The Origins of Dream Interpretation

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Scholars are not sure where or when the origins of dream interpretation began or how long dream analysis has been carried out. It is probably a good bet that the interpretation and analysis of people's dreams has been part of society in one form or another as long as we have been having dreams. Early man must have found dreams to be both frightening and fascinating and must have been confused by this bizarre manner of consciousness. It is clear that many ancient civilizations placed great significance on the events occurring in dreams as well as the possible meaning of these dream-state events. These interpretations were used to help shed light on the events that occurred in their waking lives. This paper briefly reviews the history of dream interpretation, from early civilizations to psychological theories to modern biologically-oriented theories. Information about early dream interpretation comes from several different sources: Mesopotamia The people of Mesopotamian (now Iraq) left behind some of the earliest pictographic writings dating back to approximately 3100 B.C. (Oppenheim, 1956). By 2700 B.C. they also used a cuneiform writing type consisting of marks on clay tablets and cylinders. It is in these writings that the earliest recorded notions of dream interpretations occur. The king Gudea, who ruled around 2220 B.C., had several dreams preserved that tell the story of a puzzling dream he had and his quest using a goddess's help to understand its meaning. This is one
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