According to this web site, the most common dreams fall under the following headings:
I'm quite chuffed to know that, in this respect at least, I'm in tune with the world soul. I have all six on a regular basis. "Teeth" is close to being the most common, a no-brainer since I've actually had issues with my teeth in reality. "Naked" comes along pretty infrequently these days, and "Chase" is also less common than when I was younger.
"Flying" is very occasional, and one that you have to enjoy while it lasts (you sometimes spot that it might be a dream while you're having it, which unfortunately tends to hasten the waking up process). "Falling" is probably the rarest of the top six for me.
"Exam" is the one that most seems to have taken over my unconscious. In my variation on the theme, I suddenly realise I've been enrolled all year in some university courses but haven't attended any lectures and haven't done any course work. The exam is tomorrow and I know nothing about the subject. It's also well past the date when I might have pulled out of the course without academic penalty. Another variation is that the exams have already occurred and I've missed them completely.
I've had this dream so often that every now and again I have a waking moment where it occurs to me that I actually haven't got an academic record filled up with Ds and Es from courses where I didn't do the work, and this comes as a pleasant surprise.
A lot of the "interpretation"on this web site and other dream literature just seems to be made up at random. But what is fascinating is that much of what seems to be an intensely private experience is actually shared--right down to the fine detail. It's both reassuring and puzzling, for example, to find that I'm far from the only one to have had exactly this dream.
Clearly, at some level there are such things as archetypes--unconscious symbols shared between individuals and even across cultures. I'd love to know what evolutionary psychologists make of archetypal dreams. Evolutionary psychology develops theories about the origins of behaviour or mental traits as adaptations to the selection pressures operating during our biological evolution. For example, instinctive human fear of snakes is explained by the fact that snakes were dangerous to our hominid ancestors, and it was adaptive to steer clear of them.
Archetypal dreams seem to present something of a challenge to the causative, literal-minded evolutionary psych mode of explanation. Sure, evolutionary psychology can provide theories to explain why we all share the same fears and desires. But how does it account for what appears to be a common metaphorical language which translates those fears and desires into near-identical narratives?
Maybe all the "symbolic" interpretations are guff, and dreams are all literal. Dreaming about your teeth falling out represents a fear of losing your teeth; those early humans who were subconsciously reminded to take care of their teeth lived longer and had more offspring. Perhaps, but it's starting to look a little far-fetched. It also doesn't explain how modern concepts like exams and phones get locked into *exactly* the same narratives.
In any case, I'm off to bed--and I must be about due for a "Flying" dream.
Categories: Dreams, Archetypes, Evolutionary Psychology