Exploring the Unconscious World of Dreams
Personal Dream Analysis/Group Presentations

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Contents:   Tools & Aids   /  Getting Started   /  Dream Structure   /  First Dream to Interpret   /  Page 2 /  Page 3 /  Outline
Legend:        Words colored Red are links to other pages        Words in Blue and Underlined have definitions of that word
Click to unfold & fold opens the page to more information about a suject

How To Interpret Dreams
My Methodology of Interpreting Dreams
By Jerry Gifford

…when someone tells me a dream … [I have made a rule] to say first of all to myself ‘I have no idea what this dream means’... then I can begin.... C.G. Jung

Jungian Analysis is about much more than just dream interpretation. Your dreams are a useful way to gain understanding about what is going on in your life. Dreams offer insights into ourselves that we may otherwise may not be naware of, or not have in a clear or correct perspective. Dreams reveal what is true about ourselves and in our lives.

Dreams are messages from the unconscious. Many people who come into analysis will say “I never remember my dreams” {we all dream, every night}. Yet once they begin to pay attention to their dreams a dialogue begins between the unconscious as represented by the dream world, and the waking individual as represented by the individual’s efforts to understand and come into relationship with her or his inner life.

In Jungian Analysis, typically the client and the analyst will work through the dream together. However, some individuals, find it helpful to work on the dream beforehand, so that in the analytic session they can more quickly come to an understanding of the dream.

Some dreams seem to deal with smaller everyday issues and others seem to deal with larger issues. But it is often difficult to differentiate between the two. More than that, dreams seeming to simply deal with small everyday issues, may when examined more fully, also contain important information about the larger issues of one’s life.

Dreams speak in a language of symbol and metaphor. Symbols are images or representations from the unconscious that are not completely understood. The work of dream analyst is to derive as much meaning from a symbol as one can. This meaning informs the life of the dreamer.

For those who wish to understand their dreams, and get a better understanding of themselves, there are ways to dissect dreams without having an analyst do it for you. This is what this paper is about. The following will outline how I interpret dreams as a dream analyst. I will explain as clear as I can my method of analyzing and interpreting dreams. With practice, and taking time to at least read the basics of Jungian dream psyche, you the reader can become your own dream analyst and in the process make new discoveries that you never knew existed.

My Method of Analyzing Dreams
Over the past 20+ years I've developed my own method of interpreting dreams which has met with great success. My method is essentially 'Jungian', using his concepts and theories in determining the symbolic message in dreams. What is different is not placing a great focus on the archetypes, although I do often reference the masculine and feminine aspects, the anima/animus since they are present in most dreams. Another difference is I often break down the individual symbols to derive their meaning/application {when I say symbols I mean images, as well as phrases or a combination of words that have something to offer symbolically}. This is not always the case. There are instances where I can see a pattern or patterns within a dream without having to define each image symbolically. Some dreams just seem to have recognizable patterns that are easy to understand and interpret. 'Spiritual' dreams from older adults usually fit within this type of dream.

When I say "my method has met with great success" I base that assumption from the dreams I have interpreted at my Dream Forum. This is not only a catalog of posted dreams by visitors and my interpretations but a record of my abilities to analyze dreams. Although I have been able to provide dependable interpretation of dreams on a consistent basis for many years, it has within the past two years I have determined my abilities are in fact real. I no longer question my intuitive mind nor my analysis of dreams even though I have no formal education or training in Jungian psyche. This alone has been a continuous subject because most who analyze dreams are trained psychologists, psychiatrists or in related clinical fields. I have long thought of myself as an intuitive Jungian, having a natural recognition to those deep inner processes we all possess but have lost contact with and access to. By analyzing dreams and giving interpretation to the symbolic images I have been able to develop what must have been an already possessed intuitive nature. There are many people who have natural intuitive insights and abilities but who have never used those tools for the purpose of interpreting dreams. My journey just happened to lead to me in this direction. Now that I have found my 'niche' I hope to help others learn to properly analyze dreams and develop their natural senses so they can, by interpreting their own dreams, discover the individuated person nature meant for them to be.

