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Dream Characters: Are They Really You?

by Gillian Holloway, Ph.D. (Dream Discoveries Newsletter, Summer 1995)

It's a tricky business, identifying just who a dream character represents. There are die-hards in every camp. Many people believe each tree, couch or blade of grass is actually your spirit guide. Some believe we are afraid to dream about the real people we love so we project associations onto "safe" characters. Still others believe every creature or object represents an element inside the dreamer. Taken to its logical extreme, even the chair in your dream would be the "inner chair" in you...

All of these rules-of-thumb became rules because they hold the key to uraveling some Dreams, sometimes. But Dreamwork is an area where dogmatism brings you to a sharp halt. Instead of trying to memorize "rules" I suggest you try on perspectives and look, listen and feel for a charge or connection. Here are some generalities about dream characters that may help guide your inquiries:

  • Exotic fictional characters are very often aspects of the dreamer.
  • People who are an everyday part of the dreamer's waking life should be considered first to represent themselves. If this doesn't make any sense, examine them to see if they symbolize internalized traits within the dreamer.
  • Unknown characters of the same gender as the dreamer are often alter ego aspects of which the dreamer may or may not be aware.
  • Animals are often representative of qualities of the dreamer, especially caged, neglected, or starved animals.

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