George Lakoff is a Professor of Cognitive Linguistics at the University of California, Berkeley.
In the Abstract to "How metaphor structures dreams: The theory of conceptual metaphor applied to dream
analysis." [i] he states that Cognitive Science has shown that there is an extensive, unconscious system of
conceptual metaphor that is part of our everyday conceptual systems, and can be thought of as a kind of
language of the unconscious. This system, for the most part, is not idiosyncratic, but defines conventional
modes of thought within a culture and is expressed in the lexicon and grammar of languages. The
unconscious metaphor system, since it structures ordinary thought, also structures dreams, connecting the
hidden meaning of dreams to their overt meanings and images in a systematic way that makes use of what is
important in the everyday life, conscious or unconscious, of the dreamer. Dreams, not surprisingly, typically
express desires, fears, and other important concerns of the dreamer. His, widely supported theory, is that
most dream symbolism makes use of this everyday metaphor system, and familiarity with the system and with
the life of the dreamer greatly facilitates dream interpretation.
You can read more about this in his book Metaphors We Live By (with Mark Johnson) University of Chicago
A more recent book Philosophy in the Flesh written in conjunction with Mark Johnson is an elaboration of
Metaphors We Live By. In it, Lakoff a linguist and Johnson a philosopher, demonstrate how metaphors
structure our culture's concepts. (A classic example is the idea that; "argument is war"; a metaphor that
structures disagreements as a win-or-lose experience with all the associated feelings of battle). It is the most
comprehensive study of metaphor by either writer yet and offers the fascinating idea that metaphor, and
indeed thought itself, arise in the body, not in the organic brain alone. Would this explain the strange
phenomenon of people who have received donor organs suddenly finding themselves craving food and
lifestyles that they never before subscribed to? Could it also explain why we can often recapture the memory
of a dream by returning to the position we were in when we woke?
Copyright JCHarthan (2004)
[i] Dreaming: Journal of the Association for the Study of Dreams. Vol 3(2) 77-98, Jun (1993)