Dream News

Nuclear Nightmares

With the threat of nuclear war hanging overhead, it is not surprising that our dreams might reflect this source of anxiety. In fact, reports peace psychologist Randy Morris, PhD, many children in our country, not to mention in other nations, have had nuclear imagery in their dreams. Are such dreams simply another example of how daily anxieties are reflected in our nighttime ruminations? Possibly, but Dr. Morris offers another explanation. "Could it be some kind of collective survival mechanism to come as close as possible to experiencing, in order to reject, our self-destruction?"

"I believe," he states, in answer to his question, "that nuclear nightmares represent an impulse on the part of this collective psyche to confront directly the horror of nuclear war, literally, to 'imagine the unimaginable,' and by so doing to take the first step toward healing this festering rupture in the family of man. These dreams, as expressions of pure emotion, have the power to motivate people to work in new ways for peace movement." Dr. Morris notes that the threat of nuclear war is increased by the number of people who simply cannot imagine that it would ever happen. Nuclear nightmares tend to be very "real" in their feeling, and thus may be a natural counterbalance to the ostrich syndrome.

Anyone who has had a nuclear nightmare, or any kind of dream involving nuclear imagery, is invited to write a letter to Randy Morris, PhD, Hiroshima International School, 2-2-6 Ushita-naka, Higashi-ku, Hiroshima 730, Japan, leave a message in anecdotal psi or premonitions registry.

Sudden Death Syndrome — Suicide by Nightmare

A healthy adult goes to sleep at night but then never wakes up. The medical examiners can find no cause of death? What happened. No one knows, but it happens enough to have earned a name, "sudden death syndrome," and to warrant having the Atlanta Center for Disease Control monitor the incidence of such cases. One population group, Laotian refugees, has a higher than average mortality from sudden death syndrome. Dr. Joseph Jay Tobin, reporting in the American Journal of Orthopsychiatry (July, 1983), presents a case study that leads him to suggest that this phenomenon may be suicide by nightmare.

The patient was a male refugee from war-torn Laos, who had been recently relocated with his family to their own apartment in an American city. Shortly thereafter, the man complained of difficulty sleeping. He reported nightmares in which something (once a cat, once a dog and once a woman) came to him in his bedroom, sat on his chest and tried to prevent his breathing. Dr. Tobin arranged for a Laotian healer to perform a "spirit cure," which was consistent with the patient's world view. Afterwords, Dr. Tobin investigated further into the patient's background.

Examination of the patient's history revealed that he was suffering from "survivor's guilt." This post-traumatic malady, first identified in survivors of the Holocaust, combines depression and paranoia with the nagging feeling, "Why was I saved when so many others died?" Dr. Tobin also discovered that among South Asian persons there is the belief in something akin to "voodoo death," called banqunqut, or "Oriental nightmare death," in which a person is believed to be killed during sleep by a spirit which squeezes out the breath. Apparently a similar belief was held in Europe during the Middle Ages. At that time, the name, "incubi" was given to the presumed spirit, from the Latin word for nightmare, incubus.

Previous medical research has indicated that heart attacks can be precipitated in dreams and that certain psychosomatic disorders can be dangerously aggravated during the sleep state. Other research focusing on the healing potential of dreams, nevertheless receives indirect support for the physical potency of dreams by the suggestion that they might also be a vehicle of death.

Dream After Surgery Restores Integrity of Personality

Major surgery is a harrowing experience, a trauma to the personality, for the person submits their life, while unconscious under anesthesia, to the operation of other people's hands upon their vital organs. The most critical aspect of the surgery experience — the operation itself — seems beyond the reach of the patient's personality to integrate, as would be needed following any traumatic experience, because of the anesthesia. Patient's occasional reports of "witnessing" their operation, and statements, by psychics such as Edgar Cayce or philosophers such as Alfred North Whitehead, that the mind never sleeps, that it registers everything, would suggest that despite the anesthesia, it should be theoretically possible for the post-operative patient to regain access to the surgery experience so that it could be digested and the recovery made more complete. Dr. Paul W. Pruyser, of the Menninger Foundation, reporting in the Bulletin of the Menninger Clinic (June, 1983) suggests that such an integration of the surgery experience may occur through a dream!

