JAN: Last week I had a dream that I was looking for my son, who was two-years old and hiding in a room.(it was an attic room with a slanted roof ) I was searching under the couch, but couldn't find him. In the way of dreams, I suddenly realized that my son wasn't two anymore, but twenty-one and six-foot three. No way could he hide under the couch or inside the window seat.
I woke up, not frightened, but uneasy enough to email my son at college and ask if he was okay.
Why? It's not like I have ever experienced prescience. Never in my life have I ever predicted something that actually came true.
According to PSYBLOG, which is my favorite blog, I inadvertently subscribe to the "Freudian" view of dreams -- which is to say that dreams have meaning.
Except, I don't really. The attic room in the dream was my daughter's bedroom in our old house. I know dreams are just pulled from the scrap heap of my memories and thoughts. Sometimes the dreams are so incredibly superficial and banal that I keep those dreams to myself. And yet -- I still emailed my son to make sure he was okay.
PSYBLOG reported that two researchers, Carey Morewedge and Michael Norton, conducted an international study on the way people view dreams. They asked participants who subscribed to the "Freudian" view of dreams, as well as those who rejected the "Freudian" view of dreams, to imagine they were taking a flight tomorrow and that the night before three things happened.
1. They consciously thought about the plane crashing en route as the route they were going to take.
2. They had a dream the plane would crash.
3. A real plane had crashed on the route the night before.
The participants were asked which of these events were most likely to make them cancel their flight.
The Freudians, of course, said the dream about a crash would be the biggest motivator to cancel. The majority of non-Freudians said the actual crash would be the biggest motivator, but it was only a slim majority. And even the non-Freudians said they would be more influenced by the dream than by the wide-awake "conscious" imagining of a plane crash.
In other words, the majority of people gave some sort of credence to the dream. The study, found that this belief in dream's predictive power was strongest in the U.S., - where 56 percent of people think this way about dreams, South Korea and India.
One of the cultural reasons suggested for this strong, stubborn belief in the power of dreams is the way dreams are portrayed in books, films and TV. As an author, I instantly recognized this as true. We only include a dream in a book to make it mean something.
I'm not a big fan of dreams in books, and if you are in my writer's group, I write big red X's over your long-winded dream. But, even I have used snippets of dreams to show a character's worst fears. And because my books have thriller endings, my character's worst fears often turn out to be true - on some level.
So how about the rest of you writers out there? Guilty as charged? And readers, do you believe in dreams? Maybe even when you don't want to?