In Your Dreams

“In dreams we see ourselves naked and acting out our real characters, even more clearly then we see others awake.”

-Henry David Thoreau

If he were alive today, I am sure American Philosopher Henry David Thoreau would have liked to meet Montreal author and dream interpreter Layne Dalfen.

Dalfen, a self-proclaimed ‘dream worker’ who in 1997 established the Dream Interpretation Center here in Montreal, has written Have a Great Dream, a 300-page book filled with helpful hints, tricks and insight into understanding what happens when our heads hit the pillow and our minds begin to freefall.

Who among us hasn’t woken up in a sweat from a nightmare, too shaken to go back to sleep? Or what about that recurrent dream? What does it mean? For centuries, humankind has wondered about the meaning and origins of dreams.
Dalfen draws from Carl Jung Sigmund Freud, Alfred alder and Gestalt when she says our dreams are the reflection of ourselves and events in our lives. Dalfen believes that, by interpreting the symbolism of our dreams, we can better understand ourselves and perhaps enact changes in our lives in areas causing us stress or unhappiness.

Dalfen carefully guides the reader through four levels of interpretation, with each stage leading to a deeper understanding on unresolved issues. The first step, she writes, is to get the dream down on paper, preferably upon waking when the images are fresh.
From there, Dalfen instructs the reader on how to create a dream map, a sort of blueprint of symbols and feelings written down by the dreamer that acts as the building blocks for the interpretation. Once that’s done, it’s all systems go, as Dalfen works with her clients to connect the symbols in their dreams with current issues in their lives.

We met Leslie, who dreamt about too many ants at a picnic, Deborah who awoke from visions of falling buildings, and Sarah, who dreamt about marrying her uncle. Dalfen tells us what they all mean. Do the revelations help her clients make changes in their lives. In most cases reviewed, yes.
The first three quarters of the book is worth the read for anyone who wants a user-friendly method of dream interpretation. Besides giving us an interesting peak into the dreams of other people, Dalfen’s examples make it easy for the reader to extrapolate to their own experiences. Her writing style, though wordy in places, is free of psychological jargon, simple and to the point.

Where Dalfen’s book falls apart is in the latter part where she gets into “tapping into spiritual strength and finding archetypes.” When she starts telling us about her own personal experience, I lost interest. It reads too much like a catharsis she didn’t have to share.

For the most part however, Have a Great Dream is a worthwhile read. Dalfen is broadcast on 45 radio shows across the United States, and has been a speaker at Tuffs University in Boston and Concordia University here in Montreal. She is passionate about her work and it shines through in the pages of her book.

Can people find change through dream interpretation? Readers will have to find out on their own.


by Marlene Eisner