The meaning of People in dream | Dream interpretation
From a Jungian perspective, people in dreams reflect the dreamer’s inner life, sometimes showing the various parts of the dreamer’s personality.
Many people assume that when they ‘see’ another person in their dreams, that the dream was meant for that person. This is rarely the case. People in your dreams can appear as themselves, particularly if they are people you know or have known; your dreaming mind may introduce them to highlight a specific quality or character you need to be aware of in them. Many dream analysts, however, believe that the majority of people seen in dreams are a subjective representative rather than an objective one. Each type of person throws some light on some aspect of your life—be it your relationships, your hopes and fears, or aspects of your personality that you need to learn to control or cultivate.
Whenever you encounter another person in your dream, ask yourself these two questions: what is a single word that describes my current opinion of the person, and what is the person doing in the dream that I am doing in real-life? The person is chosen in the dream for their symbolic representation. We all come to associate certain people with certain actions or characteristics.
If they are known to you, consider what the dream is saying about that person as a reflection of a part of you. There may also be emotional considerations that arise through your dreaming mind’s choice of that particular person. For these, ask more questions: are there parts of that person that I admire, that I envy, of which I am jealous? What is it that I feel for the person in the dream? In many cases, the feelings that your interaction with people in your dreams gives you will be those that you are becoming aware of in real life.
People in dreams are most typically connected to hidden or repressed aspects of your character. They can raise issues that you would rather forget.
If you can listen to your dream characters, they may be able to help you deal with conflict or confusion in your waking life and help you achieve balance.
Whatever the case, in order to achieve an understanding of the people in your dreams it is important to consider the atmosphere, the role that each character played, the feelings that you experienced in your dream and your waking associations with these people. In short, if people figure in your dreams ask yourself what these people say about the hidden aspects of yourself. Try to work out what or whom each person in your dream makes you think of. In that way you will be able to discover the deeper meanings and associations.
Many of the people in your dreams will remind you of family members, partners, loved ones or yourself at various stages of your life; if this is the case, refer to the relevant entries in the BIRTH AND CHILDHOOD, FAMILY, STAGES OF LIFEandRELATIONSHIPS chapters.
If your dream images are of famous people or people from other countries, refer to the FAMOUS PEOPLE and FOREIGN COUNTRIES chapters. For more information about professional people at work in dreams, refer to the SCHOOL AND WORK chapter. Bear in mind that your dreaming mind may also weave aspects of yourself into dream archetypes, such as the stranger, the hero, the fool, the hermit and the wise man or woman, who are all trying to convey a certain message to you.
If this is the case, turn to the chapter on ARCHETYPES. For occasions or situations when people group or gather together, see GATHERINGS. Finally, according to ancient dream-lore, as long as the people you meet in your dreams are friendly and well presented, good fortune can be expected.
In most cases, people in your dreams represent aspects of yourself, such as ways of thinking and expressing yourself. An easy way to recognize aspects of the self is to acknowledge the roles you play in life: the devoted spouse, loving parent, reliable employee or the good friend. Aspects reflect characteristics within you: the comic, the shy one, the ambitious one, the generous one. Whatever quality you attach to that person in your dream, is the quality of self being addressed in the dream message?
Many different aspects of self.
Dreams of being in a crowd that prevents you from moving easily suggest that you are unable to direct your life. If, in the dream, there are people you know your unconscious can be pointing at the attributes you admire and want to get. Feelings produced by the interaction with these people are allegorical of those feeling you are experiencing in the present. If, among the people, you do not know anyone, it may be a way to address some of your inner aspects.
It is your duty to find out what they mean and how they adapt to your Self in real life.
The dream books of ancient times say that as long as people in those dreams are gentle and well dressed, you will have good luck.
Usually our dreams are filled with people. We dream about our families, our friends, our neighbors, and our classmates. We dream about strangers, colleges, famous people, teachers, and, at times, our supposed enemies. Each dream is very special and carries its own unique message. When interpreting this dream with people in it, consider all of the details and the feelings in the dream.
