The few exceptions are usually very clear. Example: ‘My mother-in-law died of cancer. I had watched the whole progression of her illness, and was very upset by her death. Shortly after she died the relatives gathered and began to sort through her belongings to share them out. That was the climax of my upset and distress, and I didn’t want any part of this sorting and taking her things. That night I dreamt I was in a room with all the relatives. They were sorting her things, and I felt my waking distress. Then my mother-in-law came into the room. She was very real and seemed happy. She said for me not to be upset as she didn’t at all mind her relatives taking her things. When I woke from the dream all the anxiety and upset had disappeared. It never returned (told to author dunng a talk given to the Housewives Register in Ilfracombe).
Although in any collection of dreams such clearcut problem solving is fairly rare, nevertheless the basic function in dreams appears to be problem solving.
The proof of this lies in research done in dream withdrawal. As explained in the entry science, sleep and dreams, subjects are woken up as they begin to dream, therefore denying them dreams. This quickly leads to disorientation and breakdown of normal functioning, showing that a lot of problem solving occurs in dreams, even though it may not be as obvious as in the example. This feature of dreaming can be enhanced to a marked degree by processing dreams and arriving at insights into the information they contain. This enables old problems to be cleared up and new information and attitudes to be brought into use more quickly. Through such active work one becomes aware of the self, which Carl Jung describes as a centre, but which we might think of as a synthesis of all our experience and being. Gaining insight and allowing the self entrance into our waking affairs, as M L. Von Franz says in Man and His Symbols, gradually produces a wider and more mature personality’ which emerges, and by degrees becomes effective and even visible to others’.
The function of dreams may well be described as an effort on the part of our life process to support, augment and help mature waking consciousness.
A study of dreams suggests that the creative forces which are behind the growth of our body are also inextricably connected with psychological development. In fact, when the process of physical growth stops, the psychological growth continues.
If this is thwarted in any way, it leads to frustration, physical tension and psychosomatic and eventually physical illness.
The integration of experience.
which dreams are always attempting, if successful cannot help but lead to personal growth. But it is often frozen by the individual avoiding the growing pains’, or the discomfon of breaking through old concepts and beliefs.
Where there is any attempt on the pan of our conscious personality to co-operate with this, the creative aspect of dreaming emerges. In fact anything we are deeply involved in, challenged by or attempting, we will dream about in a creative way. Not only have communities like the American Indians used dreams in this manner—to find better hunting, solve community problems, find a sense of personal life direction— but scientists, writers, designers and thousands of lay people have found very real information in dreams After all, through dreams we have personal use of the greatest computer ever produced in the history of the world—the human brain.
1- In Genesis 41, the story of Pharaoh’s dream is told—the seven fat cows and the seven thin cows. This dream was creative in that, with Joseph’s interpretation, it resolved a national problem where famine followed years of plenty. It may very well be an example of gathered information on the history of Egypt being in the mind of Pharaoh, and the dream putting it together in a problem solving way. See dream process as computer.
2- William Blake dreamt his dead brother showed him a new way of engraving copper. Blake used the method successfully.
3- Otto Leowi dreamt of how to prove that nervous impulses were chemical rather than electncal. This led to his Nobel prize.
4- Friedrich Kekule tned for years to define the structure of benzene. He dreamt of a snake with its tail in its mouth, and woke to realise this explained the molecular formation of the benzene ring. He was so impressed he urged colleagues, ‘Gentlemen, leam to dream.’
5- Hilprecht had an amazing dream of the connection between two pieces of agate which enabled him to translate an ancient Babylonian inscription.
6- Elias Howe faced the problem of how to produce an effective sewing machine.
The major difficulty was the needle. He dreamt of natives shaking spears with holes in their points. This led to the invention of the Singer sewing machine.
7- Robert Louis Stevenson claims to have dreamt the plot of many of his stories.
