Tuesday, March 20, 2012

The great moving game to avoid death

A woman in her early seventies after having a wonderful Christmas dinner, which was held at her house, and in which all her children and grandchildren, and other relatives whom she is fond of could come to, had the following dream which she declared was totally meaningless.

All my family is there and we are involved in some type of game or activity in which we have to keep moving from one spot to another. We start doing something which suddenly comes to a stop so we can start doing something else then that comes to a stop too and we have to move to yet another spot and do something else and the cycle is repeated ad infinitum. This went all night long. We have to reach home but we can never reach home because we keep getting stopped from whatever we are doing to do something else. The perpetual cycle of  doing and stopping keeps delaying us from reaching home. 
Then the kids in the family see us doing this endless moving on the TV and they start doing it too. The only person who is out of this cycle is my grandson Aron. He is just sitting there crying. But he does not look like the way he is now, but how he was when he was 8 or 9. He was very contrary then. He is sitting there and crying because he is not part of this endless move.

Initially there was no associations to any part of the dream. Just some more protestation that the dream is crazy and meaningless and not worth wasting time upon. Then she recalled that a cousin of hers had called her on that Christmas day from a far away State, after a long hiatus. He wanted to know if she was doing OK or not.

Now when people worry about somebody's health like that whom they have not seen in a long time it is usually making sure that the other person has not died and it is usually a projection of the fear of their own death.  So perhaps the dream had some connection with death.

But was there any hint of it from the dream?

I asked her what kind of things they were doing that kept coming to a stop, can she give an example. First she claimed that the dream was so ridiculous that she cannot describe what exactly were they doing but on some encouragement she recalled that "at one spot we were between a fence and a wall and we had to  reach home through that narrow passage. But before we could do that that activity had to stop and we had to take up something else."  

Now reaching home in dreams is a typical symbol of reaching the womb and reaching death (reaching the womb of mother earth). For the aim of life is to be reborn and that is accomplished by reaching home (womb). But being reborn through one's children also heralds one's own death, and in dreams the symbols of death and rebirth are often interchangeable. Fantasy of rebirth is often symbolized in dreams by entering or getting out of water.

Was trying to reach home through that narrow passage was it symbolic of trying to reach the womb through the genital passage?

But before I made that construction to her I asked her if she could recall any other 'spot' from which they had to move away from in that great moving game of the dream.

Patient recalled that "at one spot we were in a carnival and as we started to really get into it we had to leave there as well. And all the while we were at the carnival there was this dread that whatever we are doing we must not forget the aim to reach home."

Now carnival, fair, mall in dreams usually represent the hustle bustle of life.  So once again the patient was seeking death - ultimate peace - which was being countered by the opposite impulse of seeking hustle bustle (carnival) of life.

At this point I made my interpretation: Reaching home means reaching death. And the fear attached to the fulfillment of this ultimate wish is getting transposed and in a twisted fashion to the fear of living and enjoying life. There are two wishes here. One seeking the final peace of death and the other wish countering it with the desire to keep participating in the carnival of life/getting continuously reborn.

To my surprise patient totally agreed with the interpretation which was not only conceptually difficult to understand but also so difficult to enunciate.

When I asked why she is so sure that that is what the dream means, she said, "At one point in the dream I had this dreadful feeling that if I do not reach home I won't last, I won't survive. Anyway the affect associated with the dream was that of dread of death."

"Why do kids start doing the same moving game after watching you all do it on the TV?"

"It has to do with the fact that during that Christmas dinner I was thinking how beautiful it is being with the  family but before I could enjoy this thought for too long the disturbing counter thought came that this enjoyment is so temporary and will soon stop and at the end all of us will die; myself, my children and my grandchildren. So I guess when the kids started playing the game of moving too, they were just following our footsteps and entering this great game of avoiding death by indulging in the distractions of life.

As to why her grandson Aron is sitting there and crying and not part of the crowd, she brought in some associations about his being very contrary from childhood, and doing everything opposite to what is expected. Perhaps it was the projection of her wish that being an absolute contrarian while all others will die he will somehow manage to escape this great game of life and death. 

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