“The dream is a little hidden door in the innermost and most secret recesses of the soul, opening into that cosmic night which was psyche long before there was any ego-consciousness, and which will remain psyche no matter how far our ego-consciousness extends”....Carl Jung

Tools & Aids For Interpreting Dreams
Important aids I sometimes use in analyzing dreams is the use of certain tools and aids to help identify and clarify the exact definition of a word or phrases. Because almost all images/symbols have different possible meanings it is important to understand their exact definitions and the possibilities. One tool I use are dream dictionaries. Not just any dream dictionary but the two I have listed below. Most dream dictionaries are simply out 'crap'. These two source of references have more of a 'Jungian' application {although not every HyperDictionary listing is}. I also use the Myths-Dreams-Symbols list of motifs.

Other tools I use in aiding me to get an exact understanding of a word are regular dictionaries and thesaurus. Not only does these help give an exact definition but often a word I see in a dream is not listed in one of the dream dictionaries. Or I don't see a meaning I believe that is applicable. Other times when a word is not listed or applicable I will look at a regular dictionary to get its definition since its application depends on how it is defined authoritatively.

Getting Started
The first thing to do is read the whole dream and get a feel for it. If you begin interpreting a dream before reading the whole dream you may form an impression only to have it take an unexpected turn. This applies especially to the middle stages of a dream where the 'plot' unfolds and changes often take place. If you get into your head a dream is trying to communicate a particular message and then a turn of events occurs you may mistakenly retain the original impression which could throw you off the path to understanding the developing pattern. Although the opening part of a dream, what Jung called the exposition, will usually give a statement of place and a statement about the protagonist, and often an idea what the dream is focusing on, it is best to read the whole dream to get an idea of its total context. Dreams do have a structure which is outlined in the below and in more detail on page two.

What to Look For

What you should look for in analyzing all dreams are images {ie house, car, horse, mountains, etc}, phrases that describe an action{s} {I was walking and am approached by 2 dogs} and patterns of actions that depict behavior {I was constantly searching the house looking for rooms to explore}. The images and phrases are symbolic of the dreamer {the house is the dreamer and going through the rooms of the house is exploring aspects of the dreamer's psyche} and the patterns are metaphorical of the emotional patterns of behavior {searching within the unconscious for answers to an emotional conflict}. Interpreting the symbols and phrases is how unseen patterns are established, the actions within the dream being symbolic and metaphorical of the patterns of behavior. Conscious patterns are those the dreamer may know exists but does nothing about, ignores or continuously repeats the patter of behavior to satisfy the ego's need for substitution of an emotional deficiency {substituting food, sex, drugs, etc. for emotional nourishment not received early in life}. Unconscious patterns are those underlying energies that cause the person to act in a certain way in conscious life {abuse as a child resulting in abusing children as an adult}. These come from previous life experiences and influences, often during childhood where the 'foundation' and building blocks of the psyche are formed. Or from traumatic experiences later in life where the psyche is 'injuried' resulting in alterations to normal behavior. Actions within the dream have as much to do in defining what an image means/applies as the image itself. What is occurring within the dream will fit somewhere within the dreamer's life, the symbolic language used to illustrate an emotional pattern. This is the test that is used to determine if an interpretation is correct.

Our dreams reflect what the true self is all about and not merely the ego perception {think of the ego as narcissistic-it doesn't want us to know because of selfishness, beholden to what the body/mind desires}. We are human animals divided into three parts; the physical {body}, the psychological {emotional mind} and the spiritual {the greater Self}. What the dream is attempting to do is bring all three into accord, as well as with the outer world, so there will be wholeness for the individual, and a life of meaning {the meaning of life is finding meaning in life}. By using symbolic language depicting images {hieroglyphs- the original language of ancient man} and phrases of action, the dream points to patterns of emotional behavior, reflective of the inner/outer/conscious/unconscious experiences that are out of balance in the dreamer's life. Jung believed we were all meant to be whole and the dream is nature's device in bringing about wholeness.

Marion Woodman: What DNA is to the physical body, the archetypal world is to the psychic body. It simply shapes configurations in the psyche that we’re born with.

