Sunday, March 11, 2007

Dream a little dream

Asleep in a red wagon

“Dream no small dreams for they have no power to move the hearts of men."—Goethe

It amazes me how much we make of dreams and dreaming. There are feeble attempts to understand dreaming in the scientific sense. Then there are the people who interpret dreams a la Freud or Jung.
I don’t really do dream analysis in my work. Occasionally a dream is discussed. Sometimes these dreams are traumatic dreams, literal or metaphoric reenactments of a trauma. Sometimes they are garden-variety nightmares. From time to time, a patient complains to me of “vivid dreams” which can be a side effect of antidepressants. These latter dreams aren’t necessarily frightening, but they are rather more Technicolor than the ordinary dream.
If someone asks me what a dream means, I ask them what it means to him or her. After all, it is not my dream. I don’t believe that there are fixed symbols that mean the same thing for everyone. A dream of water could be a childhood memory returning or a wish for a beach vacation. It could be the result of an overfull bladder. I doubt it is a memory of the womb. And baseball bats, carrots, bananas and cigars are just, well, baseball bats, carrots, bananas and cigars.
I have a recurring dream that I have forgotten some crucial school work. On some days it is a test I slept through or forgot to study for. On other days it is a paper I didn’t write. Since it has been less than 10 years since my last medical board exam (and now we are mandated to take a refresher test every 10 years), I shouldn’t be surprised I haven’t gotten test anxiety out of my system.
I have another recurring dream that takes me to a certain place. I haven’t dreamt of this place lately and do not remember much about it. I just know that I go there at times and that when I am there it is familiar and well-known. I think this place is quite detailed but when I am awake I cannot access it.
Fortunately, I only rarely have nightmares. You know, the kind that wake you up crying or scared and make you unwilling to go back to sleep. I think they were more common when I was younger. Does this mean I am more balanced or just that my nervous system is older?
Daydreams are much more fun than the nighttime kind. After all, I get to set the content and theme. There are no frightening moments allowed. No twists from mundane to fantastical. There are the dream vacations, dreams of learning a new craft, skill or language, the dreams of finding myself on a mountain-top somewhere and the dreams of writing my memoirs or the great American novel. For these dream journeys, all one needs is a few interruption-free moments and a good imagination. I could use a few more of the former but the latter has not yet died of old age.
To close, here is my wish for you all. Sweet dreams.


Tarakuanyin said...

My doctor prescribed Singulair for me when I was first diagnosed with asthma. The first night I had pleasantly vivid dreams. The next night I had rather extraordinary technicolor dreams with a surreal nighmare-ish quality. The third night I woke up several times, heart pounding. By the fourth and fifth nights, I was terrified to sleep. The fifth night I was aware I was dreaming, and kept trying to turn the nightmares in a more pleasant direction. I "woke up" trapped in an elevator with world-destroying monsters after me and my one ally having turned to the dark side. Half aware that I was dreaming, and terrified nevertheless, I began beating my head on the wall of the elevator. I woke myself up, coming to awareness with me pounding my head on the headboard. After that, I threw away the Singulair. The headache from my wall-pounding lasted all day!

I enjoyed reading about your different dreams.

gel(emerald eyes) said...

I titled my post with a different song. (This title reminds me of th Mamas and Papas "Dream a Little Dream of Me"). Such a sweet closing and I will think of that as I tumble into bed. :)

You answered several of the questions I posed as part of my post to this prompt. However, I wrote before I saw your post, that I dream in vivid color. I'm not on antidepressants nor meds to induce that. I dream in color and sound...
Found your post very interesting.

ian russell said...

I suppose all of us dream, it would seem odd for our brain to shut off all higher processes while we slept, but it's been a long while since I recollected any dreams. I wonder what Freud would say. ;o)

gautami tripathy said...

I dream so vividly that at times those feels so real.

With colour, sounds, and even smells...sounds weird, doesn't it?


Journey within the mind