This article is from a recent lecture and reprinted with the permission of
Hughes, Scott (2001) Your Fantasy and Dream Thoughts are Important. Juarez,
Mexico. Saturday, March 17, 2001
I'm not going to try to dazzle you today with facts from endless publications in
an attempt to justify my viewpoint. I have no "credentials" in the
scientific or psychological communities. I have no degrees to protect. I don't
practice psychotherapy either. So in my theories I can take a liberty with ideas
that others might be afraid to take because of their professional
From the depths of those ideas I presently believe in, I share with you some
of my ideas on fantasy and dream thoughts.
Your mind is filled with ideas. Some of these ideas you identify with. You
decide to 'own'. You believe in these ideas and they are called 'beliefs'. Your
beliefs then generate other ideas. I call those other ideas coming from your
beliefs 'thoughts'. Fantasies and dreams are types of 'thought'. I will start by
talking a little about fantasy thoughts.
On one level, your world-view is composed of fantasies (and what is a fantasy
but a meaningful collection of images described by a story.)
It is widely believed that the contents of your fantasies are unimportant -
that you should fantasize about anything -- it is simply unimportant what their
contents are. I disagree with this viewpoint. This view is an extension of the
belief that there is no real relationship between your imagination and the world
you experience as reality. This just isn't so. There is a magical relationship
between imagination and reality. Many things you imagine tend to seek
The contents of fantasies are the responsibility of the person creating them.
If this responsibility is neglected, a gulf appears between reason and
imagination. Reason loses its firm basis in the imagination, while the
imagination loses the guiding force of reason.
Your imagination is peopled by all kinds of characters playing many distinct
roles. You have many different fantasy selves. They each have their own agendas.
Many will try to materialize themselves, at least symbolically. Without
conscious intent on your part to give them continuity, many of these selves will
just pass into the background of your psyche to be replaced by others.
Fantasy characters each have their own ways of relating to the mental
environments in which they dwell. Some of them resemble people you know in
waking life and some don't. They may instead look like people you have seen in
the media. It can be a little scary facing these images as many of them are
segregated from the usual orientation of your reasoning mind.
There is a tendency to fill out your fantasy characters in your physical
You are inclined to become like certain of those characters you fantasize about
-- whether they are heroes or victims. Other characters you seek to project onto
others. Many of these fantasy selves could help improve your life, but it would
be necessary for you to sort those selves out from the rest. Such sorting is
impossible if you are not taking responsibility for the contents of your
fantasies. If you are not making conscious choices in the creation of your
fantasies, the characters you identify with are probably not going to meet
entirely with your own approval or with the approval of others.
No matter how much of a victim you play in physical life -- in your
imagination avoid this role. Don't imagine yourself a victim of circumstance.
Don't fantasize about being helpless unless it suits your purposes. This is part
of taking responsibility for the contents of your imagination. You aren't just
answerable for your physical life, but also for your mental life for it is from
your mental life that your physical life emerges. If you have been mentally
playing the victim all your life, it could take a while to
retrain your imagination, but as your thoughts change, so will the reality you
Most unexamined fantasies are inclined to lean heavily on the past. This can
lead to feelings of being stuck in the past. Instead, project many of your
fantasies into the future. Use your imagination to create your future. Don't
just meekly accept any old future coming your way.
Use your imagination to improve your self-image. Mentally see yourself as an
important and an attractive person. Avoid relying on others to do this for you.
Trusting others to create your self-image puts you in a weak position. You will
be depending on their conceptions of you. You will count on their visions to
maintain your self-image. In some ways, you are letting them chart the course of
your life. They are telling you how they see you, and you are believing it and
living it. Instead, utilize your own imagination to formulate your self-image.
Your fantasy thoughts are made of your vitality. They are fashioned from your
beliefs. In your fantasies visualize your immediate environment as a part of a
living, conscious world. The objects you see are materialized ideas. Improve
your economic condition from within your imagination. Mentally see your
fantasies filled with abundance and watch this abundance spill out into your
life. If there is a person, place, or situation you don't want to be drawn to,
as much as possible, take them out of your fantasies. Avoid letting them enter
your imagination. Don't be a victim of your fantasy thoughts.
Returning to the subject of dreams…
I don't think any of us need intermediaries between ourselves and our ideas
-- especially between ourselves and our dream and fantasy thoughts. Our dreams
produce hints as to our true purposes in life, while our fantasies show us what
kind of past, present, and future we are mentally constructing.
You learn from your experiences and I think that should include dream
experiences. Socialization is important in your outer development, but
remembering and working with your dreams lets you socialize with your inner
psyche. Plenty of opportunities to learn are available from just remembering
your dream thoughts.
Personal messages to the dreamer
Dreams are generally personal messages to the dreamer. And association is one
of the best ways to uncover what a dream message means. Your dreams generally
apply to your personal life and situation. Today's dreams belong to today's
situations. Your current dream thoughts are connected to your present
One important aspect of dreams is understanding your association of personal
symbols. Take any symbol or situation in a dream of yours and think of what it
reminds you of - this is association. Dwell on an association and let it expand
into other associations. Don't dismiss it. Where is this dream symbol leading
Look for the similarities between the people and situations you see in your
dreams, and the ones you encounter in your physical life. This will help you to
remember future dreams as you will train your mind to create associations
between your physical and dream lives. Your mind will get used to thinking about
dreams during the daytime.
Associate between dream reality and physical reality. One important result of
writing down your dreams is the associations with waking events this brings to
mind. The contents of the dreaming psyche are organized by association. Your
memories are also grouped together through association. As an example: when you
encounter an emotional event and then start telling someone a long story about
something you relate to it. You continue making more associations as the story
grows. You will eventually associate yourself right out of your story and start
talking about something else.
