Electric Dreams

Dangerous Liaisons

Sky Turell 

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Turell, Sky (1996 August). Dangerous Liaisons. Electric Dreams 3(7). Retrieved July 26, 2000 from Electric Dreams on the World Wide Web: http://www.dreamgate.com/electric-dreams  

(A response to "Dangerous Dreaming" ED 3(6)  which I am printing here as well as the extended re-quotes as it is related to the  article "Safety in Dreamwork".) RCW


This issue of the appropriateness of online dream sharing so beautifully focuses what is a head-on clash of old vs. new paradigms. In fact, the paradigms involved are so foundational that the much overused term *paradigm* doesn't even begin to capture the magnitude. At the core, this is about our fundamental belief systems regarding fear vs. comfort, safety vs. danger and power vs. disempowerment. These are **the** issues of the 1990's. We've barely begun to tentatively approach them. **How** we approach them will have everything to do with what the 2000's look like. Whether we allow ourselves to believe that it's *safe* to approach them (which is what this issue is really all about), is obviously critical.

Cuts taken from:
>Dangerous Dreams - The risks of online dream sharing
>By Richard Wilkerson (Electric Dreams vol 3 # 6)

<I was confronted at the ASD XIII conference with the notion that dreams are too dangerous to be shared on the net. The general idea was that there is something about dreams which makes us so vulnerable, so helpless, that in the wrong hands serious psychological damage may occur.>

We are vulnerable when approaching the unknown, the *other.* We've been taught by the world's major religions that just beyond the veil lies the realm of Satan, demons, negativity. If we stay in our narrow little track, we'll be safe. Oh sure, sometimes Satanic forces impinge on our safe little track and we can't always be sure whether our sense of things is our own, or whether it's that negative "authority" which has led us astray -- therefore we can't trust our own impulses, our own sense of things. We have little trust in our own capabilities of discernment.

If you believe yourself to be too 20th century for a belief in the above, check again. These beliefs are **so** engrained in our Western society that they influence all of us.

For the scientifically minded, the ideas are the same, but they are expressed differently. The *other* is the realm of the irrational, chaotic random firings of the brain. We can't even comprehend a theory that grants validity to dreams, mystical or paranormal experiences. That's for psychotics. We give them drugs so they no longer are capable of having any experiences.

For the psychologists in the crowd, it becomes a firmly engrained belief that dreams are representive of negative unresolved issues, of neurotic conditions, or worse. Framing them in the positive doesn't negate the fact that the key idea here is that dreams, especially ones involving fear and other *negative* emotional states, are something to be gotten over. The idea of resolving them becomes another way of saying to get rid of them, perhaps leaving some positive residual learning in the wake. Dreams are still considered to be fictional, manufactured artifacts of consciousness. They are not granted validity, experientially. The levels of consciousness and aspects of dimensional existence involved in dreaming are not granted equal footing with this *real reality* and the purpose of dream analysis becomes to shift the dream learning into our full waking state. (I'd suggest that the real goal here is to blend the levels of consciousness so that it becomes more a matter of us taking our waking consciousness *there,* but that's definitely another conversation.)

For the politically minded, these ideas have expressed themselves as cold or hot wars. *Enemies* outside the boundaries. They must be fought in order to keep us safe, in terms of physical safety, or perhaps more to the point, in terms of financial security.

Yes, the *other* is dangerous. We've believed that since The Garden of Eden, since Sodom & Gomorrah, since the Tower of Babel debacle. If we venture into the other realms, *get above ourselves,* then God or The Gods get majorly pissed off. The result is famine, plagues, bolts from heaven...all sorts of dangerous stuff.

<But wait a minute. One of the self assigned tasks in my life is to bring our culture into a relationship with dreaming that moves in a different direction than, for example, telling our children upon awakening, "Oh forget it, it was just a dream". Simply dismissing the arguments about the potency of dreams would be counter-productive.>

Sure, first we go into total denial -- *it's just a dream* translates as, it's meaningless, nonexistent really. For those with a more insight therapy orientation, then it's still more denial. Sure dreams have meaning, they are symbolic reflections of the unresolved conflicts of our lives. But it's messy business learning what all these symbols mean -- that's best left to those with the education (social status), definitely not for the average person on the street. Certainly not something to be granted the ultimate status -- calling them, or the levels of consciousness or dimensional locations **real.** Let's make sure they remain safely in the realm of the theoretical and intellectual -- something that can be safely discussed around even the most refined dinner table. (Explain to me, people, why we all seem to be having essentially the same dreams, why we meet strangers in dreams only to meet them again in reality, why people can *meet* in the dreamstate and both recall the identical experience? I could go on and on. New belief: We live in a multidimensional universe, with a multileved consciousness, we humans are quite capable of penetrating the veil and having contact with events and individuals we are told can not be.)

