Home Personal Psychology Sleeping/Dreaming Dreamer Beware: The Insightful Dreams of Sarah, Dan and Katherine

Dreamer Beware: The Insightful Dreams of Sarah, Dan and Katherine

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Even if the issue is not related to some fundamental conflict in our life, it can be important enough that our committee of sleep keeps putting it on the dream agenda.

As we turn back to our three dreamers, we find that we can’t really consider repetition in the dreams of Sarah or Dan since we have access to only one dream from each of them. However, Katherine is a different matter. We have 15 dreams collected from three nights in the dream lab. This is a short period of time for any examination of recurrent dreams (or dream themes). Nevertheless, we do find some repetition in the themes of dreams collected over this three-day period. Within these fifteen dreams we find three direct or tangible references to artwork (such as the construction of a glass mobile). We find much more frequent reference to the game of Bridge—which occupies several hours each day in the life of Katherine.

When we look at the Bridge theme, we find a theme of depersonalization, vulnerability and despair. First, playing cards turn into people without facial features or names in several of Katherine’s dreams. Second, the playing cards in one of her dreams begin to dance around and mock Katherine. She is quite disturbed within her dream and keeps asking the cards to “Stop it! Stop it!” Third, as we saw in the Pelican dream, Katherine facing the prospect of playing a game of Bridge with will inevitably lead to failure (“It was like I have to take all the tricks but have no trump. There is no hope. . .” ) She has to win the game but has no resources to do so.

Could this theme relate in some way to the dream in which Katherine’s mobile is dropped by her boyfriend? The connection could reside in the threat and seeming betrayal associated with two activities about which Katherine appears to care deeply—this being her artwork and her Bridge playing. Katerine is confronted in the midst of these “precious” activities with being laughed at, forced to win, and left with nothing but a shattered self. People who are close to her either are depersonalized in a game of bridge or damage her by destroying something about which she cares. From Katherine’s dream-based perspective, there is no hope. People will continue to mock and betray her. She has to continue “playing out her hand” of interpersonal relationships – but can’t really trust or even fully appreciate these relationships.

This powerful theme might be addressed by Katherine if she were to sit down with a thoughtful and compassionate therapist. She is facing an interpersonal challenge that is not uncommon for young adults who are searching for a way in which to establish caring and intimate relationships. Erik Erikson (1980) would suggest that this is the major development task of early adulthood. Katherine’s sleep committee might be assisting her in addressing this fundamental developmental issue and is doing so by not only repeatedly bringing up this issue through the use of a telling metaphor (the game of cards), but also by introducing an episode that is both poetic and dramatic (dropping of the glass mobile).

The key question becomes: is the committee’s work somehow evident in the waking life of Katherine? How does she react to her boyfriend’s dropping of the mobile? Does his “betrayal” (or at least cavalier attitude about her artwork) trigger a deeper concern about all interpersonal relationships (as this deeper concern might be represented in the Bridge as well a Mobile dreams)?

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