I would like to draw upon all the dreamworkers and
dream education programs to join in an online project to build a Dream FAQ.
There are several FAQ projects on dreams right now and it would be really nice
bring these all together. In hopes of eliciting some productivity along these
lines I planning to include each month in Electric Dreams a Frequently Asked
Question and would like as many people as possible to respond to this. I am
jump-starting the procedure this month by including a half a dozen or so
questions that get asked all the time. There are so many ways to answer these
and so many different levels of answers that can be given. Kids in grade school
are as interested as college students and mothers with children and seniors
citizens. Consider in your answers that you may want to address a particular
group, of tier the answer so it becomes progressively more sophisticated.
I would prefer you POST you answers to the ASD bulletin board for discussion:
...but if you prefer, you can also send them to me at email@example.com.
If you want more anonymity you can post your answer at the dream-flow web site
*** Why do we dream?
*** New Dream Science
*** Shouldn't dreams be handled only by qualified therapists?
*** How do I recall my dreams?
*** How relevant do you feel dream interpretation is in the work of therapy?
*** How do I develop a career in Dreams and Dreaming?.
*** What are the Educational Needs of a Dreamworker
*** Why do we dream?
I have always felt this question is like "Why do we walk?" The
biologists and physiologists can tell me about the conditions necessary for
walking and how walking evolved and how it helps me survive and adapt. But does
that satisfy the question? Hardly. I walk in the forest to travel through
rustling leaves and at other times to dodge cars in the road. Sometimes I walk
because I am angry and sometimes for health. Yet these answers don't fully
satisfy me either. So I go on spiritual quests and begin looking at the legs as
a vehicle of enlightenment and liberation. I go on a existential quest and chose
my legs to be the carrier of my becoming.
Somewhere along this journey I begin to realize that why I walk is a great
mystery that seems to transcend any particular inquiry, yet remains intimate and
personal. The same journey is true of why I talk, and eat and meet people, and
dream. Yet each of these activities are also unique and as I get older, I tend
to develop the aspects of each which best unfold their potential. That is, I
rarely walk on my hands, nor try to create friends by sleeping. Perhaps this is
why so many people, when left to do what they want in dreams, will go flying.
Its a particularity of dreaming that is best done while dreaming. But notice,
its not necessarily a dream-thing. I might eventually have the equipment to fly
while awake and leave dreaming to other activities. And like our legs, we can't
just do what we want with them. They have their own lives and destiny as well.
The same may be true for dreams.
Here are a few popular reasons given for why we dream:
++ To restore our body and mind.
++ To help with learning and memory.
++ To keep the brain at the right level of awareness/rest during sleep.
++ To allow the mind to handle disturbances in the night without waking up.
++ To keep our sense of self and wholeness through sleep.
++ To allow ourselves some time to explore new and unusual areas of ourselves
++. To resolve conflicts that occur during the day
++ To have fun and be recreational
++ To practice actions for the future.
++ To see the future and experience other dimensions.
++ To encounter the Other.
++ To make new connections and integrate feelings and emotions.
++ To have access to spiritual realms.
*** New Dreaming Brain Science
Despite all the psychological and experiential evidence to the contrary, REM
was still equated with dreaming and seen as its sole initiator as late as 1995.
The success of Hobson's Activation-Synthesis theory continued for nearly 20
years. The pontine brain stem structures fired random neural charges into the
forebrain and these random firings were seen as the sole cause of dreaming. At
least, until the late 1990s.
With the rise of PET scans, MRI and other modern brain imaging machines we
can now look directly at the dreaming brain and are just beginning to see where
it is active the processes it moves through. Further, patients with damage to
particular brain structures have been studied and the changes in dreaming
researched to the point that a whole new theory of dreaming is emerging.
Neurosurgeon Mark Solms noticed some of his patients continued to dream even
though they had damage to their pontine brain stem and REM stopped. He checked
the literature on pons damage and loss of dreaming and found that there were
dozens. Oddly, there was only one case of pons damage where dreaming ceased, and
this was the one quoted by Hobson as evidence for the Activation-Synthesis
theory. Solms couldn't believe that the Activation-Synthesis theory rested on
one case that wasn't very clear and contacted Hobson.
But when he reported these cases to Hobson, they were dismissed. Hobson said
that there was a NREM as well as a REM pontine brain activation that could
account for these dreams. Furthermore, if both the REM *and* NREM brainstem was
damaged, then the patient could not be awakened and asked if they could dream.
So the theory was untestable. At least directly.
But Solms was not convinced and looked in another direction. The
Activation-Synthesis hypothesis assumes that the forebrain that is activated by
the lower brain stem is completely passive. When the random firings enter it,
the forebrain does its best to make sense of them, but not actively. Once the
REM stops, the forebrain activity and dreams do as well.
But this is simply not the case. Even the most conservative research shows
that 5%-10% of NREM dreams are *indistinguishable* from REM dreams. Researcher
David Foulkes says its more like 50%, though what he classifies as a dream may
just be short pictures and thoughts.
Hobson dismissed these NREM dreams initially as dreams that occurred during
the REM period and were just remembered afterwards. Awakenings in the NREM state
that produced dream reports were simply left over REM dream memories. But since
many of the NREM dreams occur at sleep onset before REM occurs, how could they
be REM recalled dreams? Hobson finally accepted that there were NREM dreams, but
again, said that they were due to NREM pontine brain stem activity.
Solms reasoned that if the forebrain was so passive and only generally
activated, that partial damage to the forebrain should have little effect on
dreaming. That is, to lose dreaming in the Activation-Synthesis theory, the
whole forebrain would have to be destroyed. Again, the theory would not be
directly testable as anyone with that kind of damage would not be conscious and
could not report whether they were dreaming or not.
But Solms did find patients that had only *partial* damage to the forebrain,
and lost *all* ability to dream. Or at least, to recall dreams. And this damage,
these brain lesions, were all in the same place, the parietal/occipital/temporal
junction [POT junction] in the forebrain. It is a place on the cortex where they
many parts meet and is a very advanced part of the brain. Damage in areas all
around it could occur, such as in the motor areas or other pre-frontal areas,
and this had no effect on dreaming, just that particular POT junction. Note that
all these patients had REM sleep intact, but could not recall a dream even when
awakened from REM sleep and asked. (After about a year, most recover the ability
to dream.). Solms had about 40 cases himself and found fifty or sixty cases in
the literature with the same results.
[Note on the occipital area. This is the part of the brain involved with
seeing. It has several levels, from the lower part that processes incoming
visual information, (V1 and V2) to the higher parts (V3-V5) that seem to be more
involved in processing visual information. Damage to higher visual cortex areas
seems to produce very specific dream problems, such as loss of color, inability
to see faces and seeing dreams as still slides rather than moving dynamically.
People who are blind and have deterioration or damage in the lower v1-v2 visual
area don't see images in dreams, but do have dreams via other senses, even
complex spacial dreams.]
The POT junction is quite interesting. This is the area where many different
modes of perception come together, seeing, feeling, and spacial sense come
together. This heteromodal POT junction is often thought of as being crucial for
our ability to maintain imaginal space. Of course, this is not completely
damaging to the Activation-Synthesis theory. A modified form could still state
that it is this POT junction which is activated by REM and it is still passive
and controlled by the pontine brain structure.
Dreams and lobotomy
Solms had nine patients who lost the ability to dream that had bilateral
white matter lesions in the ventral mesial quadrant of the frontal lobes. The
white matter is very dense and serves to connect things together. Lesions and
damage here are very rare, but something about this area sounded familiar to
Solms. What he found was that this was exactly the area intentionally cut in
The lobotomy was as procedure developed to help control severe mental
conditions. Initially a large part of the brain was severed and arrested much of
the distress of the patient, but this had negative side effects. Eventually
smaller and smaller areas were targeted, and finally the prefrontal lobotomy
that severed just the white mater in the mesial quadrant was settled upon as the
smallest area that could be cut and still produce some help for psychotics.
One of the side effects was loss of dreaming. Solms found thousands of cases
reported and 70% - 90% lost the ability to recall dreams. They have REM sleep,
but never recover the ability to recall dreams in REM or NREM. Note that these
patients memories are intact as well, so its unlikely that its just an effect of
memory loss of the dreams. When awakened from REM, they cannot even recall
dreams that might have been in their short term memory.
The Dopamine System and Dreams
The prefrontal lobotomy procedure fell out of favor as anti-psychotic
medications began to come on the market. These drugs impact dopamine fibers that
are of the same area. This dopamine system is the misial-cortical misial-limbic
dopamine system. Anti-psychotic drugs block dopamine in this system and thus
dampen the psychosis. The overall effect is a loss of interest in the active
world, loss of motivation, loss of object oriented behavior. These patients can
still speak and act when asked to, but need to get their direction and
motivation from outside themselves.
Thus this dopamine system is a seeking system, often referred to as the
curiosity, expectancy, desiring system. It provides us with a motivation system
that drives us towards positive interaction with the world.
Ernest Hartmann had found something similar when L-dopa, a dopamine like
drug, was administered to patients . He found that L-dopa patients had a massive
increase in dreams. No effect on REM.
Here again was evidence that the REM system and the Dreaming system are
Another Dream Initiator
Some epileptic patients don't have full grand seizures, but rather localized
complex-partial epilepsy which produces dreamlike seizures. These patients also
tend to have repetitive nightmares. Once the seizure controlled, the nightmares
stop. Brain researcher Penfield electrically stimulated this diseased part of
the brain in patients and produced similar nightmares.
Now these seizures are localized to the limbic system. If they continued down
into the pontine brain stem, they could cause general seizures. The interesting
thing here is that once the condition is treated, the nightmares go away. Here
then is another case of something creating dreams which is completely unrelated
to the REM system
What in summary can be said about the brain structures and dreams?
The dream state seems to be mediated by forebrain. They follow a particular
kind of path which begins in the limbic/dopamine system, then curls around the
brain up and towards the back visual system and POT junction. The parts of the
brain activated seem to be the limbic system, the dopamine system, the septal
nuclei and basal forebrain structures, anterior singular gyrus, amygdella,
hippocampus, hypothalamus, and the POT junction. Interestingly they do not
activate the tip most forward part of the forebrain [where we do math
calculations and other discriminatory thinking] and miss the v1 and v2 visual
centers in the back, which are the centers used when we are directly looking at
objects in the outer world.
Psychologically these would mean that dreams are involved with our emotions,
our memory, our motivations, our attentional and visual systems, spacial-cognitive
mechanisms. Completely unrelated to the REM structures which have to do more
with general activation systems.
The REM system continues to be one of the activation systems that start the
dreaming system going, but one of many. It is likely that as more studies on the
system occur, more initiation keys for the dream system will be found.
Its true that there is still a huge gap between dream work and dream science.
But as shown, this gap can lead to creative inspiration and cooperation as well
as antagonism. The most active group working in this area in the last decade has
been the Association for the Study of Dreams, which brings together researchers,
clinicians and other dream concerned individuals to discuss the differences and
promote cross field understanding. I highly recommend the conferences to those
interested in dream science, dream psychology, dreams and spirituality or dream
anthropology, as well as lay interests in grassroots dreamwork. If you cannot
make it to a conference, ASD publishes a quarterly peer reviewed journal and a
more friendly newsletter. See below for details or visit the web site at:
Or check with your local University Library for the ASD Journal, _Dreaming_.
The new research being done by Mark Solms is rather difficult to read. Its
better if you can catch one of his lectures. Contact the Association for the
Study of Dreams for a lecture audio cassette tape from the Santa Cruz 1999
If you are bold, here are a couple of readings:
Solms, M. (1995). New findings on the neurological organization of dreaming:
Implications for psychoanalysis. Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 64, 4367.
