Sleep tight What dreams are made of

RTÉ pre­sen­ter and psy­cho­an­a­lyst Michael Mur­phy is delv­ing into dreams in his new book. He tells Ciara McDon­nell the mean­ing be­hind our most com­mon dreams

Irish Examiner - Magazine - - Contents -

Our dreams, Michael Mur­phy says, en­able us to come to our truth within. “Freud dis­cov­ered over a hun­dred years ago that the royal way of get­ting to our own truth was by pay­ing at­ten­tion to our dreams,” he ex­plains. “The pre­vi­ous 24 hours of our lives do trig­ger our dreams but also there’s an el­e­ment in­volved in dreams that can come from a col­lec­tive layer of the un­con­scious – in other words what we as a peo­ple ex­pe­ri­ence.” There are many parts to a dream, says Mur­phy, and it’s im­por­tant to pay at­ten­tion to each one of them. “You never come to a de­fin­i­tive anal­y­sis with a dream, there is al­ways more to be an­a­lysed, but it gives a good pic­ture of what’s go­ing on in a per­son’s sub­con­scious and by pay­ing at­ten­tion to that you can di­rect your­self go­ing for­ward.”

One of the most com­mon dreams for Ir­ish peo­ple, ac­cord­ing to the psy­cho­an­a­lyst, is the Leav­ing Cer­tifi­cate dream. “Prob­a­bly you’re back at school and you’re sit­ting at a desk that’s too small for you. All the peo­ple around you are much younger and you’re pre­sented with a pa­per and you haven’t got a clue how to be­gin it.” Ver­sions of this dream are ex­tremely com­mon, says Mur­phy. “Ob­vi­ously the Leav­ing

Cert is trau­matic for every­one, but what this dream shows is that you’re try­ing to cope in present day with out­dated meth­ods – in other words, they don’t suit you any longer and are too old-fash­ioned. It also prob­a­bly in­di­cates that there is some­thing com­ing up like a pre­sen­ta­tion that you re­ally ought to pre­pare for – that’s what the warn­ing in the dream is telling you.“

An ex­tremely com­mon dream for Ir­ish women is head­ing into work in our bra and knick­ers. Rather than a com­ment on our fash­ion sense, this is a call to pay at­ten­tion to our vul­ner­a­bil­ity, says Mur­phy. “It means that you haven’t put on a per­sona that makes work­ing life eas­ier for you. You are too vul­ner­a­ble, you are not pro­tected enough. Clothes pro­tect us and if you are in your un­der­wear, it shows that you are maybe be­ing too open in the of­fice or you need to pull back in a cer­tain area.”

Dreams with a sex­ual na­ture make fre­quent ap­pear­ances dur­ing Ir­ish men’s twi­light hours. “It of­ten would show that maybe they would come into a room and there would be a woman cry­ing and they ig­nore her and leave the room. When they come back they might find that she had drowned.” This in­di­cates that the man in ques­tion needs to pay at­ten­tion to the fem­i­nine within – some­thing lots of Ir­ish women will agree with. “Per­haps they are be­ing too ‘blokey’ or treat­ing women purely as sex­ual ob­jects and they need to up their game in that re­gard.”

It is ex­tremely im­por­tant to pay at­ten­tion to the dreams of our chil­dren, says Mur­phy, be­cause their night-time ad­ven­tures can be ex­tremely re­veal­ing in terms of any anx­i­ety they may be ex­pe­ri­enc­ing. “If a child is dream­ing of ter­ri­ble mon­sters at­tack­ing him at night he is ob­vi­ously feel­ing un­der threat. If you are a small child who is three foot tall, a grown-up is a gi­ant to them. It is essen­tial to delve into your child’s night­mares, be­cause their dreams are scream­ing for you to pay at­ten­tion. It will be very ob­vi­ous and clear to de­ci­pher a child’s dream. As you get older and gain more wis­dom, our dreams and their mean­ing can be­come more com­plex but for a child their dreams are fairly straight­for­ward.”

Repet­i­tive dreams are our un­con­scious­ness’ way of call­ing us out on not deal­ing with our is­sues, ex­plains Michael Mur­phy. “They mean that you haven’t worked with the dream or re­ally un­der­stood it so it keeps on re­peat­ing maybe in slightly dif­fer­ent forms. As soon as you start to un­der­stand what that dream means, it will stop re­peat­ing. Some­times you might be hav­ing a con­ver­sa­tion with some­body and some­thing slips by that you haven’t no­ticed or choose to ig­nore. It will come back as a flag in your dream to make you pay at­ten­tion. Dreams are re­ally sen­si­tive and pick up things that we need to pay at­ten­tion to.”

So, what do we need to be­come our own dream de­tec­tive? Mur­phy rec­om­mends keep­ing a note­book be­side our bed to jot down the main points of our dreams upon wak­ing. He hopes that Michael Mur­phy’s Book Of Dreams will act as a hand­book to those of us ex­plor­ing our dreams. “What you’re go­ing to see in the book is how dreams are an­a­lysed in nor­mal lan­guage and af­ter you have read a few of them you’ll re­alise that you can use it to an­a­lyse your own dreams. I hope by the end of it you’ll have seen a range of dreams that you can re­late to and also how to an­a­lyse it — you will be able to see what the bot­tom line of your dream is.”

Michael Mur­phy’s Book Of Dreams is pub­lished by

Gill and will be on shelves na­tion­wide on Oc­to­ber 8. A talk by Michael Mur­phy, The Na­ture of Dreams, takes place at the Pav­il­lion, Dublin on Novem­ber 9 and the Triskel Arts Cen­tre, Cork on De­cem­ber 2.

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