Questions will always be with us. Who am I? Where am I going? What does life mean? What are memory, thought, consciousness, free will, love, hope, fear? What are ethics, morals, justice, and responsibility? What constitutes virtue and vice? What are art, poetry, and beauty? What is logic? What are fallacy and folly, what are truth and deception? Do others exist or am I alone? Does God exist? What is life? What is death? Why do we fight wars?

Referring to a dream, people always ask, "What does it mean?" What I call Dream Vision is the enduring quest to answer perennial philosophical questions. Our nightly dreams ask all these questions. The dream allows you to plug into the planetary rituals of light and darkness. Thanks to Dream Vision, you may enter a hypertext labyrinth for how the mind organizes philosophy, art, literature, politics, religion, economics, science, civic rituals, environmental forces, consciousness, time, space, and people.

The interpretations below, are divided into categories to help achieve a unified Vision of the human condition and how we live on this planet we call earth and home.

ABC's of the Global Village Voice: A Cultural Literary Guide of Dream Vision

We collect dreams at the International Institute for Dream Research (IIDR) partly to provide the interdisciplinary basis for a peaceful understanding of national dreams (read article National Dreams). We delve into science, medicine, art, film, literature, poetry and theatre as they relate to dreams and dreaming. The dream reports we've received have come from many countries, and give us specific insights into the psychological landscapes of ethnicity, class, gender, culture, race, economics and politics of these places.

Dreams offer a psychodynamic conceptual lens though which to read and view the cultural organization of life in the Global Village (read article). The interpretation and understanding of dream texts then proceeds from this basic cultural research of collective memory, imagination, communication, and organization. E.D. Hirsch Jr. Cultural Literacy, provides a interdisciplinary perspective which is intended to promote literary understanding of one's own culture. Without understanding the psychodynamic background of how the cultural idiom shapes knowledge, and how this knowledge circulates in culture, it becomes near to impossible to accurately understand the meaning of dream texts.

The dream becomes a forum for cultural criticism (read IIDR article The Dream as a Forum for Cultural Criticism). Psychodynamic theory provides a vision and voice through which to critique the stories of Western society. A variety of forms of literary criticism exists, such as archetypal, rhetorical, feminist and so on. The IIDR uses the concepts of literary criticism and applies these tools to promote an understanding of dreams.

American Dreams, American Nightmares

In Dreamers of the American Dream Stuart H. Holbrook, tells us that since before the time of the American Revolution, dreamers were in search of the "birth certificate of democracy" and utopian reform. Holbrook believes; "The greatest American dream is outlined in the majestic periods of the Declaration of Independence and given substance by the Constitution."

The American stage imprints a distinct language and socialization pattern on its children. This socialization pattern is visible in the dreams of American's. The distinct historic communal frame-work of political, economic, religious, domestic and ethnic institutions and industries shapes the everyday drama of American life, social order and American Dream both in its poetic behavioural aspects of light and darkness.

Leslie Fiedler in Love and Death in the American Novel sees American literary history as driven by the paradigm of psychosexual (read erotic) development and conflict. Fiedler sees the American imagination dominated by the "obsession with violence and the embarrassment before love". Film Noir is the dark side of the communal dreamscreen, providing a perspective by which we can read the pathological aspects of popular culture. For Hollywood, it is the American Dream gone wrong. Many dreams received by the IIDR, flash across the communal silver screen where we can watch this noir side of the American and western cultural imagination (read article Film Noir: The Stuff American Dreams are Made Of).

Art of Loving: Varieties of Thought and Feeling in the Global Village

In The Art of Loving, Erich Fromm asks, "Is love an art?" He believes it is, an art whose theories and practices must be learned in order to attain mastery. Fromm finds that disintegration of love in modern society has a destructive effect on personalities, marriages, intimacy. From a popular culture perspective, the soap opera produces entertainment via the global media industry's kaleidescope of media soap opera images. The commercial media (read advertizing) creates and produces the projective screen, the characters and story-lines. Neil Postman Amusing Ourselves to Death has critiqued the effects of media on thought, feeling and behaviour, Postman calls for an ecology of media. Nowhere is the influence and effects of media more evident than in people's dreams. An endless generational soap opera, Is That all There Is?

Is it true to say, "Tis better to have loved and lost, than to have never loved at all?" Robert M. Polemus Erotic Faith; Being in Love from Jane Austin to D.H. Lawrence tells us; "Love takes shape out of the imagination, and the erotic imagination both creates and is created by art."

Dreams, like love poems, cannot be read reductively or literally; memory, sentimental feelings, and psychological needs are reshaped in the imagination. In the Theatre of Love (read IIDR article) the montage of stories unfold. This is one reason that sexuality in dreams is seldom witnessed as raw sex, but as an artistic kaleidoscope of dramatic images. The dramatic spectacle of love becomes the imaginations circuit-cycle of pursuit, triumph and defeat, love and hate, attraction and rejection, loneliness and ennui.

Yet not all love is erotic love, we can love our children, we can love our parents, we can love our friends, we can love our country, we can love nature. While loving others is important, the outward road to loving others leads from the inward ability to love one's self. In this sense, we need to find a way to love ourselves. The dream of love in all its vicissitudes invites both contemplation and participation.

Children's and Adolescent's Dreams, Children's and Adolescent's Nightmares

I have devoted this section entirely to children's and adolescent's dreams and nightmares, because children are the future. The psychohistory of children's dreams have always shaped the future of generational dreaming. Their dreams and their nightmares will define the planet and world that they will create or destroy. As Patricia Garfield Your Child's Dreams has poetically stated; "In guiding our children to become active in their dreams, and to farm the fertile lands of their imagination for rich harvest, we also learn from them. We discover the singular struggles of a person-in-progress; we share a rare intimacy; and we help shape a nobler future for all."

For Edith Cobb The Ecology of the Imagination in Childhood, sees the innate sense of wonder providing the child with the foundation of knowledge. Much as Peter Pan or Alice in Wonderland the Dream Visions of children unfold. The ecology of the child's imagination is shaped by the 'theatre of perception', in which the child's self is "producer, dramatist and star". The dream can be viewed as an auto-psychodrama, in which the child explores and experiments with the possibilities of dreaming and existence. Applied to children's dreams, we can observe the child's archetypal imagination take on dramatic role playing parts, that can be acted out on the child's inner silver screen, thereby allowing dramatic self-performative learning to take flight. The child's ecological developmental course of its' Dream Vision and life stories are shaped by the dramatic cosmopoetic journey found in their dreams. Unfortunately we can also see the generational dark side of many children's dreams turned nightmare.

Crime and Punishment

Dream research indicates that the media has an enormous influence on dreams and dreaming, especially in its depiction of crimes. It has been argued that Dostoevsky's Crime and Punishment is the greatest of crime fictions. In the dark city (read article on film noir) of the imagination, crime unfolds.

Society for its' own security is vitally concerned with curbing crime, which is institutionally entrusted to the police and judicial system. Institutions act, to maintain social order in the face of anarchy, when they fail social disorganization and civil disorder is often the result.

Traditional models of justice are based on the separation of moral good and evil. Most of us are good, by and large; only a few are truly evil. Criminals can be identified, isolated and punished into submission, leaving the good free to pursue life unhindered.  Yet crