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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In Katherine’s case, an additional dynamic was soon operating in her life. The event that took place in her dream (dropping of the mobile) actually was replicated in her waking life. The sleep committee warned her—yet Katherine still allowed her boyfriend to not only come to her home but also pick up her mobile. While Katherine might have some unconscious “inking” that something might go wrong where her boyfriend picked up the mobile, this concern was probably outweighed by her boyfriend’s apparent interest in her artwork. What happened to Katherine when her unconscious fears were realized?

A host of questions comes to mind. Does she wonder if the mobile was purposefully dropped? Could she ever forgive her boyfriend? Is she over-reacting when the mobile lies shattered at her feet? Does she ask her boyfriend to leave? Does she break off her relationship with him over this one “small” event? How does her committee deal with this event and these questions when Katherine falls asleep in coming nights? We don’t know because Katherine is no longer coming to laboratory. What we do know from a brief follow up interview is that this man is no longer in Katherine’s life and that she remains unattached and a compulsive Bridge player.


As a practicing psychoanalyst, Erich Fromm uses dream interpretation as one of several different strategies to “heal” his patients—he is not alone in taking this approach. It began with Sigmund Freud’s extensive use of dreams in his own psychoanalytic practice (Freud, 1900/2010). However, Fromm is suggesting that a dream can itself be of great assistance in this regard. The dream itself provide insights and guidance for action during waking hours. With the assistance of an analyst’s interpretation, the dream can help to produce real changes in the life of the dreamer.

This guidance serves as the fourth factor to consider in seeking to interpret the meaning of a dream—if it is truly purposeful as Erich Fromm suggests. We should trace out the implications of what is being portrayed in the dream. What actions should be taken if the dreamer were to move forward in their waking life upon the insights offered in the dream. Should Sarah avoid interacting with her “cutting” colleague? If the dream represented a residual from the previous day’s unsatisfactory interaction (as in the case of Dan), then how does the dreamer avoid yet another unsatisfactory interaction tomorrow or the day after tomorrow?

Has a series of dreams all pointed to some fundamental (focal) conflict in the dreamer’s life? If so, then what should the dreamer do to address this important, lingering conflict? Psychotherapy? Pastoral counselling? Lifestyle changes? New relationships? New job? New choices? If Fromm is correct, dreams stir things up and provides a reason for taking action. They convey implications through poetic imagery and/or compelling drama. It is the responsibility of the committee of sleep to ensure that these implications are not lost or ignored. . . That is if there really is a committee of sleep.

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