g. going to the toilet), day's events, non-REM visualizations, and unconscious' projections. Although by having REM dreams, you are already breaking through one of your defense mechanisms and tapping into your unconscious, what you see is not what you get. There is still a deeper layer of defense mechanism that's there to censor your dreams. Example, if you dreamt of yourself marrying Guy A, you could actually be dreaming about Guy B but you see Guy A's face instead because that is a form of censorship to protect you from the real identity of Guy B. These mechanisms of defense are often in play in our lives in the form of repression, denial, reaction, displacement, sublimation, and rationalisation. To cope and comprehend with the incredible mass amount of knowledge this universe has to offer and to deal with the rules and expectation of society, we push most information we know, into our subconscious and unconscious.  


Fortunately (or unfortunately), there is a way to decode these symbols and interpret your dreams by using the Word Association Technique.

  1. Narrate your dreams - We start by conducting a simple Dream Interview: Know the Storyline, Characteristics of the Hero / Heroin, other characters in the dream, where, what, when, emotion of the dream, emotion on waking up, theme of the dream / action, and what this dream reminds you of.
  2. Identify the main Symbols - It could be a specific venue, a particular action, an object, or more. For example, I once dreamt that I was parkouring in a Park on the way to School. Doing cool stunts like flying between Poles and Running on Roofs. So the main symbols here could be 'Parkouring', 'School', 'Flying', 'Roof'.
  3. Word Associations - In the shortest time possible, give at least 3 words that come to your mind when I mention the symbols. In my case, the 3 words which immediately come to my mind when someone says 'parkouring' would be fun, freedom, and adventure. However, the word associations may sometimes be invalid if a person is being untruthful to themselves (defense mechanism at play). It may become invalid also if someone takes too long or too short to think of the words (5 seconds would be a good rule). If it is a synopsis of a word (e.g. frog -> toad), or a short phrase completion (e.g. fur -> ball), it is invalid as well.
  4. Memory Activated - From these words associations that you've given, is there a childhood or recent memory that comes to your mind? What is the first memory that resurfaced?
  5. Identifying the frustration / guilt - It could be an unaccomplished wish or a moment of frustration you had in the past. This is the underlying purpose of your dream; to fulfill a wish or an anxiety that was never addressed or accomplished. Especially if you're in a major crossroad or facing a moment of depression (a present emotion or need), this will come out quickly.
  6. Work on it - Now that you've identified the underlying wish that is to be yet fulfilled, do something about it. You may think that it's not bothering you but it will forever be bothering you in your unconscious mind. Find a way to close the chapter; you can even just talk about it with someone!

I hope that this simple word association technique will help you or the people around you in some ways. Go ahead, grab a piece of paper & pen and try it out. However, bear in mind that this may unravel the darkest secrets you've been trying to suppress so be discrete and respectful if you're trying this out with your friends. You can also check out 10 interesting facts about Dreams over here.

If you've any questions about Dreams, drop a question below and I'll try my best to answer you!  

Published by Cassandra Chong