Semiotics of Dream Vision -or- What does my dream mean?

Sign, Sign, Everywhere a Sign -or- The Production of Meaning of Everyday Life

In search of the meaning of a dream, the first step is to read the signs found in the dream's textual report. In medicine a physician learns to read the signs of "illness", which are viewed as "symptoms". For spiritual or religious people, they may look for everyday signs or omens that they read for their religious significance. Others, may feel insecure and can overread the significance of what they hear, see and feel, the "signs" become over amplified by their fears. 

We all actively process information through the "neuropsychological" filter that we know as our "personality". The psychological process of signification is reflected and found operating in our dreams. When attempting to read the signs found in dreams, we can turn to the study of "semiotics" for understanding. Briefly stated, semiotics allows us to understand the symbolic process of sign making and thereby comprehend the individual and collective production of "meaning". From a popular culture perspective the Five Man Electrical Band's "Signs" (watch music video) fits the sentimental reading of the signage of everyday life. 

Below are five dreams from a variety of dreamers ranging from 18 to 55 that illustrate the semiotic process and communicative operations of signs, symbols and symptoms found in our nightly "dream work". Being able to accurately read the signs of the dream, leads to the consistent understanding of its meaning. Freud's "Interpretation of Dreams" provided the modern foundation for understanding dreams as a symbolic and semiotic process. It was Freud who told us, that dreams have "meaning". If the trouble with Freud was the "hermeneutic"  overreading of the "sexual" signs, and meanings in dreams, then it could be said that Carl Jung consistently overread the "spiritual" signs. My own semiotic method allows the dream and the dreamer find understanding and meaning in their own personal ways of semiotic self processing, communicating and communication. As Jung clearly understood, each person develops their own "personal mythology". 

Here are the dreams; 

Adelita, 18 Mexican 

I recently had a dream that my newborn child has trouble breathing so I take her to the hospital, but when I arrive at the hospital there are naked women scattered about the hall way. Aside from these when I go to give my insurance info to the RN...I check my purse were I always carry her hospital info and insurance but it is no where to be found. When I tell the Doctors and nurses that I can't find it, they tell me my daughter is doing fine breathing wise but her leg and hip have somehow become dislocated...they then proceed to pop the dislocations back in place and my daughter shows no sign of pain, almost as if she couldn't even feel it. After my return from the hospital I awaken from my dream. As a new mother this dream has got me really concerned...I am not sure if this dream has any relevance or not but if I could please have your input on this dream it would be really appreciated.

Mr Hagen's Reply: Signs of Pain -or- A Psychological Symptom Reading of Dreams

As a first time young mother, it is understandable that Adelita may be "overprotective" and imagine the worst. First time mothers may feel uncertain due to inexperience of knowing and understanding the signs and symptoms of how their baby is doing. This dream reads like the young mothers psychological symptoms of anxiety and overprotectiveness.

Mary, 23 

Another dream is that I'm driving a car (there's no one else in the car), and when I want to stop, I can't because the breaks don't work. I try to stop at a stop sign, and press the breaks, but the car doesn't stop all the way. I'm in traffic, and I try to dodge the cars because I'm terrified that I'm going to crash into them. 

Mr Hagen's Reply: Stop Sign -or- Psychological Problems with Impulse Control 

As a positive personality trait, "impulse control" is an important aspect of mental health. The dream interpretation "Paris Hilton in San Francisco" explains the psychological problem when impulse control fails. Impulse control disorders can exist for a variety of behaviours. 

Mirium, 24 American Student 

I dreamt that I was being baptized in a little pool of water on the side of a cliff. It was night and very soothing. I was there with some people from college. We were supposed to go somewhere else but at the last minute, someone convinced us to come here. The strange part was the repetition of the word Mecca over and over again. There was at one point someone telling me there were little sharks in the water but they wouldn't hurt me. It was kinda like a test to see who would get in the water anyway. Now I have never been a really religious person and before the dream, I didn't know what Mecca meant. But it left me with such a feeling of importance that I had to look it up as soon as i woke up.  Then it freaked me out to find it was a real place and of great religious significance. Why would I dream about this without being of that religion or knowing anything about it?

Mr Hagen's Reply: Understanding Islam -or- Religious Significance of Mecca

While the idea about the nature of the little sharks in the water is somewhat unclear, the "kinda like a test to see who would get into the water", reads loud and clear, as a test of faith. Much like the Biblical story of Abraham's "binding of Isaac" to test his faith, your dream reads in a similar fashion. As an American you have clearly realized the Islamic religious significance of "Mecca". This realization is an important step forward in helping to collectively move towards an "interfaith dialogue" and religious peace.

Samantha, 36 American 

Yesterday I woke to a dream that I was having, almost in a nightmare state. In the dream, I was joining my husband and my children for some sort of family outing. Only it wasn't just us. As I approached my husband and kids, there was a woman standing with them. Then my husband kindly told me that he was leaving me for this woman. I don't remember too much else except for the end part near when I woke up. That part of the dream I was desperate to do anything to make my husband change his mind and come back to me, so I had done some stuff to drive this other woman crazy so she would leave. I don't know if it is significant or not but my husband is in the military and we are stationed on an officer training base and the woman in the dream was a military cadet in training. 

Mr Hagen's Reply; Military Brat Families -or- The Significance of Nightmares 

The psychosocial stresses of a "military brat family" are often very difficult to adjust to and most likely contribute to family members having ongoing nightmares. The fear of loosing her husband (or partner) to a "younger woman", is a reality many women military or not, are often faced with.  

Nathan, 55

 My dream setting was in a swimming pool, the shallow end but I could not see myself only sense I was present. I was standing in the shallow water and a small puppy or dog was with me. The dog suddenly started to swim as quick as it could away from me towards the end of the pool. I started to follow the dog. Just as it got almost to the steps of the pool it sank but kept moving until it hit bottom. The dog continued to walk while on the bottom of the pool and walked out of the pool onto the decking. All wet with matted hair, the little white dog with black spots turned on its side with its eyes closed. I was concerned if it was OK or would be OK. It did not get up so I touched the dog gently and rubbed its side. Some water then came forth from its mouth. It seemed OK but I could not be sure. End of dream: 

My initial thoughts were that this related to a student in a PhD graduate program that I am mentoring. He too had been rescued, in a sense, by me from possible disaster with significant negative effects on his schooling. My mentoring continues. 

Mr Hagen's Reply: Rescued by your Mentor -or- Significance of Transactional Analysis 

"OK" is a word that can signify a number of meanings. Freud would call this problem of multiple meanings "overdetermination". What the dream above recalls to my mind is the book by Thomas Harris "I'm OK, You're OK", which attempted to bring a modified form of psychoanalytic theory of personality to a popular culture audience. The puppy (or dog) sinking underwater would seem to suggest the idea of depression. In the language of "transactional analysis", this dream can be seen as the ego states of the "parent" (or mentor) trying to teach the "child" to swim. From a somewhat different perspective the "puppy" may also represent the "inner child", which is in need of being rescued. 

Further Reading; 

Stanley Krippner "Personal Mythology: The Psychology of Your Evolving Self "

All material Copyright 2006 International Institute for Dream Research. All rights reserved.