Victoria Quinton [V]: Would you say you have been interested in dreams most of
your life? Do you deal with children's dreams at all? I am keen on
creating a "dream friendly" environment for my daughter who is almost
2 1/2 now.
John Suler [JS]: I think that's a wonderful goal on your part. I hope you
succeed. Unfortunately, there will always be some people who are hostile towards
the whole concept of dream interpretation (probably people who are anxious about
their own intrapsychic life) - but we can still build a community with(out)
having to convince everyone.
[JS]: I don't work specifically with children's dreams. But my students do on
occasion tell me about their childhood dreams. From time to time, I also ask my
own children (Asia-9, Kira-5) about their dreams. Funny you should ask this
question, because just yesterday Kira had a dream about "Coonie" - her
beloved stuffed animal (a racoon) which has been with her since she was born.
Unfortunately, she lost him a few days ago in the Bahamas where we were taking
our family vacation. My wife and I made desperate attempts to find Coonie, but
to no avail. Of course, Kira was quite upset about this loss and went into a
grieving process. The dream, no doubt, was part of that mourning.
[JS]: She dreamt she was swimming in a pool with Coonie nearby, but then
realized that she was not swimming in water, but in a large pool filled with
[JS]: A very simple dream, but so poetic and beautiful, and packed with
meaning despite its simplicity. In psychoanalytic terms, Coonie is a
"transitional object" that sustains her sense of self, sooths her, and
helps move her along the developmental path. The dream clearly depicts this. She
is surrounded by Coonie, immersed in him, made buoyant by him. It just so
happens that on this Bahamas vacation she learned to swim, for the first time,
in the deep end of the pool. It was a major developmental accomplishment for
her. And she associates that with Coonie. There is also a very
spiritual/mystical aspect to the dream. Coonie (God?) is not a single entity,
but a all-surrounding presence. In the dream, she is immersed in the
"oceanic oneness" that many mystics associate with God.
[V]: Would you say that book learning or "experience" has had more
influence on the way you approach dreams?
[JS]: Like all things, people, including me, learn best when they combine
"book" (intellectual) learning with experiential learning. If you want
to improve your skills at dream work, read about it, work on your own dreams,
and talk to others about their dreams. If you do one or the other, you can walk
into a dead end. Books provide new ideas and perspectives you may not have
considered before, but if you don't apply those ideas and test them out "in
the field", those ideas become stale.
John Suler, Ph.D.
Professor of Psychology
Lawrenceville, NJ 08648
firstname.lastname@example.org / email@example.com / firstname.lastname@example.org
TEACHING CLINICAL PSYCHOLOGY:
THE PSYCHOLOGY OF CYBERSPACE:
Interview conducted by Victoria Quinton
[ now http://www.alphalink.com.au/~mermaid/