Friday, 30 May 2014

'Freudian Slips' - Theories on illicit slips of the tongue

A 'Freudian slip', also known as a parapraxis, is an error of speech (and memory or physical action in its Wikipedia definition) which Freud stated was a result of interference by an unconscious (dynamically repressed) subdued wish, desire, conflict or train of thought. This dynamic repression occurs because of the regulating influence of the ego and the rules of social behaviour. They are said to reveal 'a source outside the speech' and form part of classical Psychoanalytic Theory. Slips of the tongue (speech) or pen (written text) are typical parapraxes, but Psychoanalytic Theory also refers to mishearings, misreadings, temporary forgetfulness ('motivated forgetting') and the misplacing of objects.

Erdelyi (1981) recounts a humorous and relevant example of a written Freudian slip. The author had previously written a paper on Freudian concepts which was entitled 'Let us not sweep repression under the rug' - a play on words. When citing Erdelyi's article and criticising Freudian theory of repressed memory, Loftus & Loftus (1980) has mis-typed 'let us now sweep repression under the rug' - revealing their motivation. 

Slips of the tongue are inevitable. For every 1,000 words spoken we make one or two errors. The average pace of speech is 150 words per minute and so a slip is likely to happen once every seven minutes of continuous speech, meaning we tend to make between 7 - 22 verbal slips in an average day.

In The Psychopathology of Everyday Life (1901) Freud analysed a number of bizarre, trivial and nonsensical errors and slips - notably, his own 'Signorelli parapraxis' - where unable to remember the name of the artist, he substituted Botticelli and Boltraffio. Psychoanalysis led him to identify the reason for his substitution - his visit to Trafoi (Northern Italy) where he learnt of the suicide of a patient dealing with sexual problems, linking sex and death as a theme in relation to the word 'Trafoi' prior to the word-finding problem which happened during a conversation Freud had on a train journey through Bosnia-Herzegovina. 'Herr' (from Bosnia-Herzegovina, was mentioned during the conversation)  is the counterpart to 'signor' - an extraction of an Italian word from the forgotten name, Signorelli. 

Freud suggested that most errors were the result of several causes - what he refers to as 'overdetermination of an error'. This resembles the modern understanding of how memory retrieval takes place, through a process of intersecting associations.

The term 'Freudian slip' has made its way into popular culture and common usage, but it is not a name Freud himself would have given the phenomenon. Freud referred to them as Fehlleistungen which means 'faulty actions' or 'faulty functions' or 'misperformances'. They are also known as 'slips of the tongue'.

Freud said of these so-called Fehlleistungen:

'In the same way that psychoanalysis makes use of dream interpretation, it also profits by the study of numerous little slips and mistakes which people make - symptomatic actions, such as they are called...I have pointed out that these phenomena are not accidental, that they require more than physiological explanations, that they have a meaning and can be interpreted, and that one is justified in inferring from them the presence of restrained or repressed impulses or intentions.'
[Freud, An Autobiographical Study (1925)]

Freud also said 'a suppression of a previous intention to say something is the indispensable condition for the occurrence of a slip of the tongue'.

The term Freudian slip had now become debased so that it refers to any accidental slip of the tongue rather than remain true to its strict psychoanalytic definition which centres around dynamic repression rather than a mere wish to leave something unexpressed.

Under Psychoanalytic theory, Freudian slips are the result of unconscious wishes or desires, which are taboo, prohibited or dangerous and therefore articulation or expression of these anxiety-provoking wishes are suppressed. Anything that is suppressed 'always strives to assert itself elsewhere' and therefore lead to 'Freudian slips'. These Freudian slips, like dreams, are the 'royal road to the unconscious' and reveal the desires and impulses which drive us. 

The psychoanalytic technique for interpreting Freudian slips was free association. Freud stated that the 'accidental utterances and fancies of the patient...though striving for concealment, nevertheless intentionally betrays [that which has been suppressed].' By analysing the chains of association which emerge we are able to uncover what is being suppressed from the conscious mind. The careful deconstruction of condensed, disguised references within Freudian slips uncover a nexus of forgotten material and conflict which can be untangled and resolved. Within popular culture, we see a saturation of this vision of human experience where awkwardness and 'faulty actions' or 'misperformances' are characteristic of the sexually-repressed, but suddenly disappear once sexuality is expressed or some form of inner conflict has been resolved through sexual release. 

Howard Shevrin, Professor or Psychology at the University of Michigan performed a recent study which appeared to prove that words relevant to an subconscious conflict are actively inhibited or repressed in anxious patients. In certain psychoanalytic circles, focus on the slippery, fluid nature of language has been overshadowed by emphasis on the relational, signalling a shift from psychoanalysis to psychodynamism. The spotlight is now on what type of relationship is repeated by the patient within the therapeutic setting. 

Freud gave an example of this shift towards the psychodynamic in The Psychopathology of Everyday Life. He recalled a young male patient who was criticising the uselessness of his generation and the number of Jewish persons in the Austro-Hungarian empire. The patient attempted to recite a Latin proverb from Virgil ('Exoriare aliquis nostris ex ossibus ultor' - 'Let someone arise as an avenger from my bones') to clinch his argument, but failed to remember one word - aliquis (meaning 'someone' or 'something'). The patient accused Freud of gloating and requested that he analyse the Freudian slip. Freud instructed him to free associate on the missing word, which led to the following sequence of words: a liquid, liquefying, fluidity, fluid, relics, saint's relics, St Simon, St Benedict, St Augustine, St Januarius. The patient identified St Januarius as a calendar saint who performed the 'miracle of the blood' once a year when a phial of his blood was said to magically liquefy. He then half-started a sentence, before cutting himself off. Freud commented on the pause and the patient revealed an anxiety that a certain young woman in Vienna (with whom he had been having sex) had missed a period - she might be pregnant, bringing shame on his family. The Freudian slip had enabled the patient to consciously express a fear he had been trying to repress. The reference to the calendar saints and the notion that blood flow on a certain date. The quotation (of Dido) was also telling, because it is an allusion to descendants who 'rise' from the bones of their predecessor.

Freud recalled a female patient who spoke warmly of a man for whom she had previously expressed indifferent or contempt. The patient said: 'I never really had anything against him. I never gave him the chance to cuptivate my acquaintance.' Freud interrogated the patient and discovered that she had become romantically involved with the man. He concluded that she had intended to say 'cultivate' but unconsciously thought of the word 'captivate', revealing her hidden thoughts about ensnaring the man.

Freud had another example, this time of a physical slip - his friend, Dr Stekel told him of an incident when he was leaving the home of a female patient following a house-call. As he went to shake her hand, he found he was inadvertently untying the bow of her dressing gown instead. Freud suggested that Stekel had subconscious and unprofessional desire for the woman, which manifested itself in his unwitting hand movements.

In contrast to Psychoanalytic Theory, cognitive psychologists argue that Freudian slips are likely to be caused by a sequencing conflict in grammar production, as a result of cognitive underspecification caused by inattention, incomplete sense data or insufficient knowledge. Additionally, they may be due to the existence of some locally appropriate response pattern which is strongly primed by its prior usage, recent activation or emotional change. Critics of Freud suggest that certain sentences are simply susceptible to banalisation - the replacement of outmoded, archaic  or unusual expressions with those in common modern usage. This is known as 'strong habit substitution' or 'conventionalisation'. Thus, Freudian theory is often perceived as outmoded and irrelevant. Cognitive psychologists and linguists argue that language is so complex that mistakes are bound to occur regularly. We generate an intention to relate a particular idea with a word and formulate a pre-verbal message, involving a serious competition between a number of words from which we must select the most appropriate one. We then need to encode or grammatise the words, ordering them in the appropriate form and naturally, our brains use shortcuts, picking words we have used before. This happens through a rapid, preconscious process. Given the complexity of this process, mistakes are likely to happen - cognitive psychologists claim that this is little more than a misfiring of the shortcuts the brain-processing relies upon.

Freud's contemporary, philologist Rudolph Meringer explained Freudian slips as 'banana peels' in the path of a sentence - accidental shifts of linguistic units. Cognitive scientist, Gary Dell, a Professor of Linguistics and Psychology at the University of Illinois contends that Freudian slips are more actually revealing - of an individual's capacity for use of language and its components. Under his model words and sounds are interconnected in three brain networks: the semantic, the lexical and the phonological, with speech arising from their interaction. Occasionally, as a result of 'spreading activation' the networks trip over one another, causing a slip of the tongue. Dell sees this as a positive phenomena, because an error-prone system of linguistics enables the novel production of new words, highlighting the flexibility and dexterity of the human mind and mental processes involved in language.

When an individual wants to express a particular word, the mind activates the semantic network, which represents the meaning and context of thousands of words in the person's vocabulary. In reaching the correct word, the neural nodes that deal with concept are set into motion until the one with the strongest activation (the intended word) is selected and placed in the frame of the sentence. The phonological network then needs to activate all the sounds of the chosen word, avoiding interference from competing neural nodes for sounds which do not appear in the relevant intended word. For the intended word to be grammatically correct within a sentence, the lexical network must also kick in, activating words which represent the parts of speech in the word string - nouns, verbs, adjectives, suffixes, prefixes and tenses etc. Sometimes nodes for a sound which occurs later in the sentence are prematurely activated  and the later sound is substituted for an earlier one. This is known as an anticipation or 'forward-error' - for example 'best and brightest' becomes 'breast'. Spreading activation also explains a different variant of the verbal slip - the perseveration or 'backwards-error' where the node for a sound appearing at an earlier stage in the sentence becomes activated for too long - for example: 'I love you' becomes 'I love loo'. When one node for activation is activated prematurely and another is delayed, we make 'spoonerisms' (named after Reverend William Archibald Spooner) - 'time heals all wounds' becomes 'time wounds all heels' and suchlike.

Activations within and between networks can overlap, with nodes representing thoughts, sounds and syntax crossing and creating confusion about the strongest activation. When a competing node is similar to the correct one, it may gain primary and replace it, leading to malapropisms with similar associations. The more often you say a word, the stronger the activation. Further, when similar sounding nodes compete, their sounds can blend. This suggests that Freudian slips are nothing more than incorrect activation of nodes in the speech network and possess no special meaning. However, some Freudian slips appear to be overwhelmingly revealing as to the speaker's unconscious thoughts. Freud's analysis of his patients' verbal slips was always necessarily ex post facto - after the event - and based on a small sample. Dell suggests that seemingly meaningful slips may be due to the individual's confusion with a word recently said, heard, thought or read, which intrude into speech, due to competition with nodes for the correct, intended word. 

The mind can be primed by timely exposure, which is why sometimes we voice an incorrect word because our senses are stimulated by exposure to something else - sometimes for example, if I am writing whilst listening to the television or music in the background I might substitute a word I have heard for the correct one. This isn't necessarily Freudian because such slips do not necessarily reveal anything about subconscious desires, but they do show how certain stimuli capture our unconscious attention. Daniel Wegner, a Harvard Psychologist, states that the unconscious does play a role in such slips, but not in the way anticipated by Freud. Wegner conducted a study where he asked subjects not to think of a white bear and then asked them to speak about what was on their minds. In the stream of speech which followed, the forbidden white bear intruded into speech about once per minute. Wegner states that the more you forbid a thought, the more likely you will be to verbalise it, because it intrudes into your thoughts often. This is because part of our unconscious mind is always thinking about the worst case scenario. Freud interpreted these dark thoughts as the functioning of the Id - and part of true human nature, which is suppressed by social convention and the Ego's regulatory role. Wegner disagrees, arguing that we are more civilised than Freud gave us credit for. He suggests that the unconscious mind thinks about worst case scenarios in order to guard against them - we imagine it to make sure it does not happen. The problem it, the more the conscious mind (the prefrontal cortex) tries to suppress a thought, the more the unconscious mind has to check we are not thinking about it, causing us to think about it more. More often than not, the conscious mind will win and we are able to maintain control, but sometimes the unconscious mind allows the intrusive thought to sabotage speech.

Michael Motley, Psychologist at the University of Californa, Davis, focuses his research on inducing Freudian slips in a laboratory setting, arguing that intensity and distraction are two important conditions for such slips. Studying slips is incredibly difficult, given that they occur spontaneously, but Motley designed an experiment whereby subjects were greeted by either himself or a provocatively dressed woman, posing as a lab assistant. All the subjects were young, heterosexual males. The woman sat on a stool so that her knees (exposed in a very short skirt) were eye-level with subjects. All subjects were asked to read silently at the rate of one per second word-pairs (back mud, bad mouth, bat much, mad bug) which were designed to induce spoonerisms. A buzzer was periodically sounded, prompting the subjects to read a word-pair aloud. The subjects who were in the room with the sexy woman made significantly more sexual slips ('get laid' rather than 'let gaid' and 'bare shoulders' instead of 'share boulders') than the group who were in the room with the middle-aged Motley. The study was subsequently repeated, using a scale to measure sexual anxiety. The greater the measured sexual anxiety in a subject, the more likely he was to make a sexual slip. This surprised Motley who had predicted that the more sexually anxious subjects would take extra caution and make fewer slips. The presence of the sexy woman did not cause the subjects to make more slips generally - just increase the number of sexual slips. When the sexy woman was replaced by a different kind of arousing stimulus - the threat of electric shock, Motley found that slips related to electricity ('shad bock' became 'bad shock'), but there was no increase in neutral or sexual slips. This shows that the slips were highly specific to the source of the distraction. Motley claims that this is a 'Freudian slip' in the loosest sense - there is an influence from outside the intended speech which causes us to make verbal errors, but they fall short of the deeply repressed motives that Freud himself described. The slips were not voluntary or conscious, but this does not mean that they were deliberately concealed or repressed. The male subjects in Motley's study were very aware of their sexual arousal in the experiment with the sexy woman - apparently some of the men later approached her and asked her out on a date.

