Informally analyzing other people’s dreams is a whole lot like analyzing their handwriting or telling them about their personality by looking at their palm.
It’s not science. None of the assumptions can be tested and they take a lot of leaps in logic.
Don’t take it too seriously. Keep it fun.
Take inspiration from other pseudosciences
People used to write in cursive handwriting almost all of the time. Now, when they take up a pen, they mostly print.
With cursive, everybody’s handwriting ends up looking different. Figuring out the traits of someone’s personality from their handwriting is called graphology.
Graphology is commonly classified as a pseudoscience. It’s based on tradition, assumptions, and generalizations, not empirical studies. This is completely different from forensic handwriting analysis as it would be employed in proceedings in a court of law.
Back in the 1980s, graphology, for me, was a handy way of striking up conversations with girls I wanted to meet. It’s right up there with other conversation starters like a t-shirt with a funny saying on it or an interesting hat.
I had read a couple of books on it and practiced on a few handwriting samples from friends and family. I then felt I was ready to go as an amateur graphologist.
It was a great shtick. I was able to tell people about themselves. I answered questions about their friends and other people whom they were interested in.
How accurate was I? Well, nobody ever complained. I didn’t charge any money and I suppose everyone mostly gets what they pay for. If they disagreed with my interpretation, I was always able to resolve their disagreement with my interpretation by either questioning or by looking deeper into the provided handwriting sample.
There was some truth to graphology. The thing is, it’s impossible to quantify how much. For example, it’s impossible to quantify how much pressure someone puts on their pen when writing. If they do, is that really was indicative of their willpower. If you say it does, correlation doesn’t imply causation.
Or whether the gaps between their letters are really indicative of their level of spontaneity.
Supposedly, however, the more gaps, the more spontaneous they are.
Or whether angular letter formations were reflective of intelligence.
Or whether rounded letters meant someone had fashion sense and some immaturity.
Now that everybody prints, does that mean everybody is more spontaneous? I don’t know because you’d have to have a way of measuring and studying that statement. Really, what it comes down to is that there’s a little tradition in it and a little personal observation.
That’s what makes it a pseudoscience.
Like a lot of things, it’s best if you don’t take it too seriously. It’s meant to be fun. If you don’t get the conversation started some way, you’ll never get to know them.
“Oh, you dot your ‘i’ with a circle. You’re a playful person who likes to have fun. Clever.”
“Tell me more.”
Dream analysis, especially when you do it for other people, is exactly like that.
The person who has the dream is the best person to analyze the dream. Only they know what the symbols mean. When one person analyzes another person’s dream, the best they can offer them are guesses. There’s not necessarily any harm in that.
The person having their dream analyzed might even get some benefit out of it. Some people don’t want to or can’t analyze their own dreams. Some people resist getting to know themselves for one reason or another. Some people don’t enjoy thinking about the meaning of symbols. Some are honestly puzzled.
Dream analysis can be hard. It can be something you’ve got to work at. You can puzzle at the meaning of a dream for a while, and then it clicks. It makes sense. It’s profound with many layers to unpack.
From the proliferation of web pages analyzing dreams on the Internet, people analyzing dreams for other people is never going away. It’s something to talk about. A way to share in dreams. Something to comment on.
This is reality.
There’s socialization, and there’s science. The two don’t have to be the same.
The fun and silly aspects of dreaming are always going to be a lot more popular than the serious personal growth aspects of dreaming. That’s just the way it is. Dreammoods.com, for example, is a much bigger website than this one is ever going to be. Stats are readily available online if you want to see just how much bigger.
When analyzing dreams for friends, the first rule is to have fun.
This is the first rule of analyzing dreams for friends and family. A great model for the would-be social dream analyzer is Johnny Carson’s Carnac character. Johnny Carson as Carnac is at the top of this post. Maybe an entertaining “gypsy” fortuneteller at the County Fair or Halloween carnival would be another good model. Be silly. Ham it up. Keep it light. Say the things that will make them laugh, not want to hit you. If you have a fez, turban, or some other kind of goofy hat, use it!
If you’re a young man trying to meet a certain young woman, there are always old cheesy lines.
“Do your legs hurt from running through my dreams all night?”
Or . . .
“Have we met before?”
“Then it must have been in my dreams!”
Don’t overthink it. If you do, it won’t be light, and it won’t be fun.
If you’re more of the serious type, it won’t sound natural coming from you.
Different types of humor appeal to different people. Your delivery matters too.
Conversations segue into talk about dreams. Tell them a dream, encourage them to analyze it, then encourage them to tell you one of theirs. Keep it light.
Take three aspects of their dreams and state what they would mean if they appeared in your dreams
That’s what they must have done when they were building the Dreammoods website.
You don’t have to take exactly three aspects of their dreams. Do as many as you have ideas for. Only one aspect doesn’t sound like you know much about the dream. If you did, say, ten, then that’s too much. Three is a good number, not too many, not too few.
You’re comparing yourself to others. That can be useful in its way, but it’s not necessarily a way to get at the truth.
Remember that a good conversation is about 50/50 with input from both parties
When you’re analyzing dreams for your friends, the conversation shouldn’t be all about their dreams. Throw in a few quick, funny or interesting stories about your dreams. Share. If you don’t do this, then it’s too much like they’re on the psychiatrist’s couch. That’s not a fun place to be for most people, though it probably could do a lot of them good! Even if you’re a psychiatrist, you don’t want to have your friends and family on a couch talking to you about their deepest fears unless there’s some crisis.
Most of the time, keep it Carnac!
When the jokes have run their course, remind them only they can know what their dreams really mean
Do that because it’s the right thing to do. The Dream Recovery System is meant to be an aid to help people do this.
To be an excellent friend, tell them about the 16 types of problems one can solve with dream interpretation.
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James Cobb, RN, MSN, is an emergency department nurse and the founder of the Dream Recovery System. His goal is to provide his readers with simple, actionable ways to improve their health and maximize their quality of life.
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