In the world of interpretation, there is no right or wrong. This is why I prefer the term dream interpretation over dream analysis. To analyze something is to reduce it down to all of its essential parts. From this perspective, there has to be a “right” and accurate meaning of a dream. An interpretation explains the meaning of something, but it is completely subjective. From this perspective, there is no such thing as accurate, there is only satisfying. A dream interpretation that satisfies the dreamer and provides some level of meaning is a home run.
My entire work is based on the fundamental law of universality. Universality has to do with agreement; the more people who would agree about the meaning of something, the more universal that idea is. When I am teaching someone about the principles of interpretation, I put a lot of emphasis of going beyond the personal and connecting with the universal. For example, you might be afraid of dogs (personal) but you know that in our culture a dog is a man’s best friend (universal). The notion that a symbol can be deconstructed down to its most universal meaning can be applied to any image that appears in a dream.
When in doubt, it can be helpful to look toward something’s USE or ESSENCE in order to find a satisfying universal meaning. The use of something applies to its function, while its essence connects to its purpose. These may seem barely distinguishable from each other, but they are in fact different.
Use takes into account what something does and that helps define how it relates to us. A refrigerator keeps a certain amount of space at a specific, desired temperature that is colder than the surrounding space. That is how we use it, taking advantage of the chilly area it creates. Its essence connects to the purpose of a refrigerator which is to lengthen the life of our perishable foods, for which we value it highly.
Both the use and essence of something may need to be examined in the course of interpreting a dream. One or both will always lead you toward the universal meaning of a symbol.
A woman dreams she found someone’s disembodied head in a refrigerator. She decides that the head represents thoughts or ideas that she has not incorporated into your mainstream thinking. In order to discover the universal meaning for refrigerator and further inform her understanding of these images, the dreamer turns to use and essence of refrigerator. The use would tell you the head is going to be kept cold, but that may not provide a good meaning to incorporate into your interpretation. If you go to the essence, to preserve, there is suddenly something interesting to explore. This is now a dream about ideas whose time has not yet come; they must be kept fresh though, preserved for later use.
To further illustrate, take the example of a bomb appearing in a dream. Its use relates to creating sudden, intense combustion. It isn’t until the essence of deliberate destructiveness with an implied target is added to your definition that you have something to work with. If you had a dream that you were carrying a bomb from one place to another, you can now consider both the dangerousness of sudden combustion as well as deliberate destructiveness that the bomb represents. These minute distinctions will pay off powerful dividends when the symbols you are working with are even more esoteric and challenging.
The use of a hat is to cover and protect the head. The essence of a hat is to adorn and express. Therefore the universal meaning of the symbol of a hat in a dream will connect to protecting or hiding private thoughts and/or expressing thoughts indirectly (wearing a hat on the head is what adds the element of thoughts or thinking).