8- Albert Einstein said that during adolescence he dreamt he was riding a sledge. It went faster and faster until it reached the speed of light.
The stars began to change into amazing patterns and colours, dazzling and beautiful. His meditation on that dream throughout the years led to the theory of relativity.
To approach our dreams in order to discover their creativity, first decide what problematic or creative aspect of your life needs ‘dream power’. Define what you have already leamt or know about the problem. Write it down, and from this clarify what it is you want more insight into.
If this breaks down into several issues, choose one at a time. Think about the issue and pursue it as much as you can while awake. Read about it, ask people’s opinions, gather information. This is all data for the dream process.
If the question still needs further insight, before going to sleep imagine you are putting the question to your internal store of wisdom, computer, power centre, or whatever image feels right.
For some people an old being who is neither exclusively man nor woman is a working image.
In the morning note down whatever dream you remember. It does not matter if the dream does not appear to deal with the question; Elias Howe’s native spears were an outlandish image, but nevertheless contained the information he needed. Investigate the dream using the techniques given in the entry dream processing. Some problems take time to define, so use the process until there is a resolution.
If it is a major problem, it may take a year or so; after all, some resolutions need restructuring of the personality, because the problem cannot disappear while we still have the same attitudes and fears. See secret of the universe dreams; dream processing. ... A Guide to Dreams and Sleep Experiences
If it is the cry of an animal, the emotions are likely tied to whatever that creature represents.
The cry of a child can represent your own inner child trying to get attention (see Baby). Alternatively, for new parents this is a circumstantial dream caused by normal concerns, and by being woken up so frequently by the newborn.... The Language of Dreams
A hallucination can be experienced through any of the senses singly, or all of them together. So one might have a hallucinatory smell or sound.
To understand hallucinations, which are quite common without any use of drugs such as alcohol, LSD or cannabis, one must remember that everyone has the natural ability to produce such images. One of the definitions of a dream according to Freud is its hallucinatory quality. While asleep we can create full sensory, vocal, motor and emotional expenence in our dream. While dreaming we usually accept what we experience as real.
A hallucination is an experience of the function which produces dreams’ occurring while we have our eyes open.
The voices heard, people seen, smells smelt, although appearing to be outside us, are no more exterior than the things and images of our dreams. With this information one can understand that much classed as psychic phenomena and religious experience is an encounter with the dream process. That does not, of course, deny its imponance.
There are probably many reasons why Sue should experience a hallucination and her husband not. One might be that powerful drives and emotions might be pushing for attention in her life. Some of the primary drives are the reproductive drive, urge towards independence, pressure to meet unconscious emotions and past trauma and fears, any of which, in order to achieve their ends, can produce hallucinations.
A hallucination is therefore not an ‘illusion’ but a means of giving information from deeper levels of self. Given such names as mediumship or mystical insight, in some cultures or individuals the ability to hallucinate is often rewarded socially.
Drugs such as LSD, cannabis, psilocybin, mescaline, pey- ote and opium can produce hallucinations. This is sometimes because they allow the dream process to break through into consciousness with less intervention.
If this occurs without warning it can be very disturbing.
The very real dangers are that unconscious content, which in ordinary dreaming breaks through a threshold in a regulated way, emerges with little regulation. Fears, paranoid feelings, past traumas, can emerge into the consciousness of an individual who has no skill in handling such dangerous forces. Because the propensity of the unconscious is to create images, an area of emotion might emerge in an image such as the devil. Such images, and the power they contain, not being integrated in a proper therapeutic setting, may haunt the individual, perhaps for years. Even at a much milder level, elements of the unconscious will emerge and disrupt the person’s ability to appraise reality and make judgments. Unacknowledged fears may lead the drug user to rationalise their reasons for avoiding social activity or the world of work. See ESP and dreams; dead lover in husband under family. See also out of body experience.... A Guide to Dreams and Sleep Experiences
Example: 4I had backed my car into a big yard, a commercial area. My wife, two of my sons and I got out of the car. As we stood in the yard talking I realised there was a motorbike where my car should be. I said to everyone, “There was a car here a moment ago, now it’s a motorbike. Do you know what that means? It means we are dreaming.” Mark my son was now with us, and my ex-wife. I asked them if they realised they were dreaming. They got very vague and didn’t reply. I asked them again and felt very clearly awake’ (William V). William’s is a fairly typical lucid dream, but there are features which it does not illustrate. During the days or weeks prior to a lucid dream, many people experience an increase in (lying dreams.
The next example shows another common feature.
Example: In many of my dreams I become aware that I am dreaming. Also, if anything unpleasant threatens me in the dream I get away from it by waking myself (Alan). Lucidity often has this feature of enabling the dreamer to avoid unpleasant elements of the dream.
The decision to avoid any unpleasant internal emotions is a common feature of a person’s conscious life, so this aspect of lucidity is simply a way of taking such a decision into the dream. Some writers even suggest it as a way of dealing with frightening dreams. Avoidance does not solve the problem, it simply pushes the emotion deeper into the unconscious where it can do damage more surreptitiously. Recent findings regarding suppressed gnef and stress, which connects them with a higher incidence of cancer, suggests that suppression is not a healthy way of dealing with feelings.
Another approach to lucidity is that it can be a son of playground where one can walk through walls, jump from high buildings and fly, change the sofa into an attractive lover, and so on. True, the realisation that our dream life is a different world and that it does have completely different principles at work than our waking world is imponant. Often people introven into their dream life the morals and fears which are only relevant to being awake in physical life.
To avoid a charging bull is cenainly imponant in waking life. In our dream life, though, to meet its charge is to integrate the enormous energy which the bull represents, an energy which is our own but which we may have been avoiding or running away’ from previously. Realising such simple differences revolutionises the way we relate to our own internal events and possibilities.
To treat lucid dreams as if they offered no other attainable expenence than to manipulate the dream environment, or avoid an encounter, is to miss an amazing feature of human potential.
Example: ‘In my dream I was watching a fern grow. It was small but opened out very rapidly. As I watched I became aware that the fern was simply an image representing a process occurring within myself which I grew increasingly aware of as I watched. Then I was fully awake in my dream and realised that my dream, perhaps any dream, was an expression of actual and real events occurring in my body and mind. I felt enormous excitement, as if I were witnessing something of great importance’ (Francis P). It is now acceptable, through the work of Freud, Jung and many others, to consider that within images of the dream lie valuable information about what is occurring within the dreamer, perhaps unconsciously. Strangely, though, it is almost never considered that one can have direct perception into this level of internal ‘events’ without the dream. What Francis describes is an experience of being on the cusp of symbols and direct perception. Considering the enormous advantage of such direct information gathering, it is surprising it is seldom mentioned except in the writings of Corriere and Han, The Dream Makers.
Example: After defining why I had not woken in sleep recently, i.e. loss of belief, I had the following experience. I awoke in my sleep and began to see, without any symbols, that my attitudes and sleep movements expressed a feeling of restrained antagonism or irritation to my wife. I could also observe the feelings were arising from my discipline of sexuality. Realising I did not want those feelings I altered them and woke enough to turn towards her’ (Francis P). After the first of his direct perception dreams, Francis attempted to use this function again, resulting in the above, and other, such dreams. Just as classic dream interpretation says that the dream symbols represent psychobiological logical processes which might be uncovered by dream processing, what we see in Francis’ lucidity is a direct route to self insight, and through it a rapid personal growth to improved life experience. Such dreams provide not only psychological insight, but very frequently a direct perception of processes occurring in the body, as the following example illustrates.
Example: ‘Although deeply asleep I was wide awake without any shape or form. I had direct experience, without any pictures, of the action of the energies in my body. I had no awareness of body shape, only of the flow of activities in the organs. I checked over what I could observe, and noticed a tension in my neck was interfering with the flow and exchange of energies between the head and trunk. It was also obvious from what I could see that the tension was due to an attitude I had to authority, and if the tension remained it could lead to physical ill health’ (Tony C).
An effective way to develop lucidity is frequently to consider the events of waking life as if they were a dream. Try to see events as one might see dream symbols. What do they mean in terms of one’s motivations, fears, personal growth? What do they suggest about oneself? For instance a person who works in a photographic darkroom developing films and prints might see they were trying to bnng to consciousness the latent—unconscious—side of themselves.
A banker might feel they were working at how best to deal with their sexual and personal resources. In this way one might actually apply what is said in this dream dictionary to one’s outer circumstances.
The second instruction is, on waking, at a convenient moment, imagine oneself standing within one’s recent dream. As you get a sense of this dream environment, realise that you are taking waking awareness into the dream. From the standpoint of being fully aware of the dream action and events, what will you now do in and with the dream? Re-dream it with consciousness.
For example the things you run from in your normal dreaming you could now face. See dream processing for fun her suggestions. ... A Guide to Dreams and Sleep Experiences
The house only had two bedrooms, and the children’s room was directly opposite ours. Both of us had had the same thought—”Oh no, it’s the children again.” Much to our annoyance they had been waking in the middle of the night claiming it was morning and time to play. We had tried to suppress it, but here it was again.
As these thoughts went through our minds we heard the sound of feet clomping down the stairs. This was strange as the children usually stayed in their room. Brenda got up, determined to get whoever it was back into bed. I heard her switch the light on, go down the stairs, switch the sitting room light on, and I followed her via the sounds of her movement as she looked in the kitchen and even toilet—we didn’t have a bathroom. Then up she came again and opened the children’s door—strange because we had assumed it had been opened. When she came back into our room she looked puzzled and a little scared. “They’re all asleep and in bed ‘ she said. ‘We talked over the mystery for some time, trying to understand just how we had heard the door handle rattle then footsteps going down the stairs, yet the door wasn’t open. Also, the door handles on our doors were too high for the children to reach without standing on a chair. There was a stool in the children’s bedroom they used for that, yet it wasn’t even near the door when Brenda opened it.
Having no answer to the puzzle we stopped talking and settled to wait for sleep again. Suddenly a noise came from the children’s bedroom. It sounded like the stool being dragged and then the door handle turning again but the door not opening. “You go this time” Brenda said, obviously disturbed.
‘I opened our door quickly just in time to see the opposite door handle turn again. Still the door didn’t open. I reached across, turned the handle and slowly opened the door. It stopped as something was blocking it. Just then my daughter Helen’s small face peered around the door—high because she was standing on the stool. Puzzled by what had happened, I was careful what I said to her. “What do you want love?” I asked.
‘Unperturbed she replied, “I want to go to the toilet.” The toilet was downstairs, through the sitting room, and through the kitchen.
‘Now I had a clue so asked, “Did you go downstairs before?”
“Yes,” she said, “but Mummy sent me back to bed.” * (Tony C).
This is an unusual example of an out of body experience (OBE). Mostly they are described from the point of view of the person projecting, and are therefore difficult to corroborate. Here, three people experience the OBE in their own way. From Tony and Brenda’s point of view what happened caused sensory stimuli, but only auditory. Helen’s statement says that she was sure she had physically walked down the stairs and been sent back to bed by her mother. Tony and Brenda felt there was a direct connection between what they were thinking and feeling—get the children back to bed—and what Helen experienced as an objective reality.
OBEs have been reported in thousands in every culture and in every period of history.
