WHY TO STUDY DREAMS? “They give us a far better insight into the deeper nature of our patient than many of the so-called symptoms that crop up and float on the surface to meet our superficial gaze.” – Dr N M Choudhuri.
The spectrum of dream is limitless. It encompasses all the conscious, subconscious, unconscious and super conscious experiences and their timeless assimilation in the eternal flow of life.
Dream analysis is one way to understand the mind. On the basis of studies done, dreams are directly related to nature, character, and personality of a dreamer. Here discussion is made regarding manifestations of conscious, subconscious and unconscious mind in dreams, followed by correlation between homoeopathic drug personality and dreams.
- Among dreams, nightmare and recurring dreams are our main concern.
- Nightmares are long frightening dreams from which people awaken frightened.
- Recurring dreams are caused due to traumatic events in the past, inability to cope up with the stress leading to mal-adjustment to the situation.
CONSCIOUS MIND AND DREAMS
· Consciousness is wakefulness which includes perception, thoughts, logic and reasoning.
· Swami Vivekananda: “The whole life is succession of dreams. My ambition is to be a conscious dreamer. That is all.”
· This explains importance of constructive ‘conscious dreaming’. Artists, scientists and mathematicians develop new ideas by day dreaming about their subjective areas.
· Qualities required for constructive day dreaming: high intelligence, sensitivity, refinement and artistic approach.
· Phosphorus: high intelligence, sensitivity, refinement and artistic approach. The diffusion of awareness is so strong that he gets startled easily.
· Staphysagria: Solitary artistic activities like painting, music, poetry in it is due to high degree of sensitivity (also true for highly emotional, introvert Ignatia and Natrum mur). As in Staphysagria, the conscious mind is so strongly trapped in its own imaginations that, he thinks about her lover all the day long, imagine future possibilities and feels them as real.1,2
SUBCONSCIOUS MIND & DREAMS
· The conscious mind cannot always absorb disconnected information as it would be an information overload. So the subconscious mind stores this information where it can be retrieved by the conscious mind when it needs to defend itself for survival, just like solving puzzles, skill etc.
· Sigmund Freud- the pre or subconscious mind includes repressed childhood memories, socially unacceptable ideas, desires, traumatic memories, painful emotions.
· All these repressions are expressed in dreams.
· Indian texts Upanishads say that, dreams are merely expressions of inner desires.
Dreams and Archetypes
In Civilization in Transition (Collected Works, Vol. 10) Jung wrote that dreams were a hidden door to the innermost recesses of the psyche. Dreams are a door that opens into the cosmic night, which represented the psyche long before there was an ego consciousness. Dreams are a portal to a more universal eternal mind residing in the darkness of the primordial night that represents a whole that is still one with nature. It was through his study of dreams that Jung began to confirm that there were components of consciousness. Dreams have played a vital role in assessing the nature of the psyche since the time of the ancient Asclepiads. This is because dreams are beyond the conscious control of the ego and represent the dynamic Gestalt-patterns of archetypes in the unconscious. The dreamer lives in a secret world that is free from the repression that the peer group and society impose on the persona. In the dream world one lives in a secret realm hidden from the minds of others.1
The Oriental philosophies teach that all life is a dream not just the images seen in sleep. This image arises in an old American folksong that is sung in rounds, “Row, row, row your boat, gently down the stream. Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily, life is but a dream!” This song is full of symbolic meanings that go far beyond taking a boat ride. The Freudian view was that dreams were basically a medium for the wish fulfilment of repressed complexes and traumatic libido conflicts. People commonly see dreams as symbolic of their hopes and fears. Individuals often speak of dreams in terms of their wishes for this life. What is a hopeful expectation? What is a daydream? What is an idle fantasy? What is a hallucination? What is a vision? How different are these from dreams at night? 1, 2
The conscious mind displays its hopes for a better life in linear terms while dreams are irrational and full of synchronism. Dreams often reveal sides of a person one would not guess existed from just talking to them. Dreams often contain repressed fantasy and compensations for what the conscious persona cannot express. This is why the interpretation of dreams held an important place in Greek Asclepiums. The homœopath will also find this to be a fertile field to investigate in many cases.
To understand dreams takes good knowledge of psychology, mythology, comparative religion, fairy stories, folk tales, poetry and the visual arts. Comprehending dreams includes attention to form, setting, pace, mood, rhythm, colour, themes, images, actors and emotional feeling tones. In The Structure and Dynamics of the Psyche (Collected Works, Volume 8, par. 505) Jung wrote that a dream is a spontaneous symbolic self-portrayal of the actual situation in the unconscious.
Each component in the dream represents an aspect of a person’s unconscious. In the classical Jungian method it is taught that the shadow appears mostly as equisexual characters and the animus-animus appears as contra sexual figures. The purposeful guiding element behind the process of dreaming is the Self. Dreams are a medium for compensation and complementation of those areas of the psyche that need integration.1,3
In The Structure and Dynamics of the Psyche (Collected Works, Vol. 8, par. 509) Jung wrote that a dream is a theatre in which the dreamer is the scene, player, prompter, producer, author, public and critic. The motif of the theatre is an archetypal image that shows that life is a stage on which the psyche takes the role of the composer, actors and audience. Dreams also have a dramatic structure which includes exposition, peripeteia, crisis and lysis.
These four stages are the setting, development, climax and resolution of the inner drama. The setting is represented by the geographic location in which the dream opens. The setting establishes the foundation that helps put all that follows into perspective. The peripeteia develops the movement, themes and dynamics that expand on the potential of the dream. The crisis is the peak of the dramatic movement of the peripeteia where maximum tension is reached.
The final stage is the lysis in which the crisis ends in resolution or catastrophe. Thus dreams tend to follow the same four stages as the classical Greek plays. In dreams, however, various stages may be lengthened or shortened and may overlap. Some dreams seem to end at an impasse reminiscent of serials that close with the words, “to be continued.” These types of dreams are often continued in various ways at a later date.
Dreams present themselves in a language of images that may be understood by allegory, symbols and rebus. An image is considered allegoric if the dream message can be translated into rational concepts and symbolic when the meaning cannot be conceived logically. A rebus is something that is represented by phrases or pictures that suggest syllables, words or concise ideas. In order to gain a deeper understanding of dream language the practitioner uses associations, explanation and amplification.1
Associations are any ideas, notions, memories, reactions and feelings that arise in the dreamer’s mind when discussing a particular dream image. Associations are invoked from the dreamer by asking questions like “What does that remind you of?” The association that carries the biggest emotional charge is the interpretation that is confirmed by the unconscious. This shows that the association relates to the present or past psychological state. The process is deepened by asking the seven universal questions; who, what, where, why, with what, what modalities and when? Associations offer access to the subjective regions of the psyche that lie behind the dream images.
Explanations are rationalizations that proceed from generally accepted facts that are either objective-collective or subjective-individual. A pen is an object that carries a collective definition in the mind of everyone. It does not matter if the pen is used for writing or a weapon to stab a person. A pen is a pen. In a subjective personal definition the pen may stand for creativity, communication or a means of self-expression. Here the image of pen has a greater meaning that goes beyond the pen as an object.1, 4
A pen can be either a prop during a dream or a starting point for the further application of association. Such relationships can be accessed by asking questions like, “What does that represent to you?” If the patient takes such questions seriously it often begins a stream of associations. This is further enhanced by the seven universal questions. Once again this can open a wider field of the mental symptoms. If the pen is a prop it will not inspire further emotional feeling tones but if the pen is pivotal it will lead to deeper emotional-affect responses.
Amplification is the enlarging of the dream images with corresponding motifs from fairy tales, mythology, metaphysics, alchemy and other storehouses of archetypes. This process is most useful when the dreamer offers information that involves the collective unconscious. To attempt to impose amplification of the props found in a dream or images that offer rational explanations is counter-productive. Archetypal motifs convey collective energy patterns that represent the complexes that surround a person’s individual myth. These images symbolize the way in which the dreamer responds to universal, spiritual, philosophical, social, and ethical dilemmas that make up the transpersonal grand themes of existence.
Some dreams are fairly mundane re-enactments of the daily activities of the persona. Other dreams are shadowy compensations in which the dreamer does things they would never do in the waking state. There are also dreams that include anima and animus figures, images from the collective unconscious and messages from the Self. These take positive or negative forms depending on the psychic contents within the unconscious psyche. The homœopath may use association, explanation and amplification as a tool that reveals the greater psychological profile of the patient.1
Dreams have their literal and interpretative applications in Homœopathy. When the patient repeatedly dreams of the ocean, looking up the symptoms related to water is a literal interpretation. This approach only offers the limited number of rubrics found in the dream sections of the repertory and MateriaMedica. The interpretive use of association, explanation and amplification opens up the use of all the rubrics found in homœopathic reference works. When the homœopath inquires into the dreams of the client they are looking for clues that uncover the patient’s core archetypal delusions and central loves and hates and their somatic concomitants.
The most important dreams are those that have a strong effect on the waking state of the person or have reoccurring themes. Dreams that are repetitive contain areas of fixation in the unconscious and are characteristic of their complexes. The different persons and objects seen in dreams are symbolic representations of certain aspects of the psyche seeking expression. Physical, general and particular symptoms can frequently be found in the locations, sensations, modifications and concomitants of the dream body. The use of the mental, physical generals and particulars in relationship to the dream body goes far beyond the rubrics in the section on dreams alone.3, 4
A patient dreams they are lost on a raft in a vast ocean with no one to help to find the shore (setting). The ocean symbolizes the deepest aspects of unconscious where most mental activity takes place well below the surface. In the dream ego feeling alone and lost on the ocean brings up fears of sinking, being attacked by sea monsters and drowning (development). The dream body feels the cold winds and is chilled to the point of shaking and shivering. The dreamer’s legs feel cold, achy, weak, numb and paralyzed and they fear they will die (climax). Then the dreamer suddenly wakes up feeling fearful, chilly and shaken during the day (to be continued). Such an experience may have a strong effect on the conscious ego and may make them feel fearful of those things that symbolize the oceanic unconscious.
Sometimes a fearful situation is transformed by hopeful symbols of life that surface from the ocean of the unconscious. Maybe the dreamer surrenders to their fate and some dolphins suddenly appear and show the dreamer the way forward. Perhaps seagulls fly overhead showing that land is near. These are images from the Self that are symbols of guidance and bring a sense of completion (lysis). This opens the use of rubrics like > by company and consolation and brings in states like exhilaration, exaltation and cheerfulness. Now the dreamer wakes up feeling hopeful and inspired.
Perhaps the opposite closing scene takes place and the raft sinks throwing the dream ego into the water causing a sinking feeling that wakes them up (catastrophe). A positive lysis often carries a better prognosis about the situation in the unconscious than the catastrophe. A catastrophe may be a sign of a repressed death wish or that the complexes in the unconscious are overwhelming for the ego structure. Death in a dream may also mean that a certain part of the ego structure must die for individuation to take place. Such dream riddles must be solved individually through association, explanation and amplification.5
Rubrics and sub-rubrics for dreams of water are in the repertory. This is a literal interpretation of the dream. Through association, explanation and amplification one can find more psychological components and general symptoms from this dream. Perhaps under questioning the patient remembers that they almost drowned when they were young and they have felt insecure and fearful ever since. This is a rational explanation with a cause and effect line. Many times there is no literal cause and association further elucidates the dream symbolically.
Perhaps the dream reminds the dreamer of being a young child who was overwhelmed by fearful images in the sea of darkness at night while alone in the bedroom. Perhaps they felt lost and abandoned by their parents without anything solid on which to support their existence. They could have felt as if they were nearly drowned in an ocean of fearful images and attacked by monsters from the unconscious. The image of being lost at sea is a mythological motif that may be filled in by the specifics of the dreamer. Such images involve the interpretive understanding of the dream through associations.
To be lost and afraid in the middle of the vast sea must be transferred into the language of the repertory by analogy. Such images may lead to rubrics like: delusions of water; fear of water; delusions of being lost, for salvation; delusions he cannot succeed; delusions of being alone, castaway, alone in this world; fear of being alone, least he die; fear of death; delusions of being doomed; delusions of frightful animals; delusions he might be injured; delusions sees frightful images, phantom, spectres; delusions of being injured; delusion he is being pursued, by enemies; delusion he is sinking; feelings of being forsaken, isolated or not loved by his parents; fear of dark, etc.
There are an infinite number of possibilities depending on the associations, explanations, and amplifications related to the individual case. Some remedies that have the major components of the water dream are Arsenicum, Stramonium, Mercury, Veratrum, Hyoscyamus, Lachesis, Mercurius, Belladonna, Cannabis Indica, Carcinosin, Medorrhinum, NatrumCarbonicum, Sepia, Lyssin, etc. The general symptoms demonstrated in this dream might be: < damp, < cold, < open air, chills, trembling, trembling from fright, trembling from cold, chilblains, gooseflesh, blueness of extremities etc. The particular symptoms might include coldness of the extremities, numbness of the legs, weakness, paralysis, < motion, < exertion, etc. Any physical symptoms experienced by the dream body can be used as a general or particular symptom. These dream components should then be compared with the symptoms of the waking state for confirmations.5, 6
If the dream remedies are also applicable to the symptoms of the case that appear during the waking state the remedy is a deep simillimum. The interpretation of dreams is a subjective art that may help to clarify certain remedies that might be overlooked. The rubrics listed under dreams and delusions are similar in nature as they are projections of subconscious material. Fantasy related to mental states and sexuality is very revealing of some of the unconscious contents of the mind. The mental, general and particular symptoms are sometimes very useful in analyzing dreams, daydreams, fantasies, delusions, visions and psychic impressions.
UNCONSCIOUS MIND & DREAMS
· Unconscious mind regulates the brain and intra body functions. It continues to perform these duties in a natural way even when the conscious mind is asleep.
· Attitude, inclinations, and overall nature of one’s personality are directed by the unconscious mind.
· Dreams of Clairvoyance.
· Dreams- clairvoyant: acon. , acid phos. , phos. , sulph.
SUPER CONSCIOUS MIND & DREAMS
· Gives us knowledge about our true higher self.
· It is the source of supreme peace.
The Super Conscious Mind contains
within itself the possibility as well as the probability of creating anything and
everything that can be conceived with mind…The possibilities are “Infinite.”
Within itself it contains EVERY probability, from the infinitely large to the infinitely small. It encompasses ALL things from the macroscopic to the microscopic and beyond. It comprises all things physical and those that are non physical.
· PANDA B. B., Significance of Dreams in Homoeopathic Prescribing
· According to Dr. Miller, “effects of sleep and dreams can be taken as general symptoms” Dr. Miller says, “again how often has the study of the dreams revealed the hidden key to the remedy. For in sleep, man is off his guard and his subconscious self can assert itself, and under. Such circumstances the veil is often lifted a little, so that we are able to apprehend in some degree the deep and hidden mysteries of that disordered life, we call disease. Of course, such dreams must be regular and persistent to make them of value and great care must be taken to eliminate the effect of all external influence.6
· MASTER F. J., Homoeopathic Dictionary of Dreams
Dreams are one of nature’s miracles, not the result of a wandering mind in sleep. A dream is an interface between the process of life and our conscious personality.
in an overview of the study and research concerning dreams, there is an evidence that a dream can be
a. an expression of what is happening in the physical body;
b. a way of balancing the physiological and psychological activities in us;
c. an enormously original source of insight and information in us, e.g. scanning information and forming new ideas.3
· SIVARAMAN P., Dreams and their Homoeopathic Medicine
It is not for nothing that dreams differ. Some dream of accidents, other of amorous subjects, others again off topics of varied nature – each dream in its turn specifying a particular temperament, or more correctly a special deviation of the individual from the normal. Important cure have been recorded, based on dreams alone. Hence a special study of the dreams, together with their remedies, will not be out of place.”
Types of Dreams in Homoeopathy
1. Dreams of Fortune.
2. Dreams which exhaust.
3. Dreams of emotion.
4. Dreams of anxiety (nightmare).
5. Dreams of different ages.
I. Dreams of Fortune.
Here the prominent remedies are: Sulphur, Anhalonium and Opium. It may be considered superfluous to think of influencing these charming occupations of the night, but in some instances these symptoms may become so overwhelming that they must be looked upon as pathological. The homeopathic treatment of the two prominent dreams of fortune reduces the magnified symptoms to the normal level. The well known figure of the Sulphur Patient appeals to us first. We meet here the dilapidated, untidy philosopher, in whom vision takes the place of reality, whose rags he considers the finest raiment, and to whom real life is stranger. Of course, we do not want to rob him of his pleasant dreams, but when they, in connection with other somatic symptoms demand Sulphur, then we must not remain inactive, especially if these patients become the worry of their families and a menace to society.
Anhalonium, also called Peyotl and Mescal, is a drink much used by Mexican Indians to produce pleasurable dreams. Hence, according to the law of similar it should be indicated where dream are varicoloured, constantly changing and picturesque. Such dreams are like kaleidoscopic visions, which change quickly, are spun in sequences and are always pleasant. Sometimes we find real hallucinations and wonderfully fantastic pictures. Reversely we find capricious forms of grotesque monsters. In such patients often an auditory condition, which, when a note is struck on the piano, can visualize an entire melody, accompanied by a wonderfully colored harmony and musical rhythm. At the same time there may be a weakened heart action, diminished motor action even leading to paraplegia; increase of reflexes. Due to these characteristics Anhalonium may become valuable in maniacal conditions.
Opium is indicated in fantastic visions and pleasant dreams if other symptoms point to it.
II. Dreams which Exhaust.
Physical exhaustion and work are often the subject of dreams. Such symptom pictures are found in Rhus toxicodendron, Bryonia, Nux vomica and Pulsatilla. The most prominent remedy in this series is Rhus toxidodendron, which dreams of all kinds of gymnastics, especially of riding, rowing, sawing, etc., accompanied during the dream by a feeling, of physical exhaustion. Psychical exhaustion on the contrary demands selenium, which dreams especially of the little things forgotten during the day. This remedy causes a nervous depression and has the remarkable character that it deals especially with the manifold happenings and small particulars of the patient’s daily life. That, which he forgot in his daily routine, pops up in his dreams, disturbs him terribly and causes insomnia and tires his soul. For the feeling of physical and psychical exhaustion, and lost strength, we have the following remedies: Arnica, Arsenicum, Cimicifuga, Gelsemium, Nux vomica, Phosphorus, etc.
If the exhausting dreams are accompanied by the sensation of surging ideas constantly crashing upon the brain, then Coffea, Nux vomica, China, Cocculus, Hyoscyamus and Lachesis should be consulted. Such dreams are very torturing and reducing.
Then we have to mention such dreams, which persist even after awakening, and which tire the patient out. The remedies are: Calcarea Carbonica, China, Lachesis, Natrum muriaticum. Closely allied to these symptom pictures are the so-called wake-dreams, which constitute the bridge to the next group.5
III. Dreams of Emotion.
The patient dreams that he is so thirsty that he must drink constantly. Here are indicated : Arsenicum, Medorrhinum, Natrummuriaticum. Phosphorus. Dreams of hunger aid eating : Abies nigra. China, Psorinum. The Psorinum patient is much weekend, and the sensation of hunger awakens him from sleep. Dreams of flying occur often. The patient is floating over houses and towers, and is gliding slowly and gracefully up and down. Her ;Rhusglabra. Apis and Sticta are useful. Voluptuous dreams demand: Cannabis Indica. Phosphorus, Staphisagria, Dioscorea, Hyoscyamus, Cantharis, Opium, Phosphoric acid and Thuja.
Cannabis indica deserves special mention. From reading about the action Hashish one can readily understand why the Orient clings to this drug in spite of prohibiting laws. Fantastic pictures of voluptuousness and sensualities are prominent symptoms. The Historical fact is interesting, that young Islam warriors during the eighth century’ were supplied with Hashish in order to give them a view of their paradise, thus to spar on their love of combat to highest extreme. According to Mohammed’s promise, the fallen hero would find everlasting pleasures of love in paradise. To give the sons of the desert a foretaste, notorious “Old Man of the Mountain” in change of the young troops, dispensed to them carefully weighed doses of Hashish. Thus transported to paradise, they became confirmed in the existence of the houri ; they awoke with unquenchable desire to seek death as a real hero.
Dreams of rape demand Sepia. These patients experience rape in their dreams. But also other remedies must be considered in excessive impressions from dreams of rape. For hypersensitive sensorium in general consult: Belladonna, Coffea, Opium, Chamomilla, Nux vomica, Cocculus, Tarentula and Zincum.
IV. Dreams of Anxiety nightmare.
These dreams make a large and extensively ramified chapter, From which I shall mention only a few characteristics.
Generally suitable are: Aconite, Aurum, Argentum, nitricum, apis, Chamomilla, China, Colchicum, Hyoscyamus, Liliumtigrinum, Mercuriuscorrosivus, Rhustoxicodendron, Silicea, Sulphur and Zincum.
Dreams of accidents, falling, crashing interest us especially, because they are met so often in heart diseases, and Digitalis is prominently indicated, but also Arnica, Belladonna, Lycopodium, Veratrum album, Silicea. Calcarea carbonica and Acidum nitricum.
Natrum muriaticum has especially fear before falling asleep. These patients cannot go to sleep because they fear burglars; hence they move furniture against the doors, and dream of thieves. Such dreams are also found in Belladonna, Psorinum and Veratrum album. The fear of Opium concerns especially dogs, black animals, mainly black cats. Further remedies having dreams of fear concerning animals (especially snakes) are: Argentum nitricum. Lac caninum. Opium, Daphne indica, Ranunculus sceleratus.
Dreams of death and dead persons are found under: Arsenicum, Lachesis, Arnica, Calcarea carbonica, Cannabis indica, Crotalus. Dreams of sickness and patients we meet in Arsenicum album, Lachesis dreams principally of his own demise and fears it. The Lachesis patient sees himself either lying in bed in his shroud, or in the grave itself. Frequently his dreams lead him to his own funeral, or he dreams of secrets which takes place on the cemetery. Dreams of fire and flames correspond to the symptoms of Belladonna, Phosphorus, Lachesis, Euphrasia. It is interesting to note that Belladonna, this polychrest in fevers, has dreams of fire and flames.6
Dreams of hemorrhagies and especially haemoptysis are found under Phosphorus, and we remember well its value in bleeding.
V. Dreams of Different Ages.
Rapturous dreams of older people: Aconitum, Phosphorus, Apis, Opium, Passiflora.
Anxious dreams of children: Absinthium, Aconite, Belladonna, Chamomilla, China, Cypripedium, Passiflora. Also: Arsenicum, Calcareabromata, Hyoscyamus, Kali bromatum, Phosphorus, Pulsatilla, Sulphur.
- Adult Ignatia is very sensitive and romantic: gets dreams of disappointment, sad dreams and dreams of drowning due to ordinary grief such as separation of an affair, marriage or emotional disturbances.
- Overworking Ignatia imposes logical conclusions on her, leading to overstraining and frustration in her job which leads to dream of exertion.
- When the grief is extraordinary, has become chronic and settled, Nat mur comes to the rescue.
- Parents fighting in front of a child who is very sensitive to disharmony will not react immediately, but will suffer inside leading to repression of feelings. This Nat mur child gets anxious and frightful dreams.
- He never forgets traumatic experiences like parental divorce, effects of emotional dependence of single parent, death of a close one or sexual abuse, cultivates painful memories.
- Natrum mur gets dreams of robbers, being assaulted or being raped due to episodes of childhood abuse.
- A good example of Freudian concept of ‘socially unacceptable ideas’ and for repressed desires.
- Amorous and frightful in dreams in conium are due to sudden deprivation of sexual relationship in widows and widowers.
Homeopathic treatment begins with a thorough investigation into all aspects of the patient’s life. During the initial interview the homeopath routinely enquires about dreams (especially childhood dreams, memorable past dreams, recurrent dreams, and nightmares), because dreams have proven to be helpful clinical indicators in many patients’ cases.
But dreams must be amongst the most contentious, mysterious, and thoroughly unobjective of phenomena! Why, then, are they nevertheless considered valuable in homeopathic diagnosis and treatment? Their value lies in their ability to reveal the true state of the patient and to point the way to a confident selection of homeopathic remedy. In a follow up article I will further explain how changes in sleep and dreaming patterns are sensitive indicators of the progress of healing once treatment has begun.6
Dreams: Precious psychic gems or rubble of the mind?
One of the enduring mysteries of life is the nature of dreams. Scientists have a relatively poor understanding of the unique physiological states that occur during sleep and dreaming, let alone of the reasons for the bewildering array of dream content that we experience. In any event science does not yet possess a convincing theory that explains why we must, in the first place, sleep and experience dreaming states to function normally and stay alive (prolonged sleep deprivation of experimental animals leads to dire consequences).
The actual content of dreams is normally considered irrelevant or not amenable to the scientific mode of investigation. For example, one theory holds that dreams are simply the mind’s attempt at making sense of the electrical noise produced by brain metabolism: whereas in the waking state these signals find an outlet in miniature muscular contractions throughout the body, during the paralysis of sleep these signals are transformed into thoughts which bring about the dreaming experience.
But science apart and life apart: people of all cultures routinely interpret their dreams, finding patterns of meaning even when reasonably there are none to be found. Psychologists and occult practitioners of all kind investigate the dream world, hoping to offer insight and assistance to their clients through correct interpretation of their dreams.
Many spiritual traditions concur in their view that during sleep our soul leaves the body and locates itself in some other realm in which actions are not bound by physical laws. In the modern world dreams are regarded more conservatively, but not necessarily more accurately, as windows into the individual’s subconscious — a realm beyond the purview of science, governed (if at all) by the mysterious laws of spirit.
How do homeopaths make use of dreams?
The homeopathic approach to dreams is straightforward: on the one hand homeopaths fully accept the legitimacy of dream material (along with all of the subjective phenomena reported by patients), while on the other hand they strive to avoid dream interpretation.
Being that it is prone to error and speculation, dream interpretation is not considered a reliable foundation for homeopathic diagnosis, although it has its place within the healing dialogue between patient and homeopath. Instead, homeopaths employ dreams in these two ways: (i) as symptoms just like any other homeopathic symptom, and (ii) as pointers to the true state of the patient.
(i) Dreams are ordinary homeopathic symptoms
Dreams can be incorporated into the diagnosis simply as ordinary homeopathic symptoms alongside other symptoms, because among the physical and psychological symptoms listed under the MateriaMedica (clinical description) of each remedy are listed dream rubrics such as:
- Dreams – children
- Dreams – dogs
- Dreams – dancing
- Dreams – war
as well as dream qualities such as:
- Dreams – obscene
- Dreams – pleasant
- Dreams – vivid
Associated with each such category are remedies listed in the homeopathic repertory (index of symptoms). In a patient with a clear history of dreams the homeopath thus can narrow down the field of possibilities and concentrate his mind on a smaller set of potential remedies.
The use of dreams as reported phenomena just like any other mental and subjective symptoms is universally accepted among classical homeopaths.
(ii) Dreams point to the true state of the patient
The second use of dreams involves drawing out mental attributes from the raw dream reports. This is done under two assumptions: first, that dreams are meaningfully related to the person’s state and, second, that they are at least as good a representation of this state as are the non-dream reports.
Because people are frequently unaware of aspects of their psyche, fears or delusions (perceptions in mentally healthy people that are not reflective of reality) are often revealed only through dreams. For example, a patient who has frightful encounters with snakes in her dreams might merit the designation and corresponding rubric “Fear of snakes,” while a patient who is regularly dreams of being involved in warfare might merit the rubric “Delusion – he is a soldier.”
Dream translation has to be done both skilfully and conservatively lest it devolve into speculation. Not surprisingly, homeopaths differ in their opinion about the legitimacy of using dreams in this indirect manner. Those, like me, who consider it legitimate to venture into the dream world, find in dreams a most-reliable gateway to the psyche: when correctly handled, dreams offer a precise view of the hidden dynamics that motivate the patient’s life, frequently leading to a correspondingly precise diagnosis and prescription.
The key to not abusing this approach lies in integrating the inferences from the patient’s dream world with the rest of the patient’s description by verifying that the dream element is corroborated elsewhere in the clinical report.2, 6
Further uses of dreams
Dreams can further be exploited as starting points for drawing out psychological material that the patient is aware of yet does not wish or is unable to divulge directly.
From their dream reports patients can be led rather craftily to reveal aspects of their persona that they are either reluctant to discuss or which they incorrectly consider irrelevant for the homeopathic interview. When used by the homeopath with the pure intention of helping the patient, this approach creates no harm and enables a precise diagnosis even in an uncooperative patient.
Finally, dreams can reveal the psychic makeup of children who are old enough to retell their dreams but not yet intellectually capable of answering more abstract enquiries into their mental state.
Dreams are valuable because they bypass compensations
In the final analysis, the key reason for the diagnostic importance of dreams is that much of the conscious reporting of the patient is based on his or her compensated state. Compensation involves the funnelling of thoughts and behavioural impulses that are inappropriate to the situation toward more productive or socially acceptable outcomes.
Such restraint and rechanneling of behaviour is a cardinal ingredient of any civilized society, but it makes the homeopath’s task of correct diagnosis more difficult. For example, a person with violent impulses might take up Tai Chi, cultivating the peaceful, meditative aspect of the art and speaking at length about values such as inner calm and forgiveness. If asked directly about violent tendencies (i.e., if the homeopath were to suspect this from the patient’s ‘feel’ or appearance) such a patient would answer in denial. Yet a reported violent dream might reveal what lies hidden underneath the peaceful outward manner.6
1. Delusions & Dreams- David Little
2. PANDA B. B., Significance of Dreams in Homoeopathic Prescribing
3. MASTER F. J., Homoeopathic Dictionary of Dreams
4. SIVARAMAN P., Dreams and their Homoeopathic Medicines
5. Influence of Homoeopathic Remedies on Dreams- Dr. Devrient.
6. Homoeopathy & Dreams- Spirit India