Wegner believes that subjects attempted to repress thoughts about sex and electric shocks, but these efforts backfired in the same way he was able to show in his white bear experiment. The more an individual tries not to think about an intrusive thought, the more insuppressible and opportunistic that thought becomes. Adding the stress of the test and words that are capable of being misconstrued as erotic leads to sexual thoughts finding their expression. Therefore, two conditions increase the risk of making a Freudian slip - the thought you wish to suppress and a stressor, distraction, time pressure or competing mental agenda. For instance, mental burden may occupy the conscious mind, leaving the unconscious unchecked and free to release the forbidden thought. This is why slips happen less frequently in stress-free conditions.

Researchers at Ghent University argue that we formulate Freudian slips all the time, but we have a super sensitive internal monitor which usually detects and corrects them before they are articulated verbally - especially the socially unacceptable ones. Studies were conducted where electrodes were placed on the scalps of subjects who were exposed to a test predisposing them towards making X-rated blunders. It was shown that strong bursts of electrical activity occurred when the subject made an X-rated slip, but also when the subject avoided making a slip. The brain seemed to exert energy into sidestepping the illicit slip.

James Pennebaker, Head of Psychology at the University of Texas, claims that slips of the tongue - Freudian slips - are not the only linguistic mistake we make. The subtle filler material in speech can also reveal that which we wish to remain hidden - particularly use of the pronoun 'I'. Jack Schafer, a former FBI Special Agent argues that deception often shows up in the style and form of an individual's speech, by way of 'text-bridges' - words and phrases which occur between truthful speech content which enable the speaker to omit information he does not wish to reveal. Certain words act as markers to locate the withheld information. 

Michael Erard claims that slips occur because our internal monitors are inhibited - from alcohol, exhaustion and ageing. Speaking very rapidly also stimulates slippage. Dell suggests that this makes it more likely that nodes from previous words are still activated and the more interference between nodes, the more likely the individual is to make a verbal slip. Speaking slower may reduce the likelihood of Freudian slips, but risks 'anticipation-error' because the brain has time to cast upstream in a sentence. Multitasking promotes Freudian slips, because it adds to an individual's mental load.

However, Freud had anticipated criticism of his theory by cognitive psychologists and stressed that 'favourable circumstances' such as exhaustion, circulatory disturbances and intoxication make Freudian slips more likely to happen. He called these psycho-physiological factors'. Freud gave an analogy; he stated that identifying these 'favourable circumstances' as the cause of a Freudian slip would be the same as going to a police station and blaming the theft of a purse on the isolated part of the city one found themselves in. For the theft of the purse (the metaphorical 'Freudian slip') there must also be a thief - the dynamically repressed desire which bursts through. Freud did concede that not all slips have some in-depth meaning, although it was highly probable that they did.

The modern approach would look towards the process of transference - the patient's relationship with Freud, the therapist and authority figure. The focus would be on the pattern of relating as opposed to delving into his unconscious associations. Cognitive Behaviour Therapy faces similar limitations to this psychodynamic approach: both risk reducing the patient's internal world to a simplistic template. CBT is often employed to produce similar outcomes for a variety of patients within a short time-frame (unlike psychoanalysis which is a prolonged form of therapy). If the patient's surface symptoms appear to be 'stuck' the therapist attempts to locate the patient's 'core beliefs'; this is a broad-brush approach which ignores the intricate and singular tapestry of the individual mind, which Freudian slips, dream interpretation, and psychoanalysis generally, actually reveal. 

Modern communications technology - such as social networking - make Freudian slips increasingly unforgettable within our contemporary culture - those of celebrities and politicians are now readily accessible via cyberspace.

Language is not merely descriptive, but ultimately constituent of our sense of self - Freudian slips are windows into the flawed, contradictory, intricate idiosyncrasies of our character and history. Freud was a master at describing the phenomenology of the human pysche. He was the first theoretician to acknowledge the phenomenon of  'recurrent blockers' in tip-of-the-tongue states - the process whereby an individual strives to recover the lost word or name and incorrect substitute ones repeatedly enter the conscious, despite the individual knowing them to be wrong. Freud located his explanation for Freudian slips in the unconscious - in fact many processes of the human brain, whether schematic or automatic, take place unconsciously. However, Freud was correct in refusing to divorce cognition from emotion.

Thursday, 29 May 2014

Dream 249

'An Alcoholic Ghost Child & the House of Rats'
This dream was long and complex and I cannot recall all of it, or how the dream scenes fit together as they seemed to be jumping back and forth, but many were unrelated yet part of what appeared to be a running narrative or chain of events. 

Myself (and others - maybe my family, or friends) were being given a new house. This house was being given to me/us by the game The Sims - it looked like it was made of computer-generated graphics (pixelated). All houses which were given by The Sims came with a bonus gift - a piece of furniture or something related to the house. There was a computer-game like flash of light and a sofa spawned from nowhere - it was beige leather (three-seater) with wooden arm rests. Unfortunately the sofa also came with a ghost baby. I then realised that my mum also lived in new computer house with me. The ghost baby was now a ghost child, although she seemed to age quickly, as it did not seem as if any amount of time had passed since we first moved into the new house. The ghost child needed a lot of care because she was an alcoholic - she was white and translucent - like ghosts appear in The Sims3. She held two bottles of vodka, which were also white and transparent quality - she drank from them with straws. It was her first day of primary school and she was wearing a transparent school uniform and carrying a backpack. It was very bright - I think the lights in the house were on. When the alcoholic ghost child returned from school, she had aged into a teenager - she had short black hair (cut in a pudding-basin style) and huge, white-rimmed glasses on, which made her eyes look massive behind the lens. She was tall and big-built, almost masculine in appearance and body shape. She seemed to be very unintelligent, but now she was solid in form, like a normal human. I am not sure what she was wearing. In hindsight, she was very similar to the unknown female dream character described in Dream 243 and Dream 242 (to a lesser extent, but there is something 'familiar' about these female dream characters who are all larger than me, with shorter dark hair and often wearing glasses). I felt annoyed that we had 'inherited' this tedious and needy alcoholic ghost child along with our sofa.

I was then with my mum sitting outside a pub, which appeared in some respects to the The Crown in Sheringham, which is a popular seafront pub. We were sat at a table, drinking. I think at this point in the dream it seemed to be sunny. To my right there was an old, dilapidated house - which seemed to be made from rotting wood. I went closer to the building. On the side (which was crumbling) there was some kind of ledge, tilted at a diagonal angle, attached to the exterior wall. I think this was on the front, to the right of the entrance, which was just off-centre to the left of the building - just an open door with rubbish or litter outside. There was one huge rat (about as big as a lion) resting on this ledge, and smaller rats (the size of a cat) running backwards and forwards over its back. I watched this in amazement for awhile. As I turned to walk back towards the pub, I saw I was still on the seafront, but it looked completely different from Sheringham - more industrialised and city-like. The wooden building was still run-down and abandoned, but now seemed to be made of grey brick, in a very Soviet-like architectural style. There was graffiti on the outside walls. The road in front of me was very grey in colour and wide, with the beach to my left as I faced the direction The Crown had been in. I saw one man doing some form of manual labour on the roadside, and a cloud of dust blew up from the concrete. I realised that it was actually quite sunny again, whereas just seconds before everything had looked dreary and grey.

I then found out that DL's friend 'Gracie' (a dream character) was planning on moving into the dilapidated seafront house. She had applied to the local council and was going to be paid housing benefit to live there. I thought that this house must have been broken up into smaller flats on the inside for this to be possible. I visited the house once again to have a look at the renovation work. Now, the house was no longer on the seafront, but instead a short distance away at the top of Sheringham town, where the new Tesco building is situated, beside the railway line. This area looked as it had when I was a child growing up in the town - there was the old fire station and also the 'Teen & Twenty' which was a community centre/youth club with a skateboard ramp to the side - a popular skate spot before asbestos was found and the ramp got removed because of changes in use of the building. The dilapidated, ruined house still looked terrible, but it was now positioned behind the back of the Teen & Twenty. There was some kind of flowery garden which was elevated. It was where the skateboard ramp used to be - I found myself seated in the flower garden looking down at the house. There were other people there - it seemed to be twilight hours and some sort of party was happening, but it was genteel and calm, with people sat around conversing and enjoying drinks. 

I then found myself standing outside the ruined building, on the path in front of it. I had a huge syringe in my hand - it was much bigger than me. I injected the house with rats, using the window as an entrance point into the building. What came out of the needle-end of the syringe looked like wet, slimy white icing sugar or something like that. The syringe appeared to be made of ornate white and red cake decorations. As I walked away from the building the sun began shining brightly and I realised that the local council offices were now situated right beside the ruined, rat-infested building - where the old fire station once was. I looked through the battered entrance to the ruined building and saw that there was a rave happening inside - I could see the vague outlines of lots of people dancing inside, either unaware or not caring about the rats I had just injected into the building with my massive syringe, which I no longer had in my hands.

I then found myself in my downstairs lounge in my house in Norwich. I was sitting at the dining table, either reading something or looking at my laptop screen while DL and 'Gracie' were sat behind me on stools. The room appeared exactly as it does in real-life. 'Gracie' was a very petite girl (she only reached my shoulder in height and looked very skinny) who  had bright red dyed hair in a punky style. She was wearing big pink earrings and denim dungarees. She and DL were talking, while I was annoyed because they were disturbing me. Gracie suddenly started crying hysterically and uncontrollably. DL explained that Gracie was very upset because she had just found out that the singer Lily Allen had died. We all looked at a picture of Lily Allen on my laptop, and Gracie continued to cry loudly.

The scene changed and I was in my nan's bathroom in her house in Sheringham. There was another female with me, changing clothes. This female was tall and very wide. She was wearing a black top and black leggings. She had shoulder length black hair and an unattractive, masculine face. She turned round and cupped her breasts, which were long and saggy, down to her waist, despite the fact she was a young woman. She said: 'I was born with these, genetically'. I took this to mean that the breasts were a family trait. She said: 'I can't do anything about them because they are stuck like this' - she attempted to lift her breasts, but they were stuck to her waist. I felt sorry for her, but also contempt. I wondered why she was in the bathroom and had the sense that she was an intruder in the house. I wanted to get rid of her, but she seemed somewhat depressed about her breasts. 

I woke up.

Wednesday, 28 May 2014

All Sex & Violence: Freud's interpretation of dreams & evolutionary theory

A compelling theory which argues that Freudian Wish Fulfilment Theory can coexist with biological research into the physiological state of REM sleep. McNamara presents research which suggests that dream content is mostly violent or sexual and likely to influence waking behaviour. His explanation for REM sleep and dreaming is that it contributes to the process of mating and reproduction, consistent with Darwin's theory of sexual selection.

Patrick McNamara is Director at the Evolutionary Neurobehavior Laboratory at the Boston University School of Medicine. He has spent two decades analysing dream content in the hope that he might prove correct his hypothesis that sex forms the subtext of all dreams, reinstating Freud's debunked theory. McNamara, in his very recent article published in Aeon Magazine, states that from the offset he perceived Freud as a 'secular saint' who was 'willing to take an unbiased look at himself through the raw material of his dreams'. Freud's famous 'Irma's Injection Dream', which occurred on 23rd July 1895 and recorded and analysed in The Interpretation of Dreams (1900) was used as the basis for Freud's psychoanalytic technique of dream interpretation (see my previous article on 'Irma's Injection') and is regarded as the 'specimen dream' of psychoanalysis generally. McNamara argues that 'Irma's Injection' is clearly a sexual dream, a sexual wish fulfilment - the dream takes place at a party celebrating Freud's wife's birthday, but his attention is focused on Irma, whom he interpreted as representing a young widow he desired to treat. His friends, including Otto, were portrayed as male competitors. Further, the chemical formula for trimethylamine - the substance which Irma had been negligently injected with by Otto (causing a white patch in the back of her throat) appeared in bold type before Freud's eyes, alerting him to the cause of her discomfort in the dream. Freud's friend and colleague Wilhelm Fliess had referred to the substance as a 'product of sexual metabolism' found in semen. The connotation of 'injection' and the female throat - representative of the vagina - are also quite obvious in a sexual interpretation of the dream content. However, this interpretation has been heavily criticised by those who claim that psychoanalysis and Freudian dream interpretation is based on idiosyncratic associations which are open to endless alternative explanations.

By the time McNamara commenced his career into dream research, criticism of Freudian dream interpretation was full-blown - from 1953 onwards, after Nathaniel Kleitman (a physiologist at the University of Chicago) and his student, Eugene Aserinsky, discovered that dreaming occurred during REM sleep, Freud's theories of sexual wish fulfilment in dreaming were upended completely and discredited as mumbo-jumbo. A new cognitive-based approach to dream content emerged, replacing psychoanalytic theory, treating dreams as ethereal, disembodied products of a neutral information-processing and largely mechanistic brain. Researchers such as J Allan Hobson saw dreams as nothing more than fanciful ad hoc images caused by random neural impulses rippling from the brainstem, the engine of REM sleep. McNamara argues that the physical condition of REM sleep does not preclude Freudian theory - REM could coexist alongside Freud's theories that dreams have a deep unconscious meaning and purpose and some form of evolutionary function. In the late 1970s, whilst working in a Chicago detox centre, McNamara had a sudden and clear revelation: a elderly, ravaged alcoholic male whom he was washing suddenly leapt up with a full erection, lifted a metal table over his head and threw it at a wall, shouting expletives in a sing-song tone. McNamara was informed that the old man was suffering from delirium tremens as a result of alcohol withdrawal. The 'DTs' are characterised by an atypical transition state between REM and wakefulness and the enactment of dreams - which was what occurred with the old man to turn him from a frail invalid to a raging bull.

McNamara state that during REM sleep, males experience prominent erections, while in females the clitoris becomes engorged. Studies using functional magnetic resonance imaging have shown that the brain's reward circuits and centres are very active during REM. This lead McNamara to conclude that there must be some link between dreaming and sex.

During his academic career in neuroscience, McNamara gathered a large quantity of dream reports and noticed certain thematic patterns, becoming increasingly convinced that men and women dreamed drastically different types of dreams, with sex as a common theme. Often men were engaged in some form of violent or aggressive struggle or adventure, while women experienced dream scenarios were they would be communicating with friends. McNamara used the resource for obtaining dream records - the site is managed by psychologists at the University of California at Santa Cruz, and contains over 20,000 dream reports and was able to find support for his hypothesis that male dreamers are more likely to experience dreams where they are physcially aggressive, while females tend to dream of subtlety denigrating other female competitors rather than physical acts of violence. After he became a Professor at Boston University in the mid-1990s, McNamara confirmed his observations in rigorous studies, which showed that men dream of other men more than they dream of women; and women dream about men and women equally. While male dreamers engage in physical violence against other men, women use verbal insults, rejections and exclusions. 

McNamara believed his research supported Freud's theory that all dreams are about wish fulfilment - i.e. sex. This explained why males dream of violence: in our evolutionary past, this was the way to access fertile females. Females engage in verbal aggression because discrediting competition by spreading adverse or negative gossip was a reproductive strategy. 

In one particular literature review, McNamara found ample evidence that sex hormones surge during REM sleep and dreaming. Prolactin (which enables lactation in females and stimulation of the testes in males) rises rapidly as sleep commences as peaks at 3 am - 5 am, the period during which REM predominates. Release of prolactin can be blocked by sleep deprivation. Similarly, oxytocin (linked to bonding during sex) and testosterone, both of which are linked to the sex drive, peak at 4 am. This correlates with the fMRI studies which show peak activation of the midbrain - especially the pleasure-seeking areas of the brain linked with sex and addictive behaviours such as drug use - occurs during REM sleep. 

However, establishing an incontrovertible link between REM sleep, dreaming and sexual wish fulfilment (under Freud's model) required more evidence. McNamara would need to correlate specific dreams with particular mating strategies in life. He found that the most reliable measure was 'attachment orientation'  - a quality associated with sexual and emotional intimacy. 

Current attachment theory holds that people fall into a few broad categories: (a) in a happy relationship (securely attached to their partner); (b) not in a relationship, but desperately wanting to be (preoccupied and anxious): (c) in an unhappy relationship (preoccupied or anxious); or (d) dismissive about relationships (avoidant). If dreaming represents wish fulfilment, then dream content, dream recall and dream sharing should be lower in those who are satisfied with their current attachment orientation i.e. securely attached, dismissive and avoidant; and higher in those who wish to change their status i.e. anxious/preoccupied. His Boston University study involved hundreds of voluntary subjects from all categories of attachment orientation. The coders who analysed the dreams recorded from the subjects were blind as to the purpose of the study. McNamara was surprised by the results of his study. He found those that were anxious/preoccupied were more likely to recall dreams than those who were securely attached. They took less time to reach REM periods during sleep and their dream content involved higher levels of aggressive and competitive behaviours than the other groups. Both the anxious/preoccupied and the securely attached recalled more dreams than the dismissive/avoidant groups. For McNamara this was the typical pattern predicted based on the theory that dreaming is directly related to long-term sexual and relationship strategies. The anxious/preoccupied subject is passionately interested in forging a relationship with a romantic or sexual target and therefore recalls vivid dreams with emotional content relating to intimacy, whereas the dismissive/avoidant subject suppresses the subconscious desire for sexual intimacy, which is reflected in the dream content. 

McNamara also decided to compare aggression in REM dreams with non-REM (NREM) dreams, which occur in even more shallow sleep states. If it transpired that high levels of aggression only occurred during REM dreams it would strengthen the case that links sex to this physiological state i,e. the hormone surges, activation of the brain's pleasure centres and the stimulation of the genitalia etc. Fifteen subjects were fitted with a 'nightcap' designed by sleep researcher Robert Stickgold at the Harvard Medical School. The nightcap was programmed to beep at random, waking subjects so that they could recall their dreams, during REM, NREM and daytime wakefulness. Coders then scored dream content according to aspects of aggression. Social interactions between men and women and men and men were more likely to be depicted in dreams than wake reports. Aggressive social interactions initiated by the dreamer were more frequent in REM dreams than NREM dreams or wake reports. Friendly interaction initiated by the dreamer was more likely to occur in NREM dreams than REM sleep. Subsequent analysis revealed that where the dreamer was male, targets of aggression could be reasonably interpreted as competition for a sexual or romantic mate. 

With finding from the US National Institutes of Health, McNamara was able to replicate the findings of this study in a fully-equipped sleep lab, using electroenchephalogram (EEG) technology to measure brainwaves, which added rigour and precision to the empirical results. Hundreds of college-age subjects were carefully selected and slept in the sleep lab for several nights.They were subjected to a series of specially balanced awakenings so that all subjects were given the opportunity to recall both REM and NREM dreams. This latter study confirmed the findings of the earlier one, but also revealed new compelling evidence. For example, in dreams involving aggression, the dreamer was the aggressor in 58% of REM dreams, but only 29% of NREM dreams. Where the dream involved friendly social interaction, the dreamer initiated the friendly behaviour in 71% of NREM dreams, but only 42% of REM dreams. In both studies the REM-NREM different was most marked in males and the target of aggression was were competitors relative to the dreamer. 

McNamara questions why humans are exposed to such risks present in REM sleep states if all dreams relate to sex. The REM sleep period is 'dangerous' in biological terms, because the major anti-gravity muscles of the body are paralysed or inhibited and the thermoregularity reflexes are suspended making it impossible to produce internal heat. REM sleep is also associated with intense automatic nervous system (ANS) storms or instabilities. The ANS regulates key physiological processes such as heartbeat - which is why heart attacks commonly occur in the early hours of the morning in the dream-rick REM sleep periods. To summarise, every 90 minutes during sleep we enter a dangerous period of 'twilight' during which our reward centres are activated and we are sexually stimulated, but partially paralysed so that we cannot take advantage of these activations. As key physiological functions of the body collapse, we are forced to 'watch' things which we know as 'dreams'. McNamara asks why evolution would expose us to such risky biological changes which leave us vulnerable to predation and unable to regulate our temperature which could lead to disease. An erratic ANS system presents further danger. If REM sleep has an evolutionary function it must be an essential one.

MxNamara found his answers in Charles Darwin's The Descent of Man and Selection in Relation to Sex (1871). Darwin's theory of natural selection concerns the evolution of new species by selection of traits that adapt to the environment across generations. However, his theory of sexual selection concerns the emergence of traits and behaviours that enhance the chance of finding a mate and reproducing. Darwin's theory of sexual selection addresses criticisms of his theory of evolution which argue that not all traits help a species to survive. Darwin's explanation was that the spectacular tail or the reindeer's elaborate antlers do indeed expose the species to predators, hinder the animal's movement and have high energy consumption, but many traits of sexually reproducing animals boost reproduction rather than survival in the environment. The peacock's tail acts as a marker of fitness and fertility, attracting peahens and the reindeer's antlers are a weapon to be used in aggressive combat with male competitors during mating season. The objective was to intimidate competitors so much they would give up the fight for the fertile females. The pressures of sexual selection made it an imperative that male species develop weapons and adornments, thus giving a reason why animals develop non-adaptive, costly traits.

McNamara applied Darwin's theory of sexual selection to REM sleep and dreaming. He drew on research into REM Behaviour Disorder, a condition by which the neurons which cause paralysis are destroyed , allowing dreamers to physically move during REM sleep and dreaming. Male dreamers with REM Behavioiur Disorder tend to dream that their partners are under threat or being attacked by other males and physically enact the dream, by defending themselves with actual violence whilst asleep. REM paralysis is therefore a form of evolutionary protection which prevents us from acting out our dreams.

There has been debate into the effect of REM sleep and dreaming on waking life behaviours. Dylan Selterman of the University of Maryland has addressed which topic directly, conducting  a study into couples. He asked the subjects, all of whom were in committed relationships, to record their dreams and daily activities for two weeks. Selterman found that dreaming about some form of romantic interaction with a target significantly predicted interactions and behaviours with others the following day, in waking life. If the dreamer dreamed of sexual intercourse with their partner, they tended to report more romantic or sexual intimacy the next day - but only if the relationship was going well. If the dreamer dreamed of conflict with a partner, greater conflict was experienced the next day.

McNamara states that these results appear to confirm the obvious - that dreams influence waking behaviours, but when you apply the theory of sexual selection to this common-sense interpretation, we are able to draw the conclusion that dreams prefer to influence sexual behaviours. This is McNamara's overall explanation for the purpose of dreaming.   

The material for this article was sourced from Patrick McNamara, 'How Sex Rules Our Dreams' Aeon Magazine (2014) and written by Tallulah La Ghash based on his research.

Dream 248

'Jay-Z & Beyonce's Boring Tea Party'
I was in an unfamiliar, yet ordinary looking lounge area. There was a window adjacent to the door, in front of which was a window-seat and a long table with items laid out for a formal tea-party. The lighting in the room was very dim, although I could see that it was daylight through the large window. Jay-Z and Beyonce entered the room and sat on the window seat. I cannot recall what they were wearing, but they were deep in conversation and not acknowledging myself or the other (unknown, unfamiliar) guests. I went to the back of the (smallish) room, where there was a big dresser/wooden unit positioned against the wall (opposite the window). Notorious BIG (aka Biggie Smalls) was leaning/perching on the corner of the dresser (quite impossible due to his large size). He was eating something and asked if there was any butter available. I saw a floral display on the dresser, and pulled it forward to reveal a huge stack of gold-wrapped packs of butter, which tumbled forward. I gave one of these to Biggie. 

I cannot recall anything else about this dream.

Tuesday, 27 May 2014

Dreaming about Swans (Dream Anthology Series)

I thought I would search the internet and collect an anthology of dreams recorded online based around a randomly chosen theme or keyword. This is just for a bit of fun, but it might be a useful exercise in comparing and contrasting the various ways in which dream symbolism appears in the dreams of very different people from all over the world - or at least the English-speaking internet-using world, unless I am able to find translations or reproduced records of older dreams or dreams from different cultures. However, my main sources will be online dream diaries. I will be rewriting the dreams to the extent that the grammar and spelling is of the same quality as my own, but I will remain true to the content and specific language or phrasing in so far as possible. I will anonymise the dreamer (although they did publish their dreams in a publicly accessible medium), but will indicate gender, age and any other personal information I can because this will be an important aspect of how dream symbolism may compare or contrast depending on demographical factors.

My first theme/keyword is SWAN. I have chosen this because I hate swans and am afraid of them, but they seem to be a very admired creature, due to their (alleged) beauty, charm and grace. I think that if I had a dream about a swan, it would be a likely nightmare scenario, but I predict the majority of 'swan dreams' I discover on the internet will present them as a positive and enchanting dream  symbol.

Socrates, 'Socrates Swan' (470 BC)
Told to Plato:
Socrates dreamed that a cygnet (young swan) grew out of his chest. It settled on his lap and rapidly developed into a fully-grown swan. It then 'flew forth into the open sky uttering a song that charmed all hearers'.

Plato, 'Plato's Dream) (c. 347 BC)
Plato dreamed he had become a swan and was flying high above the land. When the people below saw the beautiful swan, they took aim at it with arrows and missiles, hoping to win a prize. Nothing struck the swan, which flew calmly onwards.

Anonymous, Untitled
I had this dream a couple of times. I go into the back garden of the house I grew up in and there is a swan on the grass. As I get closer to it I realise that the swan is actually dying and is being eaten alive by maggots and insects.

Anonymous, Untitled
I was surrounded by white swans which were also surrounding my house.

Anonymous, Untitled
There was a black swan swimming around a black lake, focused intently on me. It would not look away and was swimming close to me.

Anonymous, Untitled
I had a dream that I was riding on a white swan. It was floating in water and someone was there with me. It felt like someone was guiding us.

CW, 'Swan' (8.4.1995)
Male, age unknown, San Francisco, USA
I awake in a bare cabin and am amnesiac. I have lost knowledge of who I am. The only item of clothing in the room is a bright orange minidress, which is draped over a wooden chair, looking like a huge limp poppy petal. I discover that I am male, but have no choice but to wear the dress. I look into an oval-shaped mirror. The dress is tight, but just long enough. I think 'my butt is too skinny' so arch my back and push out my chest and butt. It looks better, but I still appear too skinny as I have no breasts. My legs are also hairy. My waist is not slender enough. I have a long horse-face, bony elbows and a big nose. The self-criticism continues to flow until I realise that these are not my own thoughts, but rather I was unconsciously reading them off the dress which has been dyed with a thousand scrawled insults. I can't deny their truth: I cannot live up to the dress, fill it, or be as cool as a girl. 

One of the walls in the room has a picture window. I look out, feeling sad. I see I am in Alaska - I can see for miles, the fjords of Sitka and the tundra of Nome. In the vast expanse of landscape I see three more versions of myself - all different races, ages and genders. They are wandering around in the wilderness, bewildered and wearing clothes like mine, covered with hateful judgements including: slut, stupid, drunk, lazy, illiterate, superstitious, weak, cold, sloppy, greedy, fat. I think that there has been some form of curse placed on us out of malice. Our minds are all blank. I think this state has lasted for years. I realise I may have one clue: I am an artist and I can trace the dye used on the dress. The dye comes from a small laboratory near Anchorage, which I break into at night. The lab reeks of curses, which someone has been brewing like coffee. This is the source of the misery. I start to look through the lab notes and records and just as I find the data on the dye used on the dresses, the Dye Wizard bursts in. 

My mind clears a bit and I realise that I know him: he had cursed me so I could not be able to think about certain things, including him. I got around this by thinking in different languages, but this caused me to feel lost, forgotten and ashamed. The Dye Wizard said with pleasure: 'you just keep remembering don't you? You cause me too much trouble as a man. Let's see if you interfere with me as a swan!' I climb onto a lab bench and grab flasks to throw at him, but my arms start melting as he chants: 'TEHANU, GOHA, TENAR!' There is a cloud of steam and my bones stretch and feel hollow. I feel a shock of searing clarity. I hiss and cackle and look through my new eyes, but I feel relieved. The curse of the Dye Wizard was laid on a human, but now I am a swan and able to think freely. The Dye Wizard does not seem to notice what he has done. He laughs as I shriek in my swan-voice and fly out of the lab away from him. I have to hunt for food with no hands and can only eat raw, squiggly fish, which is 'yuck' but I can fly. I will find my other selves and unite.

CW, 'Swan-Scatter' (9.10.1998)
Male, age unknown, San Francisco, USA
I see a lagoon with pebbly shores which hump occasionally into outcrops where birds nest - mainly gulls and small divers, but also some huge white ones, which might be pelicans, geese or swans. I start walking around the bay, but decide to try flying, although it has been difficult lately. I go through the motions, flapping my arms in imitation of the big birds and feel my arms cupping the air. It is working. There is no long stretch of beach as a runway so I risk running straight down to the water and skim the surface, working hard and rising slowly until I can see the entire lagoon. It is a clear day and I glide a bit, enjoying the view. I keep circling the bay, a few yards in the air, to practice. I feel confident enough to sail right up the face of a big wave. The far side is a spectacular long steep drop with a fierce downdraft. Although I am scared I skim down the wave-face like a surfer. 

I skirt the land on the far side now, passing over a few swans' nests. The swans scatter, shrieking. I worry that the swans will not return in time and their eggs will get cold. I am not trying to steal their eggs, I am a new creature which they are overreacting towards. They will have to get used to me as I have as much right to fly here as they do. 

S, Untitled (2.4.2012)
Female, age unknown, British Columbia, Canada
Dream 1
I had two dreams where I saw swans fly past outside a window and I became very excited. In one of these dreams I ran to the window to watch the swans. One of them stopped in mid-air, frozen. It's feathers seemed to shimmer brightly like it was transforming into something else, although I did not know what. I was aware that I was witnessing something magical. It reminded me of the scene in The Swan Princess when the swan was transforming back and forth between her human and animal form. I woke up before the swan finished transforming, in a happy mood.

Dream 2
I was driving through my former home town with my husband when we came to a deep pothole, which appeared more like a sinkhole. We were too late in avoiding it, but thankfully the car drove over it without getting stuck. Suddenly, another sinkhole appeared which would have swallowed the car if my husband had not been successful in avoiding it by driving around it at the last moment. Next, I saw myself sitting on a bus with strangers. I saw swans fly by and became very excited. I screamed with joy. I dropped to the floor to see the swans better, but realised the other passengers on the bus were staring at me weirdly. I felt embarrassed and smiled awkwardly, but felt happy to have seen the swans. 

M, Untitled (12.3.2013)
Male, age unknown, location unknown
I dreamed of two swans: one was ugly and without feathers, whilst the other was pretty. Me and a male I do not know/remember were transporting the swans somewhere. We entered an underground tunnel or station where it was showering water. I place the ugly swan in a net-box which I am holding. Water drips onto the ugly swan and 'roam[s] around the place' [author's phrasing]. We notice that the pretty swan is getting away from us. I decide to get the pretty swan and put it in the box with the ugly swan.

RG, Untitled (10.4.2013)
I have had this dream three times. I am walking down a familiar road when I see two 'witchy' ladies tying swans into baskets with wires and ropes. They inform me that they are heading to the slaughterhouse. The two ladies leave and I am able to free the swans, which fly away. I then argue with the two ladies and two men who have air rifles and are pleading with me about how I have 'ruined their bread and butter'. This is a very vivid dream which shocks me awake each time.

TS, Untitled (1.8.2013)
I dreamed of beautiful white swans with red trimming around them.

Anonymous, Untitled
I had a dream that I owned two swans: one young black swan and one old grey swan. I was worried about the grey swan dying and the young black one being lonely. I bought more (white) swans.

Dream 247

'The True Meaning of Phallic Objects'
I was in a brightly-lit room. Someone came in, holding a pink object that looked like a slimy pink blancmange or some form of bodily organ. I could see that there was a transparent ruler or small, rectangular numbered stick 'superimposed' on the pink object, jutting off at a diagonal angle. This 'ruler' was not really there - it was 'photoshopped' into space. I wondered if I could now see more than the normal 'three dimensions' (or four, if you include space/time as a perceivable dimension). I understood the true meaning of phallic objects - the bigger the ruler/numbered stick the 'more phallic' the object was (it was actually 'yonic', but in the dream I used the terms interchangeably). I saw more of these objects and felt I now knew what phallic meant. See my recent article on Phallic & Yonic Dream Symbols which likely inspired this aspect of the dream.

The scene changed and I was in a dark pub which looked like it was carved from gnarled wood - it was very cosy. Members of my family were there, but I was sitting with just my mum, in a corner booth. An elderly lady (I cannot recall anything about her other than her age and the fact she was small with white hair, like a stereotypical 'grandmother') sat down opposite us at our table. She had a bucket with her, collecting money. She told my mum and I that it would cost 20p each to enter the pub quiz. My mum paid our entrance fee. The only woman was peeling things - white objects, which had a skin like an onion - and dropping them into the quiz money bucket. When I leaned over and looked in, it looked like globules of white slime, perhaps like semen. The old woman asked my mum if she knew AP and ES, a local couple. My mum said she did, but only vaguely (she was lying). The old woman said that they had now got two children - both babies. I said: 'but the second baby died'. My mum turned to me and whispered: 'don't let her know we know them well because I don't want to get into a conversation about it'.

The scene changed again and I was in a brightly-lit classroom, although not one I am familiar with in real-life. I was sitting by the door with VW - a girl I went to school with. This was Psychology Class (in real-life I studied Psychology with VW's twin sister at A-level). I could see a massive blackboard mounted on the wall. There was a long list of writing in chalk - it was the syllabus. The only word I could read was 'Statistics', which was written halfway down the list. I tried to read the other words, but they looked scrawled or in a different alphabet, or spelled wrong - I could not work out why I was unable to read them (see my recent article on Reading in Dreams which explains this phenomenon). I was disappointed as I am so bad at maths and would find the statistics part of the course very difficult. I was aware that I was top of the class, but would not maintain this status during the statistics module. VW and I were talking - the class had not yet started. LSD, a girl from our year at high school (in real-life) turned round in her chair to talk with us. She asked me if I had seen MS, a boy from our (real-life) year in high school. He had gone missing. I said I had seen him - he had been going somewhere. I cannot recall anything else about this element of the dream.

I was then in a big dining-room which looked unfamiliar. There were huge French windows which let the sun stream in. In front of the windows was a huge dining-table laid out for breakfast. There were three large milk jugs and three dishes on the table. The dishes contained toast and marmalade. I noticed that two of the jogs/dishes matched - white and blue china - whereas the third one (in the middle) was different, as it had yellow flowers painted on it. I picked up the odd jug/bowl and threw it into the corner of the room, smashing it against the wall. I realised members of my family were also in this room. I went and sat on the floor by the wall and started fiddling with a small white object which looked like an unwired plug or suchlike. I then threw this at the far wall. I had a vision of a green field in the rain, with a huge expanse of pale blue/grey sky above me. The sky was being measured (from the ground) by a huge ruler, which was superimposed onto the scene at an angle. I knew where MS was. I knew I had (in my mind) a new, unified theory of phallic symbolism and dreaming, and felt enlightened and victorious.

I cannot recall anything else about this dream.

Monday, 26 May 2014

Dream 246

'Zerze, Moon of Mars'
My mum was a surrogate mother, having a baby for an unnamed person/couple. She was discussing this with me in my nan's house in Sheringham. She was wearing a bright blue jumper, like one I own in real-life. I asked her when the baby would be born. She was sitting on the chair next to the kitchen door in my nan's living-room - everything looked fairly normal in the room. My mum told me you could digitally induce labour, using a remote control/device. I saw that this device - small and beige plastic, looking like a pager - was on the telephone shelf in the downstairs hall.

The scene changed and I was in a dimly-lit room in what might have been a pub or a restaurant/cafe. I was seated at a wooden table, drinking pineapple juice from a pint glass. It was so refreshing and delicious. A group of people entered through an open doorway behind me. One of these people was RB, a girl I knew growing up and an acquaintance. Her newborn baby was in a sling on her chest. She sat down beside me, and the other persons with her - I think they were girls I know/know of, who live locally - sat around the table. RB took my glass of pineapple juice and drank it down quickly, which annoyed me.

I then realised that one of Mars' moons was actually called 'Zerze' (pronounced Zer-zee), not 'Circe' which was a guess I had made in answer to this quiz question in real-life (I since found out Mars' moons are called Phobos and Deimos). In the dream I felt surprised that my 'real-life guess' (i.e. the one I remembered I had made on Friday 23rd May 2014 in a charity quiz in Norwich) had been so close to the actual answer, considering I had picked a mythological name at random just to complete the round. 

Sunday, 25 May 2014

Dream 245

'Steve Buscemi's Dancing Mother'
I was sitting on a bus, looking through the back windscreen/window. Beside me was a male (I cannot remember what he looked like) called 'Steve Buscemi' (I did not know anything about Steve Buscemi, the American actor, director and writer at the time of this dream, other than hearing his name mentioned, but forgetting this). Steve Buscemi had bcome estranged from his mother. Through the back window of the bus, we could see Steve Buscemi's mother - she was a ballerina (although she looked two young to be the mother of an adult). She was dancing on a stage which was very dark and lit with hazy blue lights. Steve Buscemi was crying and said something nasty about his mother, who had abandoned him to chase her dream of being a professional ballerina. I thought that by watching her, we could both understand the essence and nature of success.

I had a flash of dream segment, unconnected to this dream. I was staring at a highly-polished stainless steel counter, with a white tiled wall behind it. On the stainless steel was a whole raw steak and a diced/chopped raw steak. This is all I could see.

Dream 244

'The New Girlfriend'
I cannot recall a lot of this dream. I was in a building, but it was possible to see over the walls over the rooms - as if the walls were actually partitions which did not completely reach the ceiling, and I was hovering above the floor. I could see PS in bed with a girl - she was quite large, but I cannot remember anything else about her.

The scene changed and I was somewhere else, although I cannot remember where. I was doing something with makeup palettes.

I was then on a train, at night. I was sitting at one of the tables on a double-seat. PS and the girl were seated opposite me, hugging. I could only see that she had dark hair and was wearing a light-coloured top. She was trying to put her index finger in his mouth, but he was turning his head. He said: 'we can't kiss because she's [me] here and I don't want to upset her'.

I cannot remember anything else about this dream, but it made me feel uneasy and depressed.

Tallulah La Ghash - Free Dream Interpretation

La Ghash Dream Interpretation

Tweet me by following this link: @TallulahLaGhash

Dream 243

'Selling Kebabs from a Lemon Citroen'
Dream date: 23rd May 2014
I was on a seaside pier or by a wall looking out to the beach/sea. There were white railings (painted metal) and some buildings to my left. The sky was bright blue and it was sunny. Either HL (my ex-boyfriend from several years ago) or EB was there, with a mobile phone. I think I saw myself in the third-person, leaning against the railing, with my back to the sea. I was wearing a white skirt, that is all I remember. I am not sure how I looked. HL/EB's phone was also white. He accused me of hanging around with a man, named IH (who has a Youtube channel and is local to my area - he is married to another Youtube guru who I follow, in addition to many of their relatives who also run popular channels). He said IH 'sold kebabs out of a lemon Citroen'. I tried to explain that IH did not sell kebabs from a 'lemon Citroen', he was a cook, and his wife NH is a makeup artist who I admire. He said that it was 'disgusting' of me to associate with him.

The scene changed and I was in a classroom. It seemed to be a classroom in my old sixth form, rather than at university, but in the dream I was aware that I was an SR and a postgraduate student in law, so I knew this was university, not the 'Maths Room/History Room' at sixth form, which is what it looked like from the shape/position of door/windows and decoration. There was one big desk in the room and many girls were standing around. They seemed to all be wearing navy jumpers - like a school uniform. One of them was very tall and had dark hair and very thick-rimmed glasses, but I do not really remember what she looked like, other than 'geeky'. She and the other girls crowded around me, I knew they were second year undergraduates, studying to be opticians. They said I had failed to change the syllabus so that the first year undergraduates took the exact same classes as the second years. These second years wanted the first years to join them, but they were all being taught different modules. I explained that in my role as SR I could not change a syllabus and that this was something they should speak to their Undergraduate Office or Dean about. They continued to accuse me and complain about my failings, as I tried to tell them that I was a law student and did not know anything about the optician degree.

The scene changed and I was sitting on the doorstep of my university house. My friend (who lives close by, but I have not seen for a while) walked over to me and said 'is this S****** T****** [my address]?'At first I did not recognise him. but as I heard him speak and looked up, I saw sunshine behind his head and noticed it was him from the shape of his hair. He did not seem to recognise me as he did not acknowledge our friendship.