What's Behind those Weird Dreams?

Cecile LaRiviere

Posted on April 03 2014

I want to preempt this blog post by disclosing that I am as ‘unspiritual’ as they get. When I’m stressed, it’s not because there’s a full moon, it’s because I've procrastinated and not left myself enough time to do something. When I get in an argument with my boyfriend, it’s not because he’s a Scorpio and I’m a Taurus, it’s because he’s clearly wrong about something!

Because of my unwavering cynicism, I have been reluctant to credit dreams with having any kind of symbolic meaning, but I have to admit that I might be wrong about this one. I was at a museum exhibition on the science behind the human mind a couple of years ago, and it had a whole section dedicated to the psychology behind dreams and sleep. I was surprised to find that I had had all but one of what they deemed the most common dreams. I had thought that my recurring dream (nightmare) about my teeth falling out was just residual paranoia from having braces as a teenager, but as it turns out, this is one of the most frequently reported dreams and has been linked to vanity, anxiety, and (according to Freud), a fear of castration.

You might be as surprised as I was to find that what you believed where your private and unique thoughts are actually shared with millions of other people. So what are these dreams, and what could they mean?

1.  Being Chased
In evolutionary terms, flee/flight is one of our most primal responses to threat. It makes sense then, that dreams about being chased have been tied to feeling threatened by someone or something in waking life. This dream has also been linked to avoiding some kind of confrontation or obligation in real life.

2.  Being Naked in Public
Dreams about being totally undressed, partially undressed, or dressed inappropriately for an occasion are all tied to feeling some kind of vulnerability. When you are without your clothes, you are without a symbolic barrier that you can hide behind. This can be attributed to feeling helpless or exposed in a real life situation that you don’t feel fully prepared for or qualified to deal with.

Obviously, these dreams are correlated with anxiety, but it is worth noting that a lot of the time, no one seems to notice your nudity. This is likely indicative of the fact that your anxieties are merely your own projections: no one else thinks you’re unprepared or unqualified!

3.  Falling/Sinking
Dreams of falling or sinking are often attributed to losing control, or lacking security, stability, or confidence. These dreams often occur when you’re feeling insecure or lacking support in your waking life.

4.  Flying
Most people who have flying dreams associate them with feelings of euphoria. If you’re flying with ease in your dream, it could mean you’re feeling on top of a situation.

If you’re flying closer to the ground or having to navigate around objects, chances are the flying dream is more similar to a falling dream and you feel like there are obstacles between yourself and your goal.

5.  Teeth Falling Out
Dreams about your teeth falling out are less easy to ‘diagnose’ and have been attributed to a number of different causes.

On a basic level, fears about losing teeth are related to a fear of being found unattractive. Interestingly, this dream is most commonly reported by women in menopause, and so it could be attributed to a fear of the change that comes with age.

On a deeper level, dreams about teeth have been tied to power and communication. Apparently, your teeth are symbolic of your words, and a dream about losing them can represent a loss of control over your words and communication in general.

6.  Car Trouble
Dreams about trouble with your car, or any vehicle can range from your brakes not working to crashing to forgetting how to drive altogether.

A recurring theme here is not being in control, or being unprepared in situations in your waking life. The fact that dreams about car trouble often occur even in people who haven’t yet learned to drive indicates that they really don’t have anything to do with your driving ability. Much like nudity dreams, they are more likely anxiety dreams related to how you prepared you feel for something in your life.

It seems that the most commonly reported dreams are related heavily to anxiety. Maybe we are more anxious than we are conscious of, or maybe the fact that they bring out our anxieties is why these dreams are the ones we remember. In any event, if you’ve had any of these dreams or any other recurring dreams (or nightmares!), let us know and we’ll try and find out what they mean!

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