Dreaming as “A life experience”: A qualitative investigation in psychosociocultural context


Dreams are one of the realms of psychology and psychotherapy. In addition, people's dream experiences and interpretations are highly influenced by individual, social and cultural contexts. A qualitative study was designed to examine in detail how meaning is given to the dream experience in Turkish society. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 16 adult (9 female, 7 male) participants who were not mental health professionals. The data was analyzed using Reflexive Thematic Analysis and within a critical-realistic framework. From the common narratives of the participants, three themes were developed under the overarching theme of Dreaming as “A Life Experience,” namely (i) Changing Meaning: “[Dreaming] Is Unique to Each Person,” (ii) “The Day After the Dream” and (iii) Dreaming as a Therapeutic or Spiritual “Guide.” It was observed that the participants interpreted dreams as an experience that reflects physical or environmental conditions, the daily life and inner world of the person, the social and cultural structure and processes of the society in which they live, and may also include a spiritual experience. In addition, the participants evaluated waking and dream life as experiences that are often directly related to and affect each other. In clinical and psychotherapy practice, dream assessment can be used as a helpful resource for examining people's life experiences. However, it is recommended that these examinations and dream studies be conducted by taking into account their social/cultural contexts. In this context, the meanings that people give to dreams in different cultures and societies should be examined.


Dream, social/cultural context, dream-waking life continuity, qualitative research, reflexive thematic analysis
How to Cite
Gülay, S., & Uysal, B. (2024). Dreaming as “A life experience”: A qualitative investigation in psychosociocultural context. International Journal of Dream Research, 17(1), 68–86. https://doi.org/10.11588/ijodr.2024.1.102410