Electric Dreams

Graduate Education in Dream Studies

Mean Potts, Ph.D (in Dreams!) 

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Potts, Mena, Ph.D. (1997 May). Graduate Education in Dream Studies. Electric Dreams 4(5). Retrieved July 26, 2000 from Electric Dreams on the World Wide Web: http://www.dreamgate.com/electric-dreams  

Reprinted with permission of M. Potts and Alan Siegel from
ASD Newsletter Spring 1996 13(1), 31-33.

Editors Note: Though this article has been printed in the ASD newsletter, I would like to see the participation in this program extended to the public at large. RCW

In response to the interest of ASD members and the dearth of available dream study programs our Task Force on Graduate Education in Dream Studies was formed. Our objective is to encourage the development of graduate education in dream studies. The Task Force was founded by Stanley Krippner in 1993, during his tenure as President of the Association for the Study of Dreams. Our Task Force grew out of a Hospitality Suite focused discussion on Graduate Education in Dream Studies conducted during the 1993 ASD International Conference. Sensing that there might be ASD members who were interested in graduate education in dream studies, I convened a Hospitality Suite discussion entitled, "Developing Creative Ph.D. Programs in Dream Psychology." The purpose was to explore ASD members' needs and interests in graduate education in dream studies.

The focus of the discussion was creative interdisciplinary graduate study in dream psychology through "Universities Without Walls." As the convener I led a discussion and shared my experience with The Union Institute, Cincinnati, Ohio; Saybrook Institute, San Francisco, California; and the Center for Humanistic Studies, Detroit, Michigan. Materials were distributed describing the learning opportunities in dream studies which these three graduate schools provided.

Several ASD Conference attendees came to our discussion seeking information on doctoral programs in dream psychology and graduate education in dream studies. During our discussion we each drew from our own experience. I reviewed my experience in developing the first Doctoral Program in Dream Psychology which I achieved through The Union Institute with the cooperative input of Montague Ullman, Stanley Krippner and Saybrook Institute and Clark Moustakas and The Center for Humanistic Studies.

My interest in graduate education in dream studies actually began some twenty five years ago, originating with my own precognitive dream experiences. In 1970 I began to keep a dream journal which I still maintain. In addition to extensive reading I pursued my interest by taking courses and workshops through universities and organizations, including The Center for East-West Studies in Switzerland, a Tibetan Buddhist university in England and training in sand play.

At that time dream studies were largely confined and concentrated in the various analytic institutes. I studied at an analytic institute and worked with an analyst for several years. Wishing to learn as much as possible about dreams I did a comparative review of the various dream theories. I encountered numerous theories and approaches, some of which were inconsistent or contradictory with others. Dream interpretation was obviously shaped by theoretical training, but I wanted a scholarly overview.

Instead of a singular theory or particular analytic school I wanted to locate an eclectic and comprehensive study of dreams through a university psychology department. My extensive search began with the American Psychological Association and their publication on graduate education in Psychology. This entailed my writing and contacting many universities both in the United States and in Europe. Several universities would have permitted a dissertation and research in dream studies and, in fact, many people had completed dissertations in this area. However, I could not locate any university that offered a doctoral study program in dream psychology and an internship and training program in dream psychology, in addition to the dissertation. It was a discouraging odyssey that began to appear unrealizable.

So I looked inward, asked for guidance through my dreams and I proceeded to have a precognitive dream in February 1980. The dream opened with a marriage (a "union"). In the next scene I was walking on a Pittsburgh street on my way to see an analyst I had worked with. There was ice on the pavement and my shoes were too small. They were tight and constricted my ability to walk or to attain a firm grip on the ground. I decided to take a new path through a tunnel in the University of Pittsburgh Cathedral of Learning, now on my way to see an analyst by the name of Monet or Monte. Upon awakening I felt this analyst (by the name of Monet or Monte) was an important clue related to my interest in graduate education in dream studies. Since I did not know an analyst by either of those names I searched through the directories of analysts at the University of Pittsburgh and asked around, but to no avail. No one knew an analyst named Monet or Monte.

A few months later, when I first met Montague Ullman, I shared my dream with him and asked him if he knew of an analyst by the last name of Monet or Monte. He did not, but he told me his nick name was Monte and I realized he was the analyst in my dream. The shoes in my dream, which were too small and tight, metaphorically represented the constrictions of a singular or particular theory, which constrictions prevented me from getting a solid grip or grounding in dream understanding. The marriage in my dream (the "union") precognitively represented the Union Institute, where I would later receive the first doctorate in Applied Dream Psychology awarded in the United States. The relation of my dream images to Montague Ullman and our future endeavor in dream psychology became strikingly apparent when we subsequently charted a new course in a "Cathedral of Learning" without walls, The Union Institute.

The Union's emphasis on creatively individualizing higher education through an interdisciplinary Ph.D. program provided an opportunity for our development of a doctoral program in dream psychology that was nowhere available through traditional universities. Within my Union doctoral committee and the Union Institute's "Universities Without Walls" I found what I could not locate within the walls of any university, anywhere - one of the largest collections of dream knowledge and dream authorities.

In retrospect, learners seeking graduate education in dream studies can benefit by looking both inward and outward. I urge them to read the literature, attend ASD and other conferences to find who and what resonates with their areas of interest. I suggest they contact those with whom they are interested in studying. Through introspection and working with our dreams we can embrace the challenge to find our own way and to create our own path to knowledge and understanding.

Currently our ASD Task Force is working on the development of an interdisciplinary doctoral program in dream studies. The learning field is wide and unlimited, with ample space for graduate education in dream studies in many disciplines.

In 1994 the ASD Task Force on Graduate Education in Dream Studies developed a model for a masters' degree in psychology in dream studies but that proposal has not yet been implemented at the university level. Nevertheless, since my initial exploration in 1980 there has been notable progress. ASD and its members have played a significant role in the development of graduate education in dream studies by offering more and more courses in dream studies at colleges and universities where they teach. Today, 15 years after my initial pursuit and the development of the first Ph.D. program in Dream Psychology the "universities without walls," such as The Union, Saybrook and Fielding Institutes and The California Institute of Transpersonal Psychology, continue to offer impressive resources for graduate education in dream studies. It may take time but I am confident that our day will come when the value of dream studies will be recognized and incorporated within more universities as a bona fide Masters or Ph.D. degree program.