With the threat of nuclear war hanging overhead, it is not surprising that our dreams might reflect this source of anxiety. In fact, reports peace psychologist Randy Morris, Ph.D., many children in our country, not to mention in other nations, have had nuclear imagery in their dreams. Are such dreams simply another example of how daily anxieties are reflected in our nighttime ruminations? Possibly, but Dr. Morris offers another explanation. "Could it be some kind of collective survival mechanism to come as close as possible to experiencing, in order to reject, our self-destruction?"
"I believe," he states, in answer to his question, "that nuclear nightmares represent an impulse on the part of this collective psyche to confront directly the horror of nuclear war, literally, to 'imagine the unimaginable,' and by so doing to take the first step toward healing this festering rupture in the family of man. These dreams, as expressions of pure emotion, have the power to motivate people to work in new ways for peace movement." Dr. Morris notes that the threat of nuclear war is increased by the number of people who simply cannot imagine that it would ever happen. Nuclear nightmares tend to be very "real" in their feeling, and thus may be a natural counterbalance to the ostrich syndrome.
Anyone who has had a nuclear nightmare, or any kind of dream involving nuclear imagery, is invited to write a letter to Randy Morris, Ph.D., Hiroshima International School, 2-2-6 Ushita-naka, Higashi-ku, Hiroshima 730, Japan, leave a message in ANECDOTAL PSI or PREMONITIONS REGISTRY.
A healthy adult goes to sleep at night but then never wakes up. The medical examiners can find no cause of death? What happened. No one knows, but it happens enough to have earned a name, "sudden death syndrome," and to warrant having the Atlanta Center for Disease Control monitor the incidence of such cases. One population group, Laotian refugees, has a higher than average mortality from sudden death syndrome. Dr. Joseph Jay Tobin, reporting in the American Journal of Orthopsychiatry (July, 1983), presents a case study that leads him to suggest that this phenomenon may be suicide by nightmare.
The patient was a male refugee from war-torn Laos, who had been recently relocated with his family to their own apartment in an American city. Shortly thereafter, the man complained of difficulty sleeping. He reported nightmares in which something (once a cat, once a dog and once a woman) came to him in his bedroom, sat on his chest and tried to prevent his breathing. Dr. Tobin arranged for a Laotian healer to perform a "spirit cure," which was consistent with the patient's world view. Afterwards, Dr. Tobin investigated further into the patient's background.
Examination of the patient's history revealed that he was suffering from "survivor's guilt." This post-traumatic malady, first identified in survivors of the Holocaust, combines depression and paranoia with the nagging feeling, "why was I saved when so many others died?" Dr. Tobin also discovered that among South Asian persons there is the belief in something akin to "voodoo death," called banqunqut, or "Oriental nightmare death," in which a person is believed to be killed during sleep by a spirit which squeezes out the breath. Apparently a similar belief was held in Europe during the Middle Ages. At that time, the name, "incubi" was given to the presumed spirit, from the Latin word for nightmare, incubus.
Previous medical research has indicated that heart attacks can be precipitated in dreams and that certain psychosomatic disorders can be dangerously aggravated during the sleep state. Other research focusing on the healing potential of dreams, nevertheless receives indirect support for the physical potency of dreams by the suggestion that they might also be a vehicle of death.
Major surgery is a harrowing experience, a trauma to the personality, for the person submits their life, while unconscious under anesthesia, to the operation of other people's hands upon their vital organs. The most critical aspect of the surgery experience-the operation itself-seems beyond the reach of the patient's personality to integrate, as would be needed following any traumatic experience, because of the anesthesia. Patient's occasional reports of "witnessing" their operation, and statements, by psychics such as Edgar Cayce or philosophers such as Alfred North Whitehead, that the mind never sleeps, that it registers everything, would suggest that despite the anesthesia, it should be theoretically possible for the post-operative patient to regain access to the surgery experience so that it could be digested and the recovery made more complete. Dr. Paul W. Pruyser, of the Menninger Foundation, reporting in the Bulletin of the Menninger Clinic (June, 1983) suggests that such an integration of the surgery experience may occur through a dream!
Dr. Pruyser writes about his experience undergoing emergency, triple coronary bypass surgery and how his recuperation was helped by a dream he had five days after the operation. In his dream, he visits a little-known, secluded part of the hospital grounds, a ruins site from the 19th century, where he encounters a heavy metal door. The door opens with eerie creak and he enters a dimly lit cave. He finds three strange, two-story, cubical habitats, each with leaky and rusty pipes meant to furnish heat to the inside from a centrally located, old-fashioned wood-burning cook stove that was very dilapidated.
