Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Dream Interpretation using the Psychoanalytic Technique (1)

I am interpreting one of my previous dreams using the Freudian psychoanalytic method of dream interpretation. When I decided to do so, I didn’t have a predetermined dream in mind – I thought I would browse my Blog and select one at random, preferably one which I have not previously attempted to symbolically analyse, so that I can approach the task with a fresh mind. I think it is easier to interpret your dreams a little while after recording them as I find the day after a dream I am concerned with remembering and noting everything in the most detailed and accurate way possible and therefore may not be in the best frame of mind to free associate on the symbolism at that time.

Dream 55 – 17 June 2012
I was in the Loose Women studios, standing in front of the desk at which they present the programme. The lights were bright and there were television production crew working around me. My attention was drawn to a door at the far left of the enormous room, behind me. I turned to see two of the presenters, Andrea McLean and Lisa Maxwell entering. They were about to start filming the show in front of a live audience, although the audience were not yet seated in the studios. Andrea and Lisa seemed excited. As they came to the desk, I noticed that they were now in fancy dress - Andrea was dressed as a green and yellow duck (an oversized felt costume, with a huge headpiece which kept flopping down in front of her face) whilst Lisa was wearing a sparkling, gold lame 1920s-style flapper dress. Andrea seemed to be annoyed that Lisa was dressed more glamorously that she was and the two of them laughed and joked with one another whilst I looked on from a standing position. Andrea was seated at the end of the desk (where the 'lead' presenter usually sits - often Andrea does sit in this position in the show) and Lisa was to her right. Both of them appeared to be very youthful looking and I noted that they seemed different from how they looked on TV.

The scene changed and I was then in a lounge. The lights were dim and there was a roaring fire, adjacent to which was positioned a chaise lounge. I do not recall any of the other furniture in the room, or whether other people were present. Jessie Wallace was laying on the chaise lounge. She started being nasty, saying things which were offensive to me, but I cannot recall what words were said. I was looking down at her and I could see her bright, glossy red lipstick as she snarled at me. She was holding a cigarette. I grabbed the cigarette from her in anger and threw it into the fire. As it landed in the fire, I saw that it was a white crocheted Ugg boot. It burned in the fire and Jessie, still lying on the chaise lounge began cursing at me. I was then in a canteen, in sunny day light, surrounded by university students. In front of the long table, at which we were sitting was a huge, wall-sized window, looking out onto a garden filled with beautiful green trees. It looked like Spring/early Summer. I told the students that I had really upset Jessie Wallace by taking off her boot and throwing it in the fire (I do not recall that I did actually take off her boot - I definitely grabbed a cigarette from her hand which only became a boot when it landed in the fireplace). One of the students, a male, told me not to worry as Jessie deserved it.

I was then in Sheringham (childhood hometown) waiting to take part in a beauty parade. I was wearing a long white flowing dress, but the organiser, a middle-aged male man in a grey suit, told me that I needed to show more flesh. I ripped the skirt from the dress and underneath I was wearing some white Brazilian-cut knickers. I could see strange muscles running down the outside of my butt, hips and thighs - they were well-defined and prominent, about 10 inches long. I admired the muscles in a mirror. I was not aware of what kind of room I was in, only that I was standing in front of a full-length mirror. I was then suddenly seated at a picnic bench and I could hear various voices discussing my appearance. One male voice confirmed that the muscles on the sides of my lower body were exactly what they were looking for and I would definitely win the beauty contest. I felt hands touch my lower body from behind, as I was seated. I woke up.

