prehistoric

Prehistoric, Dream Interpretation


Our own primeval urges and drives, such as fear, territorial aggression, mating rituals, survival—many of these urges have not been transformed. Many of our social rituals, such as the father giving the daughter in marriage— possibly out of the need to allay aggression between males, and break the father’s sexual bond with the daughter—arose from these basic drives. Also our babyhood or prenatal life.

Spiritual progression requires us to understand our physical, emotional, mental and spiritual urges.

The prehistoric images indicate either the lack of ability to integrate the various parts of ourselves successfully, or to integrate with society. There are still aspects perhaps of family history that need to be understood.

Psychological / emotional perspective: Often in dreams the landscape or scenario appears to be prehistoric. This is ‘before thought’ and before we had the ability to properly record our impressions.

If we believe that babies are conscious of the world they will enter before birth, then these impressions can appear in later life as prehistoric images.

For instance, a barren landscape might indicate a lack of love.

Material aspects: Being aware in a dream that something is prehistoric is to recognize that feelings and emotions we have arise literally from before the time we were able to understand ourselves. When we have not fully integrated and comprehended the basic urge for survival, it is possible for us to be self-destructive without necessarily appreciating why. You might also like to consult the entry for dinosaur.

also see Dinosaur

1- Being aware in a dream that something is prehistoric is lo recognise that feelings and emotions we have arise lilerallv from before the time we were able to understand ourselves. WTicn we have not fully integrated and comprehended the basic urge for survival, it is possible for us to be self-destructive without necessarily appreciating why.

2- Often in dreams the landscape or scenario appears to be prehistoric. This is ‘before thought’ and before we had the ability to record our impressions.

If one believes that babies are conscious of the world they will enter before birth, then these impressions can appear in later life as prehistoric images.

For instance, a barren landscape might indicate a lack of love.

3- Spiritual progression requires us to understand our physical, emotional, mental and spiritual urges. In this context, the prehistoric images indicate the lack of ability to integrate either the various parts of ourselves successfully, or to integrate with society.



Prehistoric | Dream Interpretation

Keywords of this dream: Prehistoric

Ten Thousand Dream Dictionary

1- When animals appear in a dream they usually represent an aspect of the personality which cannot be properly understood except on an instinctive level.

Animal with a cub

This will represent motherly qualities and therefore the mother.

Baby animals

The dreamer will be dealing with the child-like side of his or her personality, or possibly children known to him.

The hurt young animal

The dreamer may perceive a difficulty in becoming mature or facing life.

Eating the animal

The dream could be about the ‘demons’ one creates which can only be overcome by assimilating them in a constructive way. Pagan belief thought that one took up certain aspects of the animal that were superior in certain respects to ordinary’ human attitudes.

Godlike, talking awe-inspir- ing or wise animals, or those with human characteristics

Animals have not vet become conscious of, or pitted themselves against, the power from which they came so the wisdom they show is innocent and simple. It is always important to pay attention to this aspect of animal life in fairy tales and dreams, since we need to be in touch with that part of ourselves.

Helpful animals

The subconscious is producing helpful images from its depths.

The figures of animals arc an easy way for the dreamer to accept that help.

Killing the animal may destroy the energy derived from the instincts. Taming or harnessing the animal shows the efforts made to control the dreamer’s instincts and, if possible, make them productive and useful.

To dream of trying to find some refuge from animals whether by building defences - or perhaps by running away - is indicative of the dreamer’s struggle with his animal instincts, and whether the action being taken is adequate. Such instincts may be threatening or damaging to aspects of the dreamer’s life.

2- When we need some sort of understanding of our own psychological urges, animals will appear which symbolise those qualities. These are:

Bear

The mother (see Family) appears in dreams in many forms, the bear being one of them.

The image may be of the possessive, devouring mother or of the all- caring mother.

If it is recognised in the dream that the bear is masculine the image may then be of an overbearing person, or possibly the father.

Bull

Usually the bull in a dream denotes the negative side of behaviour, such as dcstructivcness, fear or anger (for example a bull in a china shop). However, more positively, the bull is recognised as sexual passion or creative power.

Slaying the bull

indicates initiation into the world of the mature adult who succeeds in mastering his instincts and can also represent the sign of Taurus in the Zodiac.

Cat

To dream of cats is to link with the feline, sensuous side in human beings, usually in women. Goddesses such as Bast the Egyptian cat goddess arc usually represented as having two sides to their natures, one devious and one helpful, so the cat often denotes the capricious side of the feminine.