When he awoke from this dream, he reports that he felt elated and immensely satisfied, because, in his own words, "my mind had found access to an experience I was not supposed to have undergone at all because of the total anesthesia." He believes, for example, that the creaking of the door was actually the sound of his rib cage when it was opened by the surgeon. He provides background information to develop an interpretation of the details of the dream, which in essence refers to his confrontation with his heart and its clogged arteries and with his ancestral history of coronary deficiency. More generally, he ascribes to his dream an act of restoration of the integrity of his personality-"a guarantee of the continuity of selfhood"-after being the threatened by his near brush with death. The ability of dreams to spontaneously provide this otherwise missing ingredient to total recovery deserves further investigation. (Author's address: Menninger Foundation, P.O. Box 829, Topeka, KS 66601).
What happens when a group of people attempt to dream about the same thing? The December, 1983 issue of Omni Magazine reports the work of Henry Reed (DreamNet Sysop) on an intriguing approach to studying the psychic potential of dreams. A group of dreamers would be gathered together, he would introduce them to a stranger said to be suffering from an undisclosed problem, and ask the group to dream for this person, to see if they could dream up a solution to the person's problem. In the morning the dreams were analyzed, the person's problem was revealed, and the pieces of information from the several dreams were pieced together to develop a solution. Most of the dreams evidenced psychic information in the dreams. Pooling the dreams enhanced the visibility of the psychic effect. Having a good reason for dreaming telepathically seems to increase the probability of psychic material in the dreams. For further reading: "Dreaming for Mary, "Sundance Community Dream Journal, #3 (See Mail Order Services).
For a "hands-on" guide to the "New Dreamwork" see the October, 1983 issue of New Age Journal. It has a comprehensive special section on what's happening in the world of the new dreamworker. It gives several different approaches to dreamwork, has articles on some of the prominent dreamworkers, as well as general discussion of current developments and controversies.
Robert Price and David Cohen, of the University of Texas at Austin, report that they have accidentally discovered a method for inducing lucid dreams. It happened while they were researching the ability of a subject to control, while asleep in the dream state, the sounding of a tone being played in the dream laboratory. A biofeedback setup was used, such that whenever the sleeping subject entered the dream state, with rapid eye movements (REM), a loud tone would be played. This tone would interrupt sleep, but if the subject could increase the amount of rapid eye movements, he could terminate the tone, and sleep in peace. They found that their research subject could learn this task. Then the subject began to report lucid dreaming, that is being aware in the dream state that he was dreaming, and reported that he tried to move his eyes as a means of signaling to the experimenter. A "communication" system was thus set up between the experimenter and the dreaming subject. The researchers suggest that such a biofeedback situation may be an effective way to learn lucid dreaming. Reported in Lucidity Letter, November, 1983 (See Mail Order Services).
A counselor whose dreams provide psychic information about clients has a powerful addition to his kit of clinical tools. Kenneth Orkin, Ph.D., has written an article entitled, "Telepathic Dreams: Their Application During the Counseling Process," describing his experiences with psychic dreaming about clients. He is in private practice in Miami, Florida. He recounts several types of psychic dreams, including precognitive dreaming about the problems of a client who would be coming for a consultation in the future, with the dream providing information about the source of that person's problem. He also recounts a story about a dream that provided past-life information about a client. His article appeared in the November, 1983 issue of A.R.E. Journal. You may write to the author c/o A.R.E., P.O. Box 595, Virginia Beach, VA 23451.
There is a growing appreciation for the variety of dream phenomena, such as the creativity in dreams and their sometimes transpersonal aspects. Older theories that generally ignored such facts are being replaced by newer ones that attempt to account for such phenomena. Most recently, Gordon Globus, MD, Professor of Psychiatry and Philosophy at the University of California, Irvine, has taken a stab at integrating such perspectives as psychoanalysis, transpersonal psychology, cognitive science, and phenomenological philosophy in a pleasantly person- able statement of a view of dreams that readers of Perspective can live with.
That dreams are a creative experience is one of the main factors that he wishes to explain. The author rejects the notion, in existence before Freud made it law, that dreams are merely rearrangements of past memory experiences. Instead, the author claims that dreams are created "de novo," meaning from scratch. In defending this position, he finds himself arguing that our waking life is also an experience that we create, thus placing his work close at hand to the metaphysical perspective that claims that we "create our own reality." Both realms are created "in the image" (meaning "in the imagination") of the person, in the same way God has been said to create the world. The symmetry between the creative aspect of both dream existence and waking existence, and the "divine" role given to the person, is pleasing both to the ancient Buddhist and modern spiritual metaphysician.
