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 staff.


My friend had a dream and she killed herself in it. She was sitting on a cliff at the Grand Canyon and threw herself off. She is a very up and cheery person and I had no idea what to say when she told me this dream.


Of course, whenever our friends talk about suicide, we need to act responsibly and even suggest that they contact a professional or call a local suicide help line. However, death and suicide in dreams are not all that uncommon and if there is no depression or despair noticeable in the waking person, the dreams are best taken symbolically.

As Jeremy Taylor, the world renowned Dream Worker, says "No matter how distressing these images are during the dream, they are almost certainly symbolic pictures of ways in which I am growing and changing, ways in which my life energies are being redirected from old attitudes, perceptions, and self-images.". Taylor has had several decades of experience and his ideas are based on Carl Jung's work, which elaborates how the dreaming mind is always working towards healing and wholeness.

The key symbols here are Death and the Self. When death is seen literally, the focus is on the loss and absence, but when taken metaphorically, the emphasis is on loss of the old to make way for the new. Death, in this sense, is the great transformation. If someone distant in our dream dies, we often say that characteristic in our personality is changing. If *we* die in a dream, it may indicate a radical change in the core self, and this could manifest itself in personality, attitude, behavior or other actions.

However, since the dream you mentioned is not mine nor yours, the best advice beyond seeking professional help is to give no advice at all, but to do active listening, to just be a witness for what your friend wants to share. If they are going through a major transformation, you will find out about it soon enough!


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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