If the person is known to you, think about your relationship with him or her and the issues that the dream has brought up. We learn about ourselves through others, and probably our most valuable possessions are our relationships. Some believe that the strangers in your dreams represent different parts of yourself and are extensions and projections of your own personality. Many people believe that their dreams can predict the future. When they have negative or frightening dreams, they become anxious about the future. Alternatively, when their dreams are a form of wish-fulfillment, the dreamers become very excited and are hopeful that the dream will come true. Most dreams are not prophetic but are psychological or spiritual in nature. Their primary function may be to help us live better in the present, rather than the future. See also: Ex-boyfriend/girlfriend, Siblings, Child, Parents, Father, Mother
5 See Crowd.
1- The people who appear in dreams are the characters with which we write our ‘play’. Often they appear simply as themselves, particularly if they are people we know or have a relationship with in the here and now. We may introduce them in order to highlight a specific quality or characteristic. We may also permit them into our dream scenario as projections of our inner life or stale of being. Finally, they may signify someone who is more important than the dreamer.
2- In order to disentangle the various types of ‘information’ which each character brings to the dreamer, it is often necessary to decide what or who each one makes us think of. That way we will reveal the deeper meanings and connections.
An individual from the past could link us with that period of our lives and with specific memories which may, or may not, be painful.
A neighbour or close associate usually appears in a dream to highlight a particular quality in that person. Somebody else’s mother, father, brother etc. may suggest our own family members or possibly jealousy. Sometimes, rather than trying to decipher the meaning of the dream it is enough to look at what bearing the dream character’s actions have on the dreamer’s everyday life.
To interpret why the dreamer has adopted a particular role we would need to know a little bit more about his lifestyle. When there is some conflict within the dreamer between love and aversion for a particular person, we are more likely to dream about them.
Often in dreams there may be a noted difference between two of the participants to illustrate two sides of the dreamer’s thoughts and feelings. Similarly; there maybe a marked contrast in the way the dreamer handles a situation with two of his dream characters.
It is as though two options are being practised. Composite characters As with composite animals, the composite character will emphasise one characteristic or quality in order to draw the dreamer’s attention to it.
The fact that it is not just one person emphasises the many-faceted human being. Every- character who appears in our dreams is a reflection of a facet or part of our own personality and can often be better understood if we put ourselves in the position of that person. Adolescent To dream of oneself as adolescent focuses on our undeveloped side.
Dreaming of an adolescent of the opposite sex usually means dealing with a suppressed part of our development.
The emotions associated with adolescence are very raw and clear and such emotions arc accessible often only through dreams. There may be conflict over freedom. Ancestors Our customs, ways of behaving, morality and our religious feelings are all handed down from generation to generation. When we become conscious of our ancestors in a dream we are focusing on our roots. We may- understand ourselves through our relationship with the past. Authority Figures (such as magistrates, teachers etc. also see individual entries) Our concept of authority is first developed through our relationship with our father or father figure. Depending on how we were treated as children, our view of authority will be anything from a benign helper to an exploitative disciplinarian. Most authority figures will ultimately lead us back to what is right for us, although not necessarily what we might consider good for us. Authority figures in dreams initially appear to have power over us, though if worked with properly will generate the power to succeed. Dreaming particularly of police can indicate a kind of social control and a protective element for us as members of society. Often a policeman will appear in dreams as one’s conscience. We may feel that our wilder, more renegade side needs controlling.
Baby To dream about a baby which is our own indicates that we need to recognise those vulnerable feelings over which we have no control. We may be attempting something new.
If the baby is someone else’s in the dream, we need to be aware of that person’s ability to be hurt, or that they may be innocent of something. Psychologically we are in touch with the innocent, curious side of ourselves, with the part which neither wants nor needs responsibility.
Dreaming of a baby can indicate that, on a spiritual level, the dreamer has a need for a feeling of purity.
Boy To have a dream about a boy- shows the potential for growth and new experience.
If the boy is known he reflects recognised qualities in the dreamer. Psychologically, we may need to be in touch with ourselves at that age and with the innocent youthfulness and enthusiasm that a boy has. We are contacting our natural drives and ability to face difficulties.
Boyfriend To dream of a boyfriend, whether present or former, connects with the feelings, attachments and sexuality- connected with him.
To dream of having as a boyfriend someone whom you would not anticipate, indicates the need to have a greater understanding of the way you relate to men. Consideration may need to be given to the loving, nurturing side of masculinity. We are still searching for the ideal lover.
Carers such as nurses, nuns etc. This suggests the more compassionate, nurturing side of ourselves. Often it is that side of us which has been ‘called’ or has a vocation. Usually there is, for men, a non-sexual relationship. Child (who could be one of the dreamer’s own children) Dreaming of a child gives us access to our own inner child. We all have parts of ourselves which are still child-like and curious. When we are able to get in touch with that side of ourselves we give ourselves permission to clarify a potential for wholeness which we may not previously have recognised. Crowd Crowds in dreams can indicate how we relate to other people, particularly in a social sense. They may indicate how we can hide ourselves, or indeed how we hide aspects of ourselves and do not single out any one attribute. We may also be attempting to avoid responsibility.
A huge crowd suggests information which we may not be able to handle. Dictators (Hitler, Stalin etc.) If the dreamer has had an overbearing father, a known dictator may appear in dreams as representing that relationship. Emperor or Empress - see
Authority Figures and also King and Queen Ethnic minority Any aspect within ourselves which is out of the ordinary or different can manifest in dreams as a member of another race.
Girl When a girl of any age appears in our dreams we are usually attempting to make contact with the more sensitive, innocent side of ourselves. Those qualities of intuition and perception may be somewhat undeveloped but can be made available.
If the girl is known to us we probably are aware of those qualities, but need to explore them as though we were approaching them from the girl’s point of view.
If she is unknown, we can acknowledge that a fresh approach would be useful.
Girlfriend When a girlfriend or ex-girlfriend appears in a man’s dream there arc usually issues to do with masculinity and femininity involved. There may be fears to do with sexuality.
If a girlfriend appears in a woman’s dream, there can either be a concern about her in the dreamer’s mind, or she (the dreamer) needs to search for and find qualities belonging to the friend in her. Hero or any heroic figure falso see Archetypes) In a man’s dream the figure of the hero can represent all that is good in him, the Higher Self. In a woman’s dream he will suggest the Animus (see Introduction). When the hero is on a quest We are struggling to find a part of ourselves which is at this time unconscious (also see Quest).
It is important that the darker forces are vanquished but not killed since they cannot be totally annihilated without harming the Wise Old Man (see Introduction). In other words, our eventual integration still needs the challenge of the negative.
The hero’s failure may be brought about inadvertently We all have a weak point through which we can be attacked.
To have such a dream indicates that we are not paying attention to the details in our lives or to that part of ourselves we tend not to have developed. We may be being warned of an element of self-neglect.
The death of the hero can often suggest the need to develop the more intuitive side of ourselves, to be born again to something new.
A conflict between the hero and any other dream character suggests a basic disharmony between two facets of our own character.
The hero often appears in dreams as an antidote to some hated external figure within the dreamer’s everyday life. High Priest, Astrologer, or anyone with similar esoteric knowledge (also see Archetypes and Authority Figures in this section) Any character within our dreams who appears to have knowledge of magical practices or similar types of knowledge is usually first introduction to the Higher Self.
It is as though we can only become privy to this deeper knowledge by meeting our teacher first. Inadequate Person It is a lot easier to confront our own inadequacies in the dream state where we are safe. Often this is the first opportunity we have to meet the Shadow (See Introduction). We ignore this aspect of ourselves at our peril and cannot afford to dismiss such an image when it appears. We must acknowledge this dream figure as a reflection of ourselves in order to deal with a learnt sense of inferiority.
If we do not. we are continually faced in life by our own sense of inferiority.
Intruder (also see individual entry and Burglar) The intruder in a woman’s dream is often a personification of her own Animus (see Introduction). In a man’s dream it characterises his Shadow (see Introduction). In either case it suggests the need for a change in attitude in order for the dreamer to be able to have a full and meaningful relationship with himself. King Almost invariably a king appearing in a dream represents the father or father figure.
A personality such as an emperor may- indicate that some of the father’s attitudes arc alien to the dreamer, but should perhaps be accepted. When the king is old or on the point of dying the dreamer will be able to reject outworn or old-fashioned family values. Ministers of all Religions (also see Authority Figures in this section and Archetypes) Ministers of all religions hold a special placc in the dream hierarchy; since their authority is given to them not by man alone, but to all intents and purposes by God or an ultimate power. There is therefore an ‘otherness’ about them. Man Any man appearing in a dream shows an aspcct or facet of the dreamer’s character in a recognisable form. Each of us has a repertoire or portfolio of behaviours, some of which are acceptable and some of which arc not. In dreams those behaviours and characteristics can be magnified so that thev are easily identified, often as personalities. By working with the characteristic, more energy and power becomes av ailable. Even when we are threatened by a negative character trait, we can still access room for improvement.
A man in a dream can identify the Shadow for a man, and the Animus for a woman (see Introduction).
An older man (if the man is white-haired or holy) can represent the innate wisdom we all have. Such a person can also signify the father in dreams. When a large man appears in our dreams we arc usually appreciating the strengths, certainties and protection which our basic beliefs give us.
A man in a woman’s dream signifies the more logical side of her nature. She has, or can develop, all the aspects of the masculine which enable her to function with success in the external world.
If the man is one she knows or loves she may be trying to understand her relationship with him.
An unknown man is generally that part of the dreamer’s personality which is not recognised. In a woman’s dream it is the masculine side of herself, and in a man’s dream it is the Self (see Introduction). Old People (also see Man and Woman) In dreams, old people can represent either our ancestors or grandparents, hence wisdom accrued from experience.
If the old person is male depending on the gender of the dreamer he will stand for either the Self or the Animus (see Introduction).
If female then she will signify the Great Mother or the Anima (see Introduction). .’Ml father figures, or representations of the father, will often appear old as if to highlight their remoteness.
A group of old people often appears in dreams. Usually this signifies the traditions and wisdom of the past - things sacred to the ‘tribe’ or family. Older people usually stand for our parents even though the dream figures may bear no relationship to them. Pirate Dreaming of a pirate suggests there is an aspcct of our personality which destroys our emotional connection with the soul.
Prince (Hero) and Princess (also see Archetypes) These figures represent those parts of ourselves, or others, who exist by right; that is, those aspects which have been brought into conscious awareness and authority. As the hero has taken responsibility for his own journey, so the prince and princess take responsibility for the lives they live.
Queen (Not only the present queen, but a historical one such as Victoria) This usually represents the dreamer’s relationship with his mother, and thus with women in authority generally. Stranger (also see Shadow in Introduction) The stranger in a dream represents that part of ourselves which we do not vet know. There may be a feeling of awe or of conflict with which we need to deal before we can progress. Twins (including the mirror- image of a figure in the dream) (also see individual entry) Twins in a dream can suggest two sides of our personality.
If they arc identical we may be recognising our ambiguous feelings about ourselves.
If not identical they suggest the inner self and the outer reality. Twins may also signify our projections into the world of our own personalities. Woman In a woman’s dream a woman, such as a family member or friend is often representative of an aspect of her own personality, but often one she has not yet fully understood. In a man’s dream such a figure denotes his relationship with his own feelings and with his intuitive side. It mav also show how he relates lo his female partner.
A goddess or holy woman signifies the highest potential for working with the Greater Good that the dreamer has. Oriental women appearing in dreams usually suggest the mysterious side of the feminine. In a man’s dream such a figure will often reveal his attitude to sexuality; while in a woman’s dream it will reveal more about her own intuitive transcendent jx)wers.
An older woman mostly represents the dreamer’s mother and her sense of inherited wisdom.
An unknown woman in dreams will represent either the Anima (see Introduction) in a man’s dream, or the Shadow (see Introduction) in a woman’s.
It is the qualities of surprise and intrigue which allow us to explore further the relevance of that figure. We can gain a great deal of information bccausc the figure is unknown.
3- When we begin to work spiritually with ourselves, there is a gargantuan store of knowledge which can be worked on, and with, to enhance our lives.
Dreams of people reveal your role in relationships, your social skills, survival skills, and attitudes and feelings about the people in your life.
If you dream of a specific person that you know, then identify the qualities that they represent to you (i.e. friendliness, fearfulness, inspiration, etc…), and realize that this is a reflection of either an aspect of yourself. See Integration Dreams.
1. Symbol of self, having attributes the dreamer desires or admires.
2. A measure of how one ﬁts into society, belonging.
To see people you know in your dream, signifies qualities and feelings of those people that you desire for yourself.
To see people you don’t know in your dream, denotes hidden aspects of yourself that you need to confront.
To see people from your past in your dream, refers to your shadow and other unacknowledged aspects of yourself. It can represent a waking situation that is bringing out similar feelings as your past relationships. Also see “Crowd.”
When we begin to work spiritually with ourselves, there is a gargantuan store of knowledge that can be worked on, and with, to enhance our lives. By and large it can be accepted that dream characters are aspects of ourselves and that the dream is first and foremost about us. It often helps, therefore, to view the dream through not just our own eyes but as though we are experiencing it as our dream character.
The interaction that takes place between us and our dream character is an attempt either to understand that aspect of ourselves or to achieve some kind of integration with it in order to have a wider perspective on life. As such integration progresses we achieve a wholeness and awareness, which enable us to work in a more spiritual focused fashion.
