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UBC Theses and Dissertations

The meaning of transformative dreams Biela, Pamela M.


The purpose of this interdisciplinary study was to answer the question, "What is the meaning of the transformative dream for people who do not experience resolution of their problem immediately upon awakening?". Existential-phenomenology from the perspective of a story was used to describe the meaning of the experience for ten individuals, nine women and one man, whose ages ranged from 23 to 48. From transcripts of the interviews, ten individual accounts of the experience were constructed. These accounts included a construction of the structure of each dream story and its relationship to the person’s description of the experience. Significant statements of the experience were also extracted from the transcripts and formulated into twenty common themes which were then woven into a common story. Each person checked and validated the transcript, individual account, common themes, and common story for any omissions or distortions. The study also included responses to a questionnaire given to psychology students, asking them if they had ever had a dream which revealed a solution to a problem. Out of 305 students, 103 (34%) had experienced one of these dreams. Forty-three (42%) knew the answer immediately, 58 (56%) found the answer later, and two were not sure. These results suggest that the prevalence of dreams which reveal solutions to problems could be much higher than expected. The findings support the general contention that these dreams are preceded by a desire for resolution and a search for answers. The dreams were vivid and emotional with the dreamer alert and actively participating in the drama. People experienced a felt sense of change without understanding the meaning of the dream. The dreams were complete stories with a beginning, middle, and end. The findings demonstrate that viewing these dreams within the context of people's lives is essential in order to understand the meaning of the experience. The description is a beginning and can become the basis for future research on dreams which resolve problems.

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