Tuesday, April 28, 2009

I dream a dream....

Just in case anyone has missed Susan Boyle's performance of I dream a dream...

just click here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=luRmM1J1sfg

This will no doubt, lift your spirits and make you smile.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Colouring The Dreams of Women with Breast Cancer

As a continuation of the previous blog, the women with breast cancer that participated in the study had a very interesting colour pattern in their dreams. Specifically, white in dreams was strongly correlated with lymph node involvement, which indicates a more serious form of the disease. The colour white was also correlated with a diagnosis of cancer in other parts of the body. This colour seems to be related to the seriousness of the illness and to the extent that it has spread in the body.

Black on the other hand, was strongly and negatively correlated with radiation treatment. Black was not significantly correlated with any particular discovery category, or meaning. The same was true for white in dreams and discovery of the dream's meaning.

Another interesting finding is brightness in dreams. The longer patients were away from their original diagnosis of breast cancer, the more brightness they had in their dreams. Furthermore, the more brightness in their dreams, the more discovery about happiness.

Colour in dreams is both fascinating and interesting however, the current study appears to show that colour in the dreams of women with breast cancer is perhaps indicative of recovery and other waking day issues. Further research is certainly warranted.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Can Dream Interpretation Help Women With Breast Cancer?

In a recent study which explored the dream content and discovery (meaning) of the dreams of women with breast cancer, several very important findings were revealed (DeCicco, Smit, Scharfe & Kerr). There have actually been very few studies that have directly examined the dreams of cancer patients. More commonly, studies have looked at the use of dream interpretation as a therapy technique for this group. From our recent study, some of the findings are listed here.

There were important connections among dream content categories (e.g. colour, location of the illness, torso, being lost) and waking day demographics directly related to cancer (e.g. number of treatment modalities, lymph node involvement, radiation therapy). For example, those who had radiation had a negative relationship with dark colours in their dreams. Those who had lymph node involvement had more white colour in their dreams. Also, those who had attended a support group had less references to their disease in their dreams. It appears that waking day issues are connected to the dreams of women with breast cancer in many important ways.

So what did these women discover from their dreams using The Storytelling Method (TSM)? Some very relevant findings are that the farther they are away from diagnosis, there is more happiness in their discovery, more meaning out death and dying, and more meaning in their support. The farther they are away from their first treatment, the less discovery about medical conditions. Also, if they had chemotherapy as a treatment, discovery was related to apprehension. If they had surgery, then there was less discovery about the disease reference.

When comparing the dreams of women with breast cancer to those without breast cancer, they significantly differed in apprehension, confusion and sadness. They also differed in categories of death/dying and the torso. In terms of discovery, the two groups had completely different discovery categories from their dreams. The women with breast cancer discovered things related to their illness, treatment, their body, or their negative emotions. Women without breast cancer on the other hand, discovered such things as their family, future, friends, and romantic relationships.

These are just a sample of the results from the recent study but it appears that dream interpretation for woman with breast cancer can be very useful. They tend to suffer nightmares, negative dream imagery and worry, therefore, dream interpretation with TSM may help them make sense of their nighttime mentations.

In order to explore this further, a new study is underway with women in treatment groups using The Projective Method of Dream Interpretation (DeCicco, Pannier, Lyons, 2009). The research on dreams, breast cancer, dream content and discovery has begun but much work is needed to fully explore this area. Of course the work must also be extended to other forms of cancer and then other diseases, where patients may directly benefit from exploring their dreams.

For more information on the complete study please feel free to email me directly.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Gambling With Dreams

While writing up a recent manuscript on addictions and dream interpretation an interesting finding was revealed with The Storytelling Method (TSM). Participants reporting an addiction (alcohol, drugs, sugar, food, or cigarettes)participated by completing self-report measures of waking day mood and completing a TSM worksheet. With TSM both a dream and discovery or meaning of that dream was reported. Many past findings were confirmed including "using" dreams, unpleasantness, cravings, repressed substance use, and images continuous of waking day preoccupations (e.g. Araujo, Oliveira & Piccoloto, 2004; Choi, 1973; Denzin, 1988; Fiss, 1980; Hajek & Belcher, 1991).

One new and interesting findings was the correlation between discovery about waking day gambling, tension/anxiety in waking day, and anger in dreams. It was found that people who scored low in tension/anxiety in waking day reported their dream to be about gambling. Also, those who were high in anger in their dreams (via content analysis) also reported discovery to be about gambling in waking day.
These findings imply that high anger in the dreams of addicts may be an important feature that is linked to gambling in waking day. It is important to note, that gambling was not reported as an addiction by any of the participants.

In a further analysis with a regression model, it was found that anger in dreams predicted discovery about gambling in waking day. For example, participants reported such things as; I have been spending my time at the casino, or, my family and friends are telling me that I gamble too much. Again, this finding has important implications for working with addictions.

Dream interpretation with TSM was found to be useful with addicts since it led them to relevant waking day discoveries (e.g. I miss my drinking friends, I need to go to an AA meeting soon). The finding that anger in dreams was linked to discovery about gambling suggests that further research needs to be done in this area. Also, since addictions seems to occur in clusters then gaining insight about another possible addictions with dream work, would be very valuable.

In an extensive literature search only a handful of empirical studies have been found linking addictions with dreams and discovery. The research, past and present, suggests that this be studied on a larger scale but also, that the applied implications may be quite far reaching.

Friday, April 10, 2009

The Mysterious Meaning of Life

In speaking with a woman earlier this week about her dreams, she reported that her dreams contained themes of being lost, looking for something she had lost, or searching for some unknown object. In discussions with her around these themes, she decided to use dream interpretation techniques to try and get some insight. She was particularly perplexed by the dreams since they were recurring and confusing to her.

What she discovered from the dreams was that they were telling her exactly how she was feeling and behaving in her waking day life, but she was completely unaware of it. She had no idea how she was constantly searching for waking day events to give her a deeper and more meaningful life. She had spent many years seeking higher education, she changed jobs many times, she looked for work that was particularly difficult and challenging-all in the hope of finding a deeper and more substantial way to live her life. In spite of these things, she still felt empty and unfulfilled.

I encouraged her to continue with the dream interpretation practice and we could keep discussing her discoveries. Of course the deepest meaning to one's life cannot be found outside the self, but rather, in a connection with one's own inner world. As she continued to explore her dreams and make meaning from them she began to see that she was searching externally for something that was internal, and her dreams could help her with her quest.

This is one case study that illustrates how dreams can help with the deeper issues of meaning and human existence. When the psyche is ready to ask the questions regarding one's own existence and to search for the ever-pervasive meaning of life, dream interpretation can be one of the best gateways into this mystery.

Monday, April 6, 2009

The Transformative Potential of Dream Work: IV

Once we have worked with clients and patients with techniques 1-3, and having established a rapport with them, it may be appropriate to move them into the deepest level of dream interpretation. It is however, only appropriate when the dreamer is ready to delve into the deepest realm of the unconscious. It is here that life-altering insights can be had.

This level of dream interpretation occurs in a practice with relaxation and guided imagery. If this level of interpretation is to occur, then relaxation training must occur for several weeks prior to using the method, called Meditative Dream Re-Entry (DeCicco, 2008). One very good protocol is to introduce relaxation in the first week or two of therapy, which is always beneficial even if dream interpretation is not introduced. Once the patient is comfortable with relaxation and the three other methods of interpretation are being fully used, then guided imagery can be introduced.

Meditative Dream Re-Entry, is a guided imagery that leads dreamers back into a dream and allows it to evolve. This is one of the most profound and useful techniques for dream interpretation. The method allows the dreamer to access the vast and complex landscape of the psyche which only a portion is realized by conscious awareness. The Giant Compass (2009) illustrates how therapists and clinicians can guide their patients into the dream world with guided imagery. This must be used with caution however, because one does not want to move the patient too quickly into the unconscious without preparation and readiness.

When Meditative Dream Re-Entry is used, is has been found that many levels of discovery are possible: emotional, mind-body connections, relationships, and all other matters of waking day that are important to the dreamer. This is one technique that can help and guide both dreamer and therapist into the transformative potential of dreams.