By Lauri Jean Crowe
Almost everyone has had a dream where they were naked, or scantily clad in just their underwear. Perhaps you dreamt you were in school, or in a grocery store or even just walking down the street without a stitch of clothing on your back. Maybe you suddenly found yourself nude on a beach, naked on the bus or up on a stage in your birthday suit. This is a common dream motif, yet nakedness is a complex symbol in dreams dependent on the culture in which the dream occurs and who is interpreting the experience.
Dream motifs arise from a society’s shared beliefs, experiences, fears and anxieties, literally from the hopes and dreams of the people both individually and collectively. As such, these experiences which are fundamental to all peoples, will hold significance dependent upon the culture’s attitude toward them. One populations attitude toward nakedness can vastly differ from another’s.
For example, in Western culture, public nudity is often taboo and in some areas it is even illegal. As such, the attitude of populations in Western culture toward nakedness are often unfavorable.
Dreams, in which nakedness is viewed as an anxiety, can sometimes be traced to our childhood experiences. Such would be the case if a parent taught their child that nakedness and the human body are to be something hidden from the public view, or even more compounded if the parent taught that nudity is something to be ashamed of. Sigmund Freud took the viewpoint that our childhood experiences leave a deep imprint on our minds and that dreams of nudity in an adult are an unconscious longing for the freedom of childhood, free from worry or care.
However, wherever the origin of nakedness anxieties arise for an individual or culture as a whole, the human mind tends to create dreams in flashes of visual imagery which can symbolically represent our individual personal hopes and fears. For one dreamer, a dream of being naked could be a window to the inner self which indicates a fear of sexuality, being exposed or vulnerability and weakness. For yet another, it may have a more positive spin, indicating attributes such as honesty and openness (such as in the cliche “the naked truth”).
Only the dreamer can interpret what their own dreams of nakedness entail. For one person, it will mean that wonderful feeling of being uninhibited, unencumbered, of being free to express yourself as you choose. For another, dream nudity will be a nightmare representing complete exposure of the deepest, most hidden parts of the self.
Dream dictionaries, interpreters and psychiatrists will all offer suggestions on what nakedness means in the dream based on their personal proclivities and schooling. You can go to any modern bookstore and find shelves of books which will tell you that one particular dream motif means one thing or another. However, you must decide for yourself how important underwear are to you, and what it means to be naked in the dream.
Lauri Jean Crowe is a freelance writer known for such diverse topics as dreams, sexuality, gardening, health and parenting. She is a freelance writer, artist and designer living in Michigan, USA.