The meaning of the dream symbol: Flight

If in a dream you are running away from something or someone, this means you are frightened of and trying to get away from something in real life. It may be something outside you or something inside you. If it is outside you, look within yourself to find a perspective that will dissolve the fear: even fear of death will dissolve if you experience the immortal life within you; fear of 'failure’ can exist only as long as you consider "success" important. If the frightening thing is within you, look it in the face; get to know it and what it wants; and give it a proper place in your life.

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As opposed to floating, Flying represents psychological and emotional power, direction and control. In a dream sense, if we are able to "steer" ourselves through our dream horizon and landscape, we are indicating successful management over the actions we take in waking life. On the other hand, if we are flying out of control, our Unconscious may be warning us that we have gained too much force and upward momentum too quickly. In a myriad of ways we may not be ready to ‘fly’ over life’s obstacles. We may in fact be in for a crash landing. We need to determine what event has caused us to fly, where we are flying, what force interferes with our flying, (if any,) and if we possess the skill and self-determination to land safely.

In such myths as those of Icarus or in dreams, flight is an expression of the desire for sublimation and the search for internal harmony and the resolution of conflict. Such dreams are most common among neurotics who have little capacity to realize by their own abilities their longing to enhance their status. Flight symbolizes in dreams the inability to fly. The stronger that desire, the more the incapability will develop as anxiety and the vain hopes which inspired it change to feelings of guilt. The dream of flying ends in the nightmare of falling. It gives ‘symbolic expression to real life, to real setbacks, and is the unavoidable consequence of a wrong attitude to the real world’. The image of flying is an unreal substitute for the action which ought to be taken. Not knowing what it is, or being unwilling or unable to take it, we look to the dream to realize it by outstripping it. There are grounds, nevertheless, for seeing in the desire or dream of flight not only the desire for independent action, but also the symbol of ascension on the level of thought or morality; but it is an ascension which is more imaginary and erratic than proportionate to real needs or capabilities.

From the psychoanalytic aspect of the symbol, it is odd to think that space flight and projected interplanetary travel - despite the heroism and genius which they demand — may hide the inability of the industrial nations to solve the human problems of economic and social development. Not knowing how to use their vast resources, or unable or unwilling to apply their almost limitless potential to the benefit of mankind as a whole, they take flight beyond the boundaries of Earth. It betrays a collective psychology in which the will to confirm one’s power in the sky compensates for the feeling of powerlessness upon Earth. There is something infantile in this monstrous growth of science: it bears witness to a social structure unfitted to solve problems of its own creation. It is as if it were incapable of assuming responsibility for the control of its own destiny. It revives the myth of Icarus and simply flies from itself when it believes it takes to the skies.