From our family we leam most of the positive and negative patterns of relationship and attitudes towards living, which we carry into daily events. Father’s uncertainty in dealing with people, or his anxiety in meeting change, may be the roots of our own difficulties in those areas. If our mother is unable to develop a feeling contact with us, we may lack the confidence to meet our emotions.
Our maturation as a man or woman calls us in some way to meet and integrate our childhood desire, which includes sexual desire for our parent of the opposite sex, and rivalry with, mingled with dependence on, the parent of the same sex. Even a missing parent, the mother or father who died or left, is a potent figure internally. An absence of a father’s or mother’s love or presence can be as traumatic as any powerfully injuring event. Our parents in our dreams are the image (full of power and feeling) of the formative forces and experiences of our identity. They are the ground, the soil, the bloody carnage, out of which our sense of self emerged. But our identity cannot gain any real independence while still dominated by these internal forces of our creation. Heraclitus said we cannot swim in the same river twice; attempting to repeat or compete with the vinues of a parent is a misapprehension of the true nature of our own personality. Sec individuation.
Family group: The whole background of experience which makes up our values and views. This background is made up of thousands of different obvious and subtle things such as social status; amount of books in the home; how parents feel about themselves; how they relate to life outside the family; whether dominant roles are encouraged; what nationality parents are; what unconscious social attitudes surround the family (i.e. the master and servant, or dominating employer and subservient employee, roles which typified England at the turn of the century still colour many attitudes in the UK). Simply put, it is our internal ‘family’ of urges and values; the overall feeling tone of our family life—security, domination, whatever it was, the unconscious coping patterns of the family.
Parents together in dream: our general wisdom, background of information and experience from which we make important decisions or gain intuitive insights. Parents also depict the rules and often irrational disciplinary codes we learnt as a child which still speak to us from within, and perhaps pass on to our own children without reassessment. These include everything from ‘Don’t speak with your mouth full’ to the unspoken Masturbation is unholy/
Dead parent in dream: the beginning of independence from parent; repression of the emotions they engendered in us, our emotions regarding our parent’s death; feelings about death. See dead people dreams.
Example: ‘My father was giving me and another woman some medicine. Something was being forced on us. I started to hit and punch him in the genitals and, when he was facing the other way, in the backside. I seemed to be just the right height to do this and I had a very angry feeling that I wanted to hurt him as he had hurt me’ (Audrey V). Hurting, burying , killing parent: in the example Audrey’s height shows her as a child. She is releasing anger about the attitudes and situations her father forced down her throat’. To be free of the introverted restraints and ready made values gathered from our parents, at some time in our growth we may kill or bury them. Although some people arc shocked by such dreams, they are healthy signs of emerging independence. Old myths of killing the chief so the tribe can have a new leader depict this process. When father or mother are dead’ in our dream, we can inherit all the power gained from whatever was positive in the relationship. Seeing parent drunk, incapable, foolish: another means of gaining independence from internalised values or stultifying drives to ‘honour’ or admire father or mother.
Generally positive: authority; ability in the external world; family or social conventions, how we relate to the ‘doer’ in us; physical strength and protectiveness; the will to be. Generally negative: introvened aggression; dominance by fear of other people’s authority, uncaring sexual drive; feelings of not being loved. See father under archetypes; man.
Generally positive: feelings; ability in relationships; uniting spirit of family; how we relate to feelings in a relationship; strength to give of self and nunure; intuition. Generally negative: will based on irrational likes and dislikes; opinion generated by anxiety or jealousy; domination by emotions; lack of bonding. See Great Mother under archetypes; woman.
siblings and children
Whether brother, sister, daughter or son (see below in this entry), the most general use in our dreams is to depict an aspect of ourself. However it is almost universal to believe with great conviction that our dream is about the person in our dream.
A mother seeing a son die in her dream often goes through great anxiety because there lurks in her a sense of it being a precognitive dream. Vinually everyone at some time dreams about members of their close family dying or being killed—lots of mothers dream this, and their children live till 80. But occasionally children do die. Is the dream then precognitive, or is it coincidental?
