Thursday, 18 November 2010

A Dream Analysis

The concept of dream analysis (or dream interpretation) was first theorised, professionally, by Sigmund Freud in 1899, and is the process of assigning meaning to dreams. My last dream (that I can remember) involved a zombie apocalypse, and was utterly glorious. Freud and Jung may say I secretly want to shoot zombies though. Basically, dreams can be interpreted a million and one ways.

I'm sure we all have friends who enjoy telling us their strange dreams (I'm telling you, my dreams seem quite normal compared to everyone else's), but when you have a grounding in psychology and a keen interest in psycho-analysis, the temptation to start analysing them becomes utterly irresistible. Today, a friend told me of the dream he had last night, and I thought it was so utterly batshit that I asked him to write it down so I could analyse it. What follows is what he told me and wrote down (with my initial comments in bold, [like this]. Names have been utterly and royally changed for the sake of drama and confidentiality.

"Scene 1 [yup, it has scenes]

Me, you [meaning me, natch], Clarissa, and Edwina walking through a new shopping centre/night club [I can't tell if this would make it the best or worst shopping centre in the world. Also, we don't know where this shopping centre is], going in the shops. Then for some reason I was upset so sat at a table where Bernard & Co were sat painting [Bernard & Co being a group of friends. I can assure you that painting is not exactly the activity I'd expect to find them doing] with red paint. Then I went in the toilet, you came in to say it was all OK. [At this point I questioned whether he was actually using the loo, but I was told he was standing by the sink.]

Scene 2
Sat in back of a truck watching people outside a garage. Then bad people (dressed as Red Indians) beat up the people outside the garage, so I hide (only me in this bit). [It gets stranger, trust me...]

Scene 3

Went into big white room with loads of people and Sidney [another person we know] gave me a load of cherries full of vodka [they'd been injected full of it, if you're wondering]. Went into the room and Kat & Alfie from Eastenders [dear lord...] were there. I was getting drunk from the cherries and was feeding some to Clarissa fairly sexually because we were sat on the floor. [A staggering piece of association: personally, I'd equate laying down with a greater amount of sexual energy, but there you go.] Then me, you [still meaning me], Clarissa and Edwina sat on the back of a bench in a town/village centre. It was sunny and we all walked off while I was holding Clarissa's hand."

At that, the dream ends, while presumably some uplifting string instrumental was playing in the background. Is this the dream of a madman who can't string things together into a cogent narrative? Well, at first I certainly thought so, but then I actually looked at the damn thing and started by identifying the symbolism (dreams are full of that, don't you know...).


What immediately hit me is the persistent theme of red (see what I did there?). Red can mean a cosmic fuck-ton of things, but what we most commonly associate it with is (in handy list-form):

  • Rage/anger.
  • Blood/violence.
  • Love/affection.
OK, so what things are red in this epic tale?
  • The paint.
  • Red Indians (in name only, of course).
  • The cherries (unless they were strange mutant-cherries. I'm going to assume they weren't).
I asked and he didn't notice what Bernard and Co were painting, so I assume they were just doodling with their red paints, as is their wont. That, in of itself, does not mean much, other than it establishes red as a definite theme, and therefore makes it that much more noticeable. Was my friend's mine trying to make it obvious to him? Perhaps not. Bernard and Co are actually commonly associated with aggression. Beating up old ladies, that sort of thing. Aggression is, obviously, derived from rage and anger. painting is generally artistic and sensitive, however. Therefore, I can only assume he was seeing them as getting in touch with more sensitive sides. I'm not sure why, but I severely doubt it's importance. The Injuns, of course, seem to only serve to keep that theme of red going. That and they beat up some random people. Now, more on the cherries...

I'm lumping the cherries into their own little section of symbolism. First, a crudity: what do we often refer breaking a woman's hymen as? Popping her cherry, because of the blood. What colour is blood? It's bloody red, that's what it is. This creates a double-meaning, which I'll elaborate on in a few seconds. Firstly, cherries are red. They are the common foodstuff of lovers, who also traditionally eat strawberries and grapes. Secondly, it's common knowledge that cherries are sweet, as most people have eaten cherries at some point. One may also argue that 'popping the cherry' is sweet (although I personally think that depends on the situation). Therefore, the cherries symbolise love and sex (which often go hand-in-hand). Don't forget his describing his feeding them to Clarissa as "fairly sexually".

A cherry full of vodka is somewhere between sleazy and extravagant, depending on where you come from. It does, however, give a certain novelty and party atmosphere. For some reason, it also reminds me of rohypnol, but I'm choosing to disregard that, even though he says he was starting to get drunk off them. Feeding Clarissa some was a simple lover or admirer's gesture, but perhaps he was trying to get her drunk, hopefully (presumably) leading to sex. That ties in rather nicely.

If you've been following along yourself, you may be screaming at the screen, thinking I'd missed something obvious: Clarissa herself. She symbolises herself, and we can quite blatantly see my friend's feelings towards her:
  • He's at a shopping centre/night club (my god...) with her, me, and her friend, Edwina. That actually smacks of a double-date to me, but one step at a time... Why would he be there at all? Someone asked. Why am I there? Someone asked, either him or one of the girls. In that case, I'd assume Edwina because Clarissa's obviously got other things on her mind. Hur-hur... If it was a singular date, there would be no need for the other two people to be there. Going by everything else that happens, it just smacks of a double-date.
  • What happens later? He feeds her vodka-cherries "fairly sexually". They were sat down. She's accepting them, so she's not protesting.
  • What happens after that? We all walk off into the sunlight, and they're holding hands. Now ain't that sweet?
Well, he obviously likes her and wants to engage in a relationship. That's really friggin' obvious. He isn't displacing his feelings towards her, as he later told me when I said what I initially thought. Therefore, she is in the dream for that singular reason that he may explore his feelings towards her. That begs the question of what everyone else was doing in his dream?

Other People
Yes, what was everyone else doing in his head? Sidney served the purpose of giving him cherries. Why him, and not someone else? I suspect it simply doesn't matter, his mind just selected someone who he could remember. What about Eastenders' very own Kat and Alfie? God only knows, maybe he'd like to meet them? Personally, it seems like it their being there was just a pretext to get him into the room. The whiteness of the room could symbolise purity, which ties in nicely with the sexual connotations involving Clarissa, and the obvious removal of whatever purity may be there. What was I doing in that room? Was I even there? I don't know. Same goes for Edwina, we just reappear later on in the dream in the village square. What about Bernard and Co? As I said before, their only purpose is seemingly to create that red theme. The Red Indians? Same thing, and they induce fear so my friend hides. The people who got beat up? I doubt they mean anything, although you're welcome to disagree with me. In fact, I don't believe Scene 2 serves much purpose at all, and may very well be part of a different dream. My purpose, initially, seems to be as a comforting figure, telling him "it's going to be OK" when he's upset. And, fair enough, I probably would. Then I disappear for most of the dream, as does Edwina.

So... What does it mean? his dream is a mix of condensation (where a thing has several meanings), representation (where an idea is given a form), and symbolism (self-explanatory). He wants to be in a relationship with Clarissa, is what the dream means. It's the other aspects that require analysis, but they often relate to his feelings towards her. All that analysis for one idea? It beats making a snap judgement and then realising you made the wrong one. He sees people he may not normally associate with as doing acts of sensitivity (painting) or kindness (giving him cherries). And me, to an extent. I don't often seem like the kind of person who'd comfort a friend, but I would. Why was he upset in the first place? He doesn't get upset much, and I've only seen him like that once. Going by the meaning of the rest of his dream, I suspect it's something to do with Clarissa. When we can't have something, it fills us with negative emotions and we can get upset. I suspect he thought he couldn't have her.

This just in: The white room was a wedding, Alfie and Kat's to be precise. This ultimately merely adds to the romantic connotations. Do I detect the wishing of wedding bells at some point? Furthermore, he remembers why he was upset: he'd said something to her that he didn't want to. Well, that certainly explains why he was upset, and why I was telling him it'd be OK. And it was! Furthermore furthermore, I was largely acting sympathetically towards him, and Edwina was... Somewhere. Somewhere in the background. The fact that I was hardly around half the time makes me think I was in the background half the time too. But this was actually really simple to analyse.

So if anyone's got a dream they'd like analysed, let me know!

Until next time!


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