Electric Dreams

Introducing the Dream

David Jenkins, PhD

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Jenkins, David, PhD (2007 February). DreamRePlay: Introducing the Dream. Electric Dreams 14(2).

When someone says "Tell me your dream," you rarely begin with the actual dream. Before delving into the plot, the drama and the details, you usually start with an introduction. Although seemingly a formality, introductions actually hold important cues about the dream.

Various Introductions

"I've only got a fragment"
"You won't believe this dream"
"This dream happened the night my boyfriend and I had a fight"
"This is a very boring dream"

The introduction might be as short as a sentence. It might be longer than the entire dream. For example, identifying a particular character in the dream might become a larger task than describing the dream.

Introductions tell you when or where the dream occurred--"Tuesday night" or "At my uncle's."

Sometimes they prejudge the dream--"It's not very important."

Occasionally they issue a challenge--"You'll never be able to interpret this one."

The introduction can be a comparison--"Everyone's had the dream where. . . " or "No one has ever had a dream like this one."

Quite often, the introduction apologizes for the dream--"All I can remember is. . . " or "It's only a snippet."

The Importance of Dream Introductions

I realized how important the introduction can be when I was telling my own dream in one of my groups. Like so many other people I said, without thinking, "It's only a fragment."

At that moment I knew that I was apologizing for the dream.

I have heard thousands of dreams and I know that, at the start, the dreamer has little idea what adventure might be in store. But here I was, trying to forestall any surprises, to put some spin on my own dream.

Underneath, I had two very different worries. Firstly, that everyone would be bored stiff; that no one would have anything to say about this worthless dream. Secondly, I hoped that the dream might help me with a particular waking problem, but I didn't want to feel disappointed if that didn't happen.

Knowing that I had both high and low expectations of this dream work helped me understand the dream better.

I realized that the introduction to the dream is part of the dream work and a valuable asset. An introduction can do three things: it orients the dreamer, it orients the audience, and it shapes expectations.

What to Do with an Introduction

Exactly how the introduction is incorporated into the dream work depends on the particular situation. Here are some examples.

This dream happened when I was staying at my brother's. I dreamed I was on a boat in a lake. Suddenly there was a storm and I had no way of getting back to the shore.

Her brother was not in the dream but he was present in the introduction. Therefore it's legitimate to bring her brother's perspective into the dreamwork. The dreamer should imagine the dream as though he had witnessed her on the boat in these difficulties. It will be immediately obvious to her whether or not her brother is an ally when she is in trouble.

I can't believe anyone could have this dream. I dreamed that the toilet was overflowing and there was mess all around. I was disgusted.

The dreamer needs to know that bathroom dreams are quite common.

This is just a snippet. I dreamed that an elephant was eating a mouse.

The dreamer downplays the importance of the dream by referring to it as a "snippet." Perhaps it is unimportant and perhaps not.

I love this dream. I dreamed that a brand new animal had just come into existence. Everyone was crowded around, admiring it. The animal was so pleased to be alive. It loved all the attention.

That's a great dream and the introduction is consistent with the dream.

I already know what this dream means. I dreamed that my mother gave me a silver platter.

I would take the dreamer at her word and not try to offer any interpretation. She simply wants to announce something to the world.


The introduction is not part of the dream but it is part of the dream work. Sometimes, you'll find the introduction contains the key to the entire dream.

Dream Groups

Dial-In Dream Groups: Whether you live far away or close by, a phone group allows you to get a sense of dream work in a very convenient way. With this new work, I hope to communicate the pleasure and the excitement of dream work to many people.

The Saturday drop-in group ($20) is from 10 am to noon at 2315 Prince Street in Berkeley. The nearest major cross street is Ashby and Telegraph. Please let me know if you are coming.

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email: davidj@dreamreplay.com
phone: (510) 644 2369
DreamRePlay web site: http://dreamreplay.com