Right at the outside let me mention that dream analysis is NOT a queer kind of activity that has nothing substantial to contribute towards academic scholarship. Nothing can be further from truth. It has enormous importance towards unfolding the nature of the Human Sciences that the German Philosopher Wilhem Dilthey, among many others, tried to unravel. They emphasized upon the historicity of understanding, a notion that becomes central in the enormously influential book "Truth and Method" by Gadamer , a student of Heidegger and who wrote extensively on Philosophical Hermeneutics.
DREAMS HAVE MEANINGS AND THE MEANINGS ARE PERSONAL. This contains in a nutshell the philosophic or academic interest of the dream phenomena. For it immediately points out that in dream studies we are NOT concerned with impersonal and universal laws in which that particular dream experience is an instantiation like the rocket heading towards the moon exemplifying the truth of a set of physical laws. The statistical studies of dreams try to reduce dreaming experience to something like that and in that fail to understand what dreams are per se. Dreams have MEANINGS and unless we get at the meaning we don't understand them at all no matter how sophisticated the electronic gadgetry assembled in the laboratory to study the peripherals of dream occurrence.
And therefore we have to attend to the person as an UNIQUE INDIVIDUAL and not simply as a respondent in a sample who contributes some points for statistical analysis. No , he is NOT SIMPLY A SUBJECT but rather an individual with a UNIQUE problem of his own by which he demands UNIQUE attention. We have to unravel the meaning of the dream that is unique to him but about which he is confused , uncertain etc. The interpretive procedures CLARIFY the meaning to him and when he attains the sought out clarity the dialogue ends. Thus the dreamer becomes the AUTHORITY for the correctness and VALIDITY of the interpretation. The interpretation is valid when it clarifies the dreamer. And in this we are NOT appealing to Laws of Nature or anything like that as we do in physics. The individual becomes the SOLE AUTHORITY for the validation of dream interpretations !
Now if there are no universal laws that we look for in dream interpretation studies, how can it called a scientific enterprise, a systematic study of the truths of nature? Well we may not be searching for universal laws but that does not mean nothing universal in such studies. For as we range over a large numbers of dreams, it emerges as an empirical fact that there are RECURRENT THEMES of enormous interest for understanding the COMMONALITIES of Human Nature as such. The themes may be something similar to natural events: deaths, births, calamities, floods, rains and so forth or something unnatural and bizarre : flying like a bird, finding a golden mountain, receiving a diamond as large as the Himalayas and what not. Such themes can be CLASSIFIED just like the botanists classify scientifically the plants of the world where attention is paid to the structural elements. There are features that serve the identity of the theme and hence the dream. These are the ilakkaNam of Indian Logic and because of which the dream becomes an ilakkiyam, a TEXT or literature.
Now among these themes some are RECURRENT , they occur as common in the dreams of many people pointing out to a COMMONALITY in Human Nature despite the racial , religious, linguistic and other differences at the sociological and political levels. Commonness of dream themes means commonness of individual meanings and individuals aspirations, desires wants and wishes. This commonness replaces the depersonalized universal scientific laws as the scientific concern in dream interpretation studies and other human sciences related to it.
But that is not the end of the scientific studies of dreams. Having identified the themes and through that the common, there is another important issue now , that of DREAM FABRICATION, concern with the productive processes that crystallize a dream as a TEXT that is meaningful to the individual. With this begins a chemical analysis like a molecule being analyzed into the atoms and their configuration and we end up something like the TATVA theories of various sorts so prevalent in the Indian philosophies and which ultimately ends up with mantra complexes of various sorts. So far such ideas remained outlandish and bizarre against the essences of Western sciences. But with the advent of Cyberspace along with computer science, this is NOT STRANGE and bizarre anymore. For we can see an analogy between dream texts and softwares, each dream theme is a software which when loaded into computer ( the human psyche) crystallizes certain presentations (dreaming experience) but each of which are a complexly organized computer language programs( mantra complexes). Cyberspace is actually the Mantra Space in its physical presentation.
The Dravidian folks as inheritors of Mantrayana and Asians in general whose culture has been Mantra orientated for millenniums should seize upon these similarities and recover the hermeneutic scientific foundations of their culture , which I think, the world needs very badly as an antidote to the impersonal and largely technological culture of the West.