Thursday, June 28, 2012

Determinism in dreams even with phone numbers

An all-American burly man, approaching Sixty, pillar of the community,  father of half a dozen children, grandfather of twice as many, comfortably retired, volunteering for all community activities, church-going to the boot, including donning the red coat - he already has a flowing white beard - and playing the Santa Claus in the malls at Christmases, rescuing stray animals, brought in the following laconic dream:

I dreamt of someone named "Martin Had" and his phone number which was "628-0967" [the phone number has been slightly changed to preserve the anonymity.

Patient declared that he absolutely knows no Martin, that he has looked in the phone book and there is nobody by the name of Martin Had,  and he could understand dreaming someone called Head: but Had!?). Why would anybody be named Had, and yes he did call up that number and it went to the answering machine. And yes, he left no message.

So we tried to start playing with various permutation and combination of the numbers hoping to correlate it with his age, his daddy's age, his wife's age, lotto numbers, but came up with nothing. Finally he said that all he could think in connection with it was that 0967 reminds him of the year 1967. Around that time he was in the army, Vietnam war was at its height, though he got stationed in Germany, and the year was 1971 not 1967.

But I said that there can be no smoke without fire. That name and those numbers got to have meaning, and he knows it in his unconscious, and the only way to reach it is through his associations and at least one of the dream's origin must lie in the circa 1967-1971. Perhaps some Martin he knew during that era.

The patient suddenly went into a reverie as if he was listening to some distant drums. When he came out of it I remarked that the way his mind was preoccupied, something associated with Martin perhaps came to his consciousness and he said  "Yes, I did know somebody called Martin. Father Martin Phillip. He was a major in the army and a chaplain. I was his assistant and did odd jobs for him and sang in the choir when he conducted the service. Very brilliant man. I learnt a lot from him. He is still alive. I have been thinking of visiting him. But I guess I have already made my peace with him. I called him a few months ago to make sure I had paid my respect before he died.  

The way he said it all, especially about making peace with him and paying respect before he died, sounded to my third ear as if Major Martin Phillip was a father figure to him and towards whom he harbored the same ambivalence that men harbor towards their father. But instead of exploring further on this angle, curious as to what the numbers could mean, I asked him if they had something to do with the girl friend he had during those years. Now I know this patient fairly well, and he had a torrid love affair with a German girl  to whom he almost got married but did not while stationed there. This German girl subsequently came to the US and lives in an unhappy marriage, and in the last few years every now and then calls him up and tempts him to leave his wife and join her.

The patient immediately began talking about this old flame: a girl who was very high spirited, loved sex, traveled with him on trains across Europe to all kinds of places and was game for something exciting all the time.  As he went on to describe how he almost got married to her but did not, and how she is willing to leave her husband for him, for the latter is a no good drunk, and how he finds the whole thing ludicrous because he does not believe in divorce, I wondered if Major Martin was not indirectly substituting for this drunk husband of the lady.

He had called Major Martin recently out of the blue to pay his respect before he died. Could it be looked upon as making amend for a death wish? Perhaps a death wish displaced from the lady's husband to Major Martin?

"Could the phone number be that of the girl who is pursuing you? For we know from your dreams in the past that you do have temptations to reciprocate her overtures."

"If it is true then you should get the Nobel Prize. Let me look into my cell phone and see if the phone number is that of hers."

He pulled up three numbers. None of them were remotely close to 628-0967.

"Could it be possible that the name Martin Had is fragment of the wish:  if only Martin had married that girl and me."

Patient was impressed. "You may be on to something. It that girl and I would have got married certainly Father Martin would have done it. Anything Father Martin asked of me I couldn't refuse. If Father Martin had approved of my marrying her it would have been a done deal. Coming to think of it I spent so much time during that period making up my mind to approach Father Martin but did not for if I had and he had said yes  it would have been a done deal."

"Could then dream be showing the desire to see the fantasy "if Martin Had married us two" coming true? And that the phone number emerges so you could redo your past? In the dream it is not the girl's number but perhaps Father Martin's number that is coming up so you can approach him to make that fantasy a reality. What is the number of Major Martin?"

 He looked up in his cell phone. "His number is 291--0966."

The patient immediately noticed that 0966 the last four digits were common  with the last four numbers of the dream -0967except for the last number which was off by one.

We looked at the first three numbers but could only see that the 2 is common between 291 and 628 and there is no other similarity.

Suddenly the patient said if we take the last number of 291-0966 (Father Martin's number) and put it in the beginning then it becomes 629 (1)-096. Now 629(1)-096 is quite similar to 628-0967 the dream number.

Based upon other associations which were not clear enough to write here, mostly because they are connected with many other facts about the patients which I as his psychiatrist knew about him but which will be impossible to describe here, the difference in the two numbers 629-0966 and 628-0967 which were off by 1 number in the lay in the fact that it involved subtracting and adding of 1 from those digits in a manner that was to make it possible for him to minus himself from his wife and be an addition to the woman who he once loved.

As to why the dream transposed 6 from end of 291-0966 to its beginning, converting it to 629(1)-096, lay the desire to go  back to his past and make the wish that Father Martin had married them a reality and which was only possible by taking the present to the past - transposition of the last digit to the first.

Interestingly while in the dream he is wishing to go back in time and change his life trajectory and make a life with his German ex-girlfriend, in his waking life he is totally devoted to his wife, and would not change his big happy family for all the temptations in the world.

No comments:

Post a Comment