Monday, May 28, 2012

Mental Illness and Dreams

Research has shown that depression, anxiety, schizophrenia, and bi-polar disorder all clearly show up with specific dream imagery. For example, people who are high in anxiety have more scene changes than people who do not have high waking day anxiety. Similarly, bizarreness for people with bi-polar disorder shows up in dream imagery where people without the disorder have less bizarre imagery. How might these findings help health care professionals in terms of diagnosis and treatment of mental disorders? Also, what would be needed along with a record of one's dreams in order to aid treatment for such disorders?


  1. In terms of diagnosis, if there is a pattern in terms of what types of dreams correspond with specific disorders, a diagnosis could be aided by looking at the types of dreams patients are having prior to diagnosis. The specificity of the pattern in dreaming could help diagnose a patient earlier rather than later.

    For treatment, these dreams could be looked at as an example of how a particular patient's brain is functioning. Dream interpretation may help to pinpoint areas of distress that could later be discussed with a psychologist. I think that patients suffering from delusions or paranoia may experience amplified affects if their dreams mirror the types of delusions they are having. Exploring these beliefs through dream interpretation may provide the patient with some clarity regarding the "realness" of their beliefs.

    Along with a record of dreams, I strongly believe a patient with a mental disorder should be seeking help from a professional to interpret meaning behind their dreams. Attempting to interpret the dreams themselves may lead the patient astray or provide reassurance for delusions. Drug therapy is also an option that may be beneficial for some patients.

    In the case of those suffering from waking day anxiety, using dream interpretation while working with a professional may allow the individual to work on slowing down dream imagery. This may in turn reduce the amount of anxiety that is felt during the day. Patients with anxiety may also be able to pinpoint causes for the anxiety thus allowing them to build new schemas that can replace the ineffective or negative existing schemas.

    1. I do agree that in terms of diagnosis a typical pattern could indicate a specific disorder that a patient may be suffering from. However, I think determining this process can prove to be very difficult. This is because certain people may be generally more prone to experiencing bad dreams even with the slightest stress in their life. As well, people under focus or a "watch" may find themselves dreaming more consciously, hence having dreams that relate more to their waking life.

      Although dream imagery can help, the process might not be perfect or even near to perfect due to many confounding effects and there is very little a therapist might be able to do to isolate these effects.

      In terms of treatment and diagnosis to help a patient, I think using dreams will help to figure out why the disorder might have come about to begin with. Of course, there may not be a reason within a persons control and could be due to other physiological reasons, but it is a good start or way to try and diagnose the problem. Once the problem or source is diagnosed, a physician or therapist can try eliminate the problem to help cure the patient. This would be a good place to try and start therapy.

      A patient will have to keep a long history and record of dreams in order to accomplish differentiating between dreams then and now. This, in all reality is not possible especially if the onset of a disorder is rather sudden. As well, if a patient is asked to recall previous dreams they may seem more vivid and at time even -made up- due to bias. Patients might tend to think that their previous dreams were either not as bizarre and cause their current situation to seem exaggerated. Or it could go another way whereby they feel as though their dreams have always been the same thus complicating the severity of their disorder.

      Given that dream imagery is a good way to try diagnose and treat patients, but I do not believe using this method alone will suffice in treatment and diagnosis. I feel as though there are too many confounding effects to the situation and this method is better aimed at treatment and helping patients cope and recover rather than actual diagnosis.

      -Nabiha Hassan

  2. Jennifer Cheznowski 0376917May 28, 2012 at 11:31 AM

    If mental disorders have been shown to reveal different characteristics though out dreams, it would be beneficial to analyze a persons dream through dream imagery prior to confirming the diagnosis of a mental disorder. Since different mental disorders cause different dream imagery, each mental disorder could be identified through proper dream analysis. Since different treatment is needed for different diseases, first the disease could be identified through dream analysis, then once identified, the proper treatment could take place.

    Mental disorders are difficult to treat, because their reactions range from person to person. Since this is often the case, it would be helpful for a mental disorder suffering individual to not only keep track of their dreams, but to also attend counseling or a professional dream interpreter who can offer the best results of dream interpretation. The help provided from a professional can increases the chances of optimal mental disorder diagnoses as well as proper treatment. It is difficult to interpret dreams on your own, therefor seeking the help of a professional will not only create a greater change of accurate interpretation but provide a higher chance of success for treating the mental disability.

    1. Definitely having a counsellor to help interpret a patients dreams would be beneficial. I was wondering though, would there have to be precautionary measures taken in order to make sure that the patient is ready to understand their analysis?

    2. Logan has a great point. It would be most beneficial if a counsellor/ doctor was available to help interpret dreams because discovery may not be reached if patients are blocking out this information; it is hard to understand and accept these kinds of diagnostics. Also, a counsellor would be more beneficial than self- interpreting dreams because these associations between schizophrenia, bi-polar disorder and certain dream imagery is not always true. Some people with high numbers of bizarre and anxiety based dreams (typical of people with these disorders) may not actually have any disorder even though their dream imagery suggests they might. So my point is, people who self interpret their dreams and understand that certain dream imagery is associated with certain disorders need professional help in determining if they have a disorder rather than relying on dream imagery to do so because it is not a precise thing.

  3. In accordance to the previous blog, dream imagery can aid in the diagnosis of various mental health illnesses as various patterns or images are indicative of different disorders. If a professional were aware of different dream images and the associated mental disorder, they may be able to easier diagnose an individual. In addition to keeping a record of one's dream, the individual should also consult with a professional in dream interpretation. Meeting with a professional will allow a better interpretation and accurate connection between their dreams and a suspected mental disorder. It is important to recognize that the patient is just as vital in dream interpretation as the professional, as without the reporting of their dreams, dream interpretation would not exist.

  4. Megan MacDougallMay 28, 2012 at 12:51 PM

    In addition to a dream journal, perhaps it would be best for the patient to keep a waking day journal as well. This way both the dreamer as well as the health care professional might be able to establish patterns both in waking and dream life. Patterns found may help to manage the disorder by identifying triggers in the dreamers waking life or vice versa. Furthermore, those that suffer from disorders such as bi-polar, should be working along side with a health care professional such as a dream interpretor, in order to help establish the patterns and further insights.

    1. I agree with you Megan. In addition to a dream journal, I think that a waking day journal would further help with diagnosis and treatment. As the continuity hypothesis states, what you feel and experience in your waking life will show up in your dream imagery. By tracking your daily life it will be easier to make accurate dream interpretations, and aid in treatment of the disorder.

  5. I think that alongside other techniques employed for determining mental illness (like going through the DSM-IV-TR) dream interpretation could be an addition to a successful diagnosis.

    Having a dream log would be helpful for the clinician/physician/therapist etc. to gain insight into the past month or so (however long one's dream log would be) of the affected patient. It would be useful to have something to go through to connect similarities between dreams or to note differences, and then introduce the patient to dream interpretation techniques to attempt to begin to identify waking day circumstances that need some adjustment.

    I do think because of the severity of mental disorders that although dream interpretation can be done individually it may be an unfit activity depending on the individual's functioning. As an example if a schizophrenic were to feel they received a certain message from a dream it may be dangerous to their well-being to pursue it if it could cause them harm. In cases of mental illness, finding an appropriate medication and routine for the drug therapy may be a crucial first step prior to introducing dream interpretation techniques to the individual.

    For people who suffer from high anxiety dream interpretation may be an effective technique to employ to focus their energy elsewhere. While working on connecting dream imagery to waking day events their anxiety level may be decreased because they are actively working through a puzzle so to speak instead of sitting there letting their anxious thoughts heighten their anxiety.

    And, if the dream interpretation brings about a connection to their waking day circumstances they can work towards changing what they've found to be an issue to hopefully maintain a level of living that is comfortable and doesn't hinder their day to day activities like depression and anxiety can end up doing.

    Samantha Lewer

  6. Morgan Gail Stykel (0388819)May 28, 2012 at 2:14 PM

    Personally, I do not believe that a dream interpretation should be a diagnostic method. I think that many “healthy” patients may have bizarre imagery in dreams, and it would be dangerous to use this as a means to diagnose bipolar for example. However, the finding that dreams may reflect an existing patient’s disorder might help health care professionals with treatment. A patient may be able to discover more about themselves and their disorder through dream interpretation. The dream may lead the patient to the root of the disorder or suggest ways that may help the patient cope.

    Alongside a dream record, an experienced clinician may be required to help aid treatment via dream interpretation so that it can be done safely. Since dreams might reveal repressed thoughts, a person’s true personality, or desires of the patient, the interpreted dreams must be understood as something the patient should or should not pursue depending on the context of the dream. Furthermore, the appropriate drug-treatment, therapy (such as cognitive-behavioral therapy), and support systems should be in place.

    As dream therapy increases as a practice, I think dream interpretation might be a wonderful addition to treatment of mental disorders if done correctly. Nevertheless, I do not believe it should replace the existing diagnostic material for the mental disorder. Dreams are a tricky subject and may be expressed and interpreted a number of ways, as our reading often exemplify. I do not believe dream interpretation is strong enough to determine if a person does or does not have a mental disorder.

    1. As I started to think about the dream therapy more, I started to wonder if this was even a helpful tool for the patient or more for the clinician?
      Would the patient be able to distinguish between waking life and dream life? Sometimes, depending on the mental disorder this is not the case.

    2. Janine LownsbroughJune 1, 2012 at 10:36 AM

      Maybe dream interpretation is not enough to determine whether or not a person has a mental disorder, but I believe that it would be beneficial for treatment. A professional would be able to interpret with the patient what different dreams mean, and could perhaps help the individual to understand their disorder. If there is a dream or images that they continue to have, then it is likely that it means something, and if it can be understood, the patient may even be able to live a more normal life.

  7. Given that there is a relationship between various mental disorders and dream imagery, it would make sense to use dream interpretation as an aid in the diagnosis of these disorders. As I'm sure lots of us remember from our abnormal psychology courses, diagnosis can often be difficult due to factors such as comorbidity. Various disorders have some of the same symptoms, which complicates diagnosis. Using the types of dream imagery a patient experiences along with traditional diagnosis methods such as the DSM would be helpful in this case. The dream imagery can act as a confirmation that someone is truly suffering from anxiety rather than depression (as these two disorders are very comorbid).

    In regards to the treatment of mental disorders, once again dream imagery can be used to determine if a certain treatment is working. As discussed last week on this blog, there is an impressive mind-body connection (for example the dreaming mind is aware if there is a bodily problem and will alert the waking mind). If a patient with a mental disorder is experiencing negative health imagery before beginning treatment and then begins experiencing positive health imagery after commencing treatment, it is reasonable to suggest that treatment is working. It would also be interesting to see if there is a relationship between a certain dream image and the efficacy of a certain treatment. For example, let's say those that suffer from anxiety experience dream imagery of cats and watermelons (I know this sounds ridiculous but it's just a hypothetical example). Maybe those who experience cat imagery only respond to CBT while those who experience watermelon imagery in their dreams only respond to pharmaceutical treatments. Knowing this would aid health care professionals in determining the proper treatment for a patient based partially on their dream imagery.

    In addition to a record of one's dreams, interpretation of said dreams would be paramount in order to aid treatment. Understanding what the dream means to an individual is very important because the same dream could have very different meanings for different people. It is important to understand these dream images that seem to correspond to particular disorders in context of their personal meaning to the dreamer. Simply knowing someone dreams of dogs often does not give much insight. I also agree with the previous post stating that it would be beneficial to not only keep a dream journal but also a waking day journal. And again a proper standardized diagnosis using the DSM should be employed first and dream imagery can be examined as a sort of confirmation.

  8. It would be beneficial to have a medical diagnosis with an effective pharmacological treatment for schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, depression, or anxiety. The medications could help to stablize the individual so that they could effectively grasp their own dream imagery.

    A clinician could reveal this diagnosis through the analysis of dream imagery prior to medication being administered, then compare the dreams before pharmacological treatment and after treatment to see if that treatment is working to reduce the bizarreness of that patient's dreams.

    Shauna Conway

    1. I completely agree with you, Shauna. By comparing the dream imagery both before and after treatment has been introduced, the clinician could gain an understanding of the types of thoughts and emotions their patient is experiencing.

      In addition to assisting the clinician, dream analysis could also help the patient to recognize that they have taken control of their mental disorder. By reducing the bizarre images in their dreams, the patient may experience less stress and anxiety during waking life. In conjunction with the DSM diagnostic criteria, the elimination of these bizarre images could be a way for both the patient and cinician to recognize that they are making progress in treating and coping with a mental disorder.

      Alicia Holding

  9. I believe that understanding and recognizing that similar mental disorders have similar dream imagery could possibly help in the diagnosis and treatment of dreams. However, it would have to be decided with caution, as there are some environmental rather than biological causes that can bring on symptoms of a mental disorder. For example if a person is complaining of hallucinatory effects and bizarre dreams that might reflect someone with schizophrenia, this obviously would need further investigation biologically, because this may be caused by recreational drugs. Therefore, environmental factors may show similar signs as biological factors.
    Along with records of the persons dreams, there would definitely need to be interpretative methods taken in order to make sure the patient understands what the insight of their dreams mean. This would allow the patient to start counselling or certain prescription drugs that would help in the reducing of certain negative effects that happen in dream imagery.

  10. Due to research findings indicating that depression, anxiety, schizophrenia, and bi-polar disorder show up with specific dream imagery, health care professionals can discuss patients’ dream imagery with them to aid in the diagnosis process, along with the DSM. Discussing and exploring dream imagery with patients may also assist health care professionals decide which direction to take for treatment (e.g., talk therapy, group therapy, medication, etc.). Further, patients’ dream imagery can be used to identify what specific issues need to be addressed in therapy, such as relational issues, self-esteem, phobias, coping mechanisms, etc.

    Along with a record of one’s dreams, it may be beneficial to keep record of one’s waking day events. With this, the health care professional and patient can examine whether specific waking day events influence the specific dream imagery. This may then assist the health care professional and patient determine emotions, stressors, and triggers that may be associated with their disorder (e.g., contributing to the increase in frequency or severity of symptoms), which may then lead to exploring techniques in therapy to assist the patient in managing their symptoms.

    - Lindsey Martin

  11. Ashley HutchingsMay 28, 2012 at 5:36 PM

    I do not believe that mental disorders would be able to be diagnosed using dream interpretation alone. I believe that it would be beneficial for health care professionals (HCPs) in terms of treatment. The reason being is because if a patient was to record their dreams, HCPs could help individuals to interpret their dreams and this may help individuals better understand their mental illness. Also, they may be able to find meaning in their dreams that they are able to relate to in waking life. This can then help HCPs better help the patient by identifying coping strategies that are appropriate for that individual.

  12. These findings can help with the diagnosis and treatment of some mental disorders because they can be used as an aid in the process. The patient’s dream imagery can be used as a form of early diagnosis, or as a guide to help pinpoint the disorder before a professional diagnosis is made. During treatment, dream imagery can be used as a guide to see how the patient is progressing the their treatment, and can be used as a way of seeing if the type of treatment being used is have a positive or negative impact on the individual.

    Dream imagery should not be the only factor considered when diagnosing and treatment a particular disorder. Professional help should be acquired, the DSM should be followed, and dream imagery should only be used as an aid. In addition to a record of one’s dreams, the patients specific personal and medical history will be needed. While the diagnostic criteria for a disorder is relatively general, each patient will have a distinct experience with the disorder. Dreams and dream imagery can provide help on a personal level that applies directly to the individual patient.

  13. Dream interpretation can provide useful information and insight to the dreamer and others involved in the dream interpretation. In terms of professional health care workers diagnosing and treating mental disorders, dream interpretation can be useful to gain insight about the person, their emotions, their stressors, and other aspects of their life. Dream interpretation offers a rather holistic understanding of the dreamer because insight can be attained at a number of different levels (DeCicco, 2008).

    As discussed in other posts, the DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) offers criteria and clinical interview methods for diagnosing mental disorders. Health care professionals properly trained in this method can use the DSM criteria to make assessments. Alternatively, researchers use questionnaires to assess where people fall on a continuum between having severe mental disorder and absence of mental disorder. An example of this is the Body Shape Questionnaire used in research related to anorexia nervosa (Taylor, 1987). The researchers group the final scores on the BSQ to reflect different levels of severity of anorexia nervosa, which allows them to investigate trends. Questionnaires like this are also useful for health care professionals as an assessment tool.

    I realize that anorexia nervosa is not the same as other mental disorders, but there are similar tools available for assessment. The point is that health care professionals can use questionnaires or surveys much like researchers do; clinical assessments which follow the DSM; and dream interpretation techniques. By using all three of these methods, they can get a deeper understanding of the client and any mental disorders which they may be experiencing. After all, health care professionals will likely to make an appropriate assessment if they have more information about the client.

    In reference to treating mental disorders, dream interpretation offers insight about how clients are progressing through treatment, how medical interventions are working, and how they are developing emotionally (DeCicco, 2008). Therefore, dream interpretation is a valuable tool for health care professionals to use when treating clients. It is also worth noting that DeCicco (2008) recommends not using dream interpretation with clients who are experiencing psychosis as this can be precipitated by dream interpretation. This is perhaps one of the most important reasons why health care professionals require adequate training.

    DeCicco, T. L. (2008). The Giant Compass: Navigating your life with your dreams. South Carolina, USA: Malito Press.

    Taylor, M.J. (1987). The nature and significance of body image disturbance. Library for Experimental Psychology, 1-329.

    Here’s a link to the BSQ:

  14. Christine McAteerMay 28, 2012 at 10:40 PM

    I dont think analyzing the dreams of a individual will help health care professionals in terms in diagnosis of mental disorders. I believe it can be used to aid in the diagnosis however other tests and research must be conducted. The use of dream analysis will help to better understand things the patient might be anixious about or scared of in their life. The patient recording thier dreams will allow the health care professionals to see reoccurance throughout their dreams. As previously mentioned a waking day journal should be kept in order to see how the person reacts to normal every day situations.
    To aid in the treatment on these disorders using the dreams and waking day journals to see what situations are reoccuring in the dreams that could possible be issues in the persons life and using the dreams to better understand the persons personal situation instead of the generalization of just having depression, anxiety, schizophrenia, and being bi-polar.

  15. I think one of the major problems that plagues current versions of the DSM is comorbidity and perhaps too much emphasis on reliability over validity (although my second point is a less documented criticism). It is for this reason that I think as a whole we should be very apprehensive to start using our dream imagery to fit ourselves into already misguided categories of mental illnesses. Having said that I do fully adhere to the notion that our dreams and the associated imagery have a strong correlation to our mental health, I just don't personally think that something as subjective as our dreams should be used as a tool to fit us into specific categories.

    In contrast to my earlier argument, i believe it is due to this same subjectiveness that I believe dreams are the perfect tool to tap into our mental health as they tell a story that is totally unique to us and therefore provide insight into our lives that no questionnaire could possibly reach. In previous posts I have stated that I am skeptical of dream interpretation but in contrast to this I do believe that dreams provide thorough in-depth information as to our deepest thoughts, emotions and anxieties. In the case of mental health I think it only stands to reason that vivid and negative dream imagery would often correlate with mental illness, although I am less inclined to believe that a depressed person will have certain characteristics in their dreams than an anxious person would not. In other words, I think that as a whole negative imagery, deeply personal anxieties and sorrow are often found within our dreams and could certainly be used as a starting point in cognitive behavioural therapy and other forms of psychotherapy. I think from here it follows logically that it would be very easy for both patient and therapist to mark progress in ones mental health by assessing the imagery they encounter in their dreaming lives. Finally, I think other than a dream diary a patient would also need to tackle significant issues in their waking day lives as we know that our dreaming and waking lives feed off of each other and if we are to improve our dreaming lives one of the easiest and most concrete ways to start is by improving our waking day lives.

    Evan Mitchell

  16. These terms may help in the aid of diagnosis and treatment as similar sets of dreams seen throughout their life could tell of how long the disorder has been with them. they can tell how serious the disorder is in such terms as mild or severe. the dreams may portray if this individual is alright to work in a group setting for treatment or can only be seen as an individual as they may be in a stage where being around others for treatment is not possible or will come out with poor results.
    In order for the person with the mental disorder to be diagnosed their will have to be much more triggers and evidence of their disorder in their waking day life than in their dreams. It is not just enough to analyze one's dreams to recommend something is wrong with a person it is only a slight indicator. Other clues maybe no emotions felt towards much of their life. Or two very different people emerging from one person.

  17. Jazmine EtchellsMay 29, 2012 at 10:03 AM

    I would have to agree with the earlier posts in that dream interpretation can be a helpful and alternative aid in the diagnosis of mental disorders. But I want to stress the fact that it should just be an aid, as I also agree with the fact that dream interpretation on its own should not be the only basis of the diagnosis as mental disorders vary from each person. As it has been mentioned each mental disorder affects a different area of the brain. Therefore, by examining the dreams of individuals that have been diagnosed with a mental disorder could potentially provide insight into how these irregularities change the patterns in which the brain works. By gaining a better understanding of which irregularities in certain areas of the brain create a pattern of dream imagery researchers and professionals will have a more concrete archive to call upon when helping patients. This can result in a more accurate diagnosis getting better and faster aids for the patients.

    Individuals suffering from mental disorders should definitely keep a dream journal in order to recall and analyze their dreams at a later time. I think that these analyses should be done with a dream interpreter or with a professional counsellor whom has some background in the field of dream imagery and analysis. As Jessica discussed, leaving these individuals to interpret their dreams on their own could be problematic and only worsen the disorders. For example, an individual with high anxiety experiencing high anxiety dreams may interpret this as fearing both waking life and dream state, resulting in unhealthy behaviours and possibly health related issues. By having someone there with them whom are qualified will ensure that they are interpreting the right meaning. Once they start to get an understanding of what their dreams are expressing they may be able to relate this insight to their waking life in some way. If they can achieve this connection it may even be used as a tool to help with their disorder.

  18. I agree with some of the previous bloggers above that dream therapy is not enough on its own for treatment of the aforementioned disorders. But I think it would be incredibly insightful in addition to the DSM. As Jennifer was saying, being able to detect the severity and the duration of the disorder cna be very helpful to the clinician. Would dream work be best for the patient or the clinician I find myself wondering. Depending on the stability and level of rationality of the patient, I think that finding understanding in their dreams can be helpful. If the individual is becoming disturbed from dream imagery, it would be very important to have a clinician walk them through steps to find discovery. From what I've read and am understanding through the course so far, it appears to me that dream work with individuals who have these disorders is better for health care professionals than the individual themselves. In addition to the dream recordings I agree with the bloggers above that a waking day journal would be useful as well.
    -Margaret-Anne Warr

  19. These findings about the dream imagery experience by individuals with certain mental disorders, mentioned, would help health care professionals in terms of diagnosis and treatment. That is, these findings give more insight into the experiences of patients with mental disorders. In terms of diagnosis it may help health care professionals better understand what disorder their patient may be suffering from and also dream analysis may give clues to the severity of the illness one is suffering from. In addition, by therapists knowing what kind of dream imagery that individuals with a particular mental disorder commonly experience they can help their patients work through and cope with their dream imagery.
    Along with a record of one’s dreams in order to aid in treatment of disorders I feel that dream interpretation would also be useful to both the clinician and patient. The dream imagery an individual experiences with a mental disorder may be full of information regarding what the patient is feeling, subconsciously. Dream analysis can allow them to work through their experiences on their own. That is, through particular dream interpretation techniques such as the TSM patients may benefit from their discovery as the interpretation of their dreams gives them more understanding and awareness of
    problems they are facing. Furthermore, dream analysis would help the clinician have a better understanding of the individual as a whole. However, I feel dream analysis by itself would not be sufficient for treatment of mental disorders though it would add to treatment and open up new doors for areas in the patient’s life that need attention.

    Stacey O'Brien

  20. I don't feel that analyzing dreams would help health care professionals diagnose mental disorders. It may arguably be an acceptable source to use for diagnosis once there is evidence already pointing to it from more reputable tests and research. It could, however, help with treatment by tracking the possible factors in waking life that are making the mental disorders more prominent. Along with a record of one's dreams, is an understanding of the stressors in the patients life in order to aid treatment for such disorders.

  21. health care professionals will be able to diagnose patients with the different disorders much easier by knowing the different regular occurrences in the dreams of people that are known to have this disorder. they will be able to diagnose patients much earlier than without the record of their dreams.
    along with the record of their dreams, i think that an interpretation of each dream would be extremely helpful. it would help both the patient and the doctor fully understand why the person acts they way they do, it will allow them to target specific areas and help treat each patient for their disorder that much more specifically.

    Sarah Craig

  22. I agree with Stacey that, "these findings give more insight into the experiences of patients with mental disorders. In terms of diagnosis it may help health care professionals better understand what disorder their patient may be suffering from and also dream analysis may give clues to the severity of the illness one is suffering from." Through the insight that professionals get from their patients dreams they can significantly help the patient. They can help the patient through recognizing types of disorders they may have and if they are intensifying or not. The findings can help health care professionals help the patient find the route of the issues in their life that are either causing the disorder or possibly making it worse. The findings that research has shown can also help to diagnose disorders for their patients, help them with treatment through this and also help to better their disorder for the patient.

    In order to aid treatment for these types of disorders for the patient they will need a record of their dreams to show the disorder in the light of the dream and also need interpretation of dreams to aid in the treatment. It is significantly important as stated in lectures and readings to understand what the dream means to an individual due to dreams meaning different things for different people. The personality and emotions of the dreamer is where the dream images come from and they are what would correspond to a particular disorder. For example a dream of a specific animal, for example a spider may mean happiness to one person where it may mean a terrifying experience for another, this is where interpretation of images would differ based on the dreamer themselves.


  23. I also agree with Margaret-Anne Warr in regards to her questioning thoughts about dream interpretation and wondering if it does help the patient or not, as I find myself questioning many things in regards to dream interpretation. However, Margaret also mentioned that, "From what I've read and am understanding through the course so far, it appears to me that dream work with individuals who have these disorders is better for health care professionals than the individual themselves." I myself do not agree with this statement, I understand her point and do believe in some cases that dream work would be more beneficial to the clinician then the patient. However, as stated in text and lectures dream works significant discoveries come from the dreamer themselves when they connect their dream to their waking day life and not the clinician. The clinician can determine some factors of possible disorders through a patient sharing their dream (ie dreamers with anxiety have more frequent scene changes) however the true discoveries come from the dreamer themselves. I believe through these discoveries that the patients have, they gain and benefit from it more then that of the clinician as they have realized possible situations they need to fix/change in their waking day life or how their dream is connected to their waking day life giving insight. This insight could show the dreamer they do need treatment (warning them of their psychological imbalances), how to solve their related conflicts in life that are causing the disorder and the insight could help with current behaviours they are having or decisions in their life. Overall I recognize Margaret's statement however believe that dream work for individuals with disorders is significantly better for the individual just as much or more than the health care professionals.

    For myself I also partially disagree with her statement because for me the patient this current dream interpretation we have been doing in class has brought me to a significant discovery of my high anxiety. I new I had anxiety but I hadn't realized until proceeding with our dream interpretation in this course how much my high anxiety was affecting my dream life and waking day life. My dream imagery has continued to connect my anxiety to my waking day life throughout the past two labs and made me realize I need to make changes to better my overall life.

    As described in many posts above though I do agree that keeping a dream journal as well as a waking dat journal would be significanly beneficial to make connections to dreams and waking day life to help with discovery. Also it is important to make sure proper dream interpretation methods and steps are taken in order throughout interpretations "DSM" method so correct interpretations and discoveries are made for the dreamer.

    ~Abby Ross.

  24. Steffanie PorterMay 29, 2012 at 1:02 PM

    These findings can help health care professionals because if dream patterns are consistent across people with specific personality/anxiety disorders, then a diagnosic can be made more confidently. Sometime people suffer from more than one disorder so findings regarding dream patterns and disorders can narrow it down for clinicians.

    These findings could also indicate how effective treatment of disorders are. When there are less scene changes in the dreams of a person suffering from anxiety, then it is likely that they are generally experiencing less anxiety.

    I think, along with a record of dreams, it would be helpful for a clinician to have the backgrounds and current life events that are going on in the patient's life. If this and dream imformation was available, it would be possible to connect waking events or past events with dream events, and the awareness of this alone can help aleviate symptoms of various disorders.

  25. Although research has shown patterns of specific dream imagery in various mental disorders, I do not feel that these findings will help in the diagnosis of such disorders. There are specific criteria and symptoms required by the DSM in order to make a diagnosis and I am pretty sure that dreams are not part of the DSM criteria as of yet.
    However, identifying specific dream imagery related to mental disorders may be helpful in the treatment of those suffering from mental disorders. Along with having the individual keep records of their dreams, the health care professional could gain insight into the individual through discussing and working through the person’s dreams in therapy. Teaching the individual how to interpret their own dreams through TSM or the 2A Method could allow them to feel some control and involvement in their treatment and perhaps allow them to make sense of their unconscious thoughts. If the patient can interpret their own dream imagery or the health care professional can guide them through their dreams, it can go a long way in helping them to improve their waking life.
    Many times medication is involved in the treatment if mental disorders such as depression, schizophrenia and bi-polar. I am curious as to what effect the medications may have on the person’s dreams. I once took Zyban to help me to quit smoking and stopped taking it because it gave me crazy dreams. I wonder if I had known about how to interpret my dreams then, would I have been able to make sense of them or were my thoughts altered by the medication?

  26. Reading through the previous posts, some people agree that dreams can be used as a diagnostic tool and some people seem more cautious about the idea. On the one hand, we are talking about three very distinct categories of mental disorders: psychotic disorders, mood disorders, and anxiety disorders. I don't think it is appropriate to make a blanket statement about the usefulness of dream interpretation/diagnosis with all mental disorders because they are so different from one another. There could be challenges in gathering accurate information from people with certain mental illnesses (i.e. psychosis). On the other hand, research has shown that there is a clear link between some mental disorders and dream experiences. I think this research could help compliment the traditional diagnosis methods, and is something that could be considered in addition to traditional methods.

    As for treatment, dream analysis for people living with depression or anxiety could look much different than dream analysis of a patient with schizophrenia or bipolar disorder. To address the latter illnesses - I am not sure that dream interpretation would be appropriate for someone who is actively psychotic (also pointed out by Samantha Lewer). They may be too out of touch with reality, and engaging in dream interpretation could cause further harm. However, I do think it would be appropriate for a clinician to collect dream stories and images from a psychotic patient. This could come in handy for monitoring symptoms. Additionally,
    once a patient's mental illness is stable, looking back on recorded dreams might give them an appreciation for just how ill they had been prior to treatment (whatever that treatment may be). Also, if a patient understands the relationship between their mental health status and their dreams, this could potentially help them if they become ill again. Paying attention to their dreams might help them recognize early warning signs and enable them to intervene at an earlier stage in the illness.
    For people with depression and/or anxiety, I see dream analysis as being very helpful before, during, and after a bout of illness. For all mental health patients, dream interpretation could be used a tool in the recovery process to encourage social rehabilitation.

    Along with a record of one’s dreams, I think that a full mental and physical health history would be useful. Also, a good rapport between client and staff would be vital as they would be dealing with potentially sensitive issues. Additionally, the clinician should know the client fairly well (i.e. their current employment status, family relationships, things that are important to them and things they are currently struggling with).
    Lindsay Dixon

  27. These findings of specific dream imagery for some mental disorders is helpful for health care professionals. I do not think that this imagery alone exposes a mental disorder. I do however feel that when more evidence is present to diagnose a mental disorder, like for instance an individual meets certain criteria using the DSM method, plus the presence of specific dream imagery, there is cause for more confidence when diagnosing.

    We know from our readings in the text The Giant Compass that our dreaming mind is connected to our thoughts, emotions, personalities, and waking day experiences. It makes sense then that our dreams can too expose a mental disorder even if we are not consciously aware of it. The text also discusses that we as the dreamer are the best predictor of our dreams and their meaning's. Perhaps, without assuming, someone who is experiencing bizarre dreams might find through dream interpretation these are significant on an emotional level. Our dreams can be the minds way of telling the person their is an ongoing dilemma or something is wrong. There are many possibilities for insight and discovery through dream therapy, which is why they are useful for assisting in the treatment of certain disorders.

    I agree with what other's have said in that along with a drean record, a waking record would be useful as well. It would be interesting to see the possible correlations that could be found. I think important as well would be a record of ones dream insights. Reason for this is perhaps for a reoccuring dream, insight might change as one goes deeper into various dream interpretation techniques. Also, if there is discovery at one point in therapy and the dreams persist, it would be a good indication as to whether or not that person has made changes in their waking life, or perhaps bring to question the successfulness of the treatment and aid in going a new direction.

    Nicole Hinan

  28. These dreams may help health care professionals with diagnosis because if the patients are having similar dreams to those that are suffering from a mental disorder it may be a sign that they have the same or similar illness. If the patients are having similar dreams using the different methods of dream interpretation there is a possible way to determine the type of disorder or the family of the same disorder. If the dreams have changed once diagnosis and have began treatment it can be a way to tell if the therapy or medication is working and what is not working. They would also need diary's of the patients days as well as the dreams to use to help determine if the dream imagery is happening because of something in their waking day life. Also since there is a wide variety of mental illnesses it would probably be best if they seeking professional help with the discovery of their dreams.

  29. *Ignore previous post I forgot to post my name*
    These dreams may help health care professionals with diagnosis because if the patients are having similar dreams to those that are suffering from a mental disorder it may be a sign that they have the same or similar illness. If the patients are having similar dreams using the different methods of dream interpretation there is a possible way to determine the type of disorder or the family of the same disorder. If the dreams have changed once diagnosis and have began treatment it can be a way to tell if the therapy or medication is working and what is not working. They would also need diary's of the patients days as well as the dreams to use to help determine if the dream imagery is happening because of something in their waking day life. Also since there is a wide variety of mental illnesses it would probably be best if they seeking professional help with the discovery of their dreams.
    -Sarah McFadden

  30. Bizarre, anxious or depressive findings from dream interpretion may help health care professionals diagnosis and treat mental disorders? Diagnosing a mental illness is sometimes very hard to do because the patient is only offering so much information or the patient is experiencing many factors of different mental illnesses and it is hard to distinguish which one they have. Using their dreams will help give extra information into what the patient is unconsciously thinking. The patient could be denying that they are feeling certain ways but dreams can help bring this all to light. Treatment can also be analyzed by dream interpretation to see if the amount of anxious, bizarre or depressive dreams have been decreased since treated.

    Also, having the dreamer express how they felt during their dream should be recorded in order to aid treatment for such disorders. This is because during the dream if the patient states they felt hopeless, and useless this could indicate present or future suicidal ideation.
    Kristen Thumm

  31. In terms of diagnosis and treatment of mental disorders, professionals could use a patients dreams to help them with a diagnosis. The discovery would have to be made by the dreamer, however the outcome could help with the diagnosis of such things like anxiety disorders or bi-polar disorder. As mentioned in the readings by both Van de Castle (1994) and DeCicco (2005), the changes in scenery and levels of bizarreness in an individuals dreams can be clues as to any difficulties that they may be having.

    In the readings by Van de Castle (1994), he spoke about Freud and his numerous different types of dreams that he believed that people could have. It is interesting to note, that his method of determining the stories behind peoples' dream is based on the same premise. However, I do not believe that every individual with anxiety disorder for example can be diagnosed with the disorder based on dreams. The dreams may be a support to the diagnosis but every individual is different and every diagnosis needs to be made specifically for that individual.

    Along with the record of one's dreams would need to be the story and discovery that the patient developed. This is especially important to be able to distinguish the meaning that the dream has to the individual. The same dream to somebody else, may mean something totally different. To one person, the dream could lead to helping with treatment of any mental disorders, to another, the dream could be an easy way to figure out the connections to their waking life on their own.

    Some people may find the answers they need to their daily problems through their dreams, while other may need professional help. Don't be ashamed to ask for help in either determining the meaning of your dreams (like through the Projective Method) or seeking professional help.

    Like Kristen said above, determining the underlying meaning of a dream which could be hindered by a patients' stubbornness to deny what they are feeling could be extremely important in helping with both the diagnosis and the treatment of mental disorders.

  32. Using dreams as a tool in properly diagnosing client's with mental illnesses could be very beneficial to ensuring they are being treated for the CORRECT disease. It is often hard to distinguish between mental illnesses, therefore having one more tool available to properly diagnose could make a large difference. It may help client's get the proper medications and amount of counselling. Dreams could also become useful in determining what stimulus could be triggering manic episodes, hallucinations, delusions, voices and any other symptoms involved with the diseases.

    Client's often have paranoia that hinders them from speaking to people in Hospitals where they feel like they are being observed. Speaking to someone that isn't a doctor about dreams may not feel as threatening as getting an evaluation from a formal health care provider. Dream interpretation can also be done in an environment that isn't as scary as a hospital, therefore a patient may be more receptive to getting help for their disease.

  33. I agree very much with what Jasmine said about being treated for the correct disease with dreams as an aid. It is hard enough for a patient to explain the bizarreness they feel when physicians are trying to understand their patient’s illness. Having another way to determine how to help a patient would be a great help to the healthcare world. One particular note is that, the physician should figure out the diagnosis before the dream imagery. This is important because a physician does not want to change the diagnosis of the patient after they look at the dream imagery. This is bad for the patient as well as the physician – the physician will not know the exact diagnosis of the patient anymore.
    Jessica C. mentioned in her blog reply that patients should have someone to help them with their dream interpretation. Many patients suffering from mental illnesses gradually get worse because no one wants to help them. They think they’re delusional and have no idea what they are seeing, feeling, or saying. To have someone aid them with their dream interpretation would be their first step to help them after the diagnosis has been made.

  34. Dream records can be used in combination with DSM symptoms in order to aid health care professionals. As the aforementioned research shows, some patterns exist in dream imagery that can be used to a professional's advantage.

    However, reliability and validity problems exist in dream therapy. Specifically, dreams may be very difficult to quantify, even with a dream record. Dreams are complex and focusing on one factor at a time (such as scene changing) may oversimplify dream imagery.

  35. As with any diagnosis be it of a physiological or psychological nature, it is prudent to consider an individual's life and waking day circumstances; the context for their dream history. Context would be particularly important in preventing over diagnosis or a misdiagnosis. For example, a clinician, after reviewing an individual's dream imagery, may conclude that they have generalized anxiety. However, when they engage with the patient, they learn that the anxious dream imagery is related to a tangible waking day threat. In an instance like this, diagnosis of generalized anxiety would result in medication and perhaps specific therapies, which are not what this particular individual may need. In this case the context provides the clinician with more information to help them make the best decision in treatment for their patient or client. Of course, analysis of dream history would compliment the DSM well as additional symptomatic criteria.

    Alya Al-Joundi

  36. I am not sure if dream analysis could be used or even should be used to help in diagnosis of mental disorders. As we learned early on in this class, people can have different dreams depending on their life experiences, culture and ideologies. A person who has an anxiety disorder in Canada versus in China could be having different types of dreams. I think dreams can vary so much that people should not depend on dreams for diagnosing serious mental illnesses. Another issue would be the objectivity of the doctor doing the diagnosis; they would not be able to be objective enough because I feel like they would start analyzing the dream and diagnosing based on their interpretation of the dream.

    Using dreams to treat mental illness is a whole other story. I think it could work for some patients and not for others, just like most types of treatments. After a patient records their dreams they can be looked at and analyzed by the individual or by a professional. The dreams could open up a window to a person’s thoughts and feelings and it could help friends and family be able to relate to them and their disorder. Looking at ones dreams and using discovery could help patients become more accepting of their disorder and perhaps even uncover some aspects of the disorder they ignored or did not know or understand.

  37. Dream imagery analysis could be extremely helpful in cases of supressed memories of past trauma, or even events that have happened in a person’s life that they simply can’t bring themselves to speak about. By studying and interpreting their dreams, the issue may become clear without the client having to explicitly say it before they are comfortable. Then once an assumption has been obtained, a counsellor could have an easier time easing them into speaking about it.

    For some lower functioning people with mental illness, communication can be very tough. As a result, it can at times be difficult to get all the information to find out exactly what things are troubling them at a given time. The use of dream imagery could be very helpful with this as their dreams could be interpreted and conclusions could potentially be made as far as what waking life problems the person may be going through. That way even if they are having trouble getting across what may be wrong in their life for whatever reason, it may be easier for them to describe their dreams.

    As far as diagnostics go, perhaps if a clinician is having difficulty zeroing in on a proper diagnosis, comparing the dreams of their client to those of people with similar symptoms could help. It could go like this: When a diagnosis has already been made for a previous client and dream imagery information has been gathered, the clinician could conduct another dream analyses with their current client and compare contrast, to assist in figuring out the diagnosis.

    Along with a record of dreams, counselling and, if needed, medication should be used to aid in the treatment of mental disorders. I am a strong believer in the benefits of counselling and especially believe that medication shouldn’t be given out if it isn’t accompanied by regular counselling.

    Sean Stead

  38. I too, like others, must express my skepticism regarding using dream imagery as a diagnostic tool. There is too much overlap between mental disorders and too much variation within mental disorders to ever truly tie imagery to a specific disorder with the utmost confidence. For instance, the irregular sleeping patterns of someone experiencing a manic episode (bi-polar disorder) and someone with insomnia. In this case, I would question how much of an effect sleep deprivation has on dream imagery, and whether it could be responsible for the bizarre imagery seen in those with bi-polar disorder. Thus begging the question, would those with insomnia and those with bi-polar disorder experience similar bizarre imagery. This in itself could call into question dream imagery's use as a diagnostic tool.
    Based on the diathesis-stress model, treatment with dream interpretation could help pinpoint stressors that precipitated episodes in some cases. Discovery could thus help to shorten the length of an episode and potentially prevent against future ones.
    In order to facilitate treatment, one would need to seek professional help. Medication might also be required to allow the patient to sleep or focus on the task at hand. However, as previously stated by another student, I would then question the medication's effects on the dream imagery, potentially rendering the interpretation useless.

  39. I understand the skepticism that people are expressing concerning TSM as a diagnostic tool, however, I do not believe that TSM was ever desired to be a sole tool for diagnosing mental disorders. I believe that TSM can aid the conventional process of diagnosing mental disorders in people. Since dream imagery has been shown to be linked to certain mental disorders, health care professionals can use TSM to interpret a patient's dream imagery to help them get closer to the discovery of whatever mental disorder their patient has. This does not mean though that health care professionals can simply diagnose a patient based only on the interpretations of the dream imagery. Along with dream imagery, health care professionals should investigate genetic influences and past life experiences that could have influenced the arising of the mental disorder. I agree that dream imagery cannot be a diagnostic tool by itself, but I do believe that it can be used together with other methods of diagnosis for diagnosing someone with a mental disorder.
    -Sarah Aseerwatham

  40. A person’s dreams can yield subconscious revelations on many different levels, such as physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual. Any of these revelations may be related to mental illnesses, such as schizophrenia, anxiety disorders, or bipolar disorder. Health professionals may use this information to assist with a diagnosis, plan treatments and therapy, and evaluate various implementations. I will have to agree with many of my classmates’ previous posts; I do not think dream imagery is sufficient evidence for any diagnosis. In my opinion it supports a diagnosis, but does not serve as the basis for a diagnosis.
    However, dreams can serve as important tools for choice and evaluation of therapy. Comparison of dream imagery and its interpretation/discovery may help individuals and health professionals select appropriate therapies, and give an indication of an individual’s progress. For example, an individual suffering from bipolar disorder: comparing dream imagery during manic and depressive episodes may give clues as to triggers (ex: environmental) and if there is a response to therapy and/or medication. It may be beneficial for the person to keep a dream journal as well as a waking journal, since events in both states are connected and may give a greater picture of an individual. If dream interpretation were to be included in an individual’s treatment, I think it would be essential to include a professional who is knowledgeable about dream analysis in this person’s interdisciplinary team.

    Ann-Marie Harris

  41. Dreams can be very helpful for many waking day dilemmas including health issues. If people report having bizarre dreams, doctors should prescribe that the patient writes a dream journal. Even if patients do not report having bizarre dreams but show some symptoms or believe that they have depression, anxiety, schizophrenia, or bi-polar disorder, keeping a dream journal and sharing it with a doctor is not too time consuming and can be very beneficial.

    Having patients keep a dream journal is not enough to diagnose someone with a certain disorder. First, for example, doctors would have to know how to determine how many scene changes would be considered enough to diagnose someone with an anxiety disorder. Second, a record of behaviour would have to be kept to see if these dream occurrences are affecting that patient's waking life.

  42. Stephanie WottonMay 29, 2012 at 9:07 PM

    The use of dream imagery may be helpful in properly diagnosing a mental health disorder. For example, a small number of individuals with bi-polar disorder also experience hallucinations which can be similar to that of a schizophrenics. In this case the diagnosis of bi-polar may be overlooked as the HCP is focusing on the hallucinations. The dream imagery of that individual (bizarre) may lead the HCP to the correct diagnosis and allow for proper disease treatment. The analysis of ones dreams may also give insight into whether the treatment being used is effective or not. If the individuals dreams become less bizarre or have fewer scene changes it may indicate that the current treatment course is effective. If these issues are not resolved it may indicate that further treatment is needed or that the individual may be misdiagnosed.

    In addition to keeping a dream journal the individual must also keep a waking day journal. This may lead to discovery of what events are triggering a certain symptom of a mental illness. For example, if there is a day where an individual with anxiety met with a certain person at work and that night their dreams contained many scene changes it may be that that person is a source of anxiety. Further analysis of the dream may reveal why and lead to the individual developing coping strategies to decrease their anxiety in that situation.

  43. The link between mental illness and dreams may aid health care professionals in the diagnostic process by shedding light on possible disorders that the patient may be suffering from. In addition, it could be used as a marker of the success of a treatment option, as the changes in the patient's dreams may reveal a change in their mental health as well. Along with a record of one's dreams, psychotherapy would allow the clinician to utilise the dream imagery in a more reliable and effective manner, as they would be given the opportunity to diagnose the patient using other criteria. Dream interpretation is one of many strategies that can be used in conjunction with other therapeutic methods.

  44. A lot of the previous bloggers have stated that dream imagery is something that could be used to help with diagnosing disorders and potentially with treating those disorders and I agree to a point. Dreams have been shown to help show individuals what's wrong with their life and how treatments are working on their everyday life and while this information is highly useful for both the patient and the professional, it also is highly dependent on the patient being both willing to do the dream analyses and also be willing to share the results with the professional. And this could be problematic, people suffering from schizophrenia tend to be paranoid about others and may feel that people are trying to harm them through their dreams, which might come about due to an interest in the dreams by their psychologist. People suffering from anxiety may feel that people will judge them by the results of the dreams and as such may lie about them. Due to this, while dreams can be useful, they cannot be the only thing that the professional looks at, and i wouldn't recommend it being strongly relied on as well.

  45. The findings concerning the fact that certain mental disorders all clearly show up with specific dream imagery could help health care professionals in terms of diagnosis by helping them pin point which mental disorder their patient could have by encouraging their patients to keep a diary of their dreams. It could also help health care professionals with treatment of mental disorders because after a certain amount of time doing some type of therapy, the patient could re-record their dreams and see if the same patterns are there. This would allow them to see how effective the therapy has been. A record of the patient's dreams and a method of interpreting how many dream scene changes occur would have to be kept.

  46. I think these findings would help health care professionals in terms of diagnosis and treatment in the sense that if an individual who comes to them and expresses having dreams with multiple dream changes or bizarre imagery the health care profession may be able to better predict if the individual has a diagnosis of anxiety or bi polar disorder. This discovery could also help determine other type of mental disorders an individual may have if the health care professional looks into the individual’s dream imagery. For example and individual who has negative dream imagery may be associated with depression than someone who has more positive dream imagery. This can help health care professionals in determining mental disorders and treatment. By the patient expressing their dreams and writing them down in a dream journal can assist the health care professional in the sense of looking at a long time span of the individual dream imagery for months or years. This can better predict diagnosis of mental disorders. Through using the dream journal the TSM method could help in the sense of treatment in helping the patient in their waking life situations. Health care professional could use different types of therapy after using a dream journal this can help with treatment. As the previous poster has mentioned if the individual records their dreams and then starts doing therapy that was suggested by the health care professional they could look at their recorded dreams after therapy and see if the same dream imagery is there which would suggest if the treatment is working or not.

    Erin Hillier