Memories rise and fall in our consciousness through association. Dream memory
helps to increase the scope of those associations. It assists you in associating
to other memories long forgotten often of physical origin.
Dream symbols are different for people of separate backgrounds and beliefs.
This is because they put their subjective worlds together in distinct ways. They
use different ideas. This causes them to associate memories and ideas together
in unique ways.
Many people confine their associations to the physical world. This limits
their associations and hampers dream recall. When you are remembering people and
events, learn to let your associations delve in and out of your dream memories.
The reason I think association is such a powerful tool in dream
interpretation is that when traveling in the dream world you go from one
situation to another situation through association. It is in many ways the dream
world's equivalent of physical time. Dreaming is much like telling someone a
story, except while dreaming you live the story.
The contents of your dreams are transformed as you move through the various
phases of your life. Dream characters come and go. The plots you face shift too.
As the emotional substance of your associations change -- your dreams change
When I talk to others about their dreams, one of my primary goals is to
inspire in them an attitude conductive to dream recall. This is beyond any
interpretation of a dream story.
Dreams are good-in-themselves
Even when your dream thoughts resist interpretation accept them emotionally.
Dreams are good-in-themselves. In a certain manner, many dream images are
perceptions. By remembering your dreams you extend your perceptual field. By
closing them off, you limit your perceptions.
Paths in the study of dreams
Dreams are a great teacher. By focusing on your dreams you will have access
to the inner parts of your psyche. It is a big step to trust your dreaming
psyche, especially if you belong to a culture that discourages this.
There is an inner healer in each of us if we only turn within and listen.
Dream recall in itself provides a certain therapy. It naturally activates the
inner healer. By becoming aware of your dreams and fantasies you learn about
what is going on in your psyche. Writing them down in a notebook is especially
helpful. Then reading back through this notebook re-familiarizes you with your
dream and fantasy consciousness. It familiarizes you with the contents of your
unconscious. No interpretations are necessary.
It can be very taxing following the path of another instead of your own. The
trail through life is never exactly the same for two people. You may have heroes
you admire, but their way isn't necessarily your way. You need to strive to find
your own true path through life. I realize it is hard for many to understand
whether or not they have found a true and meaningful path. By remembering your
dreams and fantasies, you will be provided with many helpful hints as to your
proper route through this world. Your true path is one you have consciously
You have the power of following a path of your own creation or to follow one
of the numberless paths provided by society. Of course, you may also travel
through life aimlessly and not commit yourself to any one trail.
When studying your dreams the question of your proper path is an important
one. There are many books on the subject of dreams. There are many paths
different people have taken in this study. Which is the one for you? Reading
various books on dreams is like reading assorted books by several authors on a
Which books are true and which aren't? The only way to discover this is to
write your dreams down. Go to this faraway country yourself (which is as close
as the next time you sleep), and bring back your own stories. Dream knowledge
will then spill onto the path you are traveling down. It will enrich each of
Also, if you are a student of dreams, don't ignore your fantasies for they
directly influence your future. Writing your fantasies down can be just as
beneficial as writing down your dreams. Take the time to understand the contents
of your imagination. In one manner or another, some of your fantasies are
pursuing physical materialization. Seek the patterns within your fantasies and
change those you dislike. This will assist you in creating a very desirable path
What paths you travel down have a lot to do with what roles you decide to
play. In your dreams and fantasies, roles are played that are never meant to be
played in waking life. Remembering these roles, and learning from them enriches
your life. I have heard it said, you should learn from your past experiences,
but it isn't usually mentioned that you should also learn from your past dream
and fantasy experiences. This learning is much more powerful when you remember
your dreams than when you don't. There is no better way to improve dream &
fantasy recall than to take the time to write down some of them. Learn to
associate dream, fantasy, and waking events together into a meaningful whole.
Divisions of the self
Sometimes I have been seen by others as making to many divisions when I
describe my vision of the self. I refer to waking selves, fantasy selves,
dreaming selves, inner selves and outer selves. It isn't as though I don't have
a different self for every day of the week. Perhaps, ideally people should have
only one unified self without distinctions, but practically speaking, people are
like collages of many selves, some of which are operating more or less
independently of the others. One of the biggest divisions of the self, and one
that is affecting most people, has been the branching off of the dreaming self
from the waking personality.
Many people claim not to remember their dreams, or only to remember a few
dreams, far and in between (often nightmares,) yet modern dream research has
shown most sleeping people dream each night. What happens to those dreams people
never remember? Could it be they have gathered an ego around them similar to the
one we use in facing the physical world? An ego that is used instead to face the
dream world? I would like to claim the inner and outer are one, but this isn't
what most people are experiencing as reality. They are simply not remembering
The inner land of dreams has branched off from the physical world of events.
It is like each person has two separate personalities, living in two different
worlds: a dreaming world and a waking world, and neither personality is aware of
the other. This state of divided forces causes people to dispel much of their
You encounter the deepest levels of your psyche in your fantasies and dreams.
But you must make the effort to believe and trust yourself. You need to take
time amidst the countless physical distractions, the information age presents
you with, to observe your own inner thoughts. These inner thoughts are no
substitute for your own good judgment, but they are important. Learn from the
wisdom of your fantasy and dream thoughts.
You can chat with Scott Hughes online at the ASD Dream E-Study Group,
Cyberdreaming. To learn about the ASD E-Study groups go to http://www.asdreams.org/study
Learn more about Scott Hughes and his work at: