Interpreting Your Dreams

A woman laying in bed with her hands covering her face.
Dreams may depict feelings we try to avoid. Oleg Breslavtsev / Getty Images

Ever wonder how you can interpret some of the most common dreams? Use our dream interpretation tool to decipher the meaning of twelve universal dreams and their opposites.

Each dream is a mixture of our biological instincts, our cultural assumptions and our own personal experience. As we dream, our brains create stories from these ingredients, sometimes to "replay" recent events, and at times voice concerns that our waking minds are not yet ready to face. These stories are occasionally laced with complicated plots, and sometimes populated with elaborate visual or verbal puns that help us unlock their meaning.


The meaning of dreams is something that has puzzled humankind since earliest civilizations, and several systems for categorizing dreams exist today. Psychologist Patricia Garfield, a leading dream researcher and co-founder of the Association for the Study of Dreams, has identified 12 archetypal dreams that appear throughout the world. She describes these in her book, The Universal Dream Key (Cliff Street Books, 2001). Each of the types has a negative variation and a positive variation.

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