Electric Dreams

 John Suler on Children's Dreams

Interview by

Victoria Quinton

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 Quinton, Victoria (1996 August). John Suler on Children's Dreams. Interview. Electric Dreams 3(7). Retrieved July 26, 2000 from Electric Dreams on the World Wide Web: http://www.dreamgate.com/electric-dreams

Victoria Quinton [V]: Would you say you have been interested in dreams most of your life?   Do you deal with children's dreams at all? I am keen on creating a "dream friendly" environment for my daughter who is almost 2 1/2 now.

John Suler [JS]: I think that's a wonderful goal on your part. I hope you succeed. Unfortunately, there will always be some people who are hostile towards the whole concept of dream interpretation (probably people who are anxious about their own intrapsychic life) - but we can still build a community with(out) having to convince everyone.

[JS]: I don't work specifically with children's dreams. But my students do on occasion tell me about their childhood dreams. From time to time, I also ask my own children (Asia-9, Kira-5) about their dreams. Funny you should ask this question, because just yesterday Kira had a dream about "Coonie" - her beloved stuffed animal (a racoon) which has been with her since she was born. Unfortunately, she lost him a few days ago in the Bahamas where we were taking our family vacation. My wife and I made desperate attempts to find Coonie, but to no avail. Of course, Kira was quite upset about this loss and went into a grieving process. The dream, no doubt, was part of that mourning.

[JS]: She dreamt she was swimming in a pool with Coonie nearby, but then realized that she was not swimming in water, but in a large pool filled with many Coonies.

[JS]: A very simple dream, but so poetic and beautiful, and packed with meaning despite its simplicity. In psychoanalytic terms, Coonie is a "transitional object" that sustains her sense of self, sooths her, and helps move her along the developmental path. The dream clearly depicts this. She is surrounded by Coonie, immersed in him, made buoyant by him. It just so happens that on this Bahamas vacation she learned to swim, for the first time, in the deep end of the pool. It was a major developmental accomplishment for her. And she associates that with Coonie. There is also a very spiritual/mystical aspect to the dream. Coonie (God?) is not a single entity, but a all-surrounding presence. In the dream, she is immersed in the "oceanic oneness" that many mystics associate with God.

[V]: Would you say that book learning or "experience" has had more influence on the way you approach dreams?

[JS]: Like all things, people, including me, learn best when they combine "book" (intellectual) learning with experiential learning. If you want to improve your skills at dream work, read about it, work on your own dreams, and talk to others about their dreams. If you do one or the other, you can walk into a dead end. Books provide new ideas and perspectives you may not have considered before, but if you don't apply those ideas and test them out "in the field", those ideas become stale.

John Suler, Ph.D.
Professor of Psychology
Rider University
Lawrenceville, NJ 08648
suler@aol.com / suler@voicencet.com / suler@rider.edu

Interview conducted by Victoria Quinton
mermaid 8*)


[ now http://www.alphalink.com.au/~mermaid/ ]