As for the archetypal images that occur in dreams see Brief Outline of Archetypal Images in Dreams below.

The Structure of the Dream

Dreams are typically structured like a story found in a book, fairytale, or a stage play. Dreams, like such stories, have a beginning, middle, and an end. It may be helpful to look at the dream to discover the structural elements of the story presented by your psyche:

a) What is the initial situation of the dream? {exposition/initial phase}

The first sentence of the dream often contains important information. For this first sentence and sometimes the first paragraph, there are many questions we can first ask. Noting the setting, characters, feeling tone, etc. of the initial situation, a few possible questions are: Is everything balanced? Or is there too much of, or not enough of something? Or perhaps something that might be expected, giving the setting of the dream, is not present.

b) What develops or changes in the dream? {plot}

From the initial situation how does the story develop? What changes occur?

c) What is the action in the dream? {culmination}

Often a dream will have one or more actions that may range from going on a journey, to performing a task, to having a conversation.

d) What is the climax of the dream? Just like in a book, a play or a movie, is there a moment that can be pointed to as the climax? Often at the climax there is a fundamental change in the situation. Something is born, dies, is understood, or even changes in a small way, such as a flower that was one colour, changes in shade.

e) What is the lysis of the dream? That is, how does the dream end? Has the situation changed from the beginning of the dream? How are things left? {lysis}

Often we will only retain a dream fragment. These can still be valuable clues that are worth recording and bringing to analysis.

I will say much more about dream structure on page two where I take a dream and break it down according to structure.

The Characters

Dreams typically will have one or more characters, who can be looked at like the characters of a book, play or film. Generally speaking all unnamed/unknown characters in a dream are aspects or part of the dreamer.

a) Protagonist: Who is the main actor in the dream? Usually it is the dreamer in a form that may or may not be named as such (may be referred to as the ‘dream ego’). Sometimes the dreamer will recognize oneself, but at a different age, or with something different than expected.

b) Antagonists: Who are the other actors in the dream? What role(s) do they play? What qualities do they have? Look at the genders of the various characters in a dream, their relationships to the dream, to you, and to each other. Remember most of these characters are you which would represent aspects in relationship to yourself. A dark male in a woman's dream could symbolize an unconscious/unknown/unrealized masculine aspect. A dark female would most likely be a shadow aspect.

c) Animals: Animals often appear in dreams. Like people animals are often aspects of oneself. But animals also often represent other people or experiences. Perhaps the most common animal in dreams are dogs. It is important to first note any particular characteristics of the animal in the dream, including its size, color and emotional disposition (is it friendly or unfriendly, calm or angry, etc.). Then look at your associations to the animal and finally amplifications as to the general or particular qualities associated with the animal.

d} Numbers: This is where I often deviate from the usually method of interpreting dreams. From experience I have found all numbers to have meaning, but not merely a minor relevancy to the dream but a symbolic meaning that often defines an important action, characteristic, a numeric significance, and/or an emotional energy. Usually a definitive age as stated in a dream is a reference to that age of the dreamer. This is almost always true if the age is stated in the first part of a dream. The same applies to a depiction of a place from the past {the dream began with me being in my childhood home}. Such a depiction is most important and should most definitely be a part of the interpretation. The dreamer will likely pick up on this inclusion even though it may have been forgotten or repressed.

Emotional Content

An important aspect of dreams is the emotional content. Dreams are essentially nature's therapeutic tool in resolving emotional conflicts. Much like the immune system to the body. Dreams will often come with a particular mood. A dream may be frightening, or it may be very pleasant. Or there may be alternating moods {often mirroring the moods of the dreamer in conscious life}. The mood or feeling may shift from the beginning to the end of a dream. There may be particular feelings associated with different characters or places in the dream. Some people may experience particular somatic responses to certain dreams; for example they may feel a tension in their belly or a pain in their back. All emotions or feelings, and moods associated with a dream are very important to note. The waking mood is also important. Take note of how you feel when first awake from your sleep.

Archetypal Images

I will touch briefly touch on archetypes since to truly understand how most of these 'primordial images' function in dreams would require great experience in working with dreams.

