By Life Positive March 2004 Understanding sexual dreams can help the dreamer overcome guilt and shame Different strokes Erotic dreams might be a means to compensate for the absence of sex in one’s life. Suppression of sex, even its discussion being taboo, makes it a potent force in the subconscious mind. Sexual dreams can as well be a metaphor for an unresolved situation in your life. So a proper understanding can lead to personal growth. Dreams also provide people with a neutral space where they can go beyond their inhibitions and overcome their fears regarding sex or certain behaviour. A dream featuring you and someone you share a platonic relationship with might hint at further cementing of the close relationship with that person. If a boy under parental pressure to study all the time has sex in a dream, it could just mean that he needs to take a break from his studies. If a person dreams of having sex in a car, it might imply that he wants to own the car—sex becomes a symbol for ownership. Ever had a dream that unsettles you? We have sexual dreams often and the images conjured in these dreams not only shock but also make one feel guilty. Lingering over a dream after waking up will not only complicate matters but would have an adverse effect on the well-being of the person too. There is no denying that sex is a potent force in the human psyche and it cannot be ignored. Sexual dreams might be a compensation for the absence of sex in one’s life but they can also be a metaphor for an unresolved situation in life. One may dream of having sex with an acquaintance or even a stranger. The pleasurable response might make one feel guilty or angry when dwelling upon such dreams later. When this happens, it is time to sit back and put these dreams in perspective. Often sexual dreams are just a medium to understand one’s inner self, desire or even passion, which is absent from the conscious level of the mind due to external factors such as suppression. In our society the skewed outlook on matters of sex makes it a taboo topic for discussion. Let us take a closer look at erotic dreams to understand them and shoo away the guilt factor. Testing groundSexual dreams may be a means to compensate for what is lacking in real life. To take an example, there was a saint who had renounced everything, followed austerity and shunned women. He started having recurring erotic dreams and was confused at his response. A closer look by a counsellor revealed that this was his way of balancing his inner and outer self. The dreams in question were his way to fulfil his sexual needs and yet manage to follow celibacy in real life. Applying morality to dreams would be, of course, unfair. Dreams also provide people with a neutral space where they can go beyond their inhibitions and overcome their fears regarding sex or certain behaviour. A perfect example would be that of a woman who in her dreams had sex in a particular coital position with her partner or at times even with a stranger. This bothered her as the dream was recurring and she did not understand the reason because she was happily married. Later she understood that it was her subsconscious rehearsing something that followed in real life—she and her husband actually started using that position.Certain behavioural change that a person is sceptical to adopt in real life gets manifested in dreams and in most cases is a precursor to or sign for changes to follow. A different storyIt is not always that sexual dreams tell tales of one’s hidden sexual desires or passions. Such dreams can very well have symbolic meaning and could be just a wake up call to take a look at some issue regarding oneself or the environment around. It would imply that one needs to do some restructuring in one’s lifestyle. Delhi-based dream counsellor, Cosima Klinger-Paul explains this citing a case study. A middle-aged woman discussed her recurring dream, which disturbed her as she could not understand what it was telling her. She often dreamt of her late husband having sex with some other woman. This was not only unnerving but she also became suspicious that maybe her husband betrayed her when he was alive and that is what her dreams were trying to tell. When analysed, it was concluded that the woman carried a very high image of her husband and even after years of his death his influence over her had not diminished. Though the dreams presented an awful image of her husband, which had nothing to do with the truth, it was time she took stock of reality. The woman had to free herself from the overpowering image of her husband and continue with her life as she deemed fit. It is possible that sexual dreams are metaphors and weave a tale that is completely different from the story of the dream and its interpretation at face value. Such a dream need not disturb us, rather it should be seen as a call for introspection and a deeper look at what it is re-presenting. Cosima supplies another case study to show what sexual dreams can really mean. A young boy is not allowed by his family to go out and enjoy himself with friends. Instead, he is pressurised to study all the time and does not know the glory of being out in the sun or enjoying the cool breeze in the evenings and relaxing with his friends. He then is most likely to dream of being out in a forest and soaking in every bit of nature. It is also likely that in his dreams he might have a sexual encounter. This dream when analysed in the context of this particular boy indicates that he is studying too hard and is looking for some instant gratification which he finds through his dreams. The sexual intercourse does not imply that the compensation he looks for has to come through sexual means only, but it just shows that he needs to release the mounting pressure of studies, which could be achieved through some creative pursuit or other relaxing activity. A sexual dream featuring you and someone you share a platonic relationship with might hint at further cementing of the close relationship with that person. If such a dream involves a person you abhor or are not too fond of, the implication may be that it is time to re-look at your relationship and behaviour with him and to moderate your negative feelings about him. When a heterosexual person dreams of intimacy with a person of the same sex, there is no need for alarm. It might be your ‘shadow’ urging you to take note of certain aspect of your life. Stop feeling guiltyDreams of sexual nature are common among people of all age groups and one should learn to deal with them rather than feel guilty. Dr Samir Parekh, Delhi-based psychiatrist, says: “The theme of a dream does not matter. As far as the dream is not interfering with daily life and one is sleeping well, the content of the dream should not be given any importance.” Cosima, however, feels that where, how and with whom you are seen in the sexual dreams are a key to decode and interpret these dreams: “For youngsters who are reaching puberty such dreams are very natural and should be seen as a step towards entering maturity. It is part of growing up and helps the person form an individual entity.” According to Sigmund Freud, dreams are a manifestation of the individual’s aspirations. He propounded that the libido (eros) or life force is sexual in nature and expresses in dreams through symbols. A snake in a dream is a representation of the phallic symbol. For Freud even the mundane act of climbing a ladder in a dream would attain sexual connotation. Many modern psychologists do not fully agree with Freud. Or they say that dreams should be understood in their context. If a person dreams of having sex in a car, it might imply that he wants to own the car—sex becomes a symbol for ownership. The way a dream made you feel and its correlation with some incident in your recent past will help in understanding it and its message. Getting a dream properly decoded with the help of an analyst might surprise you—her conclusion may be completely different from what you had interpreted at the superficial level. To conclude, interpretation of dreams is important to understand what they are telling you. Identifying the theme is the first step towards this. Correlating the theme to your life in general or a particular event of your life will help in understanding the dream better. Dreams should not be taken at face value—try to look at their symbolic meaning. To remember the dreams and to help interpret them better, it is advised to write down your dreams in a journal.
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