Friday, January 7, 2011

Analysis of a dream dreamt entirely in red color

A young Irish-American man, inheriting all the complex mental make up of that most unique ethnic group, and suffused with all the pathos, fears, guilt, self-destructiveness, and lust for life, which Irish seem to have more than others, said the following about a dream he had:

It was a most weird dream. But the funny part is that I could have pulled out of the dream or continued with it. It was so crazy that I knew all along it must be dream and all through it I struggled with whether to get out or to continue with it and to see as to what happens in the end. I could have even directed the dream to whichever way I wanted.
In the dream I am in an abandoned school building. It could be Detroit. I am the only white man amongst a bunch of black guys. It is like a gangbang. It is like Civil War. It is like a great chaos occurring in Third World. We are running around with rocket launchers and guns. Could be over drugs. It is a real fight. There are helicopters following us.
But the most puzzling part is that the whole dream is bathed in red. Everything happens in red color and red hue. All through the dream I am aware that I am doing something wrong.

He woke up in the morning feeling guilty, fearful and all shaken from the intensity of violence in the dream and went to his wife and assured her that he will never leave her, and to have faith in him for he will never do anything wrong despite the fact that they desperately need money to survive, and he will find a way out of their financial difficulties by honest means.
This assurance of his good intentions to his wife gave the clue that he was doing just the opposite in dreams and woke up with guilt towards his wife.
The patient confirmed that he is getting very few hours at work - for business is slow - and it is tearing him apart to watch his wife and son do without many of the things that money buys. In fact on the dream-day [the day before the dream] he struggled all day long with the temptation to go back and start buying and selling drugs that he had given up two years ago. "Throughout the day I could not make up my mind whether to get into the drug scene or to keep out of it. "I know I have a choice over which way I go."
So the struggle through the day whether to enter or not to enter drug dealing had found expression in the dream to stay in the dream or get out of it and to have a choice over its direction.
he drug dealing involved competition with other young people, especially young black kids, for it is in downtown Detroit that he bought drugs which he sold in the suburbs.
My construction that his use of the word gangbang implied his taking help of other young vigorous men to improve his potency was decidedly rejected by the dreamer. Gangbang, he said, arose from the fact that if he reentered the drug scene, he will have to contend with drug gangs.
But just the thought of struggling and fighting with downtown black drug dealers would not have had the motive power to construct a dream. There has to be deeper source to it.
Here the theoretical knowledge that dreams or rather nightmares of great fight, everybody fighting with everybody, with an apocalypse like atmosphere, is really a depiction of rivalry with the father transferred on to an all-out-knockdown fight with siblings.
The great Indian epic "Mahabharath" and even Homer's Iliad is at bottom nothing but artistic festooning/embeliisment of such a great war between rival brothers [over some female]. So the dream was taking up this phylogenetic memory of the fight between band of brothers in our primordial past, and giving it expression, clothed in the realities of the present. Granted there was no "Helen of Troy" or "Draupadi of Mahabharath" for whom the bunch of black dudes and our patient were fighting, but then the dream was very vague, and this element of a girl in the background as the price over which the fight was occurring could have got censored out from representation in the manifest content of the dream.
Why the fight takes place in an abandoned school.
Now emergence of going back to school in dreams is often a wish to return to roots, learn better, and come back to fight the present obstacles with new knowledge. The patient often regretted not having paid enough attention in school to have become a professional despite having as good a brain as his wife's relatives who were all professionals. So he was going back to school and learning new fighting skills by combating his rivals/siblings.
hy the helicopters?
This he associated with police following the fighters and the fighters signaling to each other as to how to evade them. So this was the work of conscience/superego which was keeping a watch over him to not go back to his old habits of doing and dealing with drugs. The impulse to do drugs and make money by selling drugs and the superego's objection to it were getting representation simultaneously. Also, it was the same agency that make him wake up feeling fearful and guilty and compelled him to assure his wife that he will not leave her and the family and return to his old habits.
Why the entire dream occurs bathed in red color?
For this the patient brought in an unconvincing association that his wife's cousin had given him, who reads a lot of psychology. He immediately added that the explanation was false. Then after a lapse of a minute, in which he brought up something unrelated, he came up with the following association spontaneously.

t is weird how when I stop at an intersection if the light is red and I see police car next to me or anywhere in the vicinity I feel that the cop will see that I am doing something wrong and I immediately start fiddling with the radio or start doing something else to allay suspicions of wrongdoing.
Is the red of the dream taken from red light of the intersection? I asked him.
"I would have never thought of that, " the patient replied. "But yes, on the night before the dream it so happened that I was stopped at a set of light and I did notice how the whole cross-section was bathed in red. And there was a police car flashing its blue and red light, adding to the frightening ambiance. And now I can see that the red in the dream was taken from that particular experience."
So the warning that he should not return to drug dealing, beyond seeing it in dream, was not only being emphasized in his feeling throughout the dream that what he was doing was wrong, but was also finding visual representation with the whole dream turning red.
Red color was used in the dream to express the warning: what you are dreaming is forbidden. I wonder if that color is used to express the concept of "Off limit" in other contexts as well.

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