Archetypes represent patterns of behavior and perception. They are common themes that originate from the collective unconscious. They are instinctive forces and instinctive strategies or ways of behaving. 'Archetypal images' are the symbols through which these instinctive things show themselves in dreams. They reside within the Collective Unconscious. They are the "givens" in our psychological makeup, the patterns that shape our perceptions of the world, the furnishings that are present in our psychological home from the moment of birth. We inherit the same forms, but each of us fills in the content by the way we experience our lives. Thus, Father might be a positive archetype to one person, but it might be filled with negative meaning for another.

The most common archetype found in dreams {and the archetype I reference on a regular basis} is the anima and animus, the masculine/feminine aspects we all possess. The Anima is the personification of all feminine psychological tendencies within a man, the archetypal feminine symbolism within a man's unconscious. The Animus is the personification of all masculine psychological tendencies within a woman, the archetypal masculine symbolism within a woman's unconscious. In dreams Jung said that the animus is more likely to be personified by multiple male figures, while the anima is frequently a single female. One might look on the concept of anima-animus as a kind of yin/yang solution to the duality of human sexuality. They are products of the long human experience of man with woman and woman with man: as man has opened to his feminine nature, so has woman a corresponding male side. They also act as collective images which motivate each sex to respond to and understand members of the other gender. That is, a man apprehends the nature of woman by virtue of his hidden anima, – and reciprocating, the woman is able to grasp the nature of maleness via her animus.

Below are other common archetypes. Not only are archetypes found in dreams but they are common images and themes found in mythology. They are universal patterns and can be found all over the world and throughout history. The manifestation of the idea may be different, but the idea itself is the same {in Greek mythology the Goddess Aphrodite is the same representation as is the Goddess Venus in Roman mythology}.

Foldout          Brief Outline of Archetypal Images in Dreams {Shadow/Anima-Animus/Self..etc}
  • Click to unfold & fold

Application of Common Dream Symbols

Some images have a constant application in dreams. Although we can never say that a certain image always means this or that, there are images I have found to be constant in their application/meaning. These are 'rule of thumb' and unless there is something noted differently about the image then you should use these applications.

Houses: A house is probably the most common image in dreams. If the house is your house or spoken of in general {"I was in a house"} then the house would 'always' be a symbol for the dreamer. Because your dreams are about you, all houses, whether they be your house or someone else's house, will have a relationship to you the dreamer. All houses are in relation to the dreamer. For example, if you dream you are visiting your mother's house then it would suggest a relationship between you and your mother. An unnamed/unknown friend's house would represent some aspect of the dreamer. A named friend could have two possible {and probable} applications. One possibility would be an experience/relationship with that person. Or there may be something about the named person you have in common. That commonality would suggest that person's house is also your house because you and that person have something very much in common.

  • Other Common Dream Symbols {click to unfold/fold}

First Dream to Interpret
This is a dream from my Dream Forum which I provided an interpretation and received a confirmation response. This is a very simple dream in just one paragraph. I will post the dream and give my analysis and then state what the symbols are and explain my interpretation of the symbols. The response from the dreamer will be included at the end.

First I'm in the backseat of the car, the car is moving, my 14 year old son is in the passenger side, no one is in the driver's seat. This is (in real life) my boyfriend's car, but he's not in the dream, just the thought that this is his car, and I'm concerned about getting in an accident. Somehow, I get into the driver's seat, but I can't see where I'm going - it's dark, the road is unfamiliar, overgrown, narrow. But the car is still moving forward. I'm in a panic, lost, feeling out of control of where the car is headed. I feel like I need direction from my boyfriend at the same time I'm afraid of wrecking his car and injuring myself and my son. I woke up in a panic, face down in my pillow!

Preamble to Interpretation
I actually provided three possibilities to this dream with first one being correct. Here is the link to the actual dream lost/driving/out of control. The dream can be seen at the Dream Forum here. The dream had 240 views.
This is a short dream that seems fairly simple to interpret. When I gave this interpretation {May 2005} I only focused on the waking life experiences. The added dimension I have developed since then {from experience and study} has allowed me to see beyond the waking life and into the deeper psyche. Even though the dreamer's response was primarily to the experiences with her boyfriend her later life was being controlled by unconscious forces that probably had their roots in earlier life experiences/influences. She lacks developed masculine aspects {animus}. She has not been able to develop proper masculine qualities. Often that is due to a father who is not a part of her life.

