Sunday, 18 December 2011

Dream Interpretation 5


This is a recurrent dream that I have – I can’t say exactly how many times I have had a variation of this dream, but I can say that I recall having somewhere between  10 – 20 during my adult-life, always with very similar narrative/symbols. Below I have described one dream of this recurrent variety which was recorded/interpreted contemporaneously. However, the details of the narrative have been written out in a particularly generalised manner, to reflect the fact that scenery/characters and events tend follow the same narrative pattern. Therefore, from now onwards, I will refer to this recurrent dream as the “Knife Chase Dream”. I’m not sure if I have ever experienced true lucidity during this dream – on occasions, during the sequence in which I am running down the road and trying to make contact with a family member on my mobile phone, I am certain that I have entered into lucidity. I don’t know if I become aware that I am in a lucid dream, but as my body becomes paralysed with fear (see below), I am aware that I’m asleep and have tried to make attempts to wake up from the dream as I know what happens next – i.e. I won’t be able to run away fast enough to remain safe. During the telephone conversation I typically have, towards the end of the dream, I am usually able to control what I say and am aware that the communication issues I am having are as a result of talking to a dream relative as opposed to a real one, although I do not recall ever mentioning my awareness of the dream state to any character in my dream. In my memory, there has been one version of this dream where I managed to force my voice into a scream during the phone conversation which enabled me to wake early and thereby avoid my usual fate. I am not sure if I screamed out in real-life, as I was sleeping alone, but it was the ‘sound’ of my own voice which brought me to wakefulness.

Main environment
Usually a big building with grounds, such as a hotel or office block. Typically, the building which appears at the start of the dream has a highly complex layout, with many adjoining rooms and passages. The dream takes place inside and later, when I 'escape' I'm walking/running down a long straight road, most often the road I used to live on in Sheringham, Norfolk, where my Nan still lives. It's a road of council houses on one side, with little avenues/cul-de-sacs off to the right-hand side, every 10 yards or so. Running along the length of the left-hand side is forest.
Common Lane/Woodland Rise, Sheringham, Norfolk - "Knife Chase Dream" escape route marked in red
Usually day time whilst I’m in the building, turning to night when I'm running down the road in Sheringham.

Me (as I appear in real-life – I make this distinction because in some dreams I appear physically different; have a different name and/or family background; or appear as a male. Further, in some dreams I question why I have a different identity – for example, in one dream I looked in the mirror and saw I was a black woman with blonde hair which was a shock to my dream self as I expected my appearance to be as it is in real-life. In other dreams where my identity/appearance is altered, my dream self feels normal and natural and I do not question anything or even realise I am ‘different’ until recalling the dream upon waking); a short, bald male, not known to me in real-life, although his appearance is sometimes similar to persons known to me in real-life (sometimes he is accompanied by other men, early on in the dream, other times he is alone); someone whom I know well on the end of a mobile phone - typically my maternal grandmother, PC.

I'm in the building and already aware that I'm being chased and that my pursuer has evil intentions (there have been times when I'm aware that I'm being 'stitched-up' for a crime I haven't done by corrupt cops or am being chased by a criminal gang due to a spoiled operation/job). In this particular “Knife Chase Dream” and in several others, my main pursuer is a very short, completely bald male (I’m 5 foot 3 inches, and he barely reached my shoulder – although he isn’t a ‘dwarf’, his body is in proportion). In this early section of the dream, he was joined by other males, whose physical attributes I don’t recall. I'm hiding and running down corridors, from room to room, often in a panic which means I am fumbling and tripping up. Occasionally, I'll see my pursuers hunting me, and I'm gripped with fear, which results in my actions becoming slow and laboured (I will explore the phenomenon of sleep paralysis on a later post). On occasions I will get outside into the grounds (it’s usually daylight) and feel relieved and plan how to get home, but see my pursuers searching for me. Sometimes they see me and I have to re-enter the building and lose track of them once again.

After a while – which is experienced as an excruciatingly long time during my dream - I make an escape and I'm trying to run, but my body is slow and heavy. I take my mobile phone and try and dial, but no-one is picking up and I dial wrong numbers, sometimes dropping the phone on the pavement. It is at this point I often experience a shift in my awareness and ‘know’ I’m in a dream, making (useless) attempts to shake myself out of the dream. Eventually I get through to someone on the phone, for example, PC. I try to tell them I'm in trouble and I need help, but the words won't come out, no matter how hard I try - I can only make mumbling noises or whisper. The person on the other end of the line is oblivious to my strife and tries to make meaningless conversation i.e. general chit-chat/gossip. At this point, I can normally control the words I’m trying to say, even if I can’t actually speak them out loud. I try to shout, but it’s like someone is pressing down on my throat. I hang up on PC and look back, down the road. I see the short, bald man gaining ground behind me, he's usually laughing. By this point, I will be near PC’s house and it's always dark. As I keep looking back, my body becomes increasingly paralysed. The bald man catches up with me and stabs me in the stomach or back with a huge butcher's knife. I wake up.

About 3 - 4 times a year, sometimes more often, since about 2003.

Apparently, to dream of a bald-headed man (this is one of the strongest recurring themes in the “Knife Chase Dream”, undoubtedly) it means that you are subconsciously aware that someone in your waking life is trying to act in a manner which will benefit them, but be adverse to you. It is a warning to stay alert to outwit them (this is quite a literal interpretation). If the bald man is also ugly it is a sign that you are experiencing frustrations and problems. The symbol of the bald man in a dream can also be a warning that you should use your wit to reject a romantic or sexual offer (I literally cannot remember what was happening in my personal life last time I had this dream, so I can't analyse this aspect of the interpretation). To dream of a short man, shows you are suffering some form of jealousy.

To dream that you are being chased signifies that you are avoiding a situation that you do not feel is conquerable and it tends to be a metaphor for insecurity. It represents anxiety in your waking life and the actions you take in the dream mirror how you are dealing with the situation in real life (i.e. I seem to be running away, but at the same time trying to outsmart my pursuers from a safe distance). The pursuer/attacker that is chasing you in your dream may also represent an aspect of yourself. Your own feelings of anger, jealousy, fear, and possibly sexual desire, can manifest itself as the threatening figure. Or the shadowy figure can symbolise the rejected characteristics of yourself. The distance or gap between you and your pursuer indicates your closeness to the issue. If the pursuer is gaining, then it suggests that the problem is not going to go away - it will surround you, until you confront and address it. However, if the gap is wide, then you are distanced from whatever problem you are facing and may be able to avoid direct contact for the time being.

To dream that you are hiding shows that you are keeping a secret or withholding information. You may not be facing up to a situation or dealing with a problem. It may also symbolise that you are readying yourself for a confession, especially if you are hiding from an authority figure as this symbolises feelings of guilt.

If a hotel occurs in a dream this is a signal that you are going through some form of change or adopting a new identity. There is some form of transition and you are moving away from old habits and ways of thinking. It can also mean you are subconsciously aware of a loss of identity and there may be a need to temporarily escape from whatever is present in your daily life. To see a hallway in a dream is a sign of self-exploration - it is the beginning of a new path in life. If the hallway is empty it represents untapped aspects of your character. You are going through a transitional phase and journeying into the unknown. It also signals spiritual enlightenment, emotional growth physical prowess, new opportunities and mental passages in your life.

To dream that you have gone mute represents the fact that a certain situation in your waking life has left you speechless or there is something on your mind which you are unable to articulate. There may be a fear of criticism or judgment. If you try to scream, but no sound comes out, then it indicates your sense of helplessness and frustration in some situation. If no matter how hard you try to get someone's attention, they cannot hear you, the dream is reflecting your difficulty in communicating with this person and means that you need to immediately identify your fears or feelings and confront this situation in real life. Alternatively, your inability to scream may be a form of REM paralysis. Additionally, to dream that you have become voiceless can also represent a loss of identity and a lack of personal power.

To dream that darkness falls upon you signifies failure in some work/project that you are attempting to undertake. To dream that you cannot find someone in the darkness symbolises that you need to keep your temper in check as there is the tendency in your waking life to let your emotions get out of control. If you are lost, this denotes feelings of desperation, depression or insecurity. A dream that takes place at night, or if night falls during the dream, means that you are suffering setbacks or obstacles in achieving your goals and facing a situation which is not clear-cut. You may need to put certain issues aside until you have a clear enough mind to deal with them. Alternatively night may be synonymous with death, rebirth, reflection and new beginnings.

Grandmothers represent nurturing, protection and unconditional love. To see a childhood or previous home signifies desire to build a family and family ideology. It may represent aspects of you which were dominant at the point that you lived in that home and unfinished feelings triggered by a waking situation, although it may also be reflective of out-dated thinking. To not be able to find a way home reflects a loss of faith in one's self or some form of transition. To dream of one's old hometown means that there are unresolved feelings and also loss of identity.

To dream of a knife, signifies anger, aggression and/or separation. There may be something in your life that you need to cut out and get rid of. Perhaps you need to cut ties or sever some relationship. Alternatively, a knife refers to some sexual tension or sexual confrontation, and generally, masculinity. To dream of being wounded by a knife symbolises masculine or animal aggression. To dream of being stabbed represents some form of struggle with authority or power and feelings of inadequacy and defensiveness. Alternatively, the dream suggests that you are feeling betrayed, as reflected by the popular phrase, "being stabbed in the back".

