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CHAPTER NINE: Shadowlands

Kradin, Richard Karnac Books ePub

This was the first dream of a 38-year-old man who presented with panic attacks and depression. Bob appeared modestly disheveled, and was nursing a beerbelly. He oscillated in his demeanor from shy and retiring to overconfident and overbearing. He had been referred to therapy because of difficulties with unexpressed anger. He reported his initial dream approximately one year into the treatment.

I am at college but I am trying to go home. I get on the wrong train and wind up in a black neighborhood. A black man approaches me and begins to take small things out of my pockets. An elderly black man advises me to say the word “ebonic” and that it will help me avoid being robbed. At first I ignore him, but then I take his advice and it works. Next, a large crowd of angry black people surrounds me but I am afraid to antagonize them with the magical word. They take my wallet and my power tools but somehow I get them back.

Associations

Bob was a defensive and frequently argumentative patient who expressed little interest in his dreams. He offered the following associations.

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CHAPTER SEVEN: The Cook

Kradin, Richard Karnac Books ePub

This is the first dream brought by a 53-year-old woman whose chief complaint was difficulty getting along with her coworkers. Jill was an attractive middle-aged woman who might be described as “animated”. She reported this dream in the third session of the treatment.

I am four years old. I am standing in the kitchen of my parents’ house attempting to cook an egg. My parents are in one corner of the room and they are paying no attention to me. I am intent on cooking the egg. My parents disapprove. The egg breaks and flows down the side of the counter.

Associations

“This sounds like something I might have done. I was always trying to do things by myself that I was too young to accomplish.”

Although Jill’s associations to her dream were limited, I sensed that she was at ease working with imaginal material and that she displayed a degree of ego-objectivity that would help in building the therapeutic alliance.

Jill had previously been in treatment with another therapist for several years. She described her experience as pleasant but not very productive. It is advisable to determine a patient’s prior exposure to psychotherapy, and to inquire as to whether it was helpful, as well as to why and how it ended. At times, it may become apparent within the first sessions that the patient has prematurely left a previous treatment, in order to avoid working through unresolved issues, and might benefit by returning to it. However, I do not contact previous therapists unless this issue begs for resolution and then only with the patient’s express permission. Inquiries may reveal rigid negative transference responses that predictably will be repeated in the new treatment and that could lead to its premature disruption.

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CHAPTER EIGHT: Bombs Away

Kradin, Richard Karnac Books ePub

This was the herald dream brought by a 34-year-old man in the first month of therapy. James was a rock musician who had achieved modest recognition while playing in local bands. He was a physically imposing man who seemed uncomfortable with his large size.

I am riding in an open Jeep. It is a beautiful day and I am looking at the flowers along the side of the road. Suddenly I hear a loud blast and see a mushroom cloud rising in the distance. I realize that a nuclear bomb has been dropped and that everyone is going to die.

Associations

“I was watching a program on television the other day about the end of World War II. I like driving in the country. That’s all that comes to mind.”

Freud noted the role of the “day residue” in dreams (Freud

1901).1

I must at once express the opinion that some reference to the experiences of the day which has most recently passed is to be found in every dream.

The day residue represents perceptions registered while awake that appear in the dream of the same night. Recent sleep research has demonstrated that patterns of neuronal firing associated with task-specific learning in rodents are specifically re-activated during sleep (Jouvet 1999). This suggests that memory traces encoded during wakefulness can reappear in dreams. In turn, dreams may be recollected upon waking, so there is evidence for bidirectional communication between waking and dreaming modes of consciousness.

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CHAPTER FOURTEEN: Conclusion

Kradin, Richard Karnac Books ePub

The psyche is a symbolic organ whose referents span the spectrum from the personal to the collective. As it is not possible to penetrate a symbol fully, one can only intuit its implications. The idea of circumambulating a symbol captures the sense of what it means to look at a symbol from all possible directions, and then to look at it yet again. The limits of dream interpretation are imposed by the personal experience of the dreamer, whereas archetypal referents expand the dreamer’s collective awareness. In practice, I aim my interpretations at the intersection of these two domains, what I term the zone of individuation.

There is no single meaning that can or should be ascribed to a dream. Instead there is always a set of potential meanings, some of which will “feel” correct in the context of the treatment. Jung used to say that a dream interpretation was right if it evoked an “ah-ha” response from the dreamer. But in the final analysis, interpretations are largely based on their aesthetic appeal. Theoretical physicists and mathematicians rely on their skills, intuitions, experience, and sense of symmetry in determining whether a theorem should be accepted or rejected. In many respects, the same is true of dream interpretation.

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CHAPTER THIRTEEN: Dreams in Supervision

Kradin, Richard Karnac Books ePub

Working with herald dreams in supervision can be a rewarding educational experience. Working in group supervision tends to yield a greater number of potentially illuminating associations. There is a certain infectious enthusiasm that tends to enhance the joy and excitement of working with symbolic material. There is also less concern about being criticized than in one on one supervision, so that the spontaneity of responses is enhanced.

A trainee in a supervision group reported the following herald dream of a 42-year-old woman who she had been treating in therapy for several months.

I am going to visit my mother. She is in a nursing home. It is a stormy night and I am afraid. Two girls accompany me. I run to a cemetery. There is a mausoleum there. I lie in a coffin and feel safe.

When I supervise dream work, I generally ask not to be told anything about the patient at first. This allows me to convey directly to the group that there is an objective aspect to dreams that allows one to intuit accurate information concerning the dreamer without associations or knowledge of the developmental history. After the group has formulated a first impression of the dream, I invite the supervisee to tell us about the dreamer as well as the dreamer’s associations. At that point, the initial “hypotheses” are modified appropriately.

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