Dream interpretation is as subjective as the dreams themselves. There is no one way to go about interpreting a dream, but there are a few good things to keep yourself reminded of in the process.
Carl Jung began a discussion on this topic in Man and His Symbols (1964) by emphasizing that there are two different things encountered in dreams. There are signs which are always less than the concept that they represent and symbols which always represent more than their obvious meaning.
Signs in dreams are typically things which contribute to an overall theme in the dream, whereas symbols give the dream a “point.” The tricky part is determining what is a sign and what is a symbol as relevance is not always linked to importance in the time of the dream. Arbitrary objects can be key symbols while main characters or scenarios can be just signs to continue the plot.
In Freud’s The Interpretation of Dreams (1900) he references the mystical feeling of dreams in our morning recollection of them. He continues to mention that the great majority of dreams will lead us back to our everyday life rather than release us from it. The content of dreams is determined by the personality, age, sex, education and habits of the person who dreams them. In that way it is essential to look not at the symbols as having some kind of set meaning but rather look for your own reaction to said symbols.
What I mean to get across through all of this is that when you’re attempting the process of dream interpretation it is not the dream you’re interpreting, but yourself. Stigmas of everyday life do not apply in dreams and you should avoid applying them. If you have sexual contact with a friend from years ago in a dream try not to immediately interpret it as a fantasy and consider your own meanings of sex and that person.
After all, in dreams and in reality not everything is what it seems.
Dream on little dreamers,