EMDR Educators of Florida - Dr. Andrew Dobo | Dream amplification and interpretation: an ancient skill for the new millennium
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Dream amplification and interpretation: an ancient skill for the new millennium

Dream amplification and interpretation: an ancient skill for the new millennium

The following is an excerpt from Dr. Dobo’s work in progress, Transformational EMDR: A Death Rebirth Sequence in Six Stages.

Dream work is much like other lifelong artistic endeavors: One lifetime is not enough. Fortunately, in this six-stage transformational EMDR process, the dreams seem to follow consistent themes in each stage; therefore, it is much easier to understand them. Much easier than if a friend asks you to interpret a dream without knowing anything about what is going on in his/her life.

Three Important Rules as We Begin

1. Write the dream down. It is essential to bring the dream out of the mysterious world of the unconscious and into the three-dimensional world of time and space. You need to have a dream to interpret. Writing them down is the only way you will remember them. It is the only way you can ponder and work with them. Bring them into the three-dimensional world, not the two-dimensional world of your cellphone or iPad. Write it with pen and paper.

2. Take your dreams seriously and spend time trying to understand them. As you read this chapter you will develop skills that will make it easier to understand your dreams, in fact, it will make it exciting and fulfilling to spend time in this endeavor. In doing so, you will discover just how meaningful and serious this work is for you.

People say, “I do not dream” or “I do not remember my dream.” If the inner dreamer provides important dreams only to have them ignored, it will stop providing a memory of them. If you are rested at night and go into REM, you dream. As you read this chapter, you will see just how much time it takes to examine a dream comprehensively. You will also feel the rewards of understanding them with great accuracy. You will have a sense of accomplishment as you begin to understand this new language. You will also understand yourself in ways that you never would have imagined.

3. Keep a pen and paper next to your bed to record it. I will discuss the documenting of the dream in more detail later and make some suggestions in this regard in a later chapter. Even if you scribbled a few words in the middle of the night, you usually will remember the entire dream. If you don’t write it down, you will almost always forget it minutes after waking up to begin your day.

The Structural Characteristics of the Dream

Dreams usually have a consistent three-part structure, but not always. We might think of this three-part structure as the vessel in which the contents of the dream live. This structure is the skeleton of the dream. You might find this hard to believe, because most people just say, “Dreams are weird.” This, however, is only because most people have no understanding of dreams. This is a sad state of affairs, because dreams are not weird; dreams are brilliant, mysterious and a wonderful resource throughout the life span. The dream’s truth and wisdom is there for the taking.

Dreams have a definite beginning, a middle and an end, although these things are not always immediately apparent.

Carl Jung believed that the dreams are a force of nature, a natural phenomenon. Dreams are not moral. The dream does not care if you die in the dream or live. It just shows you the truth. There is nothing more natural than something with a beginning, a middle and an end. Our lives can be seen in three stages. Sex has three stages — beginning; middle, when intensity increases; and resolution. Literature and music have forms that are in three stages. The Catholic Mass has three parts. You do not have to look hard for this natural three-stage phenomenon; it is everywhere.

Most dreams can be understood in this three-stage structure. It is important for you to be able to identify each stage as you examine the dream. Identifying each stage is your first task in this process of dream analysis. We must first examine the dream; the structure is first followed by a detailed examination of the content of the dream. Only then can we give an accurate interpretation of the dream. Once it is broken into the three stages, it is much easier to examine and digest. This examination is done one part at a time.

The Three-Part Structure

Part I: The Introduction or The Exposition — “The scene opens.”
The exposition consists of two things: the scene or setting and the characters. The characters are not always human; often they are animals or unearthly beings. You will be surprised how often the first sentence of a documented dream sets the scene as if the curtain has just gone up, and the actors are there to deliver their first lines. Do not overthink this. Trust that the dream has a beginning and it is the first sentence or two of the dream you recorded and decided to examine.

Part II: The conflict or problem – This middle section is where all the action happens.
The plot is revealed, tensions build, and the story begins to play out. Jungians call it the peripeteia, that is, a sudden reversal of fortune. The drama begins often with building tensions as the story develops.

Part III: The resolution — This is the lysis, that is a gradual decline of tensions.
It can resolve itself or it can lead to calamity. The dream can also end without resolution. It is not the unconscious that creates the end of the story. Remember, the inner dreamer reports the news, it does not create it. It simply expresses what is going on in the dreamer’s life. The dream does not lie. It is not capable of deceit. If you want to know the truth about yourself, begin to attend to your dreams. When you divide the dream into these three parts, you do not make any commentary. Use the exact words from the dream that you recorded and divide those words into three sections.

In summary, as you examine a documented dream, almost without exception, the first sentence or two reveal the exposition; the proverbial curtain rises. You immediately have the setting and the main characters. Then something starts to happen—the conflict or tension of the story plays out. Finally, there is the resolution or lack of resolution. These are the three parts of the dreams structure.

Let’s examine a dream and break it down into these three structural sections.

The Dream
A man has two boys fishing at a lake.
An older man comes by and asks, “Why are you fishing here? Don’t you know there are no fish in this lake; it’s a dead sea.”
The man responds, “These boys like to come out here to fish. They don’t care if they don’t catch anything.”
The old man asks, “What are those two cells, those cages on the shore there?”
He answers, “That’s where these boys live.”

“Why do you keep them captive in cages?”
“I don’t keep them captive, the cell door is never locked. They can leave anytime they want, but they choose to stay here and fish in this dead sea.” The dream ends.

Identifying the three stages of the dream

1. What part of the dream is the exposition?
A man has two boys fishing at a lake. (Scene and characters)

2. What is the problem/tension/conflict?
An old man comes by questioning and informing, “Why are you fishing here? Don’t you know there are no fish in this lake; it’s a dead sea.”
The man responds, “These boys like to come out here to fish, they don’t care if they don’t catch anything.”
The old man asks, “What are those two cells, those cages on the shore there?”
He answers, “That’s where these boys live.”

“Why do you keep them captive in cages?” (Plot—story unfolds)

3. What is the resolution?
“I don’t keep them captive, the cell door is never locked. They can leave anytime they want to but they choose to stay here and fish in this dead sea.”

Exploring the content or anatomy of the dream

Now that we understand the three-part structure of a dream, let’s explore the contents of the dream. The contents give the dream life. Just like a human has a structural skeleton and organs that make the person a living thing, well, the same is true with dreams. The anatomy of the content of the dream is what gives the dream life.

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