There is an good article in USA Today about dreams entitled Like ‘Inception’, psychologist Dr. Marcia Emery enters your dreams.
I was particularly impressed with how well Marcia Emery responded to the interviewer’s request to interpret the dreams of others. Marcia deftly addressed this issue by focusing on the universal nature of dreaming while staying squarely within the IASD code of ethics.
In the article she points out how presumptuous it would be to assign meaning to the dreams of others. Given the incredible complexity of dreams and their very specific and intimate relationship with the dreamer, she models how dreamworkers can respond to such requests by focusing on naming and describing the type of dreams presented, such as precognitive dreams and nightmarish experiences like being held hostage by threatening intruders. She also addresses the emotional nature of dreaming by offering questions that can help take the dreamer and reading audience into a deeper relationship with their dreams.
What I particularly like about this article is Marcia’s ability to speak directly to her audience in a clear, warm manner that invites curiosity while at the same time revealing her profound love and respect for dreaming. At a time when the movie Inception is creating so much interest in dreaming, articles like this help make dreaming accessible to the general public in a non-threatening way.
My Presentation at Inception Opening
I only wish Marcia could had been by my side this week when I was invited to speak in front of a full house at the IMAX theater for the opening of Inception. The organizers of the event asked me to prepare a general talk on dreaming which would address some of the topics in the film, such as lucid dreaming and mutual dreams. The audience was full of energy and clearly enthusiastic about the film. In the hour before I spoke, I had the opportunity to mingle with the crowd and answer some of their questions about dreaming as they waited to enter the theater. To my surprise, the audience was comprised primarily of young men in their late teens to early 30s, with only a handful of women. Not surprisingly, there was a great deal of interest in lucid dreaming.
When it came time to speak, I was introduced by a DJ from a local heavy metal station. He was full of energy and was really interested in getting the audience all riled up, which he did to the best of his ability before I spoke. After handing out a variety of goodies from his station, hen he introduced me by asking the following question.
“I had this dream recently. I’m looking everywhere for a toilet. I really have to pee. I wake up and find that I have wet the bed. How many beers did I have?”
Stay With The Dream
I almost died. By then the crowd was hooting and hollering and I just wanted to crawl under the carpet. Then I remembered dear friends at the International Association for the Study of Dreams like Marcia and decided to answer by focusing on the universal nature of dreaming, in which toilet dreams are very common. I asked the audience how many people had ever had toilet dreams and of course many hands went up. I then asked how many had heard of lucid dreams and even more raised their hands. Impressive.
Having finally gotten their attention, I asked if anyone could prove if we were dreaming or awake. I then went on to introduce the technique of looking at text, looking away and then looking back to see if it had changed as a kind of reality check. Well, up until this point, the words IMAX had been up on the screen without changing. So I asked everyone to look at the word IMAX, close their eyes and then look back to see if it had changed. I added confidently that if they had changed then we were probably dreaming.
Then, to my horror, as the audience sat with their eyes closed, the words DID CHANGE! Apparently the slides before the movie had been set in action and started to change every few seconds. So in the end, I had to admit that I couldn’t prove to anyone one way or another if we were dreaming or awake and asked them to hold that thought as they watched the movie Inception. I think the director would have been pleased with how it all turned out in the end.