The question is, how does this modern, scientifically grounded theoretician justify such a metaphysical basis to dreams and waking life? He does so by reference to both the leading edge theories of perceptual psychology and certain philosophical traditions. Perceptual psychology has long abandoned the camera analogy to explain how we see things. Plato's concept of the archetype, the transpersonal, non-material "ideas" that govern the actual ideas and things that we experience, has gained new favor in modern thinking about the perceptual process. Instead of theorizing that our perceptual mechanisms "photograph" what is out there, modern work has forced the theory that we already "know" or "suppose" what it is that we are trying to perceive, and then we search and analyze data bits according to their significance and fit to what we are attempting to "perceive." Meaning and intention are more significant to perception, in modern theory, than light waves and photo-sensitivity. In other words, the creative and subjective processes in perception are given more central prominence, and the physics of perception are accorded more the status of tools than primary determinants. Similarly, the philosophy of science has been arguing that facts, as such, do not exist; rather theories-in other words, intentional approaches to creating meaning-are what determine which data bits constitute facts, and determines whether or not the data bits will even be noticed.
Perhaps such philosophical abstractions seem cloudy or irrelevant, but the mechanistic, sensory-based, objective approach to perception (whether in visual perception or scientific knowing) has been undergoing radical changes. Fans of the transpersonal dimension of life who assume that the eye sees like a camera have an unnecessarily tough time trying to justify as scientific their views on ESP. Realizing how scientific and philosophical views on perception have evolved makes ESP seem more natural than supernatural. Thus the author's work does us a great service. It provides a readable treatise on how one can argue, on the basis of both scientific and philosophical grounds, that dreams, not to mention our lives, are pregnant with meaning (sometimes transpersonal meaning), and deserve our attention.
Source: Dream life, waking life: The human condition through dreams. Published by the State University of New York Press, 1987.
Taken from AMERICAN HEALTH July/August 1987.
Your dreams are "written" in your own private vocabulary; that's why their meaning is often unclear (and why dream books you buy at the corner newsstand won't explain your own visions). Moreover, the language of dreams is sensory and visual, whereas the language of daily life is verbal. You need to translate a dream much as you would a foreign language.
Unfortunately, the same force s that make us disguise problems in our dreams are likely to hinder our recognizing them when we're awake. Even Freud had trouble with self-analysis. So an impartial listener - attained therapist - can help. "It's a collaborative process," says New York psychoanalyst Walter Bonime, author of the classic text, THE CLINICAL USE OF DREAMS (Da Capo Press, $29.50)
But that doesn't mean you shouldn't explore your dreams alone or with a partner. People who keep dream journals say that over time, patterns often emerge.
To put your dreams to work solving problems, try this routine:
Once you've recorded your dream, how do you decode it? Tell it to yourself in the third person, suggest psychologist Lillie Weiss in DREAM ANALYSIS IN PSYCHOTHERAPY (Pergamon Press, $11.95). This may give you some distance from the dream and help you see the actions more clearly. Then look at the part of the dream that is the most mysterious. "Frequently the most incongruous part provides the dream message," Weiss says.
In her dream-therapy study, Cartwright asks participants to examine and try to change repetitive, troublesome dreams along seven dimensions:
This following is an excerpt from "Psi Notes", prepared by William Braud, Ph.D., of the Mind Science Foundation in San Antonio, Texas.
Question: What percentage of a person's dreams are precognitive (foretell the future) and how can we recognize the difference between a precognitive dream and an ordinary dream?
Answer: A large proportion of precognitive experiences occur during dreams. One survey indicates that as many as 65 percent of precognitive experiences occurred during sleep. Precognitive dreams also seem to provide more complete and more accurate information than do waking psychic experiences.
There's no way to know with certainty what percentage of our dreams are precognitive. The content of the majority of our dreams is probably quite mundane, involving replays of experiences of the day, perhaps some wish fulfillment, and maybe even "random" content. But now and then, dreamers do have accurate glimpses of the future as they sleep.
The only way to know with certainty which dreams are precognitive and which are not is to keep a dream diary of all dreams and check to see which come true and which don't. Some persons are able to associate certain feelings of confidence in connection with psychic dreams - but these are very subtle feelings which are difficult to put into words and which may differ from person to person.
Let me describe a program of research in which we are more certain about what's going on. This research program was initiated by a New York psychiatrist, Dr. Montague Ullman, as a result of his observation that he and his patients were sharing telepathic dreams in the context of psychotherapy. A dream laboratory was set up at Maimonides Medical Center in Brooklyn. Ullman, along with his associates Stanley Krippner and Charles Honorton, designed experiments in which persons spent the night in the dream lab. They were monitored electro-physiologically in order to detect physiological indications of dreaming - these indications include: an activated EEG, rapid eye movements, and reduced muscle tension. When these indications of dreaming occurred, the sleeper was awakened and asked to describe his dream. These descriptions were tape-recorded and later transcribed. The next day, a target experience was randomly selected and the subject then went through some waking sensory experience. What was discovered was that the sleeper was able to have accurate dreams about events of which no one was as yet aware at the time of the dream, but which were randomly selected the next day.
Appreciation is extended to Kathy Seward of the University of New England, in Biddefored, Maine for providing this information.
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