A more general experience of OBE than the above might include a feeling of rushing along a tunnel or release from a tight place prior to the awareness of independence from the body. In this first stage some people experience a sense of physical paralysis which may be frightening (see paralysis). Their awareness then seems to become an observing point outside the body, as well as the sense of paralysis. Then there is usually an intense awareness of oneself and surroundings, unlike dreaming or even lucidity. Some projectors feel they are even more vitally aware and rational than during the waking state. Looking back on one’s body may occur here. Once the awareness is independent of the body, the boundaries of time and space as they are known in the body do not exist. One can easily pass through walls, fly, travel to or immediately be in a far distant place, witnessing what may be, or appears to be, physically real there.
Sir Auckland Geddes, an eminent British anatomist, describes his own OBE, which contains many of these features. Example: Becoming suddenly and violently ill with gastroenteritis he quickly became unable to move or phone for help. As this was occurring he noticed he had an A and a B consciousness.
The A was his normal awareness, and the B was external to his body, watching. From the B self he could see not only his body, but also the house, garden and surrounds. He need only think of a friend or place and immediately he was there and was later able to find confirmation for his observations. In looking at his body, he noticed that the brain was only an end organ, like a condensing plate, upon which memory and awareness played.
The mind, he said, was not in the brain, the brain was in the mind, like a radio in the play of signals. He then observed his daughter come in and discover his condition, saw her telephone a doctor friend, and saw him also at the same time.
Many cases of OBE occur near death, where a person has died* of a hean attack for instance, and is later revived. Because of this there are attempts to consider the possibility of survival of death through study of these cases. In fact many people experiencing an OBE have a very different view of death than prior to their experience.
Early attempts to explain OBEs suggested a subtle or astral body, which is a double of our physical and mental self, but able to pass through walls. It was said to be connected to the physical body during an OBE by a silver cord—a son of lifeline which kept the physical body alive. This is like the concept that the people we dream about are not creations of our own psyche, but real in their own right. Whatever one may believe an OBE to be, it can be observed that many people in this condition have no silver cord, and have no body at all, but are simply a bodiless observer, or are an animal, a geometric shape, a colour or sound (see identity and dreams).
The person’s own unconscious concepts of self seem to be the factor which shapes the form of the OBE. If, therefore, one feels sure one must travel to a distant point, then in the OBE one travels.
If one believes one is immediately there by the power of thought, one is there.
If one cannot conceive of existing without a body, then one has a body, and so on.
This approach explains many aspects of the OBE, but there is still not a clear concept of what the relationship with the physical world is.
The many cases of OBE which occur during a near-death experience also suggest it may be connected with a survival response to death; not necessarily as a way of trying to transcend death, but perhaps as a primeval form of warning relatives of death.
If there is survival of death, then the OBE may be an anticipatory form, or a preparatory condition leading to the new form. See hallucinations, hallucinogens. ... A Guide to Dreams and Sleep Experiences
For instance most times this happened I have been in the middle of a dream in which there is a sense of absolute imperative that I must make love/have sex.
It is like being lost in a storm of glamour and fantasy or vision in which I am totally involved.
The whirl of the “dream” is towards the wonder, totality of the need to have sex. As this imperative is expressed in my still spontaneous, dreaming physical action, the experience of sex is also visionary and enormous’ (Charles W).
This fairly common dreaming experience demonstrates powerfully how dreams are an expression of a self regulatory or compensatory action in the psyche and body. Charles says that he had been restraining his sexual activity. This shows the enormous gulf which can exist between what we will to do as a conscious personality, and what our being needs to do or wishes to do outside conscious decision making.
The ‘glamour and fantasy’ Charles describes are regular features of how these deeper needs make themselves known, or attempt to coerce the conscious mind, into fulfilling the need.
If we reject the fantasy, the unconscious processes will attempt a more radical approach, as in actual physical movement while we sleep. This may have given rise to ideas about possession or devils in past ages, when it was not understood that we can split our mind by such conflicts. Fear of the possessing’ influence actually heightens its power through suggestion. It is much better to understand what one’s needs are, and seek an acceptable fulfilment. See abreaction. ... A Guide to Dreams and Sleep Experiences