All dreams have at least two meanings/applications. One is dealing with the present or recent emotional experiences. Another is addressing motivations as to why a person is who they are. There are reasons why she does not have control, why she choose this particular man to have a relationship, reasons she can't change it. This often goes back to childhood or from a serious experience in later life where motivations are developed. Cause and effect. it just doesn't happen for no reason. There is a cause for everything and the effects are related to the causes. A basic law of nature.

Because it is a short dream I will not focus on the structure of the dream and instead on the images and phrases that are the symbolic representations of the dreamer's emotional state of mind.

My interpretation: There is some situation in your life where you do not feel you are in control {being in the backseat}. Your life is moving forward but you feel you are not controlling this certain aspect, or perhaps many aspects of your life. Your son is probably the most important thing in your life right now. This situation may involve your boyfriend. Perhaps deep down you feel he has too much control of your life. When you think you have the whole situation figured out, doubts re-appear. You are still going forward with the situation {relationship?} as it is but again deep down you feel lost and do not know where it is going. You feel that whole thing could fall apart and there would be more harm to you and your son from the experience.

Dreamer Response
Amen.... thank you, Jerry! I knew there was a lot of symbolism in this dream, but I had no idea I'd feel so transparent! I think your first interpretation is pretty much on the mark. I am dependent on my boyfriend to a certain extent - he is letting me drive his extra car so that my older son can use mine - and he has loaned me money to pay off some high interest credit cards. We've been together 10 months, but we live about 2 hours apart, so it is a major life-changing event for us to end up living together, and he has expressed some reluctance to commit to that right now, while I am feeling more ready. He refuses to discuss it, not in a mean way, but he just keeps our conversations light and changes the subject whenever I get the nerve to bring it up, and I just keep letting him "steer our course" although I have no idea where it's headed.
My son is a big part of the equation. He looks up to my boyfriend as a father figure, and they get along really well. Of course he would be hurt if the relationship wasn't going in the direction I hope it will.

I can also see how your third interpretation is true. Before this relationship, I was single for about 7 years, in total control over my life, and I thought of myself as a good provider and decision-maker. Now I find myself in more of traditional feminine role of letting the man make the moves and the decisions about our direction. It seems like this dream is telling me that I'm really scared of getting "lost" in this relationship, and the lack of conversation about it is causing a lot of stress.

Wow...you were right on. Thanks!

Breaking Down the Images/Phrases
Note: There are always at least two meanings or applications to every dream as well as most images. We can surmise what they are on an unconscious level much better than we can on a conscious level. This is because the dream is a direct link to the unconscious and the images are portraying an emotional conflict that can be understood symbolically. Only the dreamer knows what has occurred in their waking life on a conscious level. Some images provide access to the conscious materials {as with her son} but usually this can not be known when interpreting a dream without having access to the dreamer
Remember, at the Dream Forum the only info I have is the age, gender and location.

Dream images and actions
1} Back seat of car
a} The car is the dreamer {and her emotions}, she has taken a back seat to something or someone in her life. The car symbol is pretty much universal {true all the time} in dreams.
b} On another level, the dream is addressing an unconscious drive, 'back seat' being the unconscious {front seat would be her conscious mind}. She is not in complete control of her emotions, something unconscious is driving her actions.

2} Son in passenger seat
a} This is the one application where an image can be taken literal. Named people who are close relationships of the dreamer are the exception to the metaphorical reference in dreams. We do not know for sure she has a son but when a dream depicts a son in this fashion it is usually a true statement. If it were an unknown or unnamed boy in the passenger seat it would almost always represent a masculine aspect.
b} On another level he is symbolic. Unconsciously she has a relegated undeveloped masculine self animus. Her animus is also in a lesser position. This could {and likely} suggest where the motivations began, as a child. The reasons for an undeveloped animus would have to do with not having a father figure to guide her in her youth.

