How Does a Dream Express Itself?

A dream seems to occur in a “real” world; however, that world is very different from the one experienced in the waking state. The dream world does not express itself logically and has irrational aspects.

In a dream, time and space take other dimensions; there are no limits to possibilities. For example, one can fly or live in another age. Usually, the dream unfolds as if it were in the present. It can have colors, sounds, smells, but rarely tastes.

The Dream, Odilon

The Dream, Odilon Redon

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A dream expresses itself in figurative language:

  • By using images and metaphors. Crossing a bridge can mean a transition.
  • By expressing abstract ideas in the form of concrete images. Known or unknown people to the dreamer can represent personified parts of his/her psyche.
  • By playing with words or creating new ones.
  • By presenting symbols.

Symbols are the best possible expression of something unknown. A symbol creates powerful resonances. It is charged with affect and dynamism because it plays on deep mental structures while mobilizing the totality of the psyche.

A symbol differs from a sign. The latter is limited to sense perception and intellect. A symbol, on the other hand, has transcendent powers. It allows us to become conscious of something that is unconscious.