Dreams Part 2: Persecution, Lucidity and Conceptual Dreaming


Robleh Wais 9/14/09

Unlike the last section where we looked at a dream that I believe all of us have from time to time, we now turn to an unusual dream I had a few months ago.  It may appear to be a morality play initially but it's not.

In this dream I am at a religious center for the poor and displaced, helping out with various charitable tasks.    Suddenly, I am called out to the street where a fat cop is standing.  He leans over, looks at me, and says:

Are you gonna tell me what happened to those bricks?

I instantly remember that I walked passed a column of bricks going home one day.  Though, I didn't steal them, a group kids did steal them.  They filled several bags with them and I had seen this, but thought nothing of it at the time. I never reported this occurrence to anyone.  What is strange about the memory is that the experience never happened during my dream state, I just had a memory of it.  Thus, the dream created an imagined memory for me.  The cop's asking the question triggered the memory, I could see it all happening again.  I still felt there was no reason I should cooperate with him and was afraid if I did, I might go to jail for now divulging what previously I had not.  I balked and told him I didn't know what he was talking about.  He then indicates that I might be suspected of committing this theft and would be under surveillance at the center. I return to the center, shaken and scared.  Hours seem to pass and each time I look at the front window in a large room where people are being fed, and bathed, I see cars (though not marked as police vehicles) parked with drivers staring at the building. I am sure they're cops waiting for me to emerge on my way home.

Unable to come to terms with myself on what I should do, I finally confide in the director of the center, whom is dressed like priest, but it is not clear he is one.

I know they're after me, I gotta tell you this.  I didn't take those bricks but I did see some kids take them, and I didn't tell anybody about it. You don't think they can arrest me for not snitching right?

The director agrees waving both of his hands before him. He tells me of course I could not be.  Seeking to comfort myself further I make an analogy, which after it's made, I feel increased guilt.

I mean lets say, uh lets say uhI saw somebody murdered and didn't say anything; they couldn't accuse ME of the murder right?

It instantly dawns on me that if I had such vital knowledge and didn't divulge it, this action would increase suspicion that I was somehow involved in the crime's commission. My guilt and fear begins to mount. I tell the Director I must get out of the center fast.  As I run toward the door onto the street, I can see cops exiting vehicles across the street heading for me and I wake up.

It would appear this dream is about my having moral qualms for withholding information on the wrongdoings of others.  This dream is really about my feelings of being oppressed and wrong done to me rather than my wrongdoing.  It is not about guilt for withholding information, but fear of persecution itself.  In this sense, it expresses a fear I carry in my real world conscious experiences of being maligned, ill-treated or even physically injured.  Most dreams of persecution have these elements in common.  Thus they are expressions in nocturnal state of what we harbor in our conscious awake experiences.  It should be noted that a dream state is not an unconscious state. We are conscious in the dream state.There are people that have a disorder involving their medulla oblongata, which normally shuts down any neuro-muscular activity while asleep. For these individuals the shut down process of the brain doesn't work, so they physically act out their dreams, i.e. they sleepwalk. We know that an unconscious person doesn't walk. Have you ever seen a knocked-out boxer get up an take a stroll?  You are just as conscious in a dream as you are while awake.

This persecution dream is not unusual, many of us have them at points in our lives when we feel personally threatened.  If we're facing job loss, or eviction from our abodes, or worst of all, if we face a terminal illness, we might have a persecution dream.   There is another class of dreams that are truly unlike the most common dreams human beings experience.  They are actually two classes of dreams: lucid dreams and conceptual dreams.  The first class has been studied and classified by psychologists in the past, and the second I suspect occurs.  I've never had a conceptual dream, but would like to have one.

A lucid dream is when the dreamer is aware of being in the dream state.  The lucid dreamer gains power over his state of being. He can change a dream to suit his desires.  He can create whatever he chooses and direct the outcome of all his encounters in the state.  About a year ago, I dreamt of my brother.  I haven't seen him in 16 years, yet I often dream of him, as I do of most of my family members that have been lost to me, by death or long separation.  We are discussing going to Queens, NY to meet up with our cousins and spend the day at the beach, when suddenly I realize I am dreaming.  The realization was much like a dim recognition coming to sharp focus.  It was like the dimension change we go through when a plane descends to the ground.  First, the land is dotted with small toy like objects and in seconds, as the plane descends from a great height everything blows up to normal size.  Something like that abrupt change experience happened as I was talking to my brother.  I realized how odd it was to be talking to Chickie and that event could not be happening.  I hadn't seen him in 16 years and my cousins for even longer, so it seemed absurd. I said to myself: This is a dream.  As I uttered those words my brother's face went blank. Now knowing it was a dream, I told myself to wake up.  But, it was hard to come out of the dream.  I struggled between a state of slumber as he began to recede, disappearing as I slowly forced myself to wake up, and eventually did.  While I could have used this self-awareness to enjoy the dream, I didn't.  I simply wanted OUT of that dream. Perhaps it was the oddity of recognizing it was dream that made me want to awaken. Or it could have been the fear of meeting my brother in dream, signifying a portent of his real world death. It isn't clear to me. 

Now, we come to the final departure from typical dreaming.  This class of dream is a subset of lucid dreaming.  We are more than conscious of being in a dream, we create, orchestrate and design the dream.  Not having studied this area of human psychology so I am not sure if it's been encountered and researched in the field.  I have read Sigmund Freud's short essay entitled On Dreams, written in 1952. Great little book too!  Within this work he doesn't describe the kind of dream I will depict.  A dream I would most definitely like to have is what I will call a conceptual dream.  I mean by this phrase, a dream I plan during my conscious state and then proceed to encounter in my dream state.  One thing is for sure, this type of dreaming has been proposed in fictional literature.  People in western cultures have a common knowledge notion that dreams are by their very nature, chance and unpredictable night time experiences that occur without our conscious minds doing anything to bring them about.  This common knowledge idea is what conceptual dreaming directly contradicts.  It can be argued that we often dream of things we can't have.  In fact, wish-fulfillment dreams are a class dreams that Freud considers in the above work.  So, for instance a child that is put to bed early without dinner might dream of having a luscious meal.  In fact, I've dreamt of food when going to sleep hungry in my real life!  You might say, that is personal proof-positive of a wish-fulfillment dreams.  If we bear this in mind, it is not a giant leap to see we could condition our minds to dream what we instruct it to during our conscious state of being. 

If such a dream state is achievable the psychological benefit of it is immense.  If we could design our dreams to experience whatever we desire most and then actually experience these desires, wouldn't that be incredible?  I won't even describe the variety of pleasures we could have with capabilities like that.  Or conversely I won't describe the pain we could give ourselves if we chose to design nightmares.

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