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by Gillian Holloway, Ph.D. (Dream Discoveries Newsletter, Winter 1995)
Whether you are stalked by a serial killer, chained to a zombie, or wrestle a vampire, the monster in your dream can be a profound source of understanding the meaning of your dream.
The most commonly reported monsters in my clients' dreams are: Vampires, Zombies, Blobs, Gestapo Officers and Burglars. I include the latter two, despite their humanoid status, because within the typical dream scenarios they figure in the same light as monsters. What do these monsters have in common? Each possess unique characteristics that distinguish them from the others; and those characteristics are generally symbolic exaggerations of the real life element that troubles the dreamer.
For example: zombies are dead people who wander the earth in a very creepy way. Pathetic because of their limbo status, they represent a fate worse than death. (Surely nothing could be worse than eternity in their soulless state?) We seldom run into zombies in real life, so why are they so prevalent in our dreams? I believe zombies figure in our dreams so frequently because one of our cultural dictates is to march like good soldiers to jobs we hate, work for organizations we cannot respect and remain in relationships that have lost their aliveness. The subconscious sees things in very simple terms, we are either moving toward aliveness or marching in "the dead zone." When too much of life is comprised of marching in the dead zone this can be reflected by zombies in our dreams.
Vampires are prevalent in dreams because they combine a certain seductive quality with a repellent and morbid tone. (Most addictions for example, share this dual characteristic of seductiveness and morbidity). Many unwholesome relationships are based upon the exploitation of one person's energy for the "feeding" or satisfaction of the other. People who have difficulty with boundaries may dream of vampires as they begin relationships, possibly because they are aware of being thrilled by the very pattern that will eventually prove costly and draining to them. Vampires may also represent a significant unhealthy compromise in the interest of avoiding change. Many people dream of being bitten by and then becoming a vampire. Sometimes this leads them to realize they are engaging in extreme thoughts or behaviors in order to avoid a natural process of change, in the same way a vampire avoids death by preying on the living.
Blobs are inexplicably horrible in dreams, turning up everywhere, oozing into the dreamer's presence without warning, and stubbornly resisting all attempts at extermination. I have observed that blobs tend to represent emotional responses and feelings that trouble the dreamer, more often than people or external events in the dreamer's life. One woman haunted by a personal fear suffered through many dreams of a ubiquitous blob that cropped up wherever she went. Another woman, disturbed by her sexual feelings dreamed of a wet oozing monster that surfaced every few years and turned her life upside down. Since we tend to avoid and dissociate from feelings we dislike or find frightening, this distancing tactic is often illustrated in dreams of a gooey blob that will not go away. Burglars often represent something new and foreign invading the dreamer's personal life, or a violation of personal boundaries.
Gestapo officers figure in the dreams of people who are undergoing an unexpected restriction of personal freedom, as well as a certain sense of persecution or loss of dignity.
When trying to understand the monster in your dream, bear in mind that your subconscious has likely amplified and exaggerated a very real quality that disturbs you, depicting it as a monster, or monstrous figure in your dream. The waking life situation will seem pale in comparison to the horrors of your dream.
Here are some keys to understanding the monster in your dream.
Any dream containing a dramatic monster may be heavy with potential insights. Try to look at the dream as a work of art, and appreciate the cinematic qualities, even those that frightened you. These horror stories are usually signals that a deeper understanding is necessary before we can move through the present situation. The more threatening the dream, the greater are the benefits to be derived from exploring and understanding it. If you move forward with courage, you can expect rich rewards for your efforts.