The elegant but also the powerful, yet overly self-sufficient aspect of woman, may also be perceived as the cat. Chameleon The dreamer is recognising either in himself or others the ability to adapt and to change according to surrounding circumstances.

Cold-blooded animals or reptiles

The unfeeling, inhuman aspect of the instincts is often portrayed by reptiles and other cold-blooded animals. They are usually recognised as being destructive and alien.

Composite animals

To dream of composite animals could indicate some confusion in sorting out what qualities are needed.

The various qualities of the different animals of which they are made up need to be assimilated and integrated. There are two potentials of development in one figure.

Half-animal, half-man

The dreamer’s animal instincts arc beginning to be recognised and humanised.

Cow

The eternal feminine, especially the mother (see Family) or mother figure (see Archetypes) is often depictcd by the cow. This is partly because it provides milk and nourishment.

Deer/Reindeer

The deer and the reindeer herd have a strict hierarchical structure.

The dreamer recognises his place in the world.

The deer symbolises pride/nobility

Deformed animals

The dreamer realises that some of his impulses are offensive, or revolting.

Dog

also see individual entry The dreamer may recognise a faithful and constant companion, a protector or more negatively, somebody the dreamer can’t shake off and who might make trouble.

A dog that the dreamer owned or knew at some period of his life There may be memories asso- ciated with that period of his life, which hold clues to present behaviour.

A huntress with dogs The dreamer is making a connection with one of the feminine archetypes, that of the Amazon (see Archetypes).

A dog guarding gates, being near a cemetery In dreams this indicates the guardian of the threshold, and creatures which must be put to sleep or tamed before there can be an initiation into the underworld Domesticated (tame) animals When we dream of domesticated animals we arc aware of those parts of ourselves with which we have come to terms. There are passions which arc being used in a controlled way although there is the suggestion that those passions were never very formidable. Elephant To see an elephant in a dream is to recognise the qualities of patience, long memory, strength and fidelitv. In the more esoteric sense it signifies radiant and glowing wisdom.

Fox

A fox in a dream tells of hypocrisy, cunning and slyness.

Frog

A period or act of transformation (a frog transforms from a tadpole and moves on to the land). There is something repugnant which is turning into something of value (i.e. a frog into a prince). Also see Snake as all reptiles have the same significance.

Goat

To dream of a goat is to recognise creative energy and masculine vitality. It may also represent the dark side of human nature, promiscuousness and sexuality.

To be riding a goat is to be trying to come to terms with the dreamer’s relationship with the dark side of his nature.

The goat may also represent the Devil or Satan. It is also the symbol for Capricorn.

Hare

The hare highlights intuition, spiritual insight and intuitive ‘leaps’. Intuition may be debased into madness by fear or ignorance. Because of its association with the moon, the hare can, in its negative aspect, signify the Priestess/Witch aspect of femininity or the Priest/Sorcerer of the masculine (see Archetypes). In its positive imagery however it is the radiant hare (often holding its baby in a cave) and thus the Mother of God.

Hedgehog

The hedgehog can represent evil and bad manners, or literallv our inability to handle a ‘prickly’ situation.

Horse

The horse in a dream represents the energy at the dreamer’s disposal.

A white horse depicts the spiritual awareness of the dreamer; a brown one the more pragmatic and down-to-earth side, while a black horse is the passionate side of the dreamer’s nature.

A pale horse is taken to indicate death, and a winged horse depicts the soul’s ability to transcend the earthly- plane.

If the horse is under strain or dying there is a severe weakening of the dynamic power that carries the dreamer forward. Ibo much pressure may be being experienced in our lives.

If the horse is being harnessed to a cart the dreamer may be concentrating too hard on thoroughly- utilitarian objectives.

In a man’s dream, a mare will denote the Anima, a woman; or the realm of the feminine (see Archetypes).

In a woman’s dream, being kicked by a horse may indicate the Animus or her relationship with a man.

A horse that can get through any door and batter down all obstacles is the collective Shadow (see Introduction) those aspects of the personality which most people attempt to suppress.

The horse as a beast of burden is often the Great Mother (See Introduction). or mother archetype (see Archetypes). In modern dreams the car has largely taken over from the horse as a symbol with many of the same associations (see Car and Journey Sections).

Hyena

The hyena is generally taken in dreams to signify impurity, instability and deviousness.

