by Matthew Wexler
EDGE Media Network Contributor
Friday July 24, 2020
The stress of the global pandemic, unprecedented unemployment and a bickering federal government have all contributed to our subconscious working overtime these days. Fortunately, dream analyst and author Layne Dalfen has some answers for a few of our synapse-stimulated readers.
We asked EDGE readers to share some of their recent dreams so Dalfen could unpack what might be triggering their nighttime escapades.
“A dream is the conversation you are having with yourself concerning a particular current issue in your life you are trying to problem-solve. The solution to what you want to do about something that is bothering you appears in your unconscious mind before it gets to your conscious,” explains Dalfen. “So, if only you can understand what you were saying to yourself when you had that crazy dream, you can propel your problem-solving.”
Dalfen’s interest in dreams stems from her early experience in Freudian analysis, where dream work was the primary tool. She later studied at The Gestalt Counselling and Training Center in Montreal, and Adlerian principles with Dr. Leo Gold of The Alfred Adler Institute. She has been a member of The International Association for the Study of Dreams (IASD) since 1997 and has lectured in the U.S., Canada and Europe. She describes the symbols, memories, and metaphors that appear in dreams “as unique to each of us as a fingerprint.”
Dalfen developed a 6 Points of Entry system to uncover the life situation that triggered a dream. These include the feelings, the action, play on words and puns, the symbols, repetition, and finally, the plot. For this exercise, Dalfen’s analysis is based on projections from her own life experience. The unconscious speaks the language of metaphor; therefore, she presents what situation from her own waking life what might trigger such a dream.
Dream analyst Layne Dalfen
“I’ve had dreams and nightmares for months now. Most are about death and loved ones trying to warn me of things. One that woke me was of my Dad’s arms outstretched across the back window of my car!”
We followed up for additional details and found out that Kurt was just sitting in the front seat of his car (not driving), and that his dad is 88 years old, alive and well.
“Thinking of the dream as a conversation, the appearance of death and loved ones take on a new world of possibility completely away from this idea of a ‘warning’ from beyond. Kurt is sitting in his car, not, driving. This picture in a dream, can easily be the same as me saying to myself, ‘I’m not going anywhere,’ and this idea is further illustrated by his dad’s arms stretched across the back window,” suggests Dalfen.
“In the language of metaphor, this is also a way of saying ‘Stop! Don’t move!’ After all, if my dad is splayed across the back window of my car, in case I was thinking of going anywhere, that, in itself, would stop me. Since we are in coronavirus times, and that his father is 88 years old, Kurt’s dream begs the question, ‘Have you been thinking about going out, or going somewhere, where you might expose yourself to the virus and possibly put your dad at risk?’ Is this your unconscious’ way of reminding you to stay home and stay safe?” asks Dalfen. “If it was my dream, those are some questions I would be asking myself, as it seems the solution is found in the dream’s plot. Wherever I may have planned or wished to go, it looks like my unconscious has me firmly staying put!”
“I fell in love with a woman just before the pandemic and we are separated by it. I have had recurring dreams in which we are walking through grand buildings, exploring an endless series of rooms furnished with antiques and chandeliers. In one dream, the structure is like the Inn at Rodanthe, in another, it’s the Palace of Versailles. In each dream, they are abandoned and crumbling but still beautiful. She always walks a few steps ahead of me and I follow, reaching for her hand in the gloom. When we stop and kiss, the dream ends. I wake up feeling a sense of grief and loss but also hope.”
“The first thing that strikes me about Merryn’s dream is how ‘grand buildings’ with an ‘endless series of rooms furnished with antiques and chandeliers’ are abandoned and crumbling,” observes Dalfen. “These are recent dreams, and given that all of us are experiencing the coronavirus, grand and abandoned buildings are a fitting reflection of our reality.”
“If this was my dream, I seem to be in touch with two very positive and important things. One is how in the face of my feeling ‘abandoned and crumbling,” I know that inside I am beautiful. This is telling me that at the end of the day, I always have myself. Second, is how even in the face of the grief I am experiencing, I still have hope. So important for all of us to have, especially in these times,” says Dalfen.
“Finally, the language of metaphor is more often than not, not literal, so when you dream about a person, your waking-life issue this week may not be about that person! Instead, I would ask myself, what are the first three or four things that come to mind about that individual’s personality? I am saying this because, in the action of the dream, there is a kiss,” notes Dalfen. “This can sometimes be a metaphor for a ‘coming together with’ or a reaching towards a personality trait needed at this time. For example, if Merryn would describe her new love as a very patient person, I would propose that kissing her is the unconscious reaching inside oneself for patience.”(Source: Getty Images)
I had a crazy dream at the start of the pandemic. In this dream, I did one of those DNA tests. When the results came back, it said I was six percent horse! So, I called the 800 number, and I said I think there must be some mistake here; the report says that I am this much Italian, and this much Irish, and on and on, and it says I’m also 6 percent horse. The sales representative said, yes that often happens where people come back as part animal.
“Nicole’s dream is screaming for a play on words and puns Point of Entry!” exclaims Dalfen. “Same as in our waking life, in dreams, we are constantly using a play on words. For example, if this was my dream, the first question I might ask myself is if I have been ‘working like a horse.’ Perhaps I have been working so hard, or I am the kind of person who works so hard that I consider it an integrated part of who I am. The point of this dream, for me, would be to ask why did I have this dream this week? The answer may be that my healthy unconscious is trying to get my attention to take a break?”
“Stay open to the uniqueness of our use of metaphor,” suggests Dalfen. “Perhaps in Nicole’s personal database, she associates horses with ‘riding,’ in which case she might ask herself who has been ‘riding her’ lately, and is the fact that she called the 1-800 number to protest, a dream encouraging her to speak up?”
“I’ve had many powerful and vivid dreams, but perhaps the most powerful of them all was rather simple. I saw my mother and I hugged her, it felt so real and good. I woke up crying.”
“Since Vanush describes himself feeling good hugging his mom in the dream, but he woke up crying, I would ask myself the following: ‘What happened in the last while, a situation where I am feeling some sadness and not expressing it,'” suggests Dalfen.
“The reason I would ask myself this question is that when we feel sad about a matter and hold the feelings back, the dreams will create a scenario to encourage the sadness to come out,” says Dalfen. “This does not mean the sadness and situation is necessarily related to Vanush’s mother in any way, but he can easily make the dream story about her because she might be the perfect person who helps bring his emotions forward, all to encourage him to express his feelings.”
Author of the “Have a Great Dream” series, Layne Dalfen founded The Dream Interpretation Center in 1997. She lectures at Concordia University in Montreal and appears regularly on radio and television.