Fishing for meaning in an ocean of dreams

Lately I’ve had an unusually high density of dreams of the nautical nature. Within the past week or so I’ve had three separate dreams that involve fishing as the main plot point.
To give some background I have been fishing since I was about 13 as it is my go-to bonding experience with my grandfather. Ironically neither of us are very good at fishing and we end most outings having caught/released fish too small to eat but happy to have spent the time with the water. Being a 21-year-old now means that I’ve spent a fair amount of time in a Hemmingway trance staring at the beautiful yet unyielding ocean. However, now that I’m in college I live too far from the water to make an easy trek so it’s been a long time since I’ve gone out fishing. 

Now on to the dreams.
I’m out on a anchored speedboat in the middle of a vast ocean. I have my very familiar grey fishing rod with me and cast it out to sea. I wait, the pressure building as I attempted to anticipate the movement of creatures hidden just below the waves. My line pulls taut and I know I’ve caught a big one. For a moment I worry that the rod I brought isn’t strong enough to hold but I end up reeling it in with relative ease. I pulled it up next to the boat and found that it was a marlin about half the size of the boat and clearly heavier than me. Throwing an arm over the side I began trying to haul it up on the boat when I realized there was a princess in the water. Dressed in a fluffy pink dress reminiscent of Princess Peach she was swimming towards the boat to get a better look at the fish. The distraction gave the fish the opportunity to thrash about and break the line. To my surprise he went straight for the princess and casually consumed her before sinking back into the ocean. 

And another one…

I’m in North Carolina on a vacation with my three female younger cousins. We’re in a jacuzzi on the balcony of a rental house overlooking the snowy deciduous forest scenery. All four of us have a fishing rod and are fishing in the middle of the jacuzzi. My grandfather comes out of the house and tells us that there are no fish in the jacuzzi. I got the sudden sense that the jacuzzi was too deep and fearfully got everyone out. I tried to help my 16-year-old cousin put away her fishing rod on the way back into the house but it continually warped into impossible shapes as I tried to secure the hook on the line. Giving up on the rod, I watched as a minuscule child with a somewhat purple hue, who I did not recognize, toddled its way to the jacuzzi. With a quick scoop I saved the child from falling in. I woke up with a strange sense that the tiny child represented my unborn daughter.

The last one is nice and short…

I was lost on a pier. I had the vague inkling that I was there for a purpose but had forgotten it. I saw a large rod left baited leaning against the railing. I cast it out just to see what would happen. For some reason as I cast the line I took the perspective of the bait and went diving headfirst into the water. The shock of this woke me up. 

 

My dreams have been pretty gracious in letting me experience a favorite activity of mine from the comfort of my bed. What do you all think of the fishing in dreams? Is it some kind of metaphor for facing the unknown or something else entirely?

I’d be interested to hear your thoughts below. 

 

Dream on little dreamers, 

EB

 

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Let’s start dark

Nightmares are, if nothing else, a great selling point for people to gain an interest in their subconscious. There’s something about waking up shaken and under rested after a nightmare that calls attention to the hidden musings of the id. Personally I think this a very healthy experience, and my assumption on the matter led me to make the statement “It began, as most metamorphosis do, with a nightmare.”

After doing some research, mostly skimming the abstracts of nightmare-related scholarly articles, I discovered that this notion is not necessarily shared by the scientific community. The first results I received oft cited the connection of nightmares as a possible indicator to disorders such as PTSD and schizofrenia (For example this article published in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine, 2010. http://www.aasmnet.org/Resources/bestpracticeguides/NightmareDisorder.pdf). This article offers the existence of “nightmare disorder” as a symptom and offers medication options for treatment. According to the article 80% of PTSD sufferers report nightmares related to their disorder. Nightmare disorder is said to affect 4% of the U.S. adult population and potentially cause sleep avoidance, deprivation and the exacerbation of underlying psychiatric distress and illness.

Is the nightmare itself a disorder? I would contend that the nightmare is less a disorder in and of itself as opposed to the projection of an underexposed psychological weakness. Whether this indicates a disorder or simply insomniac tendencies is something to be addressed on a case by case basis. I think the labeling of “nightmare disorder” deserves careful critique due to the risk of over diagnosis. 

Another study, More Than Just a Bad Dream by Frederik Joelving, proposes that nightmares may make the dreamer more susceptible to anxiety as opposed to acting as an “emotional release.” A major point of this article is that those who report troubled sleep fall prey to anxiety easier than even those who experience troubled real life events like the divorce of parents. Joelving cited an article about REM sleep deprivation by Tore Nielsen, director of the Dream and Nightmare Laboratory at Sacred Heart Hospital in Montreal, as evidence of his point. In this study those deprived of REM interestingly showed better adaptation to negative-emotion inducing photos overnight, a point which Joelving expands upon to say that dream-states don’t necessarily make a person more resilient.

Were I able to read the full article I would feel more confident about my response to it, but here is my first impression. I appreciate the attempt to gather some hint at the association between nightmares and anxiety using meta-analysis but I feel the studies used don’t justify the topic of the paper. Joelving cautions at the lack of proof of a casual relationship between the two factors at the end but the overall message of no REM being better than REM with nightmares seems too dismissive to me.

What do you think about the role of nightmares? Purposefully jarring messages from a concerned id? Or anxiety-inducing affliction on a roaming mind?

Dream on little dreamers,
EB

A key to the past within

It may seem obvious that dreams would draw from the past. Many characters and objects found in your dreams are taken directly from your past experience. But what about when it is not your personal past that your dreams seem to draw from?

Freud termed this “archaic remnants,” a phrase meaning psychic remnants that lie in the human mind from ages ago. This term is used to explain why certain archetypal images seem to reoccur in many peoples dreams. Images such as an evil snake or benevolent angel could be traced back to this psychic residue. 

Is it true or is it theory? I couldn’t say at the moment. I would like it to be true as it would give justification for a future fantasy like that found in Frank Herbert’s science fiction series “Dune.”

In the story of Dune there is a guild of characters known as the Bene Gesserit who essentially use a perfected recall of the memories of their ancestors. This allows them to have super-intelligence and become almost immune to the turmoils in the large scope of the series. 

If we are to ever truly learn from history it is important to internalize its lessons on a personal level. Personally, I’d like the human race to reach the level of the Dune series for a lot of respects (they are really fantastic books by the way). 

In “Man and His Symbols” edited by Carl Jung these “archaic remnants” that we find in dreams are the link between the rational world of consciousness and the world of instinct. 

It would be an interesting future to say the least if we all became better at observing and learning from these instinctual lessons of our subconscious. 

 

That post was a little bit rambled. I hope you don’t mind. What do you think we can learn about the archetypes of our dreams? Do you think dream’s images have the potential to speak from our biological past? 

 

Dream on little dreamers, 

EB