The environment in which the action of the dream takes place signifies the background of expenence which supports the situation dealt with in the foreground.
Example: ‘I was in a crowd around a church’ (Efrosyni G).
If we looked at the rest of Efrosyni’s dream we might lose the impact of this very first ‘scene setting’ statement.
If we look up crowd, we find under. Talking to, leading, or part of crowd at a central event, ‘an impulse or idea which unifies many parts of one’s own nature’. So here is something which Efrosyni is deeply interested in. Many of her feelings are involved in it. Looking up church we find ‘religious feeling or beliefs, in- eluding moral code, or our feelings about organised religion*. So it is against Efrosyni’s religious beliefs that the rest of the dream drama unfolds.
Example: I was in a house with old clothes and was washing up* (Mrs PR).
The entry on house says it is P’s everyday feeling state, her general image of herself.
The old clothes are a sense of being old or unattractive. Washing up suggests she feels there are things to clear up concerning what is happening in her life. But it also suggests she sees herself as unexciting. Having clarified that—she feels old and uninteresting, and this needs to be cleaned up or dealt with—the very next pan of the dream explodes into view with meaning. My daughter’s husband to be came in. I admired the way he dressed and he turned his back on me.’ At the end of her dream P feels ‘lost and rejected’. By clarifying the opening scene, it seems likely P looks at her daughter in her new romance (P being 50, a divorcee, and at the tail end of a whirlwind romance’) and feels jealous. Maybe she even hopes to attract her daughter’s man away from her, but he indicates there is no hope. Basically, after her romance, P feels unwanted and rejected.
The helpfulness of the dream, however, is that the first scene shows P the son of feelings about herself that she is living with daily—feelings of being old and uninteresting. Shifting those feelings can change the way others react to her.