Electric Dreams

Stop Sleeping Through Your Dreams 

Part VII

Charles McPhee, Ph.D 

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McPhee, Charles (1997 May). Stop Sleeping Through Your Dreams Part VII. Electric Dreams 4(5). Retrieved July 26, 2000 from Electric Dreams on the World Wide Web: http://www.dreamgate.com/electric-dreams 

How does one become a conscious participant with the dream?
Charles McPhee assists anyone interested in finding out by offering a step-by-step guide to mastering the techniques of lucid dreaming in his book _Stop Sleeping Through Your Dreams_. Charles has also offered us a Web site through which we can discuss the issues of consciousness and dreams with him directly. He has been visiting with us here for the last few months at Electric Dreams, answering questions and giving us peeks into his work on lucid dreaming
- Richard

For previous articles, stop by

Previously we began exploring just what we *are* aware of in dreams and lucid dreams, a good first step in actually becoming lucid. In Earlier issues we explored the phenomena of dream sleep and consciousness, the possession of consciousness in dreams, its significance to our waking lives and what consciousness may be. All of this speaks to how unconscious we are as well, and how to live with this through journaling and other consciousness raising techniques.

This month concludes our journey with an optimistic and pragmatic approach that recognizes the large yet fulfilling task of coming to terms with the unconscious and how dreams help us along the way.

CHAPTER 12: "Mental Health"


When we awaken in the morning do our dreams take us by surprise? Do we ask ourselves, "Dear Lord, where did that dream come from?" or are our dreams more mundane? The reason I ask is not to detract from the mystery and spontaneity of our dream life but rather to assess the quality of communication between our conscious and unconscious levels of awareness.

In chapter nine I suggested that as we routinely monitor our dreams, we must ask ourselves whether or not we were aware yet of the feelings and awarenesses being represented. Is the material in our dreams familiar to us, at least partially, or does it arrive each morning unannounced? When communication between conscious and unconscious abilities is good--when we have trained ourselves through dream work and the practice of consciousness in waking experience to listen to our mind and body and to integrate feelings and awarenesses into conscious awareness--then our dreams increasingly represent concerns with which we already are familiar. As a consequence of our familiarity with this material, our dreams also become more transparent.

The achievement of transparency in one's dream life is a great accomplishment. The transparent reflection of feelings and awarenesses indicates that the dreamer is succeeding in his or her efforts to remove the distorting filters of repression, which previously were erected to buffer him or her from experiencing difficult feelings and awarenesses directly. When a dreamer experiences concrete representations of difficult feelings and awarenesses--feeling of confusion or of the need for corrective action in his or her own life, contradictory feelings with regard to lovers, close friends, and family members--he actually should take great encouragement from these dreams. The dream worker is growing increasingly able to manage difficult feelings and awarenesses consciously. The reduction and elimination of disguise from one's waking life, and, accordingly, from one's dream life, is a hard-won accomplishment that all dream workers should experience warm satisfaction in achieving.



As we become more familiar with the patterns of psychological dynamics, eventually we learn that the mind is not a mechanism governed by random events and chance occurrences but rather is a regular and predictable system. One of the first laws of psychoanalysis, as elaborated by Charles Brenner is his seminal work _An Elementary Textbook of Psychoanalysis_, is the principle of "psychic determinism." Brenner writes,

The sense of this principle is that in the mind, as in physical nature about us, nothing happens by chance, or in a random way. Each psychic event is determined by one ones which preceded it. Events in our mental lives that may seem to be random and unrelated to what went on before are only apparently so. In fact, mental phenomena are no more capable of such a lack of casual connection with what preceded them than are physical ones. Discontinuity in this sense does not exist in mental life.

This principle has been embraced by nearly all segments of the professional psychoanalytic community. In the passage above, Brenner is summarizing Freud, and both of the excerpts at the head of this chapter--one from Jung and the other from a more contemporary psychiatrist, M. Scott Peck--continue to reflect this view. I propose that as we make progress in our psychological sophistication, we too will grow to appreciate this principle. The important consequence of this appreciation, however, is that gradually we will become able to discern order and structure in what previously appeared to be random and disconnected psychological events. We will also begin to grasp the idea that concepts such as "mental health" and "personal effectiveness" are not elusive personality characteristics of mysterious origin but rather are qualities of mind that correspond, with astonishing precision, to the quality of the relationship we maintain between conscious and unconscious aspects of our personality. "Unification of the personality," similarly, will move from being a theoretical construct to being a recognizable (and demonstrable, through dream work) consequence of psychological integration. In the same way, qualities such as personal happiness, the absence of self-destructive behaviors, and strong powers of emotional recovery will all be recognized as consistent manifestations of healthy self-esteem. As both Jung and Peck hinted at, the mind, when it is free of organic damage, is a consistent and predictable machine. The happy news at the end of the psychological journey is that mental health, happiness, personal effectiveness, and healthy self-esteem, are all attainable qualities of personality if we are willing to walk the path required to achieve these goals.

Did you miss the previous month's discussions? For a full Chapter Summary of _Stop Sleeping Through Your Dreams_ visit my web site below. If you would like more on this, my book is published by Henry Holt and Company, Inc. Publication Date: December 27th, 1995. 0-8050-2500-6 $22.50, cloth. Contact: Robin Jones, (212) 886-9270

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Finally, I'd like to discuss lucid dreaming with you. You can email me or stop by my web site and join in the bulletin board discussions.

-Charles Mcphee