This is the first time I've properly interpreted this dream (I used 4 different dream dictionaries, all of which had the same interpretations so I'm pretty confident that they are as ‘textbook’ as possible under the circumstances). My initial thoughts were that, this seems pretty accurate, given that this is a recurring dream and I am a person who goes through depressive and anxious periods (where I do suffer feelings of inadequacy; insecurity; inability to cope and confront multiple pressures piling upon me; loss of identity; easily lost temper and aggression, etc). At the time of this dream I was in a situation where I was in conflict with a person in a more powerful position than I (a previous employer) and I was facing many obstacles in achieving specific goals (career-wise). Instead of confronting my problems head-on and fearing change, I do sometimes run away from my problems and tend to feel people in my life sometimes are acting negatively towards me behind my back, sometimes justifiably, sometimes as a result of my paranoia. My typical reaction when I feel someone is trying to undermine me is to lash out aggressively (if I’m likely to receive support in my actions from others or I perceive my position in a situation as ‘objectively’ right – i.e. my stance is reasonable in the face of injustice) or to remove myself from the scenario and plot revenge/retaliation or self-preservatory actions from a safe distance (usually if when I need to evaluate the ‘correctness’ of my actions or am aware that immediate confrontation will disadvantage me further). I do not like to let matters lie, particularly when situations have forced me into some form of unwanted transition or change. I cannot ‘turn the other cheek’. In terms of ‘voicelessness’, this is one element of the interpretation which is problematic, as it is self-evident (as well as being very obvious to others who know me) that I am very vociferous and open in waking life (I ‘wear my heart of my sleeve’ as the saying goes, typically tend to express my emotional reactions, offer my opinion and say what’s on my mind). In respect of this occurrence of the “Knife Chase Dream”, the contemporary situation (discussed further above and below) demanded me to keep secrets for others, with the implication that I was unable to argue my corner in a dispute – my greatest ammunition (which would entitle me to ‘win’ my cause and progress fairly up the career ladder) would involve me breaking my silence on an issue I had unwittingly become party to. I would of course elucidate further if it were not for my decision to anonymise certain persons and remain vague about certain events in my life out of respect for others who might not wish their actual real-life actions to be disseminated on the internet :)

With respect to this dream, it is significant that the knife motif is symbolic of masculinity and sexual confrontation. Without going into too much self-analysis on a topic I am not in a position to comprehensively or usefully discuss at this juncture, I have always had difficulty in my relationships with males, despite the fact I tend to socialise almost exclusively with men and have few lasting female relationships outside my family. My attitudes towards sexuality appear even to myself, quite clearly strained and contradictory. I am both fascinated and repulsed by pornography; admire the sexuality and sensuality of the female form, and yet experience distressing levels of sexual jealousy. At the time of this particular dream, I was undergoing issues in the workplace, as already referred to above. On the facts, I was employed alongside another female, GO who was similarly, yet slightly less qualified than myself. Despite my better job performance, GO received endless support in her training; substantial pay rises and fast-track promotions which allowed her to assume a position of power over her more highly-qualified and often elder, significantly more experienced colleagues – because she was having a sexual relationship with our boss, JG who was 25 years her senior (initially whilst both were in relationships with others and both had family responsibilities). Due to the complexities of their increasingly inter-dependent, yet unstable relationship and the especially small infrastructure of the firm in which we employed by JG, their arguments/personal issues consumed the entire workplace. As GO’s former friend, I was taken into her confidence on a number of occasions, thereby learning detrimental information about both her and JG which I was asked to keep secret. As a result of a work-related conflict, GO and I developed an acrimonious relationship and due to the position of power her relationship with JG afforded her, she was able to successfully hinder my progress and create a hostile atmosphere. Perhaps the fact that I was at this time “voiceless” and unable to adequately defend myself by pointing out the blatantly unfair nepotism and revealing the damaging information I knew about the other parties, combined with the overt notions of sexism and female rivalry implicit in the subtext of this real-life scenario were responsible for provoking the dream symbolism in this instance?

However, given the frequency of this dream and the fact I have only recorded one undated, yet contemporaneous account of it (and not had another recalled version of it since, with which to draw comparison), I cannot analyse this dream solely in terms one specific set of real-life facts. It may be that the interpretative account of my common dream motifs respond to more generalised subconscious thought-patterns, which on this specific occasion could be ‘superimposed’ neatly (and wholly subjectively) onto a contemporary factual state of affairs which was putting me under significant stress and frustration at the time. Of course, this is the inherent advantage and danger in interpreting and analysing your own dreams!

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