Example: ‘I was walking along a rather dusty track carrying my younger son who would be around 10 months old and I was feeling rather tired. Suddenly I met a man who stopped to talk to me and commented I looked rather weary carrying the baby. He said, come with me and look over this wall and you will see such a sight that will gladden your hean. By standing on tiptoe I could just see over the wall and the sight I beheld took my breath away, it was so beautiful’ (Johan E). Here Johan’s son depicts the weight of responsibility she feels. The beauty is her own resources of strength in motherhood.
Example: ‘I have just given binh to twins and they lay on the floor. We started to care for them. My mother took them to the doctor for his advice while I went to see my married sister who has two children. I met them there with the twins so that my sister could give her opinion on the babies. She had recent experience of childbirth and could tell us if the babies were good specimens’ (Miss E). Miss E has no children of her own, so she is uncertain of her own capacity to have and raise them. The mother depicts her own mothering abilities, which seek confidence from an authority figure. Her sister is her own nearest experience of childbirth. So out of what she has leamt from observing her sister, she is assessing her own qualities.
Most often the family member depicts the qualities in ourself which we feel are part of the character of the person dreamt of. So the passionate one in the family would depict our passions; the intellectual one our own mind, the anxious one our hesitations. Use the questions in dream processing to define this. Having done this, can you observe what the dream depicts? For Miss E it would be questions regarding motherhood.
Example: ‘My daughter told me the only positive part of my work in a helping profession was with a woman who had turned from it to religion. There followed a long and powerful interchange in which I said she had as yet no mind of her own. She was dominated by her mother’s anxiety, and the medical rationalism of her training. When she had dared to step beyond her own anxieties to integrate the lessons of her own life, then I would listen again’ (Desmond S). Desmond was divorced and struggling with his own pain and guilt about leaving his daughter while still a teenager. His daughter depicts this conflict between his feelings and his rational self.
Oneself, or the denied pan of self, meeting whatever is met in the dream; feelings of kinship; sense of rivalry, feelings about a brother. Woman’s dream, younger brother: outgoing but vulnerable self; rivalry. Woman’s dream, older brother, authority, one’s capable outgoing self. Man’s dream, younger brother: vulnerable feelings; oneself at that age. Man’s dream, older brother: experience; authority, feelings of persecution. See boy; man. Idioms: big brother, brothers in arms; blood brother.
Feeling self, or the lesser expressed pan of self; rival; feelings about a sister. Man s dream, younger sister: vulnerable emotions; rival for love of parents. Man’s dream, older sister: capable feeling self; feelings of persecution. Woman’s dream , younger sister: one’s experiences at that age; vulnerable feelings, rival for parents’ love. Woman’s dream, older sister: capable feeling self. See girl; woman. Idioms: sisters under the skin.
One’s relationship with the daughter, the daughter, or son, can represent what happens in a marnage between husband and wife. The child is what has arisen from the bonding, however momentary, of two people. In dreams the child therefore is sometimes used to depict how the relationship is faring. So a sick daughter might show the feelings in the relationship being ‘ill’.
In a mother’s dream: often feelings of suppon or companionship; feelings of not being alone in the area of emotional bonds; or one’s feeling area; responsibility; the ties of parenthood; oneself at that age; one’s own urges, difficulties, hurts, which may still be operative. Also a comparison; the mother might see the daughter’s youth, opportunity, and have feelings about that. So the daughter may represent her sense of lost opportunity and youth—even envy, competition in getting the desire of a man.
In a father’s dream: one’s feeling self, the feelings or difficulties about the relationship with daughter; the struggles one’s own feeling self goes through to mature, how the sexual feelings are dealt with in a family—occurs especially when she starts courting; sister, parental responsibility; one’s wife when younger. Someone else’s daughter: feelings about one’s own daughter, feelings about younger women.
Example: 1 am standing outside a supermarket with heavy bags wearing my mac, though the sun is warm. My daughter and two friends are playing music and everyone stops to listen. I start to wnte a song for them, but they pack up and go on a bus whilst I am still writing. I am left alone at the bus stop with my heavy burden of shopping, feeling incredibly unwanted’ (Mrs F). Such dreams of the daughter becoming independent can occur as soon as the child starts school, persisting until the mother finds a new attitude. See child; woman.
