New book about dreams integrates psychology, anthropology, and mythology

A new book on dream interpretation draws on the fields of psychology, anthropology, and mythology to offer readers a rich yet practical resource to explore the meaning of dreams.

Veronica Tonay, a psychology instructor at the University of California, Santa Cruz, and a licensed clinical psychologist, wrote Every Dream Interpreted (London: Collins & Brown Limited, 2003) for beginners and those more experienced with the realm of dream interpretation. It incorporates the latest research findings about the link between waking and dreaming, and it includes a dictionary of cross-cultural meanings of the most common symbols and elements that appear in dreams.

Research supports four theories about the relationship of dreams to waking life, said Tonay:

o Dream behavior reflects waking-life behavior, as Sigmund Freud postulated;

o Dream content reflects preoccupations from waking life, as Calvin Hall asserted;

o Feelings in dreams tend to be those we are unaware of in waking life, as Carl Jung said;

o All parts of dreams reflect the dreamer, as Gestalt theorists believe.

"None of these findings are contradictory--they are each correct about some aspect of dreams and dreaming," said Tonay. "They each speak to a different aspect of the question, 'What do my dreams mean?'"

Those interested in dream interpretation can use dream content to reflect on their behavior, preoccupations, and feelings in waking life, as well as for creative inspiration, to deepen communication with loved ones, and simply as entertainment, said Tonay, who is also the author of The Creative Dreamer: Using Your Dreams to Unlock Your Creativity.

"Dreams are always just a little ahead of what's in our conscious mind, which makes them fascinating on many levels," said Tonay, adding that most people remember an average of one or two dreams per week, and about 60 percent of dreams are unpleasant.

Every Dream Interpreted presents an overview of dream research followed by two sections: Part One answers the most common questions about dreams, including:

o Why are my dreams important?

o How can I remember more of my dreams?

o What kinds of dreams do most people have?

o Are men's and women's dreams different?

o What do flying dreams mean?

o What does it mean if I have the same dream over and over again?

Part Two presents the meanings of the most common dream elements, which are organized into four sections: the natural environment, human characters, the animal kingdom, and buildings and other structures. This section builds on the Jungian idea that symbols hold cultural and cross-cultural meanings and express universal themes.

For example, it is widely known that the snake is a symbol of sexuality and the phallus in psychoanalytic literature, but other cultures view the snake as a symbol of the unconscious, death and rebirth, fear, illness, and annihilation. "The snake has several meanings, but the number is finite," said Tonay. "The question is, 'Which images appear in your dreams, and can you probe their meaning to connect with the unconscious?'"

For psychologists, dreams are a path to the unconscious that can help individuals learn about themselves. "People all over the world and across time have used dreams to add meaning to their lives," said Tonay. "When people find out I'm a dream researcher, they immediately tell me one of their dreams and ask me to interpret it. Everyone is curious about their dreams."


Note to reporters: You may contact Veronica Tonay at or (831) 429-7910.