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Interviewing an Expert on Dreams

Need to interview an expert on dreams?

Because Dr. Holloway receives so many requests for interviews by students, we have included the most typical questions and their answers for you here. Here is an interview all ready to use:

  1. Suppose a loud noise was made while someone was sleeping. Would that be incorporated in the dream?

    A loud startling noise may awaken the sleeper. Noises more likely to be incorporated to dreams are ringing phones, music, traffic and trucks such as garbage collection, and children playing. That is, ambient background noise is often incorporated into existing dream imagery. In the same manner, temperature, comfort and other physical conditions are often incorporated into dreams. If the clock radio comes on, for a few seconds your dream may contain characters that sing and dance suddenly. If the blanket falls from the bed during the night, and youíre too cold you may dream of camping out in the Arctic. Even though these elements are obviously drawn from your physical experience at the time of the dream, they can still occasionally be meaningful. The fact that they appear in the dream is a matter of circumstance. But sometimes the manner in which they are expressed can reveal something about your current concerns. Too people in a hot room on a summer night with both dream about heat, but one will dream of being a hero saving people from a burning building while onlookers applaud. The other will dream of burning dinner for important guests and will feel like a nervous wreck. The way the dreams depict the heat is personal and often meaningful.

  2. Do scary movies give children nightmares?

    Overstimulation of any kind, including scary movies does tend to promote nightmarish dreams. So do arguments or conflict prior to bed, and even watching the late news program when it contains graphic and upsetting elements. Those who are prone to nightmares should indeed watch lighter less gruesome things prior to bedtime.

  3. Why do some people remember their dreams and others do not?

    Dream recall is linked with personality type and lifestyle. Women and girls are more prone to good dream recall than men. People who meditate or have interests in the arts, writing or fields that exercise the imagination are more inclined to vivid, regular dream recall. Also lifestyle plays a part; people who awaken rapidly and rush to school or work tend not to remember their dreams. For the person who wants to try developing better recall, itís best to make the attempt on the weekend or days when you can get up in a more leisurely fashion.

  4. Why do you think people dream?

    Modern theory states that REM (rapid eye movement) sleep is activated by a triggering device in a portion of the brain called the PONS. We dream every 90 minutes or so during this REM process, as do most mammals. However recent findings indicate that we may dream in deeper stages of sleep as well. The dreams during the REM state are more active, like movies, while the dreams during other stages of sleep seem more realistic, such as trying to solve a problem that is part of homework, or work from the office. The purpose of dreams is widely debated. Speculation includes the possibility that dreams serve a survival function by allowing us to practice new approaches to problems and experience trial-and-error and skill rehearsal in our sleep. Psychologists believe that dreams also provide a sorting process that lets us refine our values, understand our feelings and overcome hurt feelings. Whatever their ultimate purpose may be, dreams do shed light on our innermost feelings and concerns. By remembering them and reviewing them periodically, we stand to make the most of this alternate side of intelligence.

  5. What do dreams mean if anything?

    Our dreams are made up of recent things weíve seen, heard and considered, our current physical conditions, the current issues or challenges facing the dreamer, and often the underlying theme of the dreamer's life. When a dream "makes no sense" in a literal way, that is likely because its imagery is a combination of the above factors. To decode it for meaning then requires looking at it for symbolism and a plot. Just as fairy tales and parables often have a "moral" or point, so too do our dreams. Looking for this "bottom line" is a good way to begin deciphering a symbolic dream story. By viewing our dreams for their metaphorical implications, we can see if our coping styles are effective, and how we tend to operate in waking life. So, contrary to the notion that dreams are "unreal," they are among the most practical and pragmatically effective forms of intelligence.

  6. When did you become interested in dreams?

    Growing up I was always intrigued with dreams and read everything available on the topic. I often saw how my own dreams were reflecting real experiences and feelings. It seemed obvious that dreams were actually attempts to make my life better. I began keeping an in-depth record of my dreams and the real life events and concerns that were being depicted in them. In that way I started to develop theories about how dreams operate, which were later broadened and enriched by my studies in psychology.

  7. What made them interesting to you?

    Dreams are a different form of intelligence - sometimes a little confusing to understand, but in some ways they can be "smarter" than our usual manner of thinking and trying to solve problems. It's as if dreams use some form of aerial photography that shows a wider perspective than our usual point of view. We can save time and trouble if we take advantage of this larger perspective that our dreams present and include it as one more resource in our understanding of life and ourselves.

  8. Do dreams tell you about your personality or who you are?

    Some dreams seem focused on encouraging us to be authentic, or to be honest with ourselves. But most dreams seem to be focused on current situations that are challenging, worrisome or confusing. It's as if dreams are trying to solve problems and make sense of confusing situations for us. Some personality types have specific dreams, but it is more constant that people in certain situations have particular dreams. (Examples of this are given in the information about recurring dreams and nightmares on the web site.)

  9. Why are some dreams so realistic?

    Robert Johnson, a well known author, has said that "dreams are realer than real." By this he means that dreams are about our genuine feelings and our inner experience. The is the part of life that is most acute and personal to us. That is why some dreams do feel absolutely real and even more intense than waking life. We should spend less time worrying about whether these exaggerated dreams will come true, and more time examining their messages or the information they reflect.

  10. What does it mean when you dream the same thing over and over?

    There are various reasons for having recurring dreams. One reason is that you tend to be caught in a similar bind repeatedly in different situations. The dream is the picture of the bind, even though in waking life you may have different people around you and a different problem or opportunity. Another reason for a recurring dream is the possibility that there is some essential idea that you're missing and the dream keeps trying to "deliver" this helpful message whenever you miss the point of a particular situation. We often have recurring dreams for particular passages of life, and the recurring story line reflects the pressures we face during that phase of life.

  11. Do dreams tell you about your past or the future?

    Dreams draw from the past as a reference and try to sort through memories to come up with formulas about how to tackle current dilemmas. Sometimes dreams will use a past character or early memory to illustrate that youíve been through (and survived) a similar experience in the past. Dreams also construct possibilities for the future, things that might go wrong that you should be cautious about, or things that are secret worries for you. These "trial futures" provide a chance to learn before we tackle decisions or make choices weíll have to live with. One example is the person who starts smoking and then dreams of blackened lungs and early death. The dream provides a chance to see the potential losses involved in that choice, and to take a different road early on. This sneak preview of possible consequences saves you the trouble and tragedy of actually learning this lesson by living though it. Many "future" dreams operate in this manner.

  12. Can you make yourself dream about what you want to dream about?

    Many people can help direct their dreams to topics or problems that are concerning them. One method for this is to construct a question and then repeat that question mentally as you drift off to sleep. You may then dream about material that is directly in line with the question you asked. Caution should be used though in interpreting the dream. Most often our dreams should not be taken literally, but looked over for their implications and the symbolism they may use.

  13. Do dreams represent fears or true feelings about something or someone?

    Dreams explore fears and shed light on different angles of a situation and how we feel about it. But dreams about other people donít necessarily show our true feelings. You may dream of hitting someone you love, but that doesnít mean you wish them harm. You may also dream of someone you used to have feelings for and worry that the dream shows you never got over that person. Relationship dreams are very complicated and they have many different meanings. When it comes to relationships and interpersonal conflict, itís best to use dreams as only one reference, and not to base decisions solely upon them.

  14. What does it mean when you dream about something and someone else has that same dream that same night?

    This phenomenon is called shared dreaming, and most often takes place among siblings, married couples and close friends. Lacking any other explanation, it is considered a form of telepathy, and the meaning of the dream depends upon it's content. Although the experience is startling, these dreams are usually no more or less significant than any other dreams.

  15. Why do we dream about people that are dying or have died?

    Few things stir us up as much as encounters with death and dying. Obviously these are emotional issues, but the mind also struggles to understand and decide about questions such as heaven and life after death. Some researchers believe that we dream about the dead to try and convince ourselves of an afterlife so that we will feel less pain over losing someone. Others think that we dream of loved ones going on to a better place because that in fact is what happens. Each person has to decide for themselves these questions, but anyone going through a loss can expect a great many dreams about the loved one particularly in the first year after their passing. This is normal, and not something to be afraid of. Also, it is pretty common to dream throughout life of the first person you lose through death. For young people it's often a grandparent. Dreams of the dead do not mean you are about to die or that someone close to you may die. We continue to have feelings and thoughts about those that we have lost and so we can expect to continue to dream periodically about those who are no longer with us.


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