Solms, Mark (1997). The Neuropsychology of Dreams: A Clinico-Anatomical
Study. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates. PUB.
*** Shouldn't dreams be handled only by qualified therapists?
While there are a few who feel this way, the vast majority of dream-concerned
professionals (Ullman & Limmer, 1989, Krippner, 1990, Taylor, 1992) believe
that with a few simple precautions, we can all enjoy the benefits of dreamwork.
Dreamwork (or dream sharing) is the process of recalling, recording, and giving
meaning and value to a dream. For some this means looking at the language of the
dream in the form of symbols, while for others the dream inspires them to paint,
sculpt, write stories, enact plays, and try out new forms of social interaction,
both in and out of the dream itself.
Note on the word "dreamwork" and "dream sharing". I will
be using both "dream work" and "dreamwork" to designate the
practice of approaching dreams from a particular perspective or technique. I
will use "dream-work" with a hyphen to refer specifically to Freud's
ideas on how the unconscious disguises the dream. I use the words "dream
sharing" and "dreamsharing" as a more general way to refer to the
act of telling and sharing dreams.
Clinical vs. Peer Dreamwork & Dream Sharing
Clinical dreamwork is done within the context of psychotherapy and clinical
& sleep research and has different approaches and goals than peer dreamwork.
This may be described generally as in the service of healing, but may include
peripheral uses such self-awareness, life enhancement, and diagnostic uses.
Peer dreamwork may or may not be concerned with healing. It can be as simple
as sharing dreams across the office water-cooler, or as complex as a life-time
spiritual journey. The motives may be simply to work the dream into being as
humorous an possible, or as complex altering the underlying assumptions of
reality that imprison us.
Self-help mutual aid programs are made of peers who face a common concern.
They provide emotional and other support by sharing their personal experiences
and exchanging resources. Self-help programs organize to offer peer support,
advocacy and a combination of the two. Peer dream sharing may have moderators,
but the basic model is one of equal exchange. Other kinds of peer dream groups
are established for the purpose of having fun with dreams and in dreams, for
exploring and displaying dream inspired art and writing, and for bettering
social communication between individuals and groups. These groups need to spend
more time up-front discussing the purpose, goals and procedures to which
everyone in the group needs to agree. By far, the peer self-help groups are the
most numerous and are often equated with the word "dreamwork".
Here are some guidelines developed by the very experienced dreamworker Jeremy
Taylor (1983 that will contribute to the safety of a peer self-help approach to
1. You are always the final authority on what the dream means. Others can
offer insight, suggestions and techniques for exploration and expression, but no
one knows what the final meaning & value of the dream will be for you,
2. Dreams come in the service of wholeness and health. If you find an
interpretation that does not fit this, perhaps you need to change methods of
interpretation. Dream interpretations that lead you toward self- criticism,
depression or despair are simply wrong and if these conditions persist, you may
wish to seek help from others.
3. There is no such thing as a dream with one meaning. If you feel stuck on
one meaning or feel another person is pushing one meaning, it is time to
reconsider your methods and approach. I would also recommend reading the
Association for the Study of Dream's 1997 Ethics Statement In general, a
grassroots dreamgroup's rules & codes of ethics need to be checked out up
front. Usually you can just ask. Don't let anyone shame you for not knowing the
secret rules, because there aren't any.
*** How do I recall my dreams?
Thought the techniques can get quite elaborate, the basic way to recall
dreams is by trying. Anything that supports your intention to recall a dream
will help. I personally find that disciplined journal keeping is the best
technique because it incorporates so many of the suggested paths including
intention, re-direction of waking attention, respect for the dream, and many
other skills and issues.
Here is an Electric Dreams article by Rick Bouchard that will elaborate some
more techniques for you.
Twelve Tips for Improving Dream Recall
by Rick Bouchard-
from : Bouchard, Rick (1996).Twelve Tips for Improving
Dream Recall & A Few Words About Journaling. Electric Dreams 3(1).