3} No one in driver's seat
a} b} She is not in control of her emotions, consciously and unconsciously. Lacking strong masculine aspects she seeks out an inferior relationship. There are unconscious stimuli responsible for this.

4} Boyfriend's car {he is not in dream}
a} The impression it is his car denotes the relationship with him. Also {from her response} we know it as a literal fact, she was borrowing one of his cars.
b} Unconsciously it is the relationship with her animus. Being the boyfriend suggests this needed masculine aspect is 'borrowing' from another male, her boyfriend. He is a replacement for her father. It would interesting to know if there are similar characteristics between her father and her boyfriend. A real possibility.

5} Concerned about getting into an accident
a} The statement is on a conscious level speaking a truth. Since she is in her waking life borrowing his car she is probably concerned about being in an accident.
b} Unintentional behavior due to unconscious motivations. Her psyche is concerned, nature's intent that we all find wholeness in life. Jung believed that a human being is inwardly whole and the goal of life is individuation, the process of coming to know, giving expression to, and harmonizing the various components of the psyche

6} It's dark, the road is unfamiliar, overgrown, narrow
a} There may have been a real life experience where something of this type happened. Again, without firsthand knowledge we can not confidently state this as a part of the interpretation.
b} A reference in one aspect to unconscious motivations {dark road} where her emotional self is outgrown its ability to function properly {overgrown} and her emotions if not her life has become narrow in its scope

7} Getting in driver's seat, not being able to see
a} In her conscious life this would be a reference to having to take control and is probably expressing a fear {unable to see}. Consciously she wants to take control but can not see how under the circumstances of relying mentally and physically [monetarily} on her boyfriend.
b} Unconsciously she unable to take control due to her undeveloped animus. She is blind to the motivations {unable to see} that have put her in this situation.

8} Car moving forward
a} In one aspect I think this may be about the human ability to persevere even in the worst circumstances. But because she has a responsibility to her son she has to keep moving forward.
b} On an unconscious level she is still moving forward in the same pattern with a weak animus

9} In a panic feeling out of control where car is headed
a} b} Her true conscious feelings about her waking life situation. But also a true statement about the unconscious motivations that are driving her life

10} Need direction from boyfriend {at the same time}
a} She needs to be dependent on her boyfriend in waking life.
b} At the same time, unconsciously she needs to develop a her animus. The dream is stating a fact but also offering a solution. She needs to develop a strong animus at a time when it is weak. This would be the lysis part of the dream.

11} Afraid of wrecking his car and injuring myself and my son
a} A real fear in waking life about her relationships. We know from her response she is afraid of ending the relationships because her son has 'taken' to her boyfriend. To end the relationship would injure her son. This is something that can be suggested as a part of the interpretation since it is about her real son.
b} Unconsciously the fear of damaging her undeveloped masculine aspects {son} further. there are conscious fears and there are unconscious fears.

12} I woke up in a panic
Her emotional life, conscious and unconscious.

13} The number 14
This assuredly is the age of her son. When I gave this interpretation I didn't think of numbers as being as important or as symbolic as they can be. If I could ask more questions about the dreamer's life I feel confident this number or a variation of it would fit somewhere {besides the age of her son}. Adding the number 14 equal 5 which is symbolically a symbol of conflict and change. But it could also point to some other aspects that have to do with actual waking life experiences. I find this to be true in many dreams. I would want to know if anything memorable happened to the dreamer when she was 14. Dreams have a funny way of addressing multiple aspects/experiences in the dreamer's life.

One other note about numbers {see my post at the Dream Forum Numbers in Dreams}. When ever I see an age given in the first part of a dream, whether it be a comment about a named person or an unnamed person, it is always a statement about the dreamer's life during that time frame. And it is also the 'bgeinning' for future motivations because of the experiences/influences. This also holds true when a dream makes a comment about a childhood house or home, or a reference to a childhood experience. It is always related to actual experiences of the dreamer as a child. This is a bold statement but one I have a 'gut' feeling it is correct {intuitively I feel it is true}. Being someone who holds to objective thinking but believe almost anything is possible, I do believe that most dreams do have a defined structure, not only in form but also in context. Just as nature has given us the ability to dream as a therapeutic tool, why not a structure that defines more than what Jung proposed, one of a definite and recognizable pattern that is firm? I am going on an assumption that this is true and will look at dreams in such a manner. I hope it will allow me to better understand the dream and provide a more precise analysis and interpretation.