Jackal

The jackal is associated with the graveyard, and therefore with Death. As a scavenger it is also a cleanser. Esoterically, it is the servant of the transformer, guiding souls from the earth plane into the light.

Jaguar

The jaguar’s main qualities are its speed and balance. It stands for the balance of power between the dark and light forces. Kangaroo This somewhat exotic animal often stands for motherhood. and also strength. Lamb The lamb is the innocent side of man’s nature. It is said that evil cannot withstand such innocence.

Leopard

The leopard represents cruelty and aggression, and traditionally the deviousness of wrongly used power. Lion The lion stands for majesty, strength and courage. It can also represent the ego and the passions associated with it.

If the dreamer is struggling with the lion there should be a succcssful development as long as the dreamer is not overpowered, or the lion killed.

A man-eating lion shows that an aspect of the personality- has slipped out of alignment, putting both the dreamer and his surroundings at risk.

A lion lying with a lamb There is a union, or compatibility of oppositcs; instinct and spirit going hand in hand. Lizard also see Reptiles The lizard appearing in a dream represents instinctive action or ‘one-track’ thinking.

Lynx

The main quality associated with the lynx is its keen eyesight, thus in a dream it can often portray objectivity. Monkey The monkey characterises the infantile, childish and arrested side of the dreamer’s character.

The qualities of mischief, impudence and inquisi- tiveness all belong to the monkey. While these are often seen as regressive tendencies, that of lively- curiosity maintains a necessary lightness of spirit.

Mare

see Horse

Mole

The mole is often taken to represent the powers of darkness, but can often signify the blind persistence and determination which enables the dreamer to succeed. Monster/Dragon also see Dragon in D Section A fear which is beyond understanding, usually welling up from within rather than from the outside world, is often represented in dreams by monsters and dragons.

The devouring monster The dream may deal with a recognition that ultimately we arc all absorbed back into a greater whole.

If the dreamer gets the better of the monster he will have mastery over his own fear of death, and may be able to harness this forcc for his own use. Cutting out the monster’s heart or other vital organ, or lighting a fire inside it, depicts the struggle against the dark forces of the underworld.

Mouse

also see Vermin The mouse’s quality of timidity can often be addressed in the dreamer, if it is recognised that this can arise from turbulence and lack of understanding.

Otter

The otter is uniquely equipped to exist within its chosen element of water and to be able to gain subsistence from its environment, all things the dreamer may- need to develop.

Ox

The ox depicts the ability to be patient, and to make sacrifices for others.

Parts of animals

{the limbs, eyes, mouth, etc.) These have the same significance as parts of the human body (see Body).

If the four legs are particularly emphasised possibly in contrast with a three-legged animal the whole rounded personality with all four functions of the mind fully developed is being highlighted. Pig or Wild Boar The pig is taken in Western belief to indicate ignorance, stupidity, selfishness, and gluttony.

The dreamer’s better self may be beginning to recognise these unattractive qualities in himself. Without such recognition there can be no transformation or mastcry of them. Pigs and jewels There is a conflict between the lower urges and spiritual values. Perhaps there is a failure to appreciate spiritual values. Big litters of piglets can represent fruitful- ness, although sometimes without result, since the sow can depict the Destructive Mother (see Archetypes). Wild Boar The wild boar depicts the archetypal masculine principal, and therefore the negative Animus in a woman’s dream. (See Introduction).

The dreamer may be evading an issue that should be challenged and dealt with more daringly.

Prehistoric animals

A trauma from the past, or from childhood, may be causing difficulty. Rabbit Rabbits appearing in a dream can mean one of two things.

The obvious connection with fertility could be important or it could be that the trickster aspect of the personality could be coming to the fore (see Hare).

A white rabbit may show the dreamer the way to the inner spiritual world and, as such, act as a guide.

Ram

The ram is a svmbol of masculine virility and power, and by association has those qualities of the sign of Aries in the Zodiac.

Rat

also see Vermin ‘flic rat signifies the diseased and devious part of the dreamer or of his situation. It can also represent something which is repulsive in some way.

The dreamer may be experiencing disloyalty from a friend or colleague.

Reptiles

To dream of reptiles indicates that we are looking at the more frightening lower aspects of the personality. We may have no control over these, and could therefore be easily devoured by them. We are afraid of Death or the death process, but must go through a process of change in order to be reborn.

Seal

Dreaming of a seal suggests that we are at one with the clement in which we live.

