Dream Analysis: Four Ounces Edition

Rudius Media recently added a new website to its canon, FourOuncestoFreedom.com. Written by Jeff and Stein, this site chronicles the lives of Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) participants. Having new writers at the company is great for ShrinkTalk.Net. Not only do I move up the chain of seniority, but (and Jeff and Stein don’t know this yet) I get to toilet paper their houses this Halloween and paddle them mercilessly in a horrific act of writers’ hazing at the company Christmas party.
However, with fun and games comes great responsibility. Jeff’s latest entry discusses a recurring dream that he is trying to understand at a deeper level. As we’ve learned, dream analysis is a highly speculative area of psychology and must be taken with a grain of salt. One dream can be interpreted ten different ways by ten different people, whether professional or laymen, and all of them can have merit. Or lack thereof. With that in mind, let’s give it a go.
Freud said that dreams are the “royal road to the unconscious.” In other words, what’s going on in the deepest nether-regions of your brain will be exposed in your sleep, no matter how unpleasant the thoughts may be. Another way of thinking about this is that our brains are programmed to find meaning in everything that happens to us. We are designed to process information even when we do not want to. This is why we often have nightmares about bad things that happen to us. We often do our best to “put it behind us,” to not think about it. Our brains have other plans and say “fine, if you won’t think about it and process it now, I’ll simply wait until you’re asleep and defenseless. Then we’ll party.”
The problem with dreams is that they often aren’t linear and sometimes aren’t even coherent. They can be symbolic and open to interpretation. Here’s a transcript of Jeff’s dream as seen on his site along with his interpretation:

Once asleep it’s rare that the thoughts of fighting stop there. Most nights I dream of fighting. Very rarely training, almost always fighting in some capacity, be it in a cage, ring, or bar. The locations and situations vary, as do the style of the fights. What doesn’t change, at least not often, is the fact that I can never seem to strike with the ferocity I desire. It’s like I’m swinging through molasses. What’s worse is that in the dream I’m aware of it, but I can’t change anything. Dreams should be an escape and I feel cheated, being overcome with these feelings of futility. I swing for the fences and kick like a mule but by the time I connect I might as well be wiping a smudge of mustard from his chin.
What would Freud say about this? Some low level research says this is a pretty common aspect of dreaming, not punching hard enough or running fast enough, though how common it is to dream it every night is another issue. Clearly I’m obsessed with fighting, it doesn’t take a rocket surgeon to figure that out.

On first glance I am certainly inclined to agree with him on his conclusion: the frequency of the dream shows his obsession and dedication to the sport, while the lack of punching power is symbolic of failure. Taken one level deeper, the frequency and failure reflects a lack of self-esteem because we simply need to be at least reasonably accomplished at what we truly care about if we want to feel good about ourselves.
However, one concept that many people do not consider is that the characters in dreams are not always who they seem. In other words, maybe Jeff is not Jeff in this dream. Could Jeff be the person being hit? The person able to take the punishment without a scratch on him? The guy who is watching his opponent punch and kick in vain? Perhaps Jeff’s subconscious is too confident about fighting? If so his defense mechanisms might try to compensate for this arrogance by having Jeff act humbly and modestly in his conscious life without him realizing it. What complicates this further is that both interpretations could be true: he could be himself in some dreams and the opponent in others.
So what have we learned here? Not much unfortunately. Jeff is suffering from either an inferiority complex, a narcissistic disorder, or he’s vacillating between the two at different points in his life. This is why I don’t do dream analysis: it’s stupid. That being said, Jeff will be getting a bill for this service. Believe me, it has many, many zeroes on it.

(Visited 856 times, 1 visits today)

17 Responses to “Dream Analysis: Four Ounces Edition”

  1. J says:

    I often have dreams about exercising as well- running, swimming, etc. It feels like I’m going fast in all of these, but then I notice I’m not breathing or working very hard so I try to push. This makes me run or swim poorly or awkwardly, decreasing the speed of my limbs.
    I think it has something to do with your brain knowing the physical feelings of exercise- how it feels to run, the impact of your feet and how hard you should be breathing- and when you’re dreaming you don’t get that stimulus so it just feels wrong.

  2. The Great Gazoo says:

    http://psychologytoday.com/articles/index.php?term=pto-4448.html
    I side with this article. I believe dreams are where we try our hand at situations that life may throw at us.
    Our 4oz friend is training in his sleep too. I would recommend occupying himself with something other than training for fighting. Pick up another hobby or something to that effect.

  3. Alex says:

    I have done martial arts myself, and I can definitely sympathize with Jeff on this issue. In the vast majority of my dreams, when I am engaged in a fight, I can never contact with more than a fraction of my full power. The opponents barely realize I am hitting them. Furthermore, just about everyone I’ve talked to says the same thing. I think it is merely a structural aspect of dreaming.
    One explanation I’ve heard involves the REM sleep paralysis. When you actually try to hit something, your body doesn’t respond, and it transfers over into the dream. I’ve also had dreams involving extreme difficulty walking, or even breathing, but not nearly with the same regularity. It’s a pretty interesting and widespread phenomenon.

  4. Joy says:

    So you aren’t the only one that didn’t know that REM does not = dreaming. A recent Psychology Today article talks about a rat experiment with REM/dream deprivation…

    BUT if you go on to the other pages it talks about new research on dreams.. and how dreams may be preparing us for any eventuality in our lives. Check it out, it’s interesting… (MAKE SURE TO GO ON AND READ THE OTHER PAGES THOUGH!)
    http://www.psychologytoday.com/articles/pto-20071029-000003.xml

  5. Joy says:

    P.S.
    I used to have a reoccurring dream as a kid that I was driving a car from the passenger seat.. I was the only one in the car, but for some reason I could not get into the driver’s seat. I never had the dream again after I moved out on my own…What does that say about my childhood? 😉

  6. nosceteipsim says:

    I know exactly what you mean. I used to have dreams like this on a regular basis when I was training in some TMAs. I’d be punching in the dream and it felt like my punches were going, so slowly, through invisible sludge only to land on the opponent and them be completely unfazed…
    For me, once I started training in XXXXX and training consisted of beating the snot out of each other ungloved on a daily basis, the dreams went away and were replaced by dreams where I would hurt the aggressor too much instead.
    This brought on further realisations about training. 1) Opposed to the gloved MMA training we do every day, bare knuckle strikes (obviously) do much more damage -but- with sensible training drills you can ‘inflict that damage safely’ as it were. It gives you a more realistic feel for how good your strikes are and how good you are at delivering them when it counts. 2) you would be amazed at how much damage your body can accept and shrug off, this balances out the fear of what your punches can do both to you and your partner.
    Not sure if this makes much sense, but it struck a chord with me and the bare knuckle drills seemed to help so I thought I’d pass it on…
    Dr. Rob Note: I like your site, great info on it…

  7. Jenna says:

    I think dreams are where escaped neurons pop in our heads and make a picture and our brains try to understand the picture by filling in the rest.
    I guess that could show how you think by how your brain fills in the gaps?

  8. Ricky says:

    Absolutely no experience fighting when I had this dream, but I know the exact feeling of swinging through molasses. I remember the dream so distinctly. I was not only punching soft, but slow. It was kind of like when you do isometric exercises, I was putting so much power into it but it was going so slow it was like nothing. Really odd dream, but I guess this supports the hypothesis of it being more of a normal dream thing to punch/kick slow than meaning anything on a deeper level?

  9. Anonymous says:

    Another lame one!

  10. Wayland says:

    I dreamt once that my power was there in the punch but the person was only slowed down but not stopped and they kept pressing forward. I also had a dream once about gravity switching and stuff. That dreams was fun as all get out. Especially “the jump…”

  11. Jen says:

    I recently had this dream about my boyfriend of six months, he used to heavily smoke marijuana but quit,
    In my dream he had done it with my sister at my deceased grandfather’s house.
    I was really confused after I woke up, I kept thinking in my dream “after all this time I thought he was dead..”
    And I normally have a complex people adore my sister over me.
    In my dream my sister told me she gave my boyfriend, Matt, 3 hits from a joint.
    I woke up pretty angry about it.
    I’m no person to analyze my own dreams, ut I must say, it stems from my fears that he’ll do it again and that it will be in a tangle of webbed lies, it has happened before, just in reality and less of the confusion.
    So I believe you’re completely right about Jeff, it seems like something we avoid thinking about.
    Thanks for your blog man, it’s pretty awesome.

  12. Spook says:

    I want to toss out something that I’m surprised wasn’t guessed at. The dreams theme is likely inspired by his own dedication to the sport, as you say. But it seems to me that the weakness he experiences in the dreams is the result of the real world conditions he’s in.
    While he’s having this dream, he’s paralyzed, or at least close to it. If he can move at all, it’s most likely only very weakly. The weakness in his dream is just this reality being incorporated into his dream. I don’t think there’s any deeper meaning to this.

  13. Miyoka says:

    I have this exact same dream! It’s so weird cuz I do martial arts too.
    There was this one, with these two boys, and they were mad at me cuz of a skateboard, either they wanted it or it was theirs and I broke it. They grabbed me and I tried to get away but I couldn’t, and nothing I did seemed to hurt them and they were so much stronger then me but they shouldn’t have been, or so it seemed in my dream. I finally broke free but all my muscles felt weak and it wasn’t the kind of elbow-them-in-the-face escape it should have been, it was a kind of frantic scrambling terror. They came after me, and I ran away, but they caught up so I started trying to get away, but then I got away, I don’t know how.

  14. cutepiku says:

    I dream regularily about a guy I like, but him being in love with someone else.
    Fairly straight foward, clearly I like him, but lack confidence in if he likes me.
    As a child, however, I had much more whacky dreams. One was when I used to take swimming lessons. I used to dream I’d go into the shower room, and water would fill it up from the drains, and I’d drown. Just before dying, I wake up.
    Or ocassionally, I’d dream my bed would pick-up, and fly to our spiral staircase, where it would fall down the middle, spinning the whole way down.
    Still no clue what they meant, because I don’t fear drowning (I just didn’t like lessons), and.. uhh.. beds don’t fly?

  15. Tippy says:

    I doubt certain types of dream analysis because of course symbols mean different things to different people.

    I might love cows and have these great associations with cows. A slaughterhouse worker would have different associations, I would imagine.

    Then we have the archetypes….meh, maybe.

    I think we dream about what we do and think about during the day, a lot. This idea is behind the lucid dreamers’ practice of asking themselves, several times a day, if they are, indeed, awake or dreaming. They hope to eventually ask that question in their dreams and then ‘wake up” in their dreams.

    Most of us have dream signs, too. If my contact lenses are as big as plates and I can still fit them into my eyes, I might realize that I might bedreaming..or if I can’t get a telephone to work, I might be dreaming…or a light switch to work.

    Have you ever tried flipping a lightswitch on in a dream? Or reading text?

    Am I rambling new agey..*runs and hides* ?

  16. Sarah says:

    I have been having a lot of dreams about my ex lately but one stuck out to me and in this one I was at my ex boyfriend’s house and his whole family and his new girlfriend were there and someone asked if me and him were doing alright not knowing we had broken up because we were sitting on opposite sides of the room and he was with his girlfriend and I told the person how we had broken up and I don’t know who the person was and then I sat on the couch and he laid down on it and the whole time my ex looked miserable and he wouldn’t talk to me And I would like to know what this dream means

  17. Aladin says:

    Just now i woke up from a dream, right after realising i was dreaming, and ending is me trying to punch an opponent running towards me, whilst having real life fighting experience, as i threw a punch, by the moment it would hit him, my hand just slowed down and “waited” for him to dodge. Woke up angry :/
    Do these dreams actually mean anything, or is it just so random, yet so common to have them?

Leave a Reply