Achilles Healing Hypnotherapy

Hypnotherapy in Glasgow

Dream Psychotherapies: Symbolic Dream Hypnosis, Dream Therapy and Dream Analysis

Hypnos was the Greek god of sleep and, whilst hypnosis is not the same as sleeping, dreams and hypnosis have had a relationship spanning 4000 years.  This friendship goes right back to the Sleep or Dream Temple Therapy once used by the ancient Egyptians.  Subjects were put into a hypnotic state, and their dreams interpreted by the priests and priestesses.  In Greece, these sleep temples were places of healing.  As described by Pausanius, it was believed that the healing god Aesclepius visited the supplicants of these temples or shrines in their dreams.  Interpretation of dreams helped to determine the possible cause and treatment of ailments.

Dream Psychotherapy, which I use here as an umbrella term for any psychological therapy which works with dream content and analysis, encompasses Symbolic Dream Hypnosis (or Hypnotic Dreaming), Dream Therapy and Dream Analysis.  The term Symbolic Dream Hypnosis is the term I arrived at, after a discussion on the topic of Past Life Regression (PLR).  Many hypnotherapists continue to use PLR, but it is unclear what the beneficial purpose of doing so might be and, after all, it is our job as therapists to provide therapy, rather than entertain.  My reason for developing and using Symbolic Dream Hypnosis is to show that, by creating the same conditions for PLR, the subjects are able to uncover areas of current trauma that are negatively affecting their lives.  By dissociating themselves from their current problem, they may be able to address it symbolically.

Hypnotic dreaming has long been used as a method in psychotherapy.  It resembles a relaxed waking state or fantasy, in which the subject can step into another world and explore their mind and personal situation.  Barrett (1979) published research stating that hypnotic dreaming and nocturnal dreaming shared similarities, depending on the depth of hypnosis.  She concluded that, in a medium trance, hypnotic dreaming showed a tendency towards expression of emotional themes, particularly anger, fear and sadness.  Day dreaming, on the other hand, evoked happier emotions.  Barrett’s study implies that medium trances can be induced in order to introduce hypnotic dreams for therapeutic purposes.   This is important research.  However, there is a fundamental problem.  It is currently impossible to measure hypnotic depth, and the term ‘trance’ is problematic to cognitive-behavioural hypnotherapy in particular.  Nevertheless, this somewhat out-dated research does show that the advantage to using hypnotic dreaming is the ability to express emotions, direct the topic of the dream and also the recall of the subject.  Many nocturnal dreams are long forgotten, only moments after waking.

My suspicion is that some people prefer not to discuss their current life, as they may have many negative traumas that are extremely difficult for them to talk about.  Also, many people do not like the thought that they need help.  Unfortunately, there is still stigma and shame attached to mental health problems.  However, things are made much easier with a little help from dissociation.  In other words, for a short time they are able to emotionally detach themselves from the issue in order to be able to talk about it; and, ultimately, move into a frame of mind where they can resolve it.

Another helpful Dream Psychotherapy is Dream Therapy.  Imaginal Exposure and Rehearsal has been used in Dream Therapy for nightmares following trauma, whereby the subject thinks of a pleasant image.  They then think of their nightmare and imagine a different, more pleasant, ending.  This form of therapy, studied by Dr Barry Brakow et al (2001) at the Sleep and Human Health Institute in Albuquerque, had positive results on some of the women involved in the study.  These women were initially suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) following rape or abuse.  After Dream Therapy, they reported a reduction in their symptoms.

Finally, Dream Analysis can still be used to uncover problems affecting people.  It possibly doesn’t get as much attention as it once did by psychotherapists, but dreams have always fascinated and inspired.  Dreams can be symbolic and much easier to decipher than you might think.  N.B.  Dream Analysis is not the same as New Age-type fortune telling.  For many years I have studied symbolism in film and literature.  As a writer, I have used it myself to give deeper meaning to my work.  Symbolism is present throughout existence.  It appears everywhere: in art, dance, literature, religion; and it appears in dreams.  Sometimes we already have this knowledge, or an idea of what it might mean.  Sometimes, it’s quite explicit.  At other times, baffling.  People may be amused, terrified and disturbed by their dreams.  They may experience vivid dreams and hallucinations for which they have no explanation.  However, when analysed with the help of a psychotherapist, it often becomes much clearer why a dream has been experienced.

When looking at dream symbolism, we should acknowledge the work of Carl Gustav Jung.  Jung developed a way to understand ancient images, which he called archetypes.  These, he believed, resided in the collective unconscious. His primordial images, which he said underlay all human experience and behaviour, were “dominants” of the collective unconscious.  His book “Man and His Symbols” reveals that Jung came to the conclusion that the language of the unconscious was the symbols which were revealed in dreams.  He remained agnostic, though hinted that there was a possibility the archetypal images revealed in dreams may be a link to divinity or the collective mind, but it was obviously impossible to prove such a notion.  There are many concepts human beings cannot fully understand.  According to Jung, this is the reason why we use symbolic terms and imagery in e.g. religion.  Unconsciously and spontaneously, we produce these symbols in dreams.

The interpretation of a dream (as Jung pointed out) is entirely personal to the individual but, with the help of an experienced psychotherapist, deciphering its deeper message and meaning is entirely possible.  In doing so, the client is helped in their desires towards achieving the best possible outcome in all situations.

For more information on Dream Psychotherapies:

References and Suggested Reading

Barrett, D (1979) The Hypnotic Dream: Its Relation to Nocturnal Dreams and Waking Fantasies Journal of Abnormal Psychology, Vol 88, No.584-591

Hewitt, W (2003) Hypnosis for Beginners Llewellyn Publications: USA   ISBN 1-56718-359-X

Pausanias, Description of Greece 2. 10. 2 (trans. Jones) (Greek travelogue C2nd A.D.)

Jung, Carl Gustav (1964) Man and His Symbols. Dell Publishing ISBN 0-440-35183-9

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s



Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 22 other subscribers
%d bloggers like this: