For many, mothers are founts of love and nurture, while for some they may be a source of bitterness and apathy. No matter one’s relationship with their mother, an encounter with her in a dream is laden with deep insights into the state of our psyche.
Mother figures in dreams are personifications of nourishment, care, affection, and love, likewise denoting inner turmoil and struggle caused by the absence, distortion, or overabundance of these tender aspects in waking life.
As such, parental figures occupy a special position in psychological dream interpretation, and so the implications of an encounter with one’s mother in dreams can best be deciphered with focused reference to psychological perspectives.
Psychological Meanings of Dreams About Mother
Dream interpretation has been well-regarded by psychology. Certain approaches understand dreams as links to the unconscious mind, where we may uncover desires, fears, and parts of ourselves that remain suppressed and neglected.
Moreover, fathers and mothers in dreams hold great significance according to these approaches, as they hold much influence in shaping our minds.
In fact, some of the earliest and most famous works in psychological dream interpretation highlighted the dynamics between children and their parents.
Considering this, the mother figure in dreams has been interpreted as a powerful manifestation of thoughts and feelings related to love, safety, care, and wisdom. Individual circumstances can further supplement their meaning.
For instance, if you have a loving and cherished relationship with your mother, then the sight of her in a dream can be indicative of self-esteem, attention, and the general fulfillment of emotional needs.
In contrast, apathetic and resentful feelings towards your mother can emerge in dreams of her. Dreaming of your mother in this case can instead represent internal conflict, guilt, repressed feelings, or perceived neglect.
Cognitive Foundations of Dreams About Mother
Cognitive processes greatly shape the content of our dreams. These processes include our thoughts, perceptions, and experiences in our waking lives. Formative figures in our lives, such as parents, can substantiate these processes and “drip” into our dreams.
If you often think positively of your mother in waking life, then you may dream of heartwarming interactions with your mother. However, if these thoughts have been hostile, then dreams of your mother may be more likely to have heated interactions.
Cognitive processes can also be organized into mental schemas— patterns of thought that categorize information based on past experiences. Significant figures in life, like one’s mother or father, can often mold these schemas, affecting the content of dreams.
For example, if your schema associates your mother with safety and comfort, then dreams of her can reflect these feelings. However, if your schema associates her with dread or resentment, dreams of your mother can echo anxiety or fear instead.
Further refining the dynamic between our dreams and our cognitive processes, information processing models propose that our brains, even while asleep, constantly make sense of information gathered by our waking experiences
If you’ve recently had an impactful moment with your mother— perhaps a wholesome interaction or a difficult argument— then encountering her in a dream can be the mind’s way of processing the thoughts and feelings rendered by this interaction.
Emotional and Behavioral Aspects of Dreams About Mother
Emotions are fundamental to the formation of dreams. The interpretation of our dreams can thereby provide insights into our underlying emotional state, helping us identify suppressed feelings and subconscious emotional responses.
Dreaming of your mother can be a direct reflection of your emotional state concerning her. For example, if you harbor feelings of love and affection toward her, then these may surface as heartwarming dreams with your mother.
Behaviors, like emotions, can affect the content of our dreams. Our behaviors involve our habits, routines, and daily preoccupations, whose substance can form the elements and experiences we encounter in our dreams.
As an example, if you regularly see or interact with your mother, then you may be more likely to dream of her. If most of your interactions are affectionate, then encountering your mother in your dreams may manifest after positive experiences in your waking life.
However, a strained relationship with her may lead to more unsettling dreams, reflecting underlying tensions or anxieties. These may involve fighting with your mother or even dreaming of them in dire situations, such as distress or even death.
Psychoanalytic and Psychotherapeutic Approaches to Dreams About Mother
Psychoanalysis and psychotherapy are major influences in psychological dream interpretation, proposing that dreams are rich with symbolism and opportunities to explore ourselves.
Parents are prominent figures in psychoanalysis and psychotherapy, with parental relationships being a central concern of these approaches in their early days. Hence, according to these perspectives, dreams of one’s mother overflow with insight.
For instance, the mother figure is interpreted to have profound symbolic value, as she embodies love, care, attention, and dependence. Encountering your mother in a dream can thus signify feelings related to these innate aspects.
However, as maternal relationships can encompass various experiences, emotions, and unresolved issues, other approaches emphasize practical and tailored techniques in understanding the meaning of dreams of your mother.
Dreams About Mother in Freudian Psychoanalysis
Freudian psychoanalysis regards dreams as reflections of repressed desires, hidden fears, and unresolved conflicts. Dreams, in this view, can also denote the surfacing of wishes and internal struggles and frustrations toward ourselves and others.
According to this concept, children experience attraction toward their opposite-sex parent and envy toward their same-sex parent.
Hence, if you’re opposite the sex of your mother, dreaming of her may mean the surfacing of subconscious desires for love and approval. If, however, you’re of the same sex as your mother, then this may indicate repressed resentment or anger.
In essence, your mother in a dream symbolizes your relationship with her, as well as the intense feelings that you associate with her. These feelings may not necessarily be caused by your mother but by certain experiences in your waking life.
For example, a waking experience that has caused you intense shame or insecurity may lead you to dream of your mother. Encountering your mother in this case thereby connotes a subconscious need for safety, validation, and healing.
Dreams About Mother in Jungian Analysis
Jungian analysis suggests that dreams are a way for our unconscious mind to communicate itself. To understand its messages, this approach typically assesses dreams according to archetypes, symbols that reveal insights into ourselves and our experiences.
The mother figure in dreams is thus closely connected to the archetype of the Great Mother, a symbol of nurturing, creativity, birth, death, and unconditional love.
The mother figure, in this sense, is not only the embodiment of love and warmth but also progress and new beginnings, signifying individuation, which is the process of self-realization and self-transformation.
Meeting your mother in a dream can therefore signal a time of transformation, nurtured by positive elements in your life. This dream can therefore reflect the need for further care, as positive changes may be imminent.
Dreams About Mother in Gestalt Therapy
Dream interpretation according to Gestalt therapy sees dreams as projections of ourselves, representing different aspects of our minds and identities. Dreams are seen as a way for us to discover and understand these unrecognized parts of ourselves.
To aid in this process, Gestalt therapy utilizes direct engagement, which involves personally and closely interacting with the content and meaning of our dreams through techniques such as reflection, retelling, and role-playing.
If you’ve dreamt of your mother, Gestalt therapy may encourage you to retell the dream through the eyes of your mother, exploring your subconscious feelings and assumptions toward her as you do so.
As you unravel these feelings, you also expose certain traits and aspects of yourself. For example, if you believe your mother may say something judgmental, realizing this may cause you to delve into the unaddressed traits behind this belief.
No matter the nature of your relationship with your mother, Gestalt therapy provides a range of practical strategies to manage the unaddressed aspects of yourself and your connection with your mother that dreams of her may project.
Dreams About Mother in Cognitive Dream Theory
Cognitive dream theory emphasizes the continuity between our waking thoughts and the content of our dreams. According to this theory, dreams mirror our thoughts, fears, desires, and experiences from our waking lives.
For instance, if you have a tender relationship with your mother, dreaming of her may be a manifestation of pleasant feelings or comforting experiences in waking life. Seeing her in your dreams can thereby be an embodiment of recently felt happiness or relief.
On the contrary, a distant or even hostile relationship with your mother can reflect conflicts or unresolved issues that have stirred while awake. Dreaming of your mother may thereby be caused by real-life experiences that have disturbed or frightened you.
Dreams of one’s mother can be a symbolic embodiment of innate traits, including love, care, and attention. They can also be opportunities to consciously understand the psyche and its aspects related to one’s mother and their relationship with her.
By focusing on the meaning of our parents in our dreams, we prompt ourselves to realize new ways to understand our relationships with them and delve deeper into the state of our minds, opening the way toward self-understanding and growth.