Further, since all this material is reflective of unresolving issues, it by definition borders on abberant states of being -- it is **dangerous business**. There's a fine line between mental health and mental illness, we are taught. Only those in positions of authority have the education or the right to make judgements about which is which. And we have often granted them the legal authority in such matters. Certainly the average citizen is not capable of making such determinations, we've been taught, which is just another way of saying that these things aren't really real. They are not accessible, or their meaning is not accessible to just anyone. They are of another realm altogether.

This leaves us, as a society, in a strange catch-22. Those who might help us venture outside our safe little track, who might show us more expansive ways of being, are automatically negated, debunked, deemed a threat. Instead, reality will be determined by those with enough social clout to be granted that authority, those who most often have the most to gain from maintaining the status quo. It becomes a very undynamic system and, need I point out, life doesn't appear to thrive in undynamic systems.

<Now to be fair, the main arguments made were about the assumption of authority, the potential damage of telling other people what their dreams mean rather than letting them come to find this meaning with their own inner resources.>

Are we so warped that we would automatically assume that any ol' person who happens to respond to our dream is some kind of *authority*? Are we so conditioned to accepting anyone as having more authority than we do, that we will grant that position to someone who isn't even using their real name, for pete's sake?

If the answer is yes, then we are in very serious trouble, my friends. I mean this quite seriously. My personal opinion is that we grant authority **much** too readily and, at the same time, the average citizen is quite capable of absorbing an idea and determining it to be either useful or pure unmitigated bull. If the answer to this is *no,* then we'd better come up with a quick alternative to the democratic system. Since this is actually a readily accepted statement, we *have* dispensed with the democratic system. Instead, we allow those in positions of authority to withhold information that's deemed **too much for us** or contrary to our **national security** (another wway of saying the same thing) and many actually support these attitudes and actions as valid!!! Amazing!

The fact that we are even having this discussion, though, is cause for a lot of concern. Am I to understand that some of our key dreamwork people, many of whom are mental health professionals, have really accepted some status of authority for themselves? I mean, late at night, all alone with their thoughts, do they really believe they understand very much at all about human consciousness? I **know** that we understand very little (and, for the record, I'm a reasonably well educated person), I know that *they* understand very little. That's not a put-down, but simply a realistic assessment. We all, individually and collectively, and with total equality, need to go back to the drawing board. We can not continue to dismiss extraordinary experiences and that means that we must develop some understanding and explanation for them. For our purposes here, I include dreams in the category *extraordinary experiences* because I believe many of them to be just that -- completely real experiences which don't appear to happen every day. This process, by definition, is one that is not welcomed by those embracing the status quo.

<Its been my feeling for sometime that dream texts are somewhat similar. Certainly the technique of taking the dream "as if it were your own" moves in this direction. In this technique we approach a dream as if it were our story, not the dreamers, and then talk about the ways it is relevant to us, how the imagery moves us, how we give it meaning and how it returns to us its significance. The author of the dream is decentered.>

Richard, here I have to disagree. Some may have noticed that during dream wheels and online message board postings I do not stick to the Ullman technique. That's because, while I understand the sentiment behind it's development -- to establish a structure so that group members can't lay *trips* on each other -- it simply doesn't work. And worse, I think it adds to the potential problems.

I got my feet wet in the human potential movement back in the late 60's-early 70's.This was the era of encounter groups and group therapy in general. There were many ground rules to prevent people from laying trips. However, it didn't work. It didn't work in spades, in fact. Those who wanted to tell someone what they really thought, did so, simply altering the wording so that it fit the ground rules technically. No one was fooled, we understood perfectly what they were trying to communicate. In fact, the ground rules added insult to injury in the sense that these communications were dishonest. People could pretend to agree, approve, or be *helpful* while something else entirely was going on. I much prefer a straight-ahead communication. It's honest and I can decide how I wish to respond and how I want to deal with the information within myself.

This issue really becomes one of form vs. substance. We have been taught that if the form is acceptable, then that's all we need be concerned with. It doesn't matter what our government does, as long as they stick to the agreed upon structures, then any action undertaken is "democratic." We have learned the hard way that this is not always the case. None of that democratic form has protected us from anything, if anything it has helped to camoflage some significant wrong-doing.

You can't control what other people do and say. That's the hard truth, but that's it folks. What we need to learn is how to use what other people do and say in a positive way. Even the most difficult interaction can be used in a positive way. Everyone in this society, by virtue of being human, has an unalienable right to real truth. They will know, or can learn, what to do with it. That is not an easy process necessarily, but it's time that we gave up the illusion of being able to protect anyone from anything. Life doesn't happen that way and online dreamwork doesn't either. Further, if we continually tell people that they are incapable of hearing the truth, they may believe us! This is a very *disempowering* social dynamic that is everywhere around us.

<And so dreams became aligned with the irrational and, this is my point, aligned with psychology. (There is also a hidden ethic in Christianity about the natural and the irrational being the same, but that's another topic).>

It's not another topic, Richard, it's the psychological crux of this discussion. But it's more like the natural/irrational/paranormal/not Church sanctioned equals Satan. Or, framed a little more in urban culture terminology: it's ideas from outside the system as we have understood and defined it which might upset our theoretical apple cart big time, which might force us to realize, in no uncertain terms, the ineffectiveness of our current theoretical understandings of practically everything. Psychology is part of the mainstream, the status quo, and absolutely certainly its practitioners are solidly in the cultural elite (well, especially psychiatrists -- that M.D. still garners a lot of respect.). That mainstream has everything to lose.

< None of this is meant as evidence that the dream is or isn't dangerous. It is a statement saying that the dream is not owned by psychology and psychologists, nor by clinicians or the board of behavioral sciences.>

No, the dream isn't owned by psychology...see my above statements about the state of the mental health profession. But the very idea that a dream *might* be dangerous -- that this is even a valid conversation to be having, is absurd in the extreme. Do we discuss whether having five fingers is dangerous? Whether breathing is dangerous? Obviously the human being has the capacity for dreaming. More than that, without the dream experience there is significant psychological and physical stress and distress. We are **supposed** to dream. It's absurd to have the idea that something that is an inherent facet of our nature can also be detrimental to our existence. (It's reductionist Western Civilization that's detrimental to our existence, but that's definitely another story.)

<I haven't yet been able to understand the arguments that dreams in and of themselves are simply too psychologically toxic, too revealing, to apt to cause major psychological damage in and of themselves. The damage theory seems to come more from how we approach dreams, what people think and feel they are doing when they share them with a qualified or unqualified individual or group.>

I will expand a bit here on some of my earlier statements about the narrow track vs. extraordinary experiences. The *damage* is potentially real, but it involves the disintegration of our current scientific and social understandings and structures. The danger isn't what we might experience out there in those other realms -- people have been having extraordinary experiences since recorded history was first recorded -- the danger is that once we understand what's *out there* we might come to understand that our entire framework for what *here* is, what life is, what the human race is, all of that will come to complete disintegration and reintegration.

What we fear is that we won't be able to integrate those new under- standings and we will protect ourselves from that eventuality at all costs, including our own self-destruction. Those who have a lot to lose politically and financially don't believe that they can have real power, rather than the trappings and illusions of power they now enjoy. They are grasping at the trappings and illusions with all their might as they feel them slipping away. In a sense this means **all** of us. The old structures and ideas are falling away and we are finding it very difficult to let go and realize that in the process we might find real power, rather than the illusion.

<I will guess that those who are concerned about the danger of the dream are more concerned about people coming to share dreams and expecting some kind of psychotherapeutic effect or environment. The explanation of the danger here will vary according to the psychological perspective. From the perspective of the innocent dreamer, the problem is that they have *already* given over the function of the creation of meaning and value to a supposed authority. In a sense, we are all kind of in this position with dreams as we feel any need to interpret them at all. I don't feel the need to interpret my going to work in the morning (well, most mornings) but there is a call I have imposed upon myself with dreams. Is this more dangerous than simply going along with the rest of my culture and society and saying, "Well, it was just dream" and forgetting it? I suppose it is - in that my path now includes the dream text and my explorations of it. Going through it, with it, are then more dangerous than if I had just left well enough alone.>

I think there is a validity to this idea of *interpretation.* Yes, dreams are a natural language, a universal language even, maybe. But it's a language that we were forced to stop speaking and it has faded with time. In that sense, we do need to re-learn, to compile new *dictionaries* and help each other puzzle it out.

