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The Complete Dream Book Paperback – October 1, 2001

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About the Author

Gillian Holloway has a Ph.D. in psychology and has been working with dream analysis for more than 20 years.She teaches college courses in Dream Psychology, Nightmares and Intuition at Marylhurst University in Portland, Oregon. She lives in Vancouver, Washington.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

Excerpt from Chapter 1

The Dream You Can't Forget
The dreams in this chapter include themes that are reported to me most often and answer questions that many have asked. Although there are individual variations of these themes, I've included and commented on the general interpretations that are most often meaningful. You will probably recognize several of these dreams as identical to or very similar to your own. This doesn't guarantee that you are going through identical experiences as the dreamers in my practice and database; however, it is likely that some of the same stresses are impacting you or that your own high standards or particular set of coping strategies may be accentuating certain aspects of your experience.

With respect to these modern dreams, folkloric interpretations tend to present confusing explanations that don't hold true for large numbers of people. (Many people have heard, for example, that dreams of losing teeth mean that a member of your family is about to die.) Psychological interpretations borrowed from early psychotherapists tend to focus on potential symptoms of illness or dysfunction. The approach offered in this book is different in that we start with commonly reported themes; the life situations of the dreamers who reported them; and the stresses, feelings, and hopes they experienced. Where certain factors are consistent, I've formulated interpretations that have been widely endorsed by students, clients, and research participants.

Each dream in this chapter is like a road sign with a somewhat universal meaning. Some of those signs say, "Slow down, you're working too hard," while others say, "Draw the line and stand your ground." Understanding your dreams is often a matter of reading these signs and considering what they imply in your situation. By recognizing what parts of our lives and feelings are reflected in our dreams, we become better able to cope with challenges and use opportunities to greater advantage.

Each of these classic dreams is described as it is most often reported, followed by an explanation of what it means. Don't be disturbed if your dream is slightly different. After you read the information on the dream, the significance of any differences you notice between the dream described and your dream will make intuitive sense to you. Try on this information as you would a hat: decide how it looks and feels to you and don't let it obscure your point of view.

It is important that you maintain your authority to gauge how well any interpretation matches your situation and feelings. While the most probable meaning of each dream is given, you remain the ultimate authority on your own life-your case may be different. Most people have no trouble discerning when an interpretation makes sense to them because they feel astonished, excited, or relieved when an explanation is accurate. By keeping an open mind and trusting your common sense and gut reactions, you will get the most from these descriptions.

Unprepared for the Exam
It's a familiar theme for many people. You go into an examination room for a test, such as a high school or college final. Upon opening the test materials, you realize that through some crazy mix-up you registered for this class but completely forgot to attend any of the lectures. It's too late to do anything about it and explaining what happened is out of the question. Who would believe this kind of oversight?

Strangely enough, people who dream of being unprepared for an exam are actually the folks least likely to go into any arena unprepared to excel. For that reason, I sometimes refer to this as "the overachiever's nightmare." It is common for both men and women, usually between the ages of twenty-five and fifty-five. People who have carved out high-profile careers and those who have high standards of excellence in what they do are those most likely to have this dream sporadically throughout adulthood. This theme often arises when an individual moves forward into a higher level of performance or takes on responsibilities that increase what he expects of himself.

Since this person rarely fails at what he does, the dreams are not warnings of impending mistakes. Instead, they illustrate how accountable the dreamer feels for the success or failure of the projects around him. This theme dramatizes the individual's belief that performance is crucial to achievement and preparation is necessary in order to perform well in situations that test your knowledge and judgment.

This perspective is realistic and works well in life; however, there can be an edge of anxiety present beneath the high performance. Sometimes this person expects too much of himself, for instance, feeling he should know the answers to material he has never studied. Although real-life situations bear little resemblance to the examination chamber of these dreams, positions of responsibility, promotions, and other spotlight situations tend to catalyze this dream.

This dream can act as a barometer of internal pressure. As someone who handles numerous tasks well, you may not always know when to say "enough already." The no-win scenario of the test can let you know when you feel you've signed up for too many things at once. Since you set yourself up for dramatic high-pressure situations, you also have the option of taking a more moderate approach to your accomplishments. You are probably so far ahead of the pack that no one will even notice the difference if you set your sights on being a happy mortal instead of a frazzled superhero.

Not Enough Credits to Graduate
You are called back to high school or college because it's been discovered you missed a particular course and have to make it up immediately. This discovery places your status as a graduate in jeopardy and could also nullify your other credentials. Ultimately, your job and entire lifestyle could be at risk. Feeling a keen sense of frustration and embarrassment, you plunge into school again, wondering how things like this happen and hoping you can clean it all up before anyone finds out.

Men and women both have this dream; however, it is most common among people between the ages of thirty-five and fifty who have a definite career focus. This is a dream about progress and the factors that make it tougher to get into the arena where you really want to operate. The graduation represents crossing a mental threshold into another level in your career, a different sort of relationship, or a more satisfying lifestyle. The thing that really blocks the progress is a lack of credit, which translates into lack of awareness of past accomplishments. This dream is particularly common to highly creative people who secretly feel their gifts are flukes and fail to realize they have earned and are entitled to the results of their efforts.

Maybe you do not truly give yourself credit for significant accomplishments and knowledge. There may even be some area in which you hold yourself back by doing tasks or staying with experiences you have already outgrown. Although you are likely a risk-taker who can summon the enthusiasm to meet a challenge, it's possible that you come across as much more confident than you really feel.

When we are striving toward a goal, there is often a particular thing that we would prefer not to address or some aspect of our lives that we resist changing. It is almost as if you would do anything but that one thing in order to fulfill your goals. This is a time to open up and become willing to do the things you've avoided so far. Use this dream as a checkpoint, like a thirty-thousand-mile tune up, to realistically update your position and options. It's time to dwell not only on your accomplishments, but also on the purpose, passion, and desire that motivate you to graduate to bigger and better things. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.


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Product Details

  • Series: Complete Dream Book
  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Sourcebooks, Inc. (October 1, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1570717087
  • ISBN-13: 978-1570717086
  • Product Dimensions: 7 x 0.7 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (80 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,574,540 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

I grew up in a rural setting, surrounded by the best of the everyday world. We lived on property that adjoined the McKenzie river in Oregon. I lived in a messy but idyllic world of horses, dogs, kittens in the barn, and long rainy seasons by the fireside where I fell in love with books. These early passions are still my foundation. The most important truths I know come from nature and from our collective wisdom and wanderings.

I was a fantastic student in early life, and a fairly unimpressive one in college. I could seldom find a place to park, and this mirrored my frustration at feeling there was essentially no place for my gifts and perspective. I settled on pretending to be content--that seemed the best bet, given that actual happiness and fitting in appeared to be out of the question.

Mythologist Joseph Campbell said that we must be attuned to happy accidents in our lives because they often lead us into the life we were meant to live; not the life we have settled for, or strategically selected: the life we were meant to live. That gentle truth should be etched in every mirror so that when we see ourselves, we also see our possibilities.

While studying psychology in graduate school I began attending dream-sharing groups. We discussed the dreams we remembered, brainstormed about what they might mean, and then zeroed in on the beating heart of the questions that really mattered to us in the moment. I drove home each week from those groups feeling as if my soul had been washed and air-dried in a summer breeze. We did not always find perfectly tidy answers, but we did something far more important: we asked the questions that really mattered. There, I found the language of my unique, messy, non-judgmental, x-ray vision soul. My habit of looking into and through, rather than "at" things was no longer a learning disability, it was a gift. The off kilter way that dreams reflect life, without obscuring the interconnections, the spirit, and the meaning of events, this is the way I think and feel. Essentially, through a whim of exploration, a happy accident, I found my life.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

93 of 96 people found the following review helpful By Harold McFarland HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICE on March 31, 2002
Format: Paperback
Got a dream dictionary and find it useless? Think using a dream dictionary is like trying to form a cohesive picture from a thousand-piece jigsaw puzzle where all the pieces are cut exactly the same? The Complete Dream Book takes a different angle on dream interpretation.
Based on a database of over 18,000 dreams, the author provides real-life interpretation of common dreams. There are common dreams that occur during certain stages of life, at certain ages, and during certain changes and situations.
This book looks at these common themes in dreams and what they mean to the dreamer. While she does cover common dream symbols such as cars, houses and the like, the fascinating part of the book is the common themes (can't get your locker door open or finding an new room in your home or finding a treasure, for examples).
This is the most useful and pragmatic dream interpretation book that I have ever read and I found myself regularly commenting about how appropriate an interpretation was for a particular dream of mine.
Kudos to Gillian Holloway for what has to be one of the most useful dream interpretation books on the market today.
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47 of 50 people found the following review helpful By O. B. Mugnier on August 16, 2004
Format: Paperback
This is a very accessible, yet deeply significant book. I have been interested in dreams for as long as I can remember, but I never truly understood them, for they always seemed so weird and random. I've read many books on dreams and many dream dictionaries, and always found them disappointing and unhelpful, as they never seemed to pertain to my life. Gillian Holloway's book is different - not only does she offer contemporary explanations for what your dreams might mean, she gives you the tools necessary to learn to understand them so interpreting them yourself becomes easier with time. She believes that dreams are messages from our subconscious mind, and that if we learn to understand the language, we can become better in tune with our true selves. This book has made a profound difference in the way I perceive my dreams. I have begun to recognize the symbols in my dreams, and have learned how to apply the meaning to current problems or situations in my life. I would recommend this book for anyone interested in dreams and anyone who wants to become better connected with their inner selves.
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36 of 38 people found the following review helpful By mirau on April 29, 2004
Format: Paperback
I greatly enjoyed The Complete Dream Book. (...)I have read many, many books about dreams and dream analysis and can confidently say this book is NOT a typical "dream dictionary," and it is NOT a "similar treatment" of the subject. Holloway takes the unique approach of starting from the dreams themselves and from the dreamers' lives. Finding correlations between dream life and waking life validates her interpretations, which often differ in surprising ways from "traditional" interpretations and make a great deal of sense.
This book helped me make sense of three different recurring dreams I have had throughout my adult life, and helped me make connections between them. It also helped me understand a particularly significant, but puzzling dream I had recently. I consider my dreams a spiritual gift which have greatly enhanced my understanding of myself and my life. They have also aided the work I do to honor and develop my intuition. The Complete Dream Book has increased the depth of my understanding and has taken me further along the path to self-knowledge.
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42 of 46 people found the following review helpful By Amy Greenblatt on October 17, 2001
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I like this book and its subject matter. I was a contributor of dreams to Dr. Holloway's Lifetreks website for four years. This book is a distillation of the most common themes, patterns and interpretations of the thousands of dreams collected from the site. The author has a background in psychology and has been teaching people and working with their dreams for many years. The book has practical tips for noticing what your dream is trying to tell you and common sense suggestions about what to do once the message is understood. You learn which myths people have about dreams are true and which are not, and which dreams are more common in different age groups and to which sex. Dream messages often reveal imbalances, feelings about people or situations, and personality styles. My favorite parts of the book are the frequent, gentle ways in which the author teaches the dreamer to recognize his or her own talents, interests, potentials and strengths, and use them in order to meet workday challenges and to feel more happiness. "The Complete Dream Book" is an excellent book, as good as any by Patricia Garfield, another very wise dream author I would recommend. The only criticism I have is with its title. How can this subject ever be complete?
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18 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Bob Lancer on October 11, 2001
Format: Paperback
Dr. Holloway has written a book that is surpisingly important. I use her insights into the meaning of dreams to understand my own and make positive changes in my life. For instance, I dreamt of speaking with a tooth falling out. I learned in her book that can indicate I do not feel good about something I have said. I'm a writer. I had written a chapter in a new book of mine that I did not feel right about. I went back and fixed the chapter. She not only presents incredibly accurate interpretations of the meaning of your dream experiences, but how to use that meaning to better understand yourself and grow past limitations. No home library is complete without this one!
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