We spoke with Jasbinder Garnermann, Ireland’s leading Jungian psychologist, about common recurring dreams and their meanings.
Everyone dreams. You might not remember your dreams by the time you wake up, but that doesn’t mean they haven’t happened.
According to Carl Jung (a psychiatrist and psychoanalyst who founded analytical psychology), dreams allow us to enter our subconscious and gain a better understanding of our individual ‘self’.
With that in mind, we spoke with Jasbinder Garnermann, chairwoman of the CG Jung Centre in Ireland, about six common dreams people have, as well as their possible meanings.
Sitting a test or exam
“The most common type of dreams are what I would call anxiety dreams,” says Jasbinder, “and they would be things like not being prepared for the Leaving Cert. Dreams like these come when a person is facing a challenge of some sort, and they’re not sure whether or not they have the preparation to meet that challenge.”
Interestingly, dreams like these can carry on well into adulthood, even 20 to 30 years after the event. “When you think about it, the Leaving Cert is a big rite of passage, almost in the sense that it’s laying down your future path. Dreams like this can occur if you’re facing a challenge, such as going for a job interview, for a meeting, or making a change in your life.”
“People also have other anxiety dreams, like leaving your passport behind you at the airport or realising you’ve forgotten your passport. So that’s generally a feeling that someone is struggling with their identity. Your passport is like your legitimate entry into the world, and proof of who you are.” To dream that you have lost it suggests you are trying to find yourself and/or develop a better sense of who you are.”
Teeth falling out
“Dreams about teeth falling out happen when a person is feeling overwhelmed about a situation, and the best way to deal with it is to get professional help with whatever problem you are facing. Teeth are the first defence of the body, and we use our teeth to break things into bite-size chunks, which is the first part of the digestive process. So if you’re having this dream, it means you need to tackle the problem in bite-size chunks, bit by bit rather than the whole thing at once.”
“A very common one is called a shadow dream in which people dream they are being chased by someone, either somebody dangerous following you in a dark alley or someone trying to break into your house. They’re generally to do with some aspect of ourselves that we’re trying to escape from or that we find difficult to deal with.”
Cheating in a relationship
“The Jungian view is that our partner represents part of ourselves,” says Jasbinder. “In our psyche, both male and female energies need to be balanced out. If, for instance, you have predominantly female energy, you tend to project the other side (which is male energy) onto your partner – or vice versa. But it would be a question of finding in ourselves that energy which we previously projected onto someone else.
“For example, when you think of fairytales, the heroine is always waiting for Prince Charming to rescue her – but it’s always the qualities we need to develop in ourselves that are symbolised by Prince Charming.”
“A lot of people dream about their cars and transport. In a dream, the car is sort of your carrier through life, it’s the way you get through life. So there can be many variations on that; for instance, what type of car is it? Who’s driving it? Are you driving along your own path in life – or are you the passenger?”