Flying is a powerful dream-symbol, according to Sigmund Freud. However, his interpretation of the symbol relies upon his idea of penis envy if applied to women's dreams, making his explanation somewhat suspect, in my eyes. If the crux of the concept were changed such that the woman's dream was more a natural desire toward penetration as a pleasurable event (embracing femaleness) rather than a desire to have and possess a penis (a rejection of femaleness and a desire to be biologically and culturally male), I think the theory would be more valid.

This is what Freud had to say:

"The peculiar property of this member (the penis) of being able to raise itself upright in defiance of the law of gravity, part of the phenomenon of erection, leads to symbolic representation by means of balloons, aeroplanes, and, just recently (in 1920), Zeppelins. But dreams have another, much more impressive, way of symbolizing erection; they make the organ of sex into the essential part of the whole person, so that the dreamer himself flies Do not be upset by hearing that dreams of flying, which we all know and which are often so beautiful, must be interpreted as dreams of general sexual excitement, dreams of erection... (talks about other psychoanalysts here)... Nor must you think to object to this on the ground that women also have dreams of flying; you should rather remind yourselves that the purpose of dreams is wish-fulfillment, and that the wish to be a man is frequently met with in women, whether they are conscious of it or not (penis envy). Further, no one familiar with anatomy will be misled by supposing that it is impossible for a woman to realize this wish by sensations similar to those of a man, for the woman's sexual organs include a small one which resembles the penis, and this little organ, the clitoris, does actually play during childhood and in the years before sexual intercourse the same part as the large male organ."

I have no problems accepting the sexual nature of any dream. I believe that Westerners are rather repressed about sex, despite seeming to enjoy it so much, so that if sex comes up in any form other than something directly sexual (i.e. sex leaves its "boundaries"), it causes discomfort and anxiety - well, in Americans more than Europeans. As a final note: hey, at least Freud knew what a clitoris was - too bad he didn't recognize what it actually did.

Source of quotation: "Symbolism in Dreams" by Sigmund Freud in International Folkloristics, edited by Alan Dundes, Rowman and Littlefield, New York, 1999. The article itself is reprinted from Sigmund Freud, A General Introduction to Psychoanalysis.

One of my all time favorite dreams was one that I had about 5 years ago while in high school. I was flying above a lake surrounded by forest. The reason this dream was so good was due largely to the fact that it was a lucid dream and it was just plain fun to fly.

According to Working With Dreams by Ullman and Zimmerman, some of the possible metaphorical implications for flying may be:

"I feel pleased, satisfied, high about something I have done.
I feel competent, effective, powerful in relation to a recent happening in my life.
I feel special, different, in some way superior to others.
I am surprised at the discovery of some unusual ability that I didn't know I had.
I am sexually potent, my penis is up."


It is estimated that more than one third of those who regularly remember dreams have had at least one flying dream. Creative types are more likely to have these dreams than most others and it has been reported that Olympic athletes have a tendency to have these dreams after (and sometimes before) a winning experience. It is also fairly common for handicapped people to have these dreams.

Flying dreams can be traced back to earliest recorded history (the Babylonians and Egyptians).

From the Flying Dream FAQ:
"Flying dreams are related to the vestibular system, which regulates body equilibrium. With this in mind, lab research confirms that certain physical stimuli that affects balance can induce flying dreams when the subject is asleep (wearing a blood pressure cuff, rocking in a hammock, raising and lowering the bed). In the laboratory, lucid dream subjects have more flying dreams than do nonlucid subjects. As measured by an electrooculogram (record of eye movement), a lucid dream of flying took the same time as the dreamer's account related upon waking."

Log in or registerto write something here or to contact authors.