Dreaming of snakes is a relatively common experience and generally produces feelings of distress and discomfort for those who experience it.
In addition to the anxiety these animals usually produce in most people, there is the ominous component of symbolism. This is why many people wonder … What does it mean to dream of snakes? Can Sigmund Freud’s Dream Interpretation Theory tell us anything about this? Let’s see.
Interpretation of dreams and the subconscious
The mysterious nature of dreams is something that has always aroused the interest of mankind, even long before the advent of psychology as a science. Closing our eyes, disconnecting from the world around us and passing without realizing the dream world is a difficult experience to understand. Among other things, because while we dream almost anything is possible; even situations that in the real world could only be attributed to magic or the supernatural.
However, while the dream realm offers a potentially limitless repertoire of situations, in practice most of these visions, stories, or sensations refer to the real, objective world in which we sleep in a bed, chair, or hammock. And that’s why even the most surreal situations with non-humans usually consist of animals that really exist; snakes are an example.
Now … what does it mean to dream about snakes, creatures that appear relatively frequently in dreams and nightmares? Is there an interpretation for this dream experience?
The idea that dreams and nightmares have meaning is mostly linked to the theories of psychoanalysis proposed by Sigmund Freud. According to this neurologist, one of the most influential authors of the twentieth century, dreams are forms of expression through which the contents of the unconscious part of the human mind arise in consciousness disguised as something that they are not. not.
That is, in dreams we would find emotional and repressed content that can only appear under the guise of dream elements. the true meaning is not literal, but must be interpreted as we would interpret any symbol.
What does it mean to dream of snakes?
Knowing what we have seen so far, it is understood that it is common to ask the question of what it means to dream of snakes, with all its variations: the meaning of dreaming of snakes attacking, looking at us, they at us. talk, they ignore us, and so on.
From the orthodox psychoanalytic point of view, these reptiles would be symbolic elements decipher, that is, symbols that express messages that the body sends to the conscious part with which the subconscious is indirectly linked when we dream, when the mechanisms that normally repress the contents far from our consciousness lose their power and relax months.
And as Freud’s ideas were very influential for decades, even among those who have never read the father of psychoanalysis penetrated the idea that in the experience of dreaming of snakes there is a meaning, a meaning. hidden that reveals aspects of our personality or the nature of our traumas, memories, etc.
However, we should rule out the idea that dreaming of snakes has a fixed and very specific meaning, although it may have a more diffuse and abstract meaning. Let’s see why.
The limits of Freud’s work
Freud is widely criticized for coming to conflicting conclusions: on the one hand, he claims to know the general principles of how the human mind works, and at the same time, claims that all of this is determined by the autobiographical history of each person. , especially during his childhood years. Which means their ideas apply and at the same time do not apply to all human beings.
Therefore, even for Freud to dream of snakes would not have a predetermined meaning, but to understand this symbolism, one would have to explore the particular case of each person, because one of the characteristics of symbols is that depending on the context, we can their literally give all meaning.
That said, this flaw in Freudian psychoanalysis does not imply that one cannot ascribe a meaning to the dream of snakes; it just implies that we cannot link it to a very concrete and elaborate message, One that reveals something fascinating about who we are and what our past is, as we will see now.
Snakes and anxiety
If there is a key to understanding what it means to dream of snakes, this is how it is evolution predisposed us to fear these animals.
And the fear of snakes is not something purely learned; biological evolution has made our brains particularly adept at detecting these animals, quickly detecting snake-like shapes and causing in us an almost automatic emotional impact.
It is true that it is possible to enjoy the company of these reptiles, but it is usually the product of a learning process by which we “train” ourselves in the task of tolerating their company; the first option we consider to see these creatures near us is to move away quickly.
So, the snakes that appear in our dreams are a way of capturing anxiety while we are sleeping. At rest we tend to relax more than when we are awake, if there is something in our lives that is worrying us, this anxiety can “filter” our dreams, And will easily produce nightmares or experiences while one of these elongated reptiles is visiting us.
- Freud, S. (1900). Interpretation of dreams. London: Hogarth Press.
- Hoehl, S., Hellmer, K., Johansson, M., Gredebäck, G. (2017). Itsy Bitsy Spider …: Babies react with heightened excitement to spiders and snakes. Frontiers in Psychology, 18. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2017.01710.
- Vedfelt, O. (1999). The dimensions of dreams. Fromm.