Dreams exaggerate. A lot. Exaggerated comparison is used in many metaphors and other devices of story, language, and literature, and when you learn to notice it in dreams you are likely to see it used. A lot! For example:
- A fear of social situations, for example, can be exaggerated into a scene of running from a horde of zombies. When viewed that way, the fear is not only more obvious, it’s humorous. Run for your life!
- A need for perfection can be exaggerated into a scene of picking at a small flaw in your face until it grows into a bloody crater. It’s a fitting comparison and adds a touch of drama.
- An earthquake rattling your home could symbolize news that rocks your world. The bigger the news, the bigger the earthquake. An earthquake is a disaster that kills and could potentially impact millions of people, so it’s exaggerated in comparison with a personal situation.
Exaggeration is often found in how dreams portray something, such as when your parent is depicted as 30 feet tall, symbolizing the respect you have for the person. Or your head is shown as big as a beach ball, a way of saying you put too much emphasis on intellect.
Exaggeration blows things out of proportion to be more noticeable. The purpose is to create memorable dream symbolism that also captures the dynamics of your thoughts and feelings, and to portray events, situations, and circumstances in your life. More about that below.
When confronted by ridiculous and impossible dream imagery and discrepancies with reality, look for exaggeration. Think like a storyteller. Work backward and ask yourself why the dream uses that storytelling device. What is it really saying?
To Exaggerate or to Amplify
Dreams zero in on your personal illusions and blind spots. When the ego is out of balance, dreams compensate by putting more weight on the other end of the scale, and it can show in exaggerated dream imagery. Your dreaming mind knows how to push your buttons. And it knows that exaggeration gets across the point and grabs your attention. Exaggeration can be a dream’s way of countering when you minimize or avoid something, especially emotions and uncomfortable facts. We call this amplification when the point of its use in a dream-story is to draw attention to something. Otherwise, think of exaggeration as a way of creating memorable dream symbolism.
Be sure to read the chapter on amplification:
This lesson is short compared with other lesson in D3, but it’s one of the most important for understanding symbolism and story narrative. Exaggeration is one of the two primary ways dreams create symbolism (the other is comparison). And its use in narrative suggests that the dream is deliberately drawing attention to something.