1. Develop a relationship with your "unconscious." When you tell
your unconscious ("psyche") that you want to hear what it has to
say......it speaks! Sometimes, a simple interest in the dream world will
stimulate dream recall.
2. Go to bed early. Getting a full night's sleep and having a clear head in the
morning will help with dream recall.
3. Before going to sleep, affirm: "Tonight, I will remember a
4. Have a paper, a pen, and a subtle light by your bed. This minimizes the
obstacles you may experience upon waking to record, minimizes the movements you
must make, and makes the job easier. A subtle light will not fully wake you.
5. Let yourself wake up in the middle of the night. Drink extra water, the night
before, to assure that you will have to get up in the middle of the night, where
you can often catch your self dreaming.
6. Set aside quiet time between "waking up" and "getting
up." Savor the twilight,...that space one teeters between when they are
half awake and half asleep.
7. No alarm clocks. Alarm clocks can decrease recall be cause they allow you no
"twilight time." You are suddenly thrust into an awake state. Instead,
try going to bed earlier so you wake up and savor that quiet time be fore the
alarm does go off. Meanwhile, hopefully, memories of the dream images will
surface in your silence.
8. Do not move upon awakening. Dreams are best recalled by lying still and
letting the dream images surface. Ask "psyche" to let whatever you
dreamt come to your conscious mind.
9. Record just a key work or an image. If you can't remember the whole dream,
write down a fragment, a mood, a feeling. You can certainly discover meaning in
dream snippets and fragments.
10. Tell your dream to a trusted other or a dream partner. Saying them out loud
can make them feel more real and can bring on an "aha!" (that light
that goes on when we realize some thing). As author Jeremy Taylor says, this
("aha") is a reliable touch stone of whether or not you are onto an
accurate interpretation. You are the only one who can say for sure what a dream
means for you.
11. Tape recording dreams can help you get closer to the experience and feelings
you had when you actually had the dream. It reflects back to you what you
sounded like, and perhaps were feeling, (in the middle of the night) as you re
cord ed the dream.
12. Experiment with how you remember, record, analyze, and explore your dreams;
try drawing, poetry, clay, and so on. Weave them into your day. Dreams can be
the source of much inspiration, wisdom, and joy.
A Few Words About Journaling
1. Date your entry. This can help you later make connections between your
dreams and the events in your life.
2. Title your dreams. This can help in cataloging and, later, in locating
dreams. Also, "where" you get the title tends to be from the same
creative, inner place that the dream comes from. Pay attention to this!
3. Write the dream in a journal in the present tense. This allows you to reserve
the past tense for when it really happens in the dream (e.g., I am walking down
the street and suddenly recognize a woman I once worked with). Writing the dream
in the present tense also allows you to experience more closely and acutely the
feelings you were actually having when you had the dream.
4. Lastly, at the bottom of the page, make a few notes about what is going on in
your life at the time. This can help you later see patterns.
5. Choose a journal that meets your needs; this will make journaling a more
pleasurable experience! For example, I find a journal that lies flat, has pages
that can be removed and later reinserted, has pages that will not allow ink to
bleed through to the other side, and, which has a hard back for support is most
in line with my needs as a dream journaler.
Rick Bouchard, as the director of the Dream Part of Our
Journey, attends workshops at the C.G. Jung Center in Brunswick, the C.G. Jung
Institute in Boston, the C.G. Jung Foundation in New York City; he is also a
truth seeker within Unity Church of Greater Portland in Windham, Maine.
According to Bouchard, "My approach is Jungian,
feminist, systemic, and homeopathic." He places a strong emphasis on
spirituality in his practice.
E-mail Rick at: firstname.lastname@example.org
*** How relevant do you feel dream interpretation is in the work of therapy?
For long term therapies, dream work contributes a long list of benefits,
including wholeness and individuation, cohesiveness of self, the development of
intuition, insight, self reflection, heightened associative and analogic and
metaphoric skills, the development of the capacity to confront issues with
symbolic & abstract solutions, the ability to tolerate and work with the
irrational in life, developing a creative source of inspiration, developing
emotional awareness and expressive abilities, developing spiritual awareness and
inspirational sources, expanding inner dialogue and teaching people how to
explore and have fun in a safe and appropriate environment.