Serpent

also see Snake The serpent is a universal symbol which can be male or female or it can be self-created. It can signify death or destruction or conversely life and also rejuvenation. It is the instinctive nature and is also potential energy. When the power of the instinctive nature is understood and harnessed, the dreamer comes to terms with his or her own sexuality and sensuality and is able to make use of the higher and more spiritual energies which become available. In a man’s dream a snake may appear if he has not understood the feminine or intuitive part of himself, or when he doubts his own masculinitv. In a woman’s dream the snake may manifest if she is afraid of sex, or sometimes of her own ability to seduce others. Because of its connection with the Garden of Eden, the serpent is the symbol of duplicity and trickery; and also of temptation. Sheep The sheep is renowned for its flock instinct, and it is this interpretation which is most usually accepted in dreams.

The helplessness of the sheep when off balance is also another aspect which is recognisable, as is the apparent lack of intelligence.

The god-fearing, ‘good sheep’ and also the passive and ‘sheepish’ may have relevance within the context of the dream.

To dream of sheep and wolves or of sheep and goats is to register the conflict between good and evil.

Sinister Animals Any threat from animals indicates the fears and doubts the dreamer has over his ability to cope with the stirrings of the unconscious. Snake - also see Serpent. Snake dreams occur like serpent dreams - when the dreamer is attempting to come to terms with his or her more instinctive self.

Inevitably, this has to do with the recognition and harnessing of energies which have been suppressed and thwarted. Since the most primeval urge is sexuality, the image of the snake is the most primitive one available.

A snake twined around the body or limb

This indicates some form of bondage, possibly being enslaved to the passions.

A snake, or worm, leaving a corpse by its mouth

This can sometimes represent the sexual act (the little death), but can also signify the dreamer’s control of his or her libido.

A snake in the grass This image denotes disloyalty, trickerv and evil. With its tail in its mouth This image is one of the oldest available to man and signifies completion and the union of the spiritual and physical (see Shapes, Circle). Being swallowed by a snake This shows the need and ability to return to the ultimate, and lose our sense of space and time (see Eating). Because snakes are such a low form of life, while also being in some cases poisonous, they have become associated with death, and all that man fears. Snake twined around a staff or similar (see Caduceiis) The unconscious forces that are released once the dreamer reconciles the opposing sides of himself create healing, rebirth and renewal, and this is universally represented as two snakes entwined round a central staff. It is a symbolic representation of the basic form of DXA, the ‘building blocks’ of life.

The colours of the snake may give additional insight into the meaning of the dream (see Colours). Squirrel The squirrel represents the hoarding aspcct of our personalities.

Tiger

The tiger signifies royalty, dignity and power and is both a creator and a dcstrover

Toad

To dream of toads is lo connect with whatever the dreamer may consider ugly in life, or in his behaviour. However, implicit in that ugliness is the power of transformation and growth into something beautiful.

For a toad and an eagle to appear is to note the difference between earthly and spiritual values.

Transformation of animals In dreams, the metamorphosis of the dreamer or other people into animals and vice versa shows the potential for change within any situation.

Unicorn

The unicorn is a symbol of purity and traditionally could only be owned and perceived by virgins. It is a return to, and a resurgence of, an innocence necessary in self-understanding, and it often suggests the control of the ego and selfishness.

Vermin

In dreams vermin may represent the enforced contemplation of something that is unnecessary or that has invaded one’s spacc.

Vertebrates

Animals with backbones often give an understanding of the qualities associated with that animal.

The smaller and lower orders of animal signify the unconscious, the higher orders the emotions.

Whale

The whale, because it is a mammal which lives within water, indicates the power of resurrection and rebirth man’s abilitv to come back from the dead.

Weasel

The weasel traditionally highlights the devious, more criminally oriented side of ourselves.

Werewolf

see Sinister Animals

Wild animals

Usually wild animals stand for danger, dangerous passions, or dangerous people. There is a destructive force arising from the unconscious, threatening the safety of the individual. Such a dream may be a way of understanding anxiety.

Domesticating wild animals The dreamer may- have come to terms with his or her wilder side.

Wolf

Dreaming of wolves may- indicate that we are being threatened by others, whether singly or by the pack.

The dreamer may- have cruel sadistic fantasies without taking responsibility for them.

The She-wolf The hussy; but also the carer for orphans and rejected young.

Wounded animals

The dreamer may be suffering either emotional or spiritual wounds.

Zebra

This animal has the same significance as the horse, but with the additional meaning of balancing the negative and the positive in a very dynamic way.

3- By understanding animals and their symbolism we approach life in a more simplistic and natural way.... Ten Thousand Dream Dictionary

Strangest Dream Explanations

Dreaming of this prehistoric hiding place can represent a respite, a place of a rich inner life, hidden treasures, and your need for safety. Perhaps this dream is suggesting that you take time away from your busy life to process your feelings and plan your strategy for your next venture. Or this dream may be telling you to give other people in your life the dignity of their own space when they need it. This also represents a desire to go back to the womb. See Dugout or Hermit.... Strangest Dream Explanations

A Guide to Dreams and Sleep Experiences

Jung describes this as the inherited potentialities of human imagination. It is the all controlling deposit of ancestral experiences from untold millions of years, the echo of prehistoric world events to which each century adds an infinitesimal small amount of variation and differenti­ation. These primordial images are the most ancient, univer­sal, and deep thoughts of mankind.’

Jung tried to explain his observation of a strata of being in which individual minds have their collective origin in a ge­netic way. This seems unlikely, and Rupert Sheldrake sees it as a mental phenomena. Dr Maurice Bucke called it cosmic consciousness. J.B. Priestley saw it as ‘the flame of life’ which synthesised the experience of all living things and held within itself the essentials of all lives.

If we think of it as a vast collective memory of all that has existed, then we can say the life of Edgar Cayce exhibited a working relationship with it.

Such a collective level of mind would explain many things, such as telepathy, out of body experiences, life after death, which have always been puzzling because they are difficult to explain using presently known principles. ... A Guide to Dreams and Sleep Experiences

A Guide to Dreams and Sleep Experiences

Our personality is a young new thing. It grows throughout our life, but its roots reach into the processes of life and consciousness active in our own being which are as ancient as life on this planet. Life on the planet is also only an extension of processes active in the cosmos. So in dreams we often sense this pnmordial past out of which our present self has grown, and frequently depict this meeting as a prehistoric animal. ... A Guide to Dreams and Sleep Experiences

Ten Thousand Dream Dictionary

also see Prehistoric

1- When we dream of monsters or prehistoric animals we arc touching into very basic images which have the power to frighten and amaze us. Because thev are considered to be so large, we need to be aware of whether it is their size or their power which is frightening. Urges as basic as this can threaten our existence, by either their size or power.

2- We are in touch with an archaic or outmoded part of ourselves. Remembering that the dinosaur is extinct, and that for most people they are perceived as fossils, such a dream can recognise the part of ourselves that has become set in stone.

3- We all have within us a chaotic past which has been a huge part of our lives. Spiritual progress dictates that we understand that this part can be changed and our present selves can grow from that ability to change. Old standards have to break down.... Ten Thousand Dream Dictionary

Ariadne's Book of Dream

Dinosaurs take you into prehistoric experiences and reflect the imprint of your history on the psyche.

The dinosaurs’ power lingers even after they have become extinct. In other words, a dinosaur may come to represent an old idea, belief, or pattern that still hugely influences you. Even though it may be outmoded or archaic, you may still be clinging to that which thwarts your evolution and growth.... Ariadne's Book of Dream

Strangest Dream Explanations

Dreams of a dinosaur symbolize outdated systems and prehistoric ways of thinking. This dream is a symbol that it is time to change your obsolete and clumsy ways of doing things and take the risk of trying something new.... Strangest Dream Explanations

Dream Meanings of Versatile

Material aspects: When we dream of monsters or prehistoric animals we are touching into very basic images which have the power to frighten and amaze us. Because they are considered to be so large, we need to be aware of whether it is their size or their power which is frightening. Urges as basic as this can threaten our existence, by either their size or power. You might also like to consult the entry for prehistoric.... Dream Meanings of Versatile

About Dream Interpretation

The Scientific Literature of Dream-Problems I shall begin by giving a short account of the views of earlier writers on this subject and of the status of the dream-problem in contemporary science; since in the course of this treatise, I shall not often have occasion to refer to either. In spite of thousands of years of endeavour, little progress has been made in the scientific understanding of dreams. This fact has been so universally acknowledged by previous writers on the subject that it seems hardly necessary to quote individual opinions.

The reader will find, in many stimulating observations, and plenty of interesting material relating to our subject, but little or nothing that concerns the true nature of the dream, or that solves definitely any of its enigmas.

