We Construct Our Dreams
Many theories believe that the content of dreams have psychological meaning. Freud believed that dreams are wishes, needs, or ideas that one represses to the unconscious. Although most other psychologists disagree that dreams represent one’s unconsciousness, they agree that dreams may relate to one’s thoughts (Atkinson, & Hilgard, 2009, pp. 210-212). Recent studies have found that dream images relate to not only our belief but also our culture (International Journal of Dream Research). Dreams seem to be constructed based on our waking lives and memories.
Different beliefs make for different dream content. A study asked two hundred undergraduate students of United Arab Emirates (the UAE) and Canada to record their dreams for two weeks (Mohamed O. Salem, 2013, pp. 94-97). The students of two countries had different beliefs: all the UAE students were Muslim, while most of Canadian students were Christians. Also, ...view middle of the document...
Different cultures may also affect dream images. Another study asked Italian or Canadian English-speaking participants to illustrate one of their own dreams which occurred in the past week (Teresa L. DeCicco, 2012, pp. 68-75). They found that Italians reported more colors than Canadians. A famous proverb in Italy says: “Italy is the land of saints, poets and sailors,” so the investigators suggested this creative attitude were reflected in their dreams. Besides, the two groups of different countries had different types of sport imageries in their dreams. Italians reported soccer imagery while Canadians reported hockey imagery. Most interestedly, Italian dreams had seas, ancient-buildings, and castles imagery. On the other hand, though Canadians did not have cultural imageries like Italian, one of them dreamed of Tim Horton’s, a popular coffee chain in Canada. With this evidence, investigators concluded that culturally-relevant imagery is an important part of dream imagery.
What people will dream depends on the experience and thought of their waking lives. For example, first, Muslims spend much time on doing religious activities every day, so they tend to dream of religious images more than those who are less religiously active. Second, people of different culture may dream different images. They have different backgrounds and activities, and these experiences would come to their dreams. To conclude, although the content of dreams is often strange and fantastical, they do not emerge out of void. Most of dreams reflect our waking lives and memories.
Atkinson, & Hilgard (2009). Atkinson & Hilgard’s Introduction to Psychology.
Mohamed O. Salem, Teresa L. DeCicco, Mohamed A. Ragab, Said Yousif,
Anthony Murkar, & Mamta Vaswani, (2013). “Spiritual and religious imagery in dreams: A cross cultural analysis.” International Journal of Dream Research, 6, pp. 94-97.
Teresa L. DeCicco, Donatella Donati and Mauro Pini. (2012). “Examining dream content and meaning of dreams with English and Italian versions of the storytelling method of dream interpretation” International Journal of Dream Research, 5, pp. 68-75.