Serious Misgivings About The Dream Dictionary

I've been visiting Experience Project for the past while and I have a lot of respect for this website and the ideals behind it - it's refreshing to find a website where personability and honesty are valued, rather than the proliferating culture of fickleness and judgementalism we see on many other sites. I have a great admiration for the spirit of this site, especially the stories, but there is one area of this website that I have serious doubts about and that's the dreams section - the dream dictionary in particular.

My misgivings about it are rooted in the rather subjective nature of dream interpretation in the first place - if dream interpretration is approached in the right way, it is very rewarding, but if the wrong angle is taken, it can cause more harm than it intends. I don't intend any of this to be a criticism or anything said in bad spirit, but it is necessary to examine this in as analytical a fashion as possible. Before continuing, I would dispute the suitability of the word "meaning" as it implies that a dream must have a profound conclusion. Instead, I will use the word "understanding" (used as a noun) as it can apply to the most minor of dreams.

First of all, the actual concept of a dream dictionary is a misnomer - while there are general understandings for dreams and images within them, these must be taken on their merits and in the concept of the dream. Therefore, definitions of anything in a dream dictionary can be very misleading as a person may assume one definition over another when interpretting one of their own dreams - after all, any one image can have any number of different understandings not listed in a dream dictionary, and such a case makes a dream dictionary redundant!

Focusing more generally on the nature of dreams, a dream dictionary is not feasible because dreams are very personal and as I mentioned earlier, can have any number of different understandings. Dream interpretation, therefore, cannot be declared definitively - any person offering an interpretation ought to say that this is what the dream "may" mean and that the real meaning may be different - there is no better interpretter of a dream than the dreamer him/herself, since this person knows more about his/her own life than anybody else and is therefore better placed to understand the dream. As well as this, the nature of dream interpretation is psychological, not mystical - it is based upon identifying the causes of emotions and forming links and connections between the elements of the dream and sometimes with the dreamer's sentient life.

Hence, this leads me to one of the formal problems of this sites dream dictionary - most if not all of the definitions are mystical, ie. there is no thought process indicated to show how the definition was derived and many claim to foretell the future, which in any case is impossible. Not only is the verasity of the definitions dubious, but it's impacts can be dangerous, since many adults are very impressionable, despite what we may think; I will explore this point later. For now, I will provide some examples of definitions I believe are particularly unsuitable.

1. Archangel
"To dream of archangel means You are going to be receiving a life changing message or experiencing an earth-changing event that revolves around you."

Dream interpretations ought not assume the precedence of one faith over another since there is no proof that any one faith is "right". Also, there is no evidence to suggest that a dream of an archangel will cause a life changing-message or an earth-changing event, since we as humans have no definite knowledge of the future.

2. Asparagus

"To dream of asparagus, signifies prosperous surroundings and obedience from servants and children. To eat it, denotes interrupted success."

Once again, this connection isn't supported. The latter statement again pertains to an unforeseeable future.

3. Eyeglass (monocle?)

"To dream of seeing or wearing an eyeglass, denotes you will be afflicted with disagreeable friendships, from which you will strive vainly to disengage yourself. For a young woman to see her lover with an eyeglass on, omens disruption of love affairs."

Again, unsupported and unforeseeable, as above.

4. Keyhole

"To dream that you spy upon others through a keyhole, you will damage some person by disclosing confidence. If you catch others peeping through a keyhole, you will have false friends delving into your private matters to advance themselves over you. To dream that you cannot find the keyhole, you will unconsciously injure a friend."

See above.

5. Raspberries

"To see raspberries in a dream, foretells you are in danger of entanglements which will prove interesting before you escape from them. For a woman to eat them, means distress over circumstantial evidence in some occurrence causing gossip."

See above.

6. Zinc

"To work with or to see zinc in your dreams, indicates substantial and energetic progress. Business will assume a brisk tone in its varying departments. To dream of zinc ore promises the approach of eventful success."

See above.

Another point with which one may take issue is the fact that people may actually believe these definitions (as alluded to earlier). Experience Project is intended to be a site to help people ease their worries and connect with others, but in maintaining this dream dictionary, it is possible that this otherwise excellent website may accidentally cause worries for people. Imagine what would be going through someone's mind if they had a dream about any of these six items and they believed the definition - they'd be quite delighted or very concerned, depending on the dream. I know it's easy to say that if a person should know better than to believe these things, but the fact is that a lot of humans don't know how to interpret their dreams and as a result will place their trust in a dream dictionary; the demand for them is evidenced by the sheer amount of dream dictionaries available on the internet! There's really no need to get a user's hopes up because they dreamt of something lucky, or worse, to make them afraid that something bad will happen as a result of some other dream - we really can't assume that no user is going to affected by these definitions because each of them will see a dream dictionary which he/she think is offering serious information. If it's the wrong information, harm has been done right where it was never intended.

If anything, it is Experience Project's role to set a new example and refrain from giving them the definitions that may cause worry for its users. If this site takes a new initiative and facilitates more modern, psychologically analytical methods of dream interpretation, I'm sure the feedback would be very positive. At the very least, there ought to be a caveat emptor on the dictionary and users' interpretations to indicate that these understandings are not necessarily true and must be evaluated on their own merits. While I have no professional psychological qualifications, I am sure some of the users on this site have memberships on the International Association for the Study of Dreams - maybe they would be willing to write a few essays on dream interpretation? They generally take a more scientific view on dreaming, which I myself prefer.

On a general note of dream interpretations on this site, I would include also an introduction to dream interpretation, because it's definitely not an area in which to succumb to romanticism and mysticism and I would totally discourage any assumptions to one faith being true (eg. the existence of angels). I hope that this may be discussed in the most friendly and open spirit possible and that my concerns will be resolved successfully. Personally, I propose to delete the dictionary outright, but that would be impractical if done before making available a guide to help people understand their own dreams. I would be surprised if this issue wasn't been raised before now, but I believe this will improve the site.

Laertes Laertes
18-21, M
4 Responses Jul 10, 2010

The big problem, Theologian, is the fact that this dream dictionary exists in the first place, as well as a mentality on dreams that makes the dreamer feel as if it is other people, not them, who are in control. Yes, removing it would cause a bit of a ruckus, but the fact that a dream dictionary that is fundamentally wrong is up there is even worse still. I can't imagine we're the first people to think that the presence of this dream dictionary is astonishing. The administrators have to take the initiative and do what is right, not persist with something that does not belong on the site. I wouldn't particularly worry about offended users, it's very easy to justify taking down an inaccurate section - after all, if the people reading it aren't impressionable, surely they'll see the logic of getting rid of the deadwood?<br />
<br />
That said, I do believe that there are impressionable adults out there. If they can believe in the existence of invisible angels who do good deeds for them, they can certainly believe in plucking obscure meanings out of dreams, certainly angel dreams. What we have to remember is that a lot of these people who are insecure about their dreams have something missing in their lives and the credence they give these dictionaries will at least leave a niggling doubt at the back of their mind. If these people ignore the misfortune definitions, then how can we explain the extensive success of dream dictionaries, both online and in bookshops, not to mention numerous books about angels?<br />
<br />
I do agree that the changes will probably only be minor ones to encourage people not to take everything for granted, but even this is making excuses - I'm truly disappointed that I've even had to raise this issue on this group in the first place.<br />
<br />

Laertes, all very well and good. But the devils in the details. We could attempt to get the whole section taken out. But I think that would make more people unhappy then it would do good. <br />
<br />
A few better possibilities might be. . . getting a notice on the side of the dream dictionary explaining that the interpretations given here are highly subjective, and that dreams often use your own interpretation of the symbol rather than the common one. I have found that other peoples interpretations of dreams can be helpful, whereas the dream dictionary is less so. Making that part more easily accessible, giving users a more helpful alternative, might also help. :)<br />
<br />
I have to argue against your impressionable young adults argument. Generally, people have a tendency to take what they like and leave what they don't. It's a defensive mechanism. If they get an interpretation that doesn't make sense, the tendency is to call dream interpretation stupid - rather than worry about a disloyal friend.<br />
<br />

Theologian, I think it would help more if we actually taught these people how to understand their dreams themselves rather giving them a pre-packaged deinition. If anything, no dream section at all is better than a dream section containing a misleading and incorrect dream dictionary and some very questionable user interpretations. I'd prefer if people shared and discussed their dreams rather than rely on being told by others what's behind them - the current set-up leaves posters with the impression that they're not the best understanders of their own dreams and consequently leaves them open to being told and believing something totally wrong and unsupported.<br />
<br />
This site has users of age thirteen and upwards and I'd hate to think of what a certain section of impressionable thirteen year olds would feel if they had their dreams interpretted as an omen for meeting a disloyal friend! It would be irresponsible to cause this kind of worry for users and therefore the thinking and approach have to be changed from the ground up, otherwise this dream section is going to subtract from the credibility of an otherwise admirable and excellent website.<br />
<br />

I agree, although I cant see the site giving it up anytime soon. allot of people love to interpret their dreams and have them interpreted. . .