The irony will be that once we re-learn how to speak the dream language I'm certain we'll realize that we were speaking it all along. That our daily *real* reality is comprised of the same symbols, that the same sort of *reality creation* is taking place in both realms. **That** is not something that we are keen on exploring at all because that will require acceptance of self-responsibility at entirely new levels.

<There are a few life practices I am not yet willing to hand over to the *exclusive* use of the psychotherapeutic encounter.>

Don't hand 'em any, Richard. Don't give your power away to anyone, anytime. Besides, only when we are each secure in our ability to determine what's appropriate for ourselves as individuals and actively create our own lives, only then can we truly listen to each other. Until that time, we *must* to some extent be afraid to listen to each other -- so insecure are we in our ability to confront aspects of ourselves we feel might be too threatening.

<I guess the Orthodoxy would say that since there can be no authority on dreams, no one should be allowed to make meaning of them. The Christian church has historically make exceptions for saints.>

Wrong. Any orthodoxy will want to claim that right for themselves, and only themselves. That's the nature of power-seeking. Knowledge is power and no one wants to share their power.

The Ecology of Cyberspace.

<As John Herbert has noted in an unpublished study on the difference between online and offline groups, one of the main differences is the reflective quality of the Online groups and the emotionally pitched quality of the face-to-face groups. This emotional pitch picks up a bit in real time chat, but never quite reaches the face-to-face pressure. This is not a judgement of one being superior over the other, just a note that it is much more likely for emotional instability to play a factor in face-to-face encounters. (However, Herbert did note that online groups were rated higher in self rating scores of insight gained). The point here is that in cyberspace there is a time factor, a infusion of reflective imagination over reactions. There is time to consider other people's reactions as well.>

Modern psychiatry/psychology, as well as every other human institution, is **terrified** of emotions. We believe them to be the means by which we can be manipulated, or even destroyed. We're afraid we'll be confronted with knowledge of ourselves that we won't be able to handle. (Doesn't the devil entice and seduce? Don't mentally ill people express unusually high levels of emotional expression? Don't emotions herald all those personal issues that we'd really rather not confront?)

<This means that to participate in our society, the adult has to been able to handle free speech. To begin saying that there are adult citizens who can't, is a serious theoretical and political statement.>

Racist, elitist, supremicist...and afraid. I find it ironic that the *human potential movement* is probably the last bunch, in my experience, to really embrace the reality of our actualization.

<I talked to other dreamworkers at the ASD XIII conference who have been exploring dreamworking online, including John Herbert, Jeremey Taylor, Jayne Gackenbach and Electric Dreams community dreamworkers and have yet to find *one* single case of an unhappy camper. Again, there are many who find the process useless, and don't like the _idea_ of dreamsharing - but not one bad experience has been reported in now what is about the 3rd public year and several pre-public years of online dream sharing. If other adult activities that are deemed dangerous can boast these statistics, I think they would be hardly be called dangerous.>

Gee, Richard, y'now that's exactly what's happened in the UFO field. Insiders at the government have said that the reason they instigated their debunking, discrediting, coverup procedures during the late 1940's and even more vigilantly in the 1960's is because they were afraid that the presence of Ets would set off wholesale panic. In particular they were afraid that it would lead to the disintegration of society -- most particularly that people would stop paying their taxes.

In the years since then there have been repeated broad daylight sightings by millions of people over Tokyo, Mexico City and other locations. Y'know what? *No one* seems to be particularly upset. These are the subject of serious news programs and newspaper coverage in many parts of the world (that it isn't covered in the U.S. is an interesting sociological/political oddity that warrants some serious study), and the atmosphere seems to be more that of excitement and curiosity. Mexico City, like most modern large cities, is probably not highly educated by and large, and certainly Mexicans are typically very conservative in their religious beliefs...still, there's no panic.

One wonders if it's the governments of the world that are on verge of panic and that the *protection* is really more an attempt to protect their best interests. I don't trust anyone who tries to *protect* me. They almost certainly are on an ego-trip or have agendas. I'll protect myself, thank you very much.

<Let's say that dreams are potentially wonderful, and save the dangerous warnings for a culture that hides away and represses dream discussions.>


Skye Turell (turel33@west.net)