chapter  4
Dream images and conceptions of the unconscious
Pages 15

One definition to be found in the Oxford English dictionary under the term dream, reads ‘ A train of thoughts, images and fancies passing through the mind during sleep’ (OED 1989: 1036). Continuing our exploration of internal image domains, this chapter focuses on the question: How do we understand the experience of dreaming and the images it contains? Making sense of a dream, and the images which constitute it, is something we are all familiar with, yet not without a sense of contradiction or surprise, disbelief or dismissive disinterest. Our experience of dreaming is akin to entering a selfcontained world where the images, sensations and thoughts are ‘other worldly’ or at least slightly alien. On the one hand we recognise that dreaming, or more precisely our memories of what we experience on awakening, signifies an aspect of our mind somehow separate from conscious reflection, yet at the same time potentially understandable, given that we can recognise and remember the images, sensations and feelings of dreams in a way similar to experiences we have when awake. Freud (1976) emphasised the same point, citing Hildebrandt’s (1875) observations:

Whatever strange results they [dreams} may achieve, they can never in fact get free from the real world; and their most sublime as well as their most ridiculous structures must always borrow their basic material either from what has passed before our eyes in the world of the senses or from what has already found a place somewhere in the course of our waking thoughts — in other words from what we have already experienced either externally or internally.