The different way men and women express emotions especially as manifested in their dreams.

 

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As I’ve been preparing to do a presentation to some of the men of the church on the meaning and usefulness of dreams I’ve been focusing on both masculine and feminine experience as they manifest in dreams. Earlier this week I spent some time looking at the differences in gender regarding the experience of emotional events as they are expressed.

Both genders seem to lose their “voice” at a young age. Boys are just as emotional as girls but their expression of it is altered by society over time. What voice am I talking about? Girls lose their masculine voice while the boys learn to moderate their feminine.

Research has shown that a boy’s emotional aspect is often different from a girls. Often the extreme sensitivity that boys feel when younger has been suppressed and demeaned. This can leave a boy feeling as though there’s something wrong with them i.e. broken. This can happen with a girl as well and it leaves them feeling insufficient. In truth we are all born somewhat alike with the primary differences being in how we express that likeness or in how we learn not to from the society we live in.

In a Psychology Today article (Sep 9, 2011) it’s claimed that men dream of other men or men in general more often than women e.g. 67% of characters in a man’s dream are men as opposed to 48% of characters in a woman’s dream being women. Men’s dreams are frequently about aggressive encounters with other men who are typically strangers while women tend to dream of women whom they know or are familiar with.

The article also points out that these different trajectories and content patterns are both biological and socially affected.

In the emotional arena Paul Hudson in June of 2015 as reported by the Elite Daily suggested that men may very well be more emotional (read as sensitive) than females in general. However, the study showed that men just hide these emotions better i.e. men have been taught (usually by society and culture regardless of upbringing) to keep their emotions to themselves. Men are often taught to be ashamed of their emotions and one learns quickly that as a man you can lose acceptance and respect by sharing your emotions.

So how do these differences manifest themselves in men’s and women’s dreams? In an article written by Gabrielle Gresge in Sept of 2017 as reported by Brit+Co a study discovered to no one’s surprise that the top dream topics were sex and intimacy, feeling paralyzed, chased, some future event or about a cheating partner. This is consistent with the nearly 4000 dream stories sent to me for interpretation over the years.

When gender is considered women (35%) reported dreaming of relatives who had died with men showing much less of this. In the area of cheating women treat these dreams as symbolizing the need for some tough decisions where as many as 39% of men take the dream more literally in that they think that they may have feelings for someone else. In my experience with people who have these dreams women experience their male relationship cheating in dreams when they themselves are feeling disconnected as though the romance seemed to have left the relationship.

Another somewhat significant finding suggests that women tend to look for meaning in their dreams at about twice the frequency that men do.

Women in a man’s dream often speak to a man’s lost gentler and more patient or caring side while men in a women’s dream can help bring back certain aspects of their hidden and suppressed masculine nature such as assertiveness and decisiveness.

In this way our dreams come to us as arbiters of our health and well-being. They often bring back aspects of our lost selves and our so-called lost voice so that we can function more healthily and authentically.

4 thoughts on “The different way men and women express emotions especially as manifested in their dreams.

  1. Good luck on your presentation. Dreams are an often ignored subject in modern psychology, which in and of itself is highly symptomatic, especially on a societal level. For dreams represent not only the healing aspects of the psyche’s capacity to mend its own divisiveness, but also the conscious acts we undertake to realize a higher form of Self. Thank you for sharing this great article. Carpe Diem!

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    1. Thanks! And I couldn’t agree more. The field is trying to gain traction through such groups as IASD and their published Journal “Dreaming”. Have you any suggestions on how to enroll a group of men who are slightly left of center politically and who like most of us have learned to moderate their emotions into looking deeper into themselves and sharing what they find? Normally the groups that I present to are 90% women and 10% men. It’s generally more comfortable because they already intuitively understand what I’m talking about and are open to moving deeper. I’ve started a number of dream groups but the men drop out leaving the women of the group to carry on. This presentation will be an experiment for me especially in that I don’t really know what I’m doing (but don’t usually let that stop me).

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      1. I don’t know how politics plays into this, but an invaluable resource and it is something I could even assist with as it relates to men’s groups is the pivotal works written by Robert Bly, the Minnesota Men’s Movement, and the plethora of work written by Carl Jung and other analytical psychologists. Why I do not believe politics is at play here is that as humans, we need to learn how to transcend the divisive nature of consciousness as a way to realize Self versus ego development. This forms the basis from which dreams arise, acting as a healing agent to the psyche, and are in no way dictated by left or right ideologies, lest they find themselves imprisoned by ego constructs versus a more realized state.

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  2. Wouldn’t a person’s political expression reflect the state of their psyche? Wouldn’t any conscious position or belief be a projection of the ego and wouldn’t this ego be subject to the unconscious material they’re hiding and refusing to acknowledge? And given that a lot of this material is riven with fear wouldn’t this person be extremely hesitant to dig down into it? This is what I want to overcome, the fear of going beyond the mask.

    Thanks for the Robert Bly reminder. But the mythopoetic movement tended to think of gender differences as being hardwired and though I believe that this is partly true I also believe that much of these differences are culturally influenced and learned. I’m not really interested in cultural gender roles. I am also not sure that I personally want to recover the pre-industrial masculine role as I recall Bly encouraging us to do in the workshops I attended. Though I do remember that there were those in the movement who embraced a less toxic masculinity than what is presented these days (though I found Bly himself to be a bit toxic).

    Jung’s delineation of masculine and feminine traits and the marriage of these traits into a psychic whole is more where I’m headed. Men acknowledging the feminine within while maintaining the more positive aspects of the masculine is more where I am these days. Also some of the Native American rituals as presented by men in the movement such as Michael Meade were fascinating and inspiring. Storytelling was a focus of some of these workshops I attended that I think I’ll look into again especially since the sharing of dreams is the telling of ones story.

    Thanks again.

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