For shorter term therapies and crisis intervention, dreams can be used to get
a larger picture of the issue and provide alternative solutions as well as teach
the client or patient new problem solving resources that are owned by the person
themselves. They can also be used to cut to bull and get right at the issue.
A key to all the above is *who* gets to do the interpreting. If the therapist
does too much interpreting, it creates a dependence on the part of the patient.
The real key in dreamwork is teaching the other person to find the meaning and
value of their own dream. This enables the person to feel empowered in other
situations that require the development of meaning and value.
*** How do I develop a career in Dreams and Dreaming?
First the bad news.
There was more money made last weekend by the latest blockbuster movie than
for all the dreamworkers since Freud published _The Interpretation of Dream_ a
hundred years ago in 1900.
Gayle Delaney, dreamworker extra-ordinaire has said that no one yet has
gotten rich just doing just dreamwork. And having been on Oprah and Donahue,
written tons of books and traveled with her dream show world wide, she should
know! Due to the bias of our culture, the mass appeal of dreamwork is just not
Without full time professionals, how does the field evolve? Well, people do
other things as well. Here are the most related I am aware of...
1. Psychology. Especially Jungian psychology, which has a heavy dream focus.
Most dreamworkers have lots of mental health training and many are
2. Publishing and Lecturing and Workshops. Books are the main contact source
for the dream worker and the more successful dreamworkers are also giving
seminars, lectures, workshops, conference presentations and getting as much air
time as possible. Most are still neglecting the Web, but some progress is being
made. There are some writers who use dreams as rhetorical devices in their books
and screenplays. There are a few scholars who write about dreams, but not many.
3. Science and Medicine. Sleep disorder clinics and clinicians are on the
rise, though dream specific research is on the decline. The focus here is on
problems with sleep and some work can then be done with dreams through the
backdoor of nightmares and other dream related sleep issues.
4. Religion. As Ron L. Hubbard once said to the editor of Analog Magazine,
"heck, all the money is in religion!" There has yet to be a Church of
Dreams, but I suspect we will see them in the 21stCentury. More often, pastors
and priests and ministers take up dreamwork as a adjunct to pastoral counseling.
Note for instance the success of Jeremy Taylor, who is a Unitarian minister and
now has a full workshop and dream tours schedule. However, this came after 20 or
more years in the trenches. Non-denominational dreamwork is becoming more
popular as self improvement often includes dreamwork an spirituality. One more
note: Taylor also pointed out to me at the 1999 ASD Conference that Spiritual
Dreamwork is protected by the constitution of the United States. This status is
not even so high for psychotherapy!
5. Lucid Dreams. This seems to be almost its own category of dreamwork.
Stephen LaBerge has done the most to make lucid dream technology, science and
psychology a life's profession. The topic continues to draw lots of attention.
6. Anthropology. Many people in the dream field are anthropologists. They
study not only what other cultures have to say about dreams and dreaming, but
our own as well. They look at how the dream and dream interpretations function
in the culture and what the mean to the individual in this context.