Psychological / emotional perspective: In order to disentangle the various types of ‘information’ that each character brings to the dreamer, it is often necessary to decide what or who each one makes us think of. That way we will reveal the deeper meanings and connections. Some of the following entries can also be found in the individual letters and we suggest that you consult these entries for extra information. Where archetypes such as the anima, animus, great mother, shadow, self and wise old man are referred to, please consult the relevant section in the introduction.
Material aspects: The people who appear in dreams are the characters with which we write our ‘play’. Often they appear simply as themselves, particularly if they are people we know or have a relationship with in the here and now. We may introduce them in order to highlight a specific quality or characteristic. We may also permit them into our dream scenario as projections of our inner life or state of being, or as ways of handling problems in our everyday life. Sometimes, rather than trying to decipher the meaning of the dream, it is enough to look at what bearing the dream character’s actions have on our everyday life. Below are interpretations of some of the most common interactions with people in dreams. Crowds in dreams can indicate how we relate to other people, particularly in a social sense. They may indicate how we can hide ourselves, or indeed how we hide aspects of ourselves and do not single out any one attribute. We may also be attempting to avoid responsibility.
A huge crowd suggests information that we may not be able to handle.
An individual from the past could link us with that period of our lives and with specific memories that may, or may not, be painful.
A neighbour or close associate usually appears in a dream to highlight a particular quality in that person. Somebody else’s mother, father, brother etc. May suggest our own family members or possibly jealousy.
To interpret why we have adopted a particular role we would need to examine their lifestyle. When there is some conflict within us between love and aversion for a particular person we are more likely to dream about them. Often in dreams there may be a noted difference between two of the participants to illustrate two sides of our thoughts and feelings. Similarly there may be a marked contrast in the way we handle a situation with two of our dream characters.
It is as though two options are being practised. As with composite animals, the composite character will emphasize one characteristic or quality in order to draw our attention to it.
The fact that it is not just one person emphasizes the many-faceted human being. Every character who appears in our dreams is a reflection of a facet or part of our own personality and can often be better understood if we put ourselves in the position of that person.
Several people in dream: not feeling lonely; involvement of many aspects of oneself in what is being dreamt about; social ability. Large crowds: enormous involvement of self in issue, one’s relationship or feelings about the social environment one lives in; in groups we have a feeling of being looked at or on view—how we relate to that may be depicted by what we are doing in the dream group. See party; roles.
Example: ‘I was outdoors with a group of people acting as leader. We were in the middle of a war situation with bullets playing around us. Maybe aeroplanes were also attacking. I was leading the group from cover to cover, avoiding the bullets’ (Paul W). Despite feeling attacked, either by external events, or from inner conflicts, Paul is using leadership skills to deal with his own fears and tendencies.
If a friend told us he had just had an argument with his wife and was going to leave her, we might sit down and counsel them by listening and helping them to son out the hun feelings from their long- term wishes. We might point out they had felt this way before, but it passed—in other words give feedback they had missed. In a similar way, our various emotions and drives often need this son of skill employed by ourself. This unifies us, leading to coping skills as in Paul’s dream.
Example: Walking alone through a small town. I was heading for a place that a group of people, in a street parallel to mine, were also heading for.
A person from the group tried to persuade me that the right way to get to the place was along the street the group was walking. I knew the street did not matter, only the general direction.
The person was quite disturbed by my independence. It made him or her feel uncenain co have their leader apparently questioned. I felt uncenain too for a moment’ (Ivor S).
A group of people, as in Ivor’s dream, can also depict how one meets the pressure of social norms. As social relationship is one of the most imponant factors outside personal survival—and survival depends upon it— such dreams help us to clarify our individual contact with society. Human beings have an unconscious but highly developed sense of the psychological social environment. Ivor’s dream shows something we are all involved in—how we are relating to humans collectively. Are we in conflict with group behaviour and direction? Do we conform, but perhaps have conflict with our individual drives? Do we find a way between the opposites? Much of our response is laid down in childhood and remains unconscious unless we review it.
In some dreams, a group of people represent what is meant by the word God. This may sound unlikely, but the unconscious, because it is highly capable of synthesis, often looks at humanity as a whole. Collectively humanity has vast creative and destructive powers which intimately affect us as individuals. Collectively it has performed miracles which, looked at as an individual, appear impossible. How could a little human being build the Great Pyramid, or a space shuttle? The Bible echoes this concept in such phrases as Whatever you do to the least of one of these, you do to me.
(see also Crowd, Famous People)
People usually represent various aspects of yourself, albeit in many cases unconscious: wishes, fears, drives, habits, attitudes and so on.