QUESTIONS & ANSWERS:
Dreams Department

Please remember, this column is designed to help the consumer seeking behavioral-health information, and not intended to be any form of psychotherapy or a replacement for professional, individualized services. Opinions expressed in the column are those of the columnist and do not represent the position of other SelfhelpMagazine.com staff.

Question

I often dream of my family's death. In my dreams I am usually very sad for a while but then I feel as though my life has been set free and I become the world's greatest athlete, brain surgeon, etc. This dream keeps recurring. Is this normal?

Answer

It disturbs many of us that our dream world ethics, morals and desires don't always match the ones in our waking life. We spend a lifetime building values that are meaningful to us, and then throw them all away in a dream. To paraphrase St. Augustine, "Thank God I'm not responsible for my dreams!"

But modern dream workers (as well as Freud, Jung and Adler) take a different tack and feel that we are aware in the back of our minds that we *are* dreaming, and we know the situation is really just a kind of play.

Dreamland, Adler said, is a kind of experimental place for us to try out new things. Jung saw dreamland as moving us into better futures. Freud felt that the lack of imaginary expression caused neurosis.

Just because we may find it expedient to kill in a dream has little or no bearing on our daytime ethics. Thus dreams are best not taken literally. The symbolic death of parents is an age old ritual we all continually go through. For example, I continually "place" new parents and critics and guides up in my life and then have to dismantle them later to continue growing. My father once told me in a dream that he wasn't my father. I know this isn't literally true, but symbolically I saw that his values no longer were functioning for me.

2/20/98

Richard Wilkerson is general editor for The Internet Dream E-zine, Electric Dreams, and director of DreamGate, the Internet Communications and Dream Education Center. He writes the Cyberphile column for the Association for the Study of Dreams Newsletter.

 

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