MANIFEST CONTENT 1:  The Loose Women TV Studios
Middle-age, menopause, ageing, clinging onto youth, misandry, men-haters, time off work watching daytime TV, depressive illness, obscurity, my former flat in York Street, Norwich, visiting prisons for adjudications  - the prisoners would complain they wanted to be back in their cells to watch Loose Women, intellectual failing or hiatus, tiredness, late night repeats, insomnia, East Anglia (it is filmed there for ITV Anglia), bi-polar disorder, Kerry Katona, drug addiction, money problems, crime, belittling a problem, pretending to understand, sympathetic ear, fruit machines and gambling, the pub in Riverside, Norwich – Lloyds – a Wetherspoons, Amy Winehouse – Wino – a magazine story about her getting drunk and shouting abuse at a girl in the street, disgust, SL, Chelmsford.
There is far more I could have associated on this symbol, but I am keen to get an overall picture of the dream. I see my not-too-distant past and what I have had to put aside as a result of changes in my life caused by bi-polar disorder. The free association exercise raised positive and negative associations – the link to Norfolk may be because that was where I was living several years ago, or it may be because the television show is filmed there. I have often been told that I resemble Amy Winehouse and I love her music – her death was very tragic and I was really upset when it happened and I identified with her. The memory which springs to mind was an occasion where I was in the Lloyds Bar in Norwich. I was reading a celebrity magazine, whilst sitting at the table. I have no idea what year this was, but Amy Winehouse was only just starting to make headlines as a result of her changing image and drink-related problems (she was not yet reported to have taken drugs in my recollection). The story was that she had drunk so much wine that she had lost control and shouted verbal abuse at someone – I have a feeling she said ‘Run Forrest, run!” although I do not trust this memory). A while before that, I had read that Kerry Katona (a bi-polar suffer) had been spotted playing on the fruit machines of that particular Lloyds bar, during breaks from filming Loose Women. There is another memory of me being in a separate Wetherspoons bar with SL in Chelmsford, Essex. He was telling me that he had seen Amy Winehouse at a bus stop and she was very small. He thought she had gone to the same London school as him, in a different year and I doubted it, but it wasn’t until much later that I checked and found she went to Sylvia Young’s (a stage school) and then a private school in North West London (near where I now live). The memory of prison adjudications represents the most successful point in my legal career, when I managed my own prison law practice and criminal law case load in a criminal law firm in Norwich.

Loose Women – Norwich, drug addiction, mental illness, alcohol, bi-polar disorder, loss, sexual deviance, whore (JA?) – Katona, Winehouse – myself at that point?

MANIFEST CONTENT 2: Andrea McLean in the green and yellow felt duck costume
Norwich City football kit, Andrea McLean has a mouth like a duck’s bill? Brazil flag, my university friend SH wore a Brazil football shirt, fuzzy felts, Irish, clover, lucky, Easter, Holt, a village in North Norfolk, bus stop, Year 9 at school, Christmas or generally holidays, three French hens – I played one in primary school re-enactment of The 10 Days of Christmas, chick, meat, dusk, Andrea McLean = Lon McLean, LON = “League of Nothing”, song about a man I know who hurt me when I was much younger
I am not sure what to make of the results from this free association exercise – it seemed to conjure memories or associations from an earlier point in my life, but not one particular event I can pinpoint, although when I was 14 (Year 9) I went through a rebellious period, during which I went wherever I wanted with whom I wanted and exercised great freedom over my own day-to-day life. My school-friends and I used to visit Holt on the bus – both on Saturdays and on some Friday nights for a local disco where we were able to drink alcohol and mix with other young people from different schools (as well as adults). I also used to go to Holt on the bus with my nan, PC. During weekends I would stay at my nan’s house, which was round the corner from my own home. Staying at my nan’s gave me even more freedom as she did not lay down any rules and trusted me, even when though I was slightly naughty compared to some girls my age. However, the free association exercise also brought up associations of an even earlier period of my life – thoughts of myself dressed in red tights and a brown outfit as a ‘French hen’ in a school dramatisation of 10 Days – which would have occurred when I was 4 – 6 years of age. Andrea McLean is a presented on Loose Women, but I am not sure why she is of significance in herself – although there was a relatively recent story in the media of how her marriage had broken up and she was finding a new lease of life as a single 40-year-old. The name ‘McLean’ associated with someone I know called ‘Lon’ (a nickname given by my mum, sounding similar to his actual name, but in reference to his hair which resembled a ‘nylon wig’) from my hometown – he was an older man who I met in my mum’s pub when I was around 14/15 years old and he was approximately 20/21 years. Lon was very shy and unable to speak to females due to his awkwardness and lack of social skills. I (and later my best friend, SF) adopted ‘Lon’ as a glorified whipping-boy, getting him to accompany us into pubs, drive us around and generally be the butt of our jokes, as immature school-girls can often be cruel in fun. Because my mum would invite him to join us in her pub, she would also join in, as would her friends – he became somewhat of a regular fixture and we all liked to have him around. Nevertheless, Lon enjoyed many aspects of our company, or at least tolerated it with fairly good humour, even when we attempted to match-make relationships for him, with inappropriate women and test his personal boundaries. We would make him listen to hip hop, even though he hated it - and we thought he may have been slightly close-minded as he was brought up in a very conservative family situation. We introduced him to our criminal acquaintances, even though he was anxious around people who broke the law, but we would protect and defend him against anyone who was nasty to him – young or old. This friendship lasted for many years – Lon may have been teased mercilessly and subjected to hundreds of practical jokes and wind-ups, but he appreciated our presence and attempts to include him in our social lives (well, whatever social lives rebellious 14-year old girls can boast of), but we visited carnivals, nightclubs, the beach, historical monuments and other various places together; invited him to parties and watched DVDs at his parent’s house. We found out information about him from a friend of my mum, who was in his year at school, and shocked him by how much we were able to access his life – we would often email him from random people’s email addresses – the internet was new and we had only just discovered email at those times. Even though he was a geek and a bit of a loner before we met him, we still felt slightly pleased to have an older male to chauffeur and chaperone us around at our whim. We appreciated his ‘safeness’ – we knew he would never act sexually untoward around us (even if he wanted to he would never dare) and we felt free to be ourselves around him – nothing we said or did was ever judged. He was very thrifty with money and SF and I would often end up paying for his drinks just so he could have more fun and loosen up a bit. Lon worked in television, on the same station that produces/airs Loose Women. When I moved to Manchester and formed a scream/hardcore band at 17, I wrote a song called ‘LON’, in reference to Lon, but actually about another older man who had treated me badly between the ages of 15 – 16 years (LON being interpreted as League of Nothing). The reference to Lon was the fact that I wanted to immortalise him in some artistic way, but didn’t really have cause to write an angry ‘screamo’ song about him per se; and he was another older man, yet the polar opposite of the subject matter of the track. I do not recall the lyrics to the song, but there is one recording of it in existence (from the days of ‘Darkslide’) which I believe may be in storage with my CD collection at my nan’s house.  I do recall that a subsequent revision to the lyrics, made when I was 18, was inspired by the fact I was reading Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein as part of the Romantics course of my first year at the University of York, studying English Literature & History of Art. I remember this, because my band commented on the fact that the lyrics improved after I read the novel and developed a darker style of writing.

MANIFEST CONTENT 3: Lisa Maxwell in 1920s gold lame flapper dress
Mouse, coffee, dwarfism, small vulnerable child, prohibition, 1990s
I feel as if there might be more free association I could do on this element of the dream, but my brain was stuck – after the associations noted above, the flow of words, thoughts, ideas etc dried up and I didn’t want to force anything else as this would compromise the exercise.

MANIFEST CONTENT 4: Jessie Wallace aka 'Kat Slater' from Eastenders
Spite, whore, child abuse victim, incest, perceptions of Norfolk by outsiders, landlady, pub, leopard print, vodka, make-up, mask, lipstick, stilettos, stolen baby
I found it very hard to disassociate ‘Kat Slater’ (or Jessie Wallace, as she is properly named), from her on-screen persona’s various character traits of storylines. When I was much younger I wished that I looked like Kat Slater, as I liked her hairstyle, make-up and costumes. I’m not sure what her significance in this dream actually was – because of my inability to tap the depths of what she symbolised in relation to everything else. However, she does fall within the definition of a ‘loose woman’ due to the sexual behaviour and general demeanour of her on-screen character, who has a warped view of sex as a result of sexual abuse by her uncle when she was a child, resulting in the birth of her daughter, Zoe Slater – who was raised as her sister. In a more recent controversial baby-switching storyline, Kat’s second child, newborn Tommy Moon, was stolen by a character whose own baby had died shortly after birth, leaving Kat to wrongly believe her own son had died of cot death. Therefore Kat represents in my mind, someone who has been unfairly denied motherhood (at least for parts of her children’s lives) and given an unjust sexual identity which overshadows the trauma she has suffered as a young woman and the impact this would have on self-esteem and interaction with men. She does not represent the ‘maternal’ however. In the dream though, she was ‘Jessie’ – her real self, as opposed to ‘Kat’, her character, although she was dressed and acted/spoke in the manner of ‘Kat’. I will think more about this content of the dream.

MANIFEST CONTENT 5: Cigarette transforming to Ugg boot when thrown in the fire
1980s, Australia, Kangaroo, the dog – the same colour fur as Ugg boots, rust, autumn leaves, russet, warm, chestnuts, Holborn – the tube journey from Holborn to Temple – where British American Tobacco is based, going ‘dining’ at Inner Temple when training at the Bar, a fellow student of the Bar who told of how someone accidentally spilt a drink on her new Ugg boots in New York, phoenix in flames (the name of PS’s baby niece), crackle, lung cancer – my dad died of this, he was a smoker
I need to think further about this, as the free association did not give many clues away. I think I am focusing on the colours and associations from that.

MANIFEST CONTENT 6: University canteen (recurrent theme in my dreams)
Sunshine, summer, Derwent College Bar, University of York, Langwith College Canteen, University of York, English Lit & History of Art course, the name ‘Hermione’, Point Shirley – the creative writing magazine, a day when I sat in the canteen and then walked outside – I looked back at the entrance, with the second-hand bookshop and bike racks in my field of vision, and thought about something which I cannot recall – I remember the physical memory, but not the thoughts or actual significance linked with this event, community, happiness, security, belonging
Although not all of my many years of university experience have been positive (virtually impossible for anyone!) all of my memories are 100% positive – it is as if I have filtered out any negative emotions or events connected with my two undergraduate degrees and can only view events through rose-tinted glasses. I wonder if I dream of the canteen setting because it represents a meeting point for all my friends and social circle, many of whom studied different subjects. I only truly felt myself at university, I wore what I wanted and was able to express myself more freely and felt more in control of my life. In fact I associate a lot of the problems in my life with leaving full-time university education – although I am now back studying and working at university again.

MANIFEST CONTENT 7:  The beauty contest and the butt
Objectification, a memory of me being coerced into entering a Sheringham Carnival Queen contest when I was 16 – I wore a silver lame mini-dress (similar to one Kat Slater might wear) and gold necklaces and made my hair curly. My mum’s friend was on the judging panel and she assured my mum I would win if I could be persuaded to enter. I was a skateboarder into hip hop and hardcore music, and did not want to participate as I saw it as degrading and knew I would not win. I entered and the Town Crier, as MC, asked me what my ambition was. I said that I wanted to pass my A-levels, go to university and publish a book. He sarcastically replied: “What about becoming a brain surgeon then?” which I perceived to be an insult either, because I did not look intelligent; or he felt I was showing-off – Sheringham is a very small sea-side town in a rural county. I did not win. My mum was really angry because she felt she had been tricked into making me enter and she argued with her friend. A woman who worked in my mum’s pub came along to support me, as did a lot of the other locals from the pub. We used to call her the ‘white woman’ as she was so pale. She had been terribly abused at some point in her life – my mum recalled seeing her once, a long time before she came to work for her, and she was an assertive woman in a business suit. Years later, she was very introverted and timid and wore excess layers of clothing. We thought she may have been raped. When she found out I had not won, she requested that the DJ play “Isn’t she Lovely?” by Stevie Wonder for me. Sometime around the time I entered the competition, a Brazilian girl won – I have a memory of other girls who entered that year moaning because they felt she wasn’t local enough, not having lived in Sheringham for very long at that point. Butt – female sexuality, strength
At the time of the Sheringham Carnival Queen contest, I didn’t really feel disappointed that I didn’t win, as it was something I was opposed to anyway – I didn’t care about looking feminine or glamorous at those times – I liked a grungy look. I felt that the carnival panel always chose from the same selection of girls anyway – typically, in my opinion, sacrificing ambition or uniqueness for those girls who were ‘homely’ or ‘traditional’ – if they worked in one of the local businesses in the high street, they were more likely to win. I am not sure how the competition is run nowadays, this was my perception of it during the 1990s, when we would go along to the local working man’s club to watch it every year. My memory is that my annoyance stemmed from the fact I allowed myself to be forced into doing something I knew I would not succeed at. If I had won because of some strings being pulled for me on the judging panel, I would not have felt guilty, as I always thought the whole thing was set-up anyway. I didn’t like to parade myself and act demurely in front of an audience who knew what I was really like on a day-to-day basis, or that I was expected to play down my intellectual ambition to appear more ‘attractive’.

This exercise is not complete – I will return to it shortly and add any additions by way of an addendum below. If any of my readers would like to contribute their views or opinions, please feel free to do so below – I have my Blog settings fixed so that you can post anonymously and do not need to have a Google or Blog(ger/spot) account to leave your comment. I have been 100% honest in the recording of my free association exercise and I wish to add that no-one I have written about will see this Blog and probably cannot be identified by persons who do read it.

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