The blog raised various questions and concerns about the study:
Several awkward questions are left unanswered by this study. It’s not clear if the older participants really are experiencing more black and white dreams or if it’s their memories or beliefs about dreams that is influencing their reports. Related to this, we don’t know if early exposure to black and white media has really affected the form of the older participants’ dreams or simply their beliefs about dreams. Finally, if differences in media exposure really do explain the current results, we’re still left with the question of how and why early exposure to black and white TV and film has had such an effect on the older participants, even after so many years of exposure to colour media and given that they live every day in a colourful world.
Sumber speculates in general why we dream in color and black and white. His theory is that we dream in color “when the process of learning about an aspect of one’s life requires a color association or symbolic, significant color for learning.” He explained that sometimes it might feel like we’re dreaming in black and white, which he attributes to another interesting reason. He said that this “can suggest that the dream content is fading back into the unconscious realm or that we are being symbolically encouraged to associate the dream content or lesson in terms of stark contrasts like black and white.”
3. Dreams are clues to our identity.
Many of us dismiss our dreams as useless or view them in a negative light. “…Some folks might feel that their dreams are scary, anxiety-provoking and that they’d rather just wake up and feel fine again. Those folks tend to avoid the feelings that the unconscious is pushing them to confront in their dreams,” said Sumber, who also studied global dream mythology at Harvard University and Jungian dream interpretation at the Jung Institute in Zurich.
But dreams can actually lead to a deeper understanding of ourselves. Sumber added, “Dreams represent the opportunity to learn more about ourselves and our path in life. Dreams are typically the unconscious mind attempting to bridge understanding with the conscious mind.”
So how do you make sense of your dreams? In another Psych Central article, Sumber offered valuable tips on analyzing your dreams. (By the way, he suggested ditching the dream dictionaries. While there are universal themes, the symbols in a dream depend on the dreamer.)
Record your dreams. This is the first and most important step in analyzing your dreams, Sumber said. “Taking notes, even a few sentences that encapsulate the dream, literally draws the content of the unconscious out into the realm of the concrete.”
Think you don’t dream or can’t remember your dreams? He suggests simply keeping a journal by your bed, and writing “No dream to record” every morning. “Within two weeks of this process, the person will begin to remember their dreams.” (In fact, “you might open the floodgates!”)
Identify how you were feeling in the dream. For example, Sumber suggests asking yourself: “Was I scared, angry, remorseful, etc.? Do I still feel those feelings the morning after? How comfortable am I feeling these feelings?”
C.G. Jung referred to dreams as “feeling-toned complex of ideas.” In other words, according to Sumber, “We are always being called by our unconscious self to feel into our ideas, thoughts and actions so as to gain a deeper sense of who we are and where we are going in our lives.”
Consider all the elements of a dream. You can show up in your dreams in various ways. Many times, “we can find ourselves, our personalities, in many elements of a dream, even if there is a clear distinction between us and another character in the dream.”
You can ask yourselves these questions, Sumber said: “What is it like to be the villain in the dream? What is it like to be the aggressor, or be passive?”
You can learn a lot from even the most mundane dreams. You may be thinking that your dreams just aren’t fascinating, flashy or profound enough to explore. But even dreaming about having oatmeal for breakfast can yield thoughtful results, Sumber believes.
As examples, he lists the following questions you can ask:
“Am I alone with my oatmeal? Am I inside or on a veranda with a gentle breeze? Are the oats organic? Overcooked? Is there a horse nearby? How do I feel about the oats? What do oats typically symbolize for me? Are there any memories that I can tie to eating oatmeal? When was the first time I remember eating oatmeal for breakfast? How did my mother make oatmeal and do I make it the same way as an adult?”
As Sumber concluded, “People need to have fun with their dreams and take an interest in their dream life as this reflects their level of participation, interest and input in their own life and their own process of self-discovery!”
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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 13 Oct 2011
Published on PsychCentral.com. All rights reserved.
Tartakovsky, M. (2011). 3 Fascinating Facts About Dreams. Psych Central. Retrieved on March 8, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2011/10/09/3-fascinating-facts-about-dreams/