Extroverted self: desires connected with self expression; feelings connected with son; parental responsibility. Mother’s dream: one’s ambitions; potential, hopes; your marriage—see example.
Example: ‘My wife and I were walking out in the countryside. I looked around suddenly and saw my four-year-old son near a hole. He fell in and I raced back. The hole was narrow but very deep. I could see water at the bottom but no sign of my son. I didn’t know whether I could leap down and save him or whether it was too narrow. Then somehow he was out. His heart was just beating’ (Richard H). Richard had argued with his wife in such a way he feared the stability of their marriage. The son represents what they had created together —a child, a marriage. The marriage survived, as his dream self-assessed it would. Death of son: a mother often kills off her son in her dreams as she sees him make moves towards independence. This can happen from the first day of school on. Example: T am on a very high bridge over an extremely wide and deep river with steep banks. My son does a double somersault over the railing, falls into the water. I think he is showing off. I am unable to save him. My son is 18 and has staned a structural engineering course at university’ (Joyce H). The showing-off suggests Joyce feels her son is doing daring things with his life, and the relationship in its old form dies.
Father’s dream: yourself at that age; what qualities you see in your son; your own possibilities, envy of youth and opportunities; nvalry. Someone else’s son: feelings about one’s own son; feelings about younger men. Dead son: see dead people dreams. Sec boy. See also man; first example in falling.
Depicts how you see the relationship with your wife; your relationship with your sexuality; sexual and emotional desire and pleasure; how you relate to intimacy in body, mind and spirit; your feeling, intuitive nature; habits of relationship developed with one’s mother. Example: ‘My wife was trying to get me out of her life, and out of the house. It was as if she were attempting to push me into a feeling of tension and rejection which would make me leave’ (David P). Out of childhood experience, in which his mother repeatedly threatened to give him away, David was finding it difficult to commit himself emotionally to his wife. In the dream his wife represents these feelings, so he sees her—his anxiety and pain —pushing him to break up the marriage.
Example: I was standing with my wife at the end of the garden of the house I lived in as a child. We were looking over the fence to the rising meadow beyond. She said, “Look at that bird in the tree there.” On our right, in a small ash tree, an enormous owl perched. It was at least 4 feet high, the biggest bird I have ever seen. I recognised it in the dream as a greater hooded owl, which was not native to our country. I was so excited I ran into the house to telephone someone— zoo, police, newspapers?—to tell them about the bird. I cannot remember contacting anyone, but felt the bird was there in some way to meet me. Also it was hungry and looking at next door’s bantams. So I wondered what I could give it to eat’ (David P). This shows the positive side of David’s relationship with his wife. The garden is the boundanes which arose from his childhood. But he is growing—the garden— and looking beyond them in connection with his marnage. The amazing bird is the deep feelings he touches because he has a mate, like any other natural creature. Out of his mating he becomes aware of drives to build a home—nest—and give himself to his mate. These are natural and are a pan of his unconscious or spiritual nature. The bird is a hooded owl which can see in the dark—the unconscious—because David is realising things he had never seen’ before. The bird is masked, meaning putting the ego aside, which is a necessity for touching the wider dimension of life or the unconscious. The hunger of the bird shows an intimate detail of what David has learnt from his wife. She had been working as a waitress and bringing home pieces of chicken for him, saved from her own meal. The spiritual side of David wants to develop this quality of selfgiving, which his wife’s love had helped him see.
Example: ‘1 have been a widower since January 1979, having married in October 1941. I continually dream I am in London where my business was. I am walking the streets with my wife and suddenly I see her ahead of me in a yellow raincoat and hat. I call her and try to catch up, but suddenly she vanishes. In spite of calling and searching I cannot find her’ (Douglas G). This is a common theme dreamt by widowers or widows, disappearance of spouse. Douglas has ‘lost’ his wife. His dream shows the paradox of love after death of panner. His love is still there, years after her death. He is possibly still trying to love his wife as an externally real person. so his feelings can make no connection. To meet what actually remains of his wife, within himself, he would need to face his own internal grieving, emotions, and all the feelings, memories, angers and beauty which make up the living remains of his wife within him.