Some dream researchers suggest falling is one of the main themes in dreams. In the sample used for this book, the words fall, falls, fell, falling occur 72 times in 1,000 dreams. The words find, finds, finding, found occur 297 times. And the words connected with looking and seeing occur 1,077 times.
During our development or growth we ‘fall’ from our mother’s womb when ripe; being dropped by a parent must be our earliest sense of insecurity; we fall many times as we learn to stand and walk; as we explore our boundaries in running, climbing, jumping and riding, falling is a big danger, at times it could mean death. Out of this we create the ways falling is used in dreams.
Example: ‘I am sitting in a high window box facing outwards, with my son and a friend of his on my left. I feel very scared of falling and ask my son and his friend to climb back into the building. I feel too scared to move until they shift’ (Trevor N). At the time of the dream Trevor was working, for the first time in his life, as a full-time freelance journalist. His wife was out of work and his frequency of sales low enough to cause them to be running out of money. The building behind him in the dream felt like a place he had worked nine to five —security. Falling was failure, getting in debt, dropping into the feelings of self doubt and being incapable.
In general, then, falling represents loss of confidence; threat to usual sources of security such as relationship, source of money, social image, beliefs; tension. Sometimes it is loss of social grace; losing face, moral failure—falling into temptation; coming down to earth from a too lofty attitude, sexual surrender.
Example: ‘I was on a road which led up to the hospital I was put in at three. I felt a sense of an awful past as I looked at the road. Then I was standing on the edge of a precipice or cliff. My wife was about four yards away near the road. I stepped in an area of soft earth. It gave beneath my weight and I sank up to my waist. I realised the cliff edge was unstable and the whole area would fall. I was sinking and shouting to my wife to help me. She was gaily walking about and made light of my call for help. I cried out again. Still she ignored me. I shouted again for her help. She took no notice and I sank deeper, the ground gave way and I fell to my death’ (Barry 1). Through being put in a hospital at three without his mother, Barry had a deep seated fear that any woman he loved could desen him. His fall is the loss of any sense of bonding between him and his wife out of this fear. His death is the dying of his feeling of love and relationship, and the pain it causes. Understanding these fears, Barry was able to leave them behind in later dreams and in life.
By learning to meet our insecurities (perhaps by using the last question in dream processing) we can dare more in life. This is in essence the same as meeting the fear of falling off our bike as we learn to ride. If we never master the fear we cannot ride. Therefore some dreams take falling into realms beyond fear. The following examples illustrate this.
Example: ‘Near where I stood in the school gymnasium was a diving board, about 20 ft off the ground. Girls were learning to dive off the board and land flat on their back on the floor. If they landed flat they didn’t hurt themselves—like falling backwards standing up’ (Barry I). The school is where we learn. Once we learn to fall ‘flat on our back’, i.e. fail, without being devastated or ‘hurt’ by it, we can be more creative. Going fast to an edge and falling: could mean overwork and danger of breakdown of health.
Example: ‘As I prayed I realised I could fly. I lifted off the ground about 3 feet and found I could completely relax while going higher or falling back down. So it was like free fall. I went into a wonderful surrendered relaxation. My whole body sagging, floating in space. It was a very deep meditative experience (Sarah D). Sarah has found an attitude which enables her to soar/dare or fall/fail without being so afraid of being hurt or dying emotionally. This gives a form of freedom many people never experience. This does not arise from denying or suppressing fears.
Seeing things fall: sense of danger or change in regard to what is represented. Person falling: wish to be rid of them, or anxiety in regard to what they represent; end of a relationship. Child, son falling: see baby; son and daughter under family. House falling down, personal stress; illness; personal change and growth due to letting old habits and attitudes crumble. Example: ‘I was standing outside my mother’s house to the right. The ground in front had fallen away. The house was about to cave in. I felt no fear or horror. Instead I was thinking about new beginnings and the possibility of a new house’ (Helen B). Helen is here becoming more independent and leaving behind attitudes and dependency. See house; abyss; chasm. See also flying.