Abraham, R. (1982). Freud’s mother conflict and the formulation of the Oedipal father. Psychoanalytic Review, 69(4), 441. https://www.proquest.com/openview/7eed4f73a586030948a98db684e2c838/1?pq-origsite=gscholar&cbl=1820904
Blum, H. P. (1990). Freud, Fliess, and the parenthood of psychoanalysis. The Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 59(1), 21–40. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/21674086.1990.11927262?journalCode=upaq20
Callaghan, G. M. (1996). The clinical utility of client dream reports from a radical behavioral perspective. The Behavior Therapist, 19, 49-52. https://www.functionalanalyticpsychotherapy.com/FAPdreams.pdf
Cipolli, C., Fagioli, I., Mazzetti, M., & Tuozzi, G. (2004). Incorporation of presleep stimuli into dream contents: Evidence for a consolidation effect on declarative knowledge during REM sleep? Journal of Sleep Research, 13(4), 317–326. https://psycnet.apa.org/record/2004-21174-004
Fordham, M. (2018). Jungian psychotherapy: A study in analytical psychology. Routledge. https://books.google.com/books?id=ELJSDwAAQBAJ&newbks=1&newbks_redir=0&lpg=PP1&dq=&pg=PT42#v=onepage&q&f=false
Hartmann, E. (2011). Continuity? Yes, emotional continuity. International Journal of Dream Research, 4(2), 77–77. https://psycnet.apa.org/record/2011-26292-005
Hill, C. (1996). Dreams and therapy. Psychotherapy Research, 6(1), 1–15. www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/10503309612331331538
Jacobi, J. (1971). Complex/Archetype/Symbol in the psychology of C.G. Jung. Princeton University Press. https://books.google.com/books?id=SLvTDwAAQBAJ&lpg=PA53&ots=qBG1ML9mXI&dq=&lr&pg=PA37#v=onepage&q&f=false
Levine, T. B.-Y. (2012). Gestalt therapy: Advances in theory and practice. Routledge. https://books.google.com/books?id=qdj0ghs4UfkC&newbks=1&newbks_redir=0&lpg=PA89&dq=&pg=PA89#v=onepage&q&f=false
Li, D. & Guo, X. (2023) The effect of the time parents spend with children on children’s well-being. Frontiers in Psychology, 14. https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2023.1096128/full
Luborsky, L., & Barrett, M. S. (2006). The History and empirical status of key psychoanalytic concepts. Annual Review of Clinical Psychology, 2, 1–19. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/6124104_The_History_and_Empirical_Status_of_Key_Psychoanalytic_Concepts
Montangero, J. (2012). Cognitive approach to dreaming. In D., Barrett. & P., McNamara (Eds). Encyclopedia of sleep and dreams: The evolution, function, nature, and mysteries of slumber. Bloomsbury Publishing USA. https://books.google.com/books?id=fEXPEAAAQBAJ&newbks=1&newbks_redir=0&lpg=PT169&dq=&pg=PT169#v=onepage&q=&f=false
Mulyar, A. O. (2011). Importance of dreams in psychoanalysis. GRIN Verlag. https://books.google.com/books?id=QAp_2DkBWuwC&newbks=1&newbks_redir=0&lpg=PP1&dq=&pg=PT9#v=onepage&q&f=false
Nagera, H., Baker, S., Colonna, A., First, E., Gavshon, A., Holder, A., Jones, G., Koch, E., Laufer, M., Meers, D., Neurath, L., & Rees, K. (1969). Basic psychoanalytic concepts on the libido theory. Routledge. https://books.google.com/books?id=YrauAwAAQBAJ&pg=PA64&dq=&hl=en&newbks=1&newbks_redir=0&sa=X&redir_esc=y#v=onepage&q&f=false
Natterson, J. (1993). Dreams: The gateway to consciousness. In G. Delaney (Ed.), New directions in dream interpretation. State University of New York Press. https://books.google.com/books?id=CvXjJk37a58C&lpg=PA41&pg=PA41#v=onepage&q&f=false
Pfister, O.R. (1917). The psychoanalytic method. Moffat, Yard & Company. https://books.google.com/books?id=VY5IsvjLjJwC&newbks=1&newbks_redir=0&dq=&pg=PA416&redir_esc=y#v=onepage&q&f=false
Ruch, S., & Henke, K. (2020). Learning during sleep: A dream comes true? Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 24(3), 170–172. www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/31954628
Rumelhart, D. E. (1980). Schemata: The building blocks of cognition. In R. Spiro, B. Bruce, & W. Brewer (Eds.), Theoretical issues in reading comprehension: Perspectives from cognitive psychology, linguistics, artificial intelligence, and education. Routledge. https://www.taylorfrancis.com/chapters/edit/10.4324/9781315107493-4/schemata-building-blocks-cognition-david-rumelhart
Samuels, A., Shorter, B., & Plaut, F. (2012). A critical dictionary of Jungian analysis. Routledge. https://books.google.com.ph/books?id=tSdaEAAAQBAJ&newbks=1&newbks_redir=0&lpg=PA62&dq=&pg=PA62#v=onepage&q&f=false
von Franz, M.-L. (2017). Individuation in fairy tales: Revised edition. Shambhala Publications. https://books.google.com/books?id=g0hEDgAAQBAJ&newbks=1&newbks_redir=0&lpg=PP1&dq=&pg=PT8#v=onepage&q&f=false