Dream Discussion Groups: Bring Your Own Subconscious


Neil Gaiman once pointed out that “dream logic isn’t story logic,” and that if you attempt to describe one of your dreams to someone, you should prepare to “watch their eyes glaze over.” Not so, says the New York Times:

According to Times writer Kate Murphy, dream discussion groups are starting to rival book clubs as an excuse for people to get together and have in-depth conversations on various topics. “Over wine and cheese or perhaps a potluck meal, individuals engage in the opposite of idle chitchat,” Murphy writes, “By recounting their dreams, they expose their most vulnerable and uncensored selves – often discovering buried fears and desires in the process. The revelations, they hope, will help them live better waking lives.”

Dream discussion group members interviewed for Murphy’s piece noted that the experience had helped them gain some insight into their friends’ inner lives, though some devotees, like 50-year-old Mike Dworkin, tell Murphy that some dreams just can’t be shared, as “they are just too personal.” Of course, your interest in discussing your dreams with friends or strangers depends on several things; namely, your belief in the validity of the psychological aspects of dream interpretation and your willingness to share your subconscious creations with others. Sharing a dream about riding a rollercoaster made of cotton candy with Lady Gaga is one thing; sharing a dream about a deceased relative or a former love or one of your greatest fears is quite another.

Dreams, as weird and nonsensical as they may be, can also be extremely personal and reflective of real-life fears and issues one is working through, and if you’re not really ready to open yourself up to that sort of thing amongst your friends and neighbors who might start diagnosing you based on your recurring dream of swimming in a sea made of Elmer’s glue or some such, it’s probably best to stick to book clubs or interpreting your dreams in the privacy of your own home. Though with the arrival of Christopher Nolan’s Inception this summer, which focuses on the world of dreams, I suspect dream interpretation groups will only become more popular, or at least the world of dream interpretation in general will get a bit of a boost.

I was really into dream interpretation when I was in high school; I had a dictionary that I think I bought at Claire’s or somewhere equally as teenage mall essential and started analyzing every dream I had. After a while I realized that every single dream was sending mixed messages, according to my dictionary, and I started wondering if I was really dreaming about walking up a staircase because I was moving on to something new or because I walked up the staircase in my house before going to bed every night. On the flip side, whenever I came across a symbol in a dream that was basically telling me I was doomed to sadness and should be wary of buses or birds or the color orange, I started flipping through until I found another symbol in the very same dream that assured me that things were totally going to go my way. It became a Choose Your Own Adventure of sorts, and I was focused only on the things in my dreams that fit the narrative I wanted. Eventually, I gave it up, though I still tend to check out online dream dictionaries if I have a dream about, say, giant robot dinosaurs in disco attire, throwing a dance party on Mars.

In a way, I suppose, open dream interpretation groups can be seen as a form of therapy, not necessarily because they help us fully understand what’s going through our minds, but because they give us the opportunity to empty our brains of these weird images and see how they look from another perspective. And if nothing else, you get a glimpse into the crazy things your friends are coming up with in their sleep every night, which I suspect is the draw for many people. And if you have the right neighbors, maybe one of them can even help you build that cotton candy rollercoaster. Dreams can come true! Unless they’re about giant dancing robot dinosaurs. We’ll probably have to wait until Lady Gaga’s next tour for that one.

So what say you, commenters? Would you join a dream discussion group? Or do you think dream interpretation is just an excuse to be nosy about your friend’s inner lives?

Where Do You Get Your Ideas? [Neil Gaiman]
Take Look Inside My Dream [NYTimes]

[Image via Mopic/Shutterstock]

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