Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Dreams of teeth falling out as punishment for incestuous thoughts

A young girl wanted to know the meaning of teeth crumbling and falling out in dreams. When asked to tell the whole dream, she confessed that it was her boyfriend's dream, which he often has and she is just curious
as to its meaning.

On being told that psychoanalytic literature considers losing of teeth as a typical dream - which means it is a universal dream, with at least one meaning always the same across all cultures and individuals - and it represents castration as a punishment for masturbation, she found it highly amusing and added that it certainly could not apply to her because she too dreams of her teeth falling out, and the question of castration does not arise in her case, and perhaps we psychoanalysts may consider an alternative explanation that since her teeth are truly rotten and full of cavities they are simply falling out in dreams before they do so in real life.

We laughed and proceeded on with the exploration of her boyfriend's dream. She could not remember any more details then what she told me and asked as to why somebody would be castrated for masturbation?

I replied that it has more to do with fantasies associated with masturbation for which the dreamer's dream censor [conscience] thinks that the right punishment should be castration.

With this feedback there was lifting of some repression and the patient now could recall his dream clearly:

The dream begins with there being a woman at a lake who as soon as she sees him begins to leave. He cannot see her face. Her leaving is followed by his finding himself drowning and then he shuts his mouth and the teeth crumble and fall.

On the basis of symbols alone, I interpreted,"The woman is his mother. His teeth are falling as a punishment for incestuous thoughts towards her."

"That is interesting," the patient was impressed, "For though he sees no face, he has no doubt she is his mother." And added, "Why cannot he see her face? What could be the meaning of that?"

"Vague or indistinct facial features which obscure the identity of a person usually symbolize someone who is very familiar, but the context requires the identity be hidden. Incestuous thoughts are highly anxiety producing and most deeply repressed. But absence of details on the face could also be displacement of
absence of something else from another part of the body - a hysterical transfer from bottom to the top. The discovery of the absence of penis in females during the infantile masturbatory phase - Oedipal phase -
provokes a violent denial of what one is seeing and also a massive fear in the little boy of the real possibility of his own castration for indulging in masturbation and masturbatory fantasies."

Patient then brought in following details about the boyfriend. His mother left him when he was 8. Father was neglectful as well, and he grew up in foster homes from age of 13. He has lot of rage towards his mother.
Patient then wanted to know why would he want to make love to his mother when he hated her so much for abandoning him.

"The hatred did not cancel out the earlier love for her. Just drove it in to the unconscious. They both exist in him. In fact as a child he may have exaggerated his love for her to override his hatred. Drowning in the dream is symbolizing his wish to have a child with her and to give the product - a new version of himself - to her as a present. This wish which is present in all humans to give a baby to the mother for giving birth to oneself got markedly strengthened in his case as an attempt to keep her from leaving him."

"That is interesting," the patient added, "For my boyfriend thinks the lady in the dream is his mother because one moment she is there the next moment she is gone. Just like she did in real life."

"And he wants to give her a present of himself, through making a baby of himself, before she leaves, as a parting gift."

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