Dr. Pruyser writes about his experience undergoing emergency, triple coronary bypass surgery and how his recuperation was helped by a dream he had five days after the operation. In his dream, he visits a little-known, secluded part of the hospital grounds, a ruins site from the 19th century, where he encounters a heavy metal door. The door opens with eerie creak and he enters a dimly lit cave. He finds three strange, two-story, cubical habitats, each with leaky and rusty pipes meant to furnish heat to the inside from a centrally located, old-fashioned wood-burning cook stove that was very dilapidated.

When he awoke from this dream, he reports that he felt elated and immensely satisfied, because, in his own words, "My mind had found access to an experience I was not supposed to have undergone at all because of the total anesthesia." He believes, for example, that the creaking of the door was actually the sound of his rib cage when it was opened by the surgeon. He provides background information to develop an interpretation of the details of the dream, which in essence refers to his confrontation with his heart and its clogged arteries and with his ancestral history of coronary deficiency. More generally, he ascribes to his dream an act of restoration of the integrity of his personality — "a guarantee of the continuity of selfhood" — after being the threatened by his near brush with death. The ability of dreams to spontaneously provide this otherwise missing ingredient to total recovery deserves further investigation. (Author's address: Menninger Foundation, P.O. Box 829, Topeka, KS 66601).

Group Dreaming

What happens when a group of people attempt to dream about the same thing? The December, 1983 issue of Omni Magazine reports the work of Henry Reed (DreamNet Sysop) on an intriguing approach to studying the psychic potential of dreams. A group of dreamers would be gathered together, he would introduce them to a stranger said to be suffering from an undisclosed problem, and ask the group to dream for this person, to see if they could dream up a solution to the person's problem. In the morning the dreams were analyzed, the person's problem was revealed, and the pieces of information from the several dreams were pieced together to develop a solution. Most of the dreams evidenced psychic information in the dreams. Pooling the dreams enhanced the visibility of the psychic effect. Having a good reason for dreaming telepathically seems to increase the probability of psychic material in the dreams. For further reading: "Dreaming for Mary", Sundance Community Dream Journal, #3 (See Mail Order Services).

Exploring Your Dreams

For a "hands-on" guide to the "New Dreamwork" see the October, 1983 issue of New Age Journal. It has a comprehensive special section on what's happening in the world of the new dreamworker. It gives several different approaches to dreamwork, has articles on some of the prominent dreamworkers, as well as general discussion of current developments and controversies.

New Lucid Dream Induction Technique

Robert Price and David Cohen, of the University of Texas at Austin, report that they have accidentally discovered a method for inducing lucid dreams. It happened while they were researching the ability of a subject to control, while asleep in the dream state, the sounding of a tone being played in the dream laboratory. A biofeedback setup was used, such that whenever the sleeping subject entered the dream state, with rapid eye movements (REM), a loud tone would be played. This tone would interrupt sleep, but if the subject could increase the amount of rapid eye movements, he could terminate the tone, and sleep in peace. They found that their research subject could learn this task. Then the subject began to report lucid dreaming, that is being aware in the dream state that he was dreaming, and reported that he tried to move his eyes as a means of signaling to the experimenter. A "communication" system was thus set up between the experimenter and the dreaming subject. The researchers suggest that such a biofeedback situation may be an effective way to learn lucid dreaming. Reported in Lucidity Letter, November, 1983 (See Mail Order Services).

Telepathic Dreams in Counseling

A counselor whose dreams provide psychic information about clients has a powerful addition to his kit of clinical tools. Kenneth Orkin, Ph.D., has written an article entitled, Telepathic Dreams: Their Application During the Counseling Process, describing his experiences with psychic dreaming about clients. He is in private practice in Miami, Florida. He recounts several types of psychic dreams, including precognitive dreaming about the problems of a client who would be coming for a consultation in the future, with the dream providing information about the source of that person's problem. He also recounts a story about a dream that provided past-life information about a client. His article appeared in the November, 1983 issue of A.R.E. Journal. You may write to the author c/o A.R.E., P.O. Box 595, Virginia Beach, VA 23451.

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