*** What are the Educational Needs of a Dreamworker
1. Jungian psychology. Get a lot of this. Read all you can on your own. You
might want to start with Jung's memoirs, Memories, Dreams and Reflections. But I
also like the illustrated_Man and his Symbols_. I don't think there is a richer
system of dreamwork on the earth., and most of what is used today in groups and
by individuals stems from the work of the Jungians. (IMHO)
2. Other psychologies: Ask for the basics and history. Freud, Adler, Jung,
Maslow, Sullivan, Erikson, even Skinner. But also look into Frederich Perls,
Mednard Boss, Bonime, Montegue Ullman, Arnold Mindel, James Hillman. Try to get
as close to having a session with them as possible. Obviously this isn't
possible for many as they are dead, but move from the generalizations about them
to finding out what an hour with them was actually like. If you can afford
therapy, try out different kinds of therapy yourself. Very Important to get as
close to first hand experience as possible. If you get deeply into
psychotherapy, I find the Object Relations therapies quite interesting and a way
of bringing forward classical psychotherapy. Kohut and self-psychology forms a
bridge between object relations and human potential and wholeness oriented
I highly recommend Raymond J. Corsini's Current Psychotherapies for a quick
journey into several types of therapies at the experimental level.. Fossage and
Loew put together a comparison of dream therapies in Dream Interpretation, A
comparative Study second ed 1987. Its a little dry, but interesting. A more
exciting new comparison is Anthony Shaft on's Dream Reader. Also, Gayle Delaney
has a good comparison dream book called New Directions in Dream Interpretation.
3. Anthropology. Much of dreamwork has a cultural component. Exposure to
allows for a wider grasp of individual issues and offers a unique way to find a
context for dreams.
On dreams & anthropology, read
Barbara Tedlock's (1987). Dreaming: Anthropological and Psychological
Interpretations. Cambridge University Press.
Devereux, George (1969). Reality and Dream: Psychotherapy of a Plains Indian.
Garden City, NY: Anchor Books
4. Literature. I feel that getting the sense of what writing and literature
is about has helped me with dreams. Interpreting stories is something the fields
share in common, and they enhance one another. Dreams are often interpreted
using literary criticism's techniques, not only the simple dynamic structures of
plot and character, but the more elaborate philosophies of criticism with
investigate the psychological and political forces in all narratives. In Dreams,
See Jones, Richard (1979). The Dream Poet. Cambridge, MA: Schenkman Publishing
Company and States, Bert O. (1988). Rhetoric of Dreams. London: Cornell
5. Religion and Mythology: This could be under anthropology or literature as
well. Both religious studies and mythology look at stories that struggle with
the creation or understanding of the meaning and value of life. Be sure to read
Joseph Campbell's The Masks of God. There are several in the series, all great.
I would read Mircea Eliade's The History of Religious Ideas as well, also a kind
of mythologically based text. Push through on religious studies to the esoteric/
mystic side of the religion. We hear a lot of horror stories about Islam in the
West, but we rarely hear about the fabulous Sufi traditions. Again, be sure to
check out Carl Jung on his rendition of Christianity and Western religions.
6. Philosophy: while philosophy has done very little in its investigation of
the world of ideas to explore dreams, I find it invaluable in the understanding
of dream techniques and where they are coming from. All forms of interpretation
are motivated by other ideas and powers. To the degree that we learn to be
conscious and aware of these, we won't as often fall prey to being the victim of
the idea. Also, being able to deeply question the assumptions and categories we
live by is very similar to a lot of dreamwork which does the same.
7. Science. Understanding the functions of dreaming used to be clearly
separated into those who wanted a clear biological answer and those who wanted a
psycho-spiritual answer. Now the fields mix and blend and having a good
background in biology, physiology, chemistry, etc., can help in sorting out the
psychological from the physical. We used to think about schizophrenia, for
example, in moral terms. Something was wrong with the person in that they failed
to use their will power to come up to snuff and therapy involved getting them
back on the right road of consensus reality. Now we know that there are terrible
chemical imbalances, many genetically informed. Therapy may still involve
helping the person adapt to reality, but it no longer assumes the person is
*trying* to be weird. In dreamwork, we may make use of a nightmare to
investigate some deep soulful path, but its also important to check out the
physiological components and influences. The more science we have, the better we
can refer these clients to appropriate care.
I'm not aware of any at this time that offer advanced degrees in Dreaming.
The Association for the Study of Dreams offers Continuing Education Units at its
conferences. Www.asdreams.org and there are several schools with offer advanced
training. There is a movement headed by Jeremy Taylor to have an organizational
umbrella for the many schools of dreamwork and suggest standards that these
schools might follow and comply with to obtain ASD Certification.
Watch the ASD Graduate Studies list for more: