Saturday, February 26, 2011

A dream exhorting the patient to mourn for her father's death

A woman in her mid-thirties, who suffers from severe anxiety and always dreads harm coming to her from unknown quarters, reported this recurring dream, which was going on for couple of weeks, and had started a few months after her father's death. The immediate cause was her going to Detroit's winter bash where young people were skating on the ice rink and feeling envious of their vitality. [She is an envious person by temperament.]
After returning from the rink she dozed off on the couch and the dream occurred for the first time.

My father is there in the apartment. I cannot see him but I can feel his presence as a tremendous pressure. Then I hear voices. The voices tell me that I forgot something.
n asking if the voice is that of her father. She said: No it is not my father's voice. But I know it is my father. The voices are more like a drone. Many people talking as if I am in a restaurant or a public place where you feel the presence of others without interacting with them.

atient complained that the dream is driving her crazy because she cannot for the world figure out as to what she forgot. She has thought of million things, gone through every drawer in her bedroom and every nook and corner of the basement and racked her brain to no end, but still she cannot figure out as to what she has forgotten.
Then she conjectured that maybe she did not pay her father's money back, and there is guilt over it. "You know I always borrowed money from him but never returned any of it. I feel so bad about that. He was so mad in the end about my ceaseless borrowing he would not talk with me. For that George Washington you see on that dollar bill that was his God. By the end of his life all he lived for was to collect little amount of cash that came his way from all the rickety little businesses he had built around town. Not paying back his money sits on my chest like a brick. I wrote a letter to him as to how sorry I was for doing him that way but never gave it to him. There was some psychological block there.
Or may be I forgot to mention somebody at his funeral, maybe left out saying something about one of his three children [her three siblings] when I spoke there. I was the only one who spoke. I was the only strong one at the funeral. And it surprised everyone because I am the most messed up."

Patient then added that her dreams come true. She once dreamt a friend of her's shooting someone. The next day the friend got shot, and exactly on the same spot on the chest, where he had shot the other person in the dream. She could not explain as to why her prophetic dream did not show him getting shot the way it was going to happen the next day, though accurately telling the method of injury and the site of the wound.
She reported another dream where she saw the death of her father's best friend, Earl, who the next day did die.
Now such premonitory dreams of death is a symptom of obsessive thinking. The obsessional neurotic person believes that his or her thoughts are so powerful that they can magically cause death. And since obsessional neurotic's unconscious is filled with thoughts of causing others harm, usually by death, they are always doing away people in their dreams. And since dreams are nothing but our daily thoughts couched in the special language of dreams, the death of other people is a staple in the dreams of obsessive people. And therefore it is not surprising when someone close to them does die they can immediately recall recently having had a dream of somebody or other dying.
When asked if she also dreamt her father's death before it happened she admitted she did not. But immediately added that just before his death she did see him in a dream standing next to a window looking out of glass pane and then turning to her to assure that everything will be alright.
She claimed that the dream signified that he was going to die and it was his way of telling her that he was looking out of the glass pane at his approaching death and was assuring her that she will be fine with that."
And I was fine throughout the funeral," the patient claimed. "I did not even cry, not even quivered my lips. In fact I was so strong and in so much control that my family was convinced that I was high on weed. I thought people were talking about me for not feeling any sadness and not crying. But I was like a preacher who is not affected by the death of somebody about whom he has to give eulogy. And my father did not look dead. He looked so good and young."
Now failure to cry or feel emotions at the death of such an important figure as one's father, especially in case of a girl, means that there is lot of undischarged anger or grudge, and the affect of revenge is holding back the tears.
I conjectured that the dream/her father was telling that she forgot to cry over his death. The love for her father was telling her that she should cry for his death while the revenge feelings were blocking out the last part of the command and the dream was allowing the expression of just half of it : You forgot something.
The woman was stunned and said, "I would have never thought of that," which is usually a phrase that declares yes I always knew that to be correct but only in my unconscious for I could never allow myself to think of it consciously. And then went into describing how she was her father's favorite, his little girl, and would sit on his lap as a little child till everything changed with onset of puberty and in the end they were not even on speaking terms.
"And why was that?"
"Because he favored boys over girls. He favored even a strange men, who would approach him for help and would give them start up money for their businesses but would never do that with his girls."
"That must be the reason why whatever money you took from him you did not return and could not make yourself to hand him the letter of apology and could not cry at his funeral."
"Yes," the girl agreed. But cried my heart out at the death of E, my father's best friend, who died two months before my father."
"So the tears for your father came out at the death of his best friend."
"Yes," the girl agreed. "I knew my father would be dying very soon too. Both E and my father were buddies from the earliest childhood, and both were on the brink of death. So you are right, I must have begun to mourn for my father at E's funeral."
"Why you would cry for E, but not your father when both were in the class of fathers for you?"
"Because E was gentle and unlike my father was not always exhorting me to be tough. Toughen it up. Don't let anybody see your weakness. Tighten it up. These were his favorite words and it kind of ruined my girlish nature. I became tough towards everything soft and feminine. In fact I became a tomboy. I have a real bad temper. I can really wallop anybody if they aggravate me beyond a point and that may be the reason I am always fearful because I can never trust myself as to when I will fly off the handle and maul whichever idiot is rubbing me the wrong way. So I guess by not crying at his funeral I was following his command to suck it up and not show any emotions. Giving him his own medicine you could say."
"Why did the voice not come from your father but from a number of people as if you were in a public place?"
" All it means is that not just my father but all my relatives and other people who were at that funeral are telling me to give up my grudge against my father and mourn over the loss of those happy times with him. These people are kind of authority to me just like my father was."

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