Saturday, January 18, 2014

Two recurrent dreams from lingering Oedipal attachments and the associated fear

A reader from Pakistan wrote:
Dear Prof,
I have read your blog. So amazing! I'd like please to get your ideas for interpreting my reccurring dreams
The first one I was  being chased by a lion in different occasion the lion was after me
I was terrified
The second one which was recently in the last few years, a war attack and plane strikes in my city or country , as the sky was filled with impressive unique fighter planes bombing the city and I was just watching, some solders parachuting and so on
dream also of  military vehicles and tanks flying along the airplanes which is weird
The war dream I was just impressed and enjoying watching the action not terrifying.
Dear friend,
                             Wild animals in dreams usually symbolize (the strength of one's) passions - the id impulses.
But they also symbolize the father.  For id impulses - the libidinal and aggressive drives - when they manifest, during the Oedipal phase, towards the mother and father respectively, the child reasons, they will come into cross purposes with the father's wishes and arouse his ire. And that provokes the great castration fear which lies at the heart of anxiety dreams.
So if you are being chased by a lion then it also, most likely, is representing the dread of the father from the Oedipal period; to which you return to in your sleep and dreams.
It is fear of the Oedipal father for one's out-of-control id impulses that are depicted in running away from a dangerous animal in dreams. [In women the anxiety dreams appear as dread of being bitten/eaten by animals/snakes or being chased by strangers who will shoot or knife one.]
One recalls here the dread of castration in hands of the father that caused 'Little Hans' to fear the horses biting him (Analysis of a phobia in a five-year-old boy) and 'the Wolf-Man' to fear the wolves eating him up (Notes upon a case of Obsessional Neurosis).
 In Little Hans the dread of castration was for positive Oedipal Complex - love for the mother and fear of the father. In Wolf-man's case it was inverted Oedipal complex; the fear of overwhelming homosexual impulses; for submitting himself to the father was tantamount to taking a feminine attitude towards him and giving up one's masculinity.
Animals are chosen to represent the father because one's own abilities and strength are compared with that of the father, and the latter's prowess is felt to be akin to that of a ferocious animal.
The second set of dreams are new version of same conflict. Here the father is no longer viewed with overwhelming anxiety. One is no longer totally helpless against a wild beast. The conflict is the same but now clothed in a later period of psychosexual development. He is attacking one, but not in the form of an animal but weaponry. Warplanes, military vehicles, tanks are all excellent symbols of the penis. And the fear is being replaced by the affect of competition. Many unique fighter planes would be new versions of the father - new father substitutes - with whom one wants to indulge in phallic competition. Parachuting soldiers and military vehicles floating alongside the planes are most likely symbolizing erection. One is no longer dreading father's phallic prowess but competing with him toe to toe.
Defiance of gravity/flying symbolizes erect penis. For erection is not just defiance of father's fear, but literally defiance of gravity; for the flaccid penis becoming erect is visually a form of defiance of gravity. 

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