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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The Ego psychologists tend to discount dreams as being controlled by the Ego precisely because they seem to emerge uninvited during the night. If we bring in Barrett’s notion of the sleep committee, then we would propose that the dreams and their content have been invited on behalf of some overriding concern. Furthermore, the regression is temporary. The dream is a perfect representation of temporally-limited retreat from waking reality—perhaps on behalf of a deeper understanding of this reality.

This deeper reality can be found in the insights offered Sarah regarding her male colleague and the potential motivations of Dan’s wife. Katherine is exposed to a “harsh” potential reality regarding her boyfriends that ends up becoming a “real” reality for her. These three dreams offer a poetic and/or dramatic glimpse into disturbing realities. While these realities might be burdensome if they are drawn out over a long period of time—much as is the case with a much-too-long play—they are short and to the point (or to several points) as portrayed in these three dreams. The dreamer can be alerted without being overwhelmed or beaten down. If the message isn’t received by the dreamer, then the committee can offer the message again (and again) in slightly different form(s). The ego is being well served by the committee.


A final point of insight (and potential contention) concerns the matter of discipline—the existence of skills as well as inspiration in any purposefully regressive act. Kris (1953, p. 252-253) writes about “stringencies” (constraints) as critical to any creative act. There are boundaries that must be respected when engaging in any creative act. The materials being used provide some of these boundaries as does the purpose for which the creative act is engaged—including requirements or expectations of the audience for this creative act.

Dreams might be immediately dismissed because they lack these stringencies. Materials can be created without any regard for reality and purposes can readily be changed (or don’t exist at all). Yet, we have seen the constraining conditions and purposeful planning of dreams in both the insightful analysis offered by Erich Fromm and that offered by Deirdre Barrett in her portrayal of the sleep committee. For both Fromm and Barrett, it is not a matter of constraints, rather it is a matter of daytime constraints preventing the dreamer from seeing the reality of their relationship with other people or the reality of what exists in the potential expression of some artistic image or solution to some elusive problem. The constraints of daytime reality are replaced by the constraints of a nighttime portrayal that is both insightful and compelling. The dream is to be a well-told tale—this is the constraint placed on the dream by the committee.

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