The educated layman, of course, knows even less of the matter. The conception of the dream that was held in prehistoric ages by primitive peoples, and the influence which it may have exerted on the formation of their conceptions of the universe, and of the soul, is a theme of such great interest that it is only with reluctance that I refrain from dealing with it in these pages. I will refer the reader to the well-known works of Sir John Lubbock (Lord Avebury), Herbert Spencer, E. B. Tylor and other writers; I will only add that we shall not realise the importance of these problems and speculations until we have completed the task of dream interpretation that lies before us. A reminiscence of the concept of the dream that was held in primitive times seems to underlie the evaluation of the dream which was current among the peoples of classical antiquity.[1] They took it for granted that dreams were related to the world of the supernatural beings in whom they believed, and that they brought inspirations from the gods and demons. Moreover, it appeared to them that dreams must serve a special purpose in respect of the dreamer; that, as a rule, they predicted the future.

The extraordinary variations in the content of dreams, and in the impressions which they produced on the dreamer, made it, of course, very difficult to formulate a coherent conception of them, and necessitated manifold differentiations and group-formations, according to their value and reliability.

The valuation of dreams by the individual philosophers of antiquity naturally depended on the importance which they were prepared to attribute to manticism in general. In the two works of Aristotle in which there is mention of dreams, they are already regarded as constituting a problem of psychology. We are told that the dream is not god-sent, that it is not of divine but of daimonic origin.

For nature is really daimonic, not divine; that is to say, the dream is not a supernatural revelation, but is subject to the laws of the human spirit, which has, of course, a kinship with the divine.

The dream is defined as the psychic activity of the sleeper, inasmuch as he is asleep. Aristotle was acquainted with some of the characteristics of the dream-life; for example, he knew that a dream converts the slight sensations perceived in sleep into intense sensations (‘one imagines that one is walking through fire, and feels hot, if this or that part of the body becomes only quite slightly warm’), which led him to conclude that dreams might easily betray to the physician the first indications of an incipient physical change which escaped observation during the day.[2] As has been said, those writers of antiquity who preceded Aristotle did not regard the dream as a product of the dreaming psyche, but as an inspiration of divine origin, and in ancient times, the two opposing tendencies which we shall find throughout the ages in respect of the evaluation of the dream-life, were already perceptible.

The ancients distinguished between the true and valuable dreams which were sent to the dreamer as warnings, or to foretell future events, and the vain, fraudulent and empty dreams, whose object was to misguide him or lead him to destruction. The pre-scientific conception of the dream which obtained among the ancients was, of course, in perfect keeping with their general conception of the universe, which was accustomed to project as an external reality that which possessed reality only in the life of the psyche. Further, it accounted for the main impression made upon the waking life by the morning memory of the dream; for in this memory the dream, as compared with the rest of the psychic content, seems to be something alien, coming, as it were, from another world. It would be an error to suppose that the theory of the supernatural origin of dreams lacks followers even in our own times; for quite apart from pietistic and mystical writers -- who cling, as they are perfectly justified in doing, to the remnants of the once predominant realm of the supernatural until these remnants have been swept away by scientific explanation -- we not infrequently find that quite intelligent persons, who in other respects are averse to anything of a romantic nature, go so far as to base their religious belief in the existence and co-operation of superhuman spiritual powers on the inexplicable nature of the phenomena of dreams (Haffner).

The validity ascribed to the dream life by certain schools of philosophy -- for example, by the school of Schelling -- is a distinct reminiscence of the undisputed belief in the divinity of dreams which prevailed in antiquity; and for some thinkers, the mantic or prophetic power of dreams is still a subject of debate. This is due to the fact that the explanations attempted by psychology are too inadequate to cope with the accumulated material, however strongly the scientific thinker may feel that such superstitious doctrines should be repudiated. To write a history of our scientific knowledge of the dream problem is extremely difficult, because, valuable though this knowledge may be in certain respects, no real progress in a definite direction is as yet discernible. No real foundation of verified results has hitherto been established on which future investigators might continue to build. Every new author approaches the same problems afresh, and from the very beginning.

If I were to enumerate such authors in chronological order, giving a survey of the opinions which each has held concerning the problems of the dream, I should be quite unable to draw a clear and complete picture of the present state of our knowledge on the subject. I have therefore preferred to base my method of treatment on themes rather than on authors, and in attempting the solution of each problem of the dream, I shall cite the material found in the literature of the subject. But as I have not succeeded in mastering the whole of this literature -- for it is widely dispersed and interwoven with the literature of other subjects -- I must ask my readers to rest content with my survey as it stands, provided that no fundamental fact or important point of view has been overlooked. In a supplement to a later German edition, the author adds: I shall have to justify myself for not extending my summary of the literature of dream problems to cover the period between first appearance of this book and the publication of the second edition. This justification may not seem very satisfactory to the reader; none the less, to me it was decisive.

The motives which induced me to summarise the treatment of dreams in the literature of the subject have been exhausted by the foregoing introduction; to have continued this would have cost me a great deal of effort and would not have been particularly useful or instructive.

For the interval in question -- a period of nine years -- has yielded nothing new or valuable as regards the conception of dreams, either in actual material or in novel points of view. In most of the literature which has appeared since the publication of my own work, the latter has not been mentioned or discussed; it has, of course, received the least attention from the so-called ‘research workers on dreams’, who have thus afforded a brilliant example of the aversion to learning anything new so characteristic of the scientist. ‘Les savants ne sont pas curieux’, said the scoffer, Anatole France.

If there were such a thing in science as the right of revenge, I, in my turn, should be justified in ignoring the literature which has appeared since the publication of this book.

The few reviews which have appeared in the scientific journals are so full of misconceptions and lack of comprehension that my only possible answer to my critics would be a request that they should read this book over again -- or perhaps merely that they should read it! And in a supplement to the fourth German edition which appeared in 1914, a year after I published the first English translation of this work, he writes: Since then, the state of affairs has certainly undergone a change; my contribution to the ‘interpretation of dreams’ is no longer ignored in the literature of the subject. But the new situation makes it even more impossible to continue the foregoing summary.

The Interpretation of Dreams has evoked a whole series of new contentions and problems, which have been expounded by the authors in the most varied fashions. But I cannot discuss these works until I have developed the theories to which their authors have referred. Whatever has appeared to me as valuable in this recent literature, I have accordingly reviewed in the course of the following exposition.... About Dream Interpretation

About Dream Interpretation

The Scientific Literature of Dream-Problems

I shall begin by giving a short account of the views of earlier writers on this subject and of the status of the dream-problem in contemporary science; since in the course of this treatise, I shall not often have occasion to refer to either. In spite of thousands of years of endeavour, little progress has been made in the scientific understanding of dreams. This fact has been so universally acknowledged by previous writers on the subject that it seems hardly necessary to quote individual opinions.

The reader will find, in many stimulating observations, and plenty of interesting material relating to our subject, but little or nothing that concerns the true nature of the dream, or that solves definitely any of its enigmas.

The educated layman, of course, knows even less of the matter. The conception of the dream that was held in prehistoric ages by primitive peoples, and the influence which it may have exerted on the formation of their conceptions of the universe, and of the soul, is a theme of such great interest that it is only with reluctance that I refrain from dealing with it in these pages. I will refer the reader to the well-known works of Sir John Lubbock (Lord Avebury), Herbert Spencer, E. B. Tylor and other writers; I will only add that we shall not realise the importance of these problems and speculations until we have completed the task of dream interpretation that lies before us. A reminiscence of the concept of the dream that was held in primitive times seems to underlie the evaluation of the dream which was current among the peoples of classical antiquity.[1] They took it for granted that dreams were related to the world of the supernatural beings in whom they believed, and that they brought inspirations from the gods and demons. Moreover, it appeared to them that dreams must serve a special purpose in respect of the dreamer; that, as a rule, they predicted the future.

The extraordinary variations in the content of dreams, and in the impressions which they produced on the dreamer, made it, of course, very difficult to formulate a coherent conception of them, and necessitated manifold differentiations and group-formations, according to their value and reliability.

The valuation of dreams by the individual philosophers of antiquity naturally depended on the importance which they were prepared to attribute to manticism in general. In the two works of Aristotle in which there is mention of dreams, they are already regarded as constituting a problem of psychology. We are told that the dream is not god-sent, that it is not of divine but of daimonic origin.

For nature is really daimonic, not divine; that is to say, the dream is not a supernatural revelation, but is subject to the laws of the human spirit, which has, of course, a kinship with the divine.

The dream is defined as the psychic activity of the sleeper, inasmuch as he is asleep. Aristotle was acquainted with some of the characteristics of the dream-life; for example, he knew that a dream converts the slight sensations perceived in sleep into intense sensations (‰_÷one imagines that one is walking through fire, and feels hot, if this or that part of the body becomes only quite slightly warm‰_ª), which led him to conclude that dreams might easily betray to the physician the first indications of an incipient physical change which escaped observation during the day.[2] As has been said, those writers of antiquity who preceded Aristotle did not regard the dream as a product of the dreaming psyche, but as an inspiration of divine origin, and in ancient times, the two opposing tendencies which we shall find throughout the ages in respect of the evaluation of the dream-life, were already perceptible.

The ancients distinguished between the true and valuable dreams which were sent to the dreamer as warnings, or to foretell future events, and the vain, fraudulent and empty dreams, whose object was to misguide him or lead him to destruction. The pre-scientific conception of the dream which obtained among the ancients was, of course, in perfect keeping with their general conception of the universe, which was accustomed to project as an external reality that which possessed reality only in the life of the psyche. Further, it accounted for the main impression made upon the waking life by the morning memory of the dream; for in this memory the dream, as compared with the rest of the psychic content, seems to be something alien, coming, as it were, from another world. It would be an error to suppose that the theory of the supernatural origin of dreams lacks followers even in our own times; for quite apart from pietistic and mystical writers -- who cling, as they are perfectly justified in doing, to the remnants of the once predominant realm of the supernatural until these remnants have been swept away by scientific explanation -- we not infrequently find that quite intelligent persons, who in other respects are averse to anything of a romantic nature, go so far as to base their religious belief in the existence and co-operation of superhuman spiritual powers on the inexplicable nature of the phenomena of dreams (Haffner).

The validity ascribed to the dream life by certain schools of philosophy -- for example, by the school of Schelling -- is a distinct reminiscence of the undisputed belief in the divinity of dreams which prevailed in antiquity; and for some thinkers, the mantic or prophetic power of dreams is still a subject of debate. This is due to the fact that the explanations attempted by psychology are too inadequate to cope with the accumulated material, however strongly the scientific thinker may feel that such superstitious doctrines should be repudiated. To write a history of our scientific knowledge of the dream problem is extremely difficult, because, valuable though this knowledge may be in certain respects, no real progress in a definite direction is as yet discernible. No real foundation of verified results has hitherto been established on which future investigators might continue to build. Every new author approaches the same problems afresh, and from the very beginning.

If I were to enumerate such authors in chronological order, giving a survey of the opinions which each has held concerning the problems of the dream, I should be quite unable to draw a clear and complete picture of the present state of our knowledge on the subject. I have therefore preferred to base my method of treatment on themes rather than on authors, and in attempting the solution of each problem of the dream, I shall cite the material found in the literature of the subject. But as I have not succeeded in mastering the whole of this literature -- for it is widely dispersed and interwoven with the literature of other subjects -- I must ask my readers to rest content with my survey as it stands, provided that no fundamental fact or important point of view has been overlooked. In a supplement to a later German edition, the author adds: I shall have to justify myself for not extending my summary of the literature of dream problems to cover the period between first appearance of this book and the publication of the second edition. This justification may not seem very satisfactory to the reader; none the less, to me it was decisive.

The motives which induced me to summarise the treatment of dreams in the literature of the subject have been exhausted by the foregoing introduction; to have continued this would have cost me a great deal of effort and would not have been particularly useful or instructive.

For the interval in question -- a period of nine years -- has yielded nothing new or valuable as regards the conception of dreams, either in actual material or in novel points of view. In most of the literature which has appeared since the publication of my own work, the latter has not been mentioned or discussed; it has, of course, received the least attention from the so-called ‰_÷research workers on dreams‰_ª, who have thus afforded a brilliant example of the aversion to learning anything new so characteristic of the scientist. ‰_÷Les savants ne sont pas curieux‰_ª, said the scoffer, Anatole France.

If there were such a thing in science as the right of revenge, I, in my turn, should be justified in ignoring the literature which has appeared since the publication of this book.

The few reviews which have appeared in the scientific journals are so full of misconceptions and lack of comprehension that my only possible answer to my critics would be a request that they should read this book over again -- or perhaps merely that they should read it! And in a supplement to the fourth German edition which appeared in 1914, a year after I published the first English translation of this work, he writes: Since then, the state of affairs has certainly undergone a change; my contribution to the ‰_÷interpretation of dreams‰_ª is no longer ignored in the literature of the subject. But the new situation makes it even more impossible to continue the foregoing summary.

The Interpretation of Dreams has evoked a whole series of new contentions and problems, which have been expounded by the authors in the most varied fashions. But I cannot discuss these works until I have developed the theories to which their authors have referred. Whatever has appeared to me as valuable in this recent literature, I have accordingly reviewed in the course of the following exposition.... About Dream Interpretation

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