A good example of a childhood home dream is one I gave for Jean Raffa, the noted author/speaker. Here is the link to that dream and more on childhood dreams Childhood Home Dream. Another childhood dream that fits with the dreamer's childhood experiences is Red Bats {interpretation confirmed by dreamer}. This dream uses the term 'walking through my childhood neighborhood' in the first sentence, a clue the dream is focusing on childhood experiences and very likely influences that become motivations in adult life.

The first thing to think about is dreams are the emotions. It is true that generally speaking unknown/unnamed people in a dream are, in one aspect, parts/aspects of the dreamer. A car is almost certainly a 'universal' symbol for the dreamer. The dreamer is the car. Usually it denotes the direction the dreamer's life is headed, EMOTIONALLY, and sometimes literally. In this dream she is headed for an emotional accident not only because she is in a bad relationship where her boyfriend and has control of her life, but also because she lacks a developed masculine psyche. That would most likely be the result of childhood experiences/influencse. There are unintentional consequences, not only to her actions but also because of the relationship between her son and the boyfriend. This puts her even further into the 'back seat', in the direction she emotionally needs to go {being controlled by her boyfriend as well as the unconscious motivations}. She mentions in her response {perhaps an unconscious notation to her own lack of masculine aspects} that her boyfriend has become a 'father figure' to her son. This would be a reason to continue the relationship. Providing fatherly guidance to her son, and perhaps compensating what she never received as a child.

This is compensation, the self-regulatory tendency of the unconscious. When consciousness is too one-sided, the unconscious uses its autonomy to compensate by pushing some of its contents upward to consciousness in order to reestablish balance. What is lacking from experience/influence in early life {as well as archetypal needs} is compensated later in life in one form or another. Because there are many levels to a dream, the compensation factor could be the relationship between her son and boyfriend. The lesser masculine aspect in the back seat with her is also her undeveloped animus, and could compensated by allowing the relationship to continue. What did not happen for her as a child is being allowed to flourish through the relationship between her son and boyfriend, even though other aspects of the relationship have soured. Too many times I've witnessed people enter into bad relationships because of a need/desire to compensate for what was lost or lacking during childhood. Those relationships never work out. But what is worst is the continuing cycle of doing it over and over again. Some people never break the cycle, and never find the happiness they have looked for all their life.

Notice in the dreamer's response that while she was single she was in control of her life. "Now I find myself in more of traditional feminine role of letting the man make the moves and the decisions about our direction." This statement could suggest several things. It could be pointing to a part of her life when she was a childhood. Was her mother single and if so did she have control of her duaghter? She was doing fine, until the unconscious forces of nature and nurture intervened. It is a natural inclination to have someone in your life, a relationship {mentally, sexually and spiritually}. But there is also an undeveloped masculine side that must be fulfilled. Often when choosing a mate wrong choices are made because of influences from early life experiences. I see this as a main theme in the dream along with the relationship with her boyfriend and son {and between son and boyfriend}.
We get deeper and deeper. But it is when we go into the deeper realms of the unconscious these motivations reveal themselves. Only when these are known can a healing take place.

The context of the dream pretty much matches the dreamer's emotional life. It fits like a glove. Because that how dreams function. Not all dreams are this easy to understand. Often the glove may have shrunk {aka O.J. Simpson}, dream images become less definitive and there has to be a deeper examination. That is where the tools I recommended become necessary and helpful. When I can't come up with something on my own that fits the pattern in a dream, or I am not satisfied with what I get from the dream dictionaries, I look deeper into the meaning of the word{s}, image or phrase. A dictionary can provide clues to what the meaning could be. Sometimes a synonym may better fit my 'mind's eye' and provide a better path to understanding an image or pattern.

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