Sunday, February 5, 2012

A dream expressing contempt of men

A housewife in her late thirties reported the following dream:

I am screaming and yelling at Mike to not start it again. Then I start hitting him on the chest. Finally I tell him to just forget it, I am leaving. I walk down a narrow set of steps which is green. When I reach down I tell my dog Shadow, "Come I am leaving." 

"Who is Mike?"

"That is the strange thing about the dream. I don't know any Mike. Or at least any Mike who looks anything like the Mike of the dream."

"How does the Mike of the dream look?"

"He is a heavy set man. With a blue t-shirt. Navy blue. Has a 5 o'clock shadow."

"Where is the blue t-shirt taken from?"

"Gary my husband wears navy blue t-shirt. In fact navy blue t-shirts is what I see him most in. And he is heavy set."

"Where is the 5 o'clock shadow taken from?"

"That belongs to my step-father, Ted. He is old now, but when he was young, he often sported that 5 o'clock shadow."

"Anybody else you can think of who goes to make up the figure of Mark?"

 "Yes my Dad. He is heavy set too. Gary and my father look alike. They are both aggressive. They are both big men. They both love dogs. So I guess all the three men who had the most influence over my life are subsumed under the figure of Mike."

"Why are you yelling and hitting them?"

"Because I am so fed up of men. They have done nothing but controlled  my life. My father would hit me when I would not do all the work there was to do at the house. It was not my fault that his wife left him, and I looked like my mother, and he was stuck with me. It was simply not fair to dump all that house work on me, and then yell and hit me, when I could not do it to his satisfaction. He had no sense that a 13-year-old girl cannot possibly remember and do everything that is required to be done in a house.

"And I cannot forgive my step-father for sending my mother to her grave, when she was barely 65,  by controlling her every move. He gave her no space to breath. And my husband is no better than Ted, for he is doing to me what Ted did to my mother. I feel so suffocated in my house.

"What is so interesting is that in real life I always freeze with fear in the presence of these three men, and it is they who control me. But in dream it is I who is hitting them; and that Mike guy, whoever he is, is just standing still and doing nothing. So it is really a wish fulfillment, as you claim all dreams are. I am just turning tables on these controlling men, and they have no say in the matter as I have no say with them in my waking moments."

"Why did  the dream  give this composite figure the name of Mike?"

The patient thought for some time and said,"Oh my God. I totally forgot it. But I did know someone called Mike. A boy named Mike Castelli who made my life hell from age of 5 till I got out of elementary school at 12. He would hit me at every opportunity he got. He would tease me when I would get off the bus. He would throw snow balls at me and once smeared a new fur coat of mine. I hated him."

"Why those steps come in the dream and why are they green?"

"The green is my favorite color. It is so soothing. It comforts me. When the world gives me too much trouble I always escape in to my bed and cover myself with my favorite pastel green comforter."

Since climbing up and down stairs usually is a substitute for sexual satisfaction, it was assumed that the green passageway was the genital passage. So it was the fantasy of returning to the womb, such a common fantasy of mankind, which she was using to get some peace from the bullying world of men. After getting even with them, she was retreating into the safety of her mother's womb.

But the girl rejected the interpretation and said more than my mother's womb I was returning in to my own self. "My mother was as harsh to me as my dad.  From my earliest age I hated her and had learnt to be my own mother."

"I think the green passageway phylogenetically represents your mother's womb. Though you are right you have become your own mother so you are kind of withdrawing within your own self."

The time ran out so we could not analyze the dream further and get to the bottom of why she was telling Shadow, the dog, Come I am leaving. But Shadow, was her faithful companion, shadowing her day and night for 18 years. He fulfilled some of her need for male companionship. He had recently died, and it had caused her intense pain and bereavement. In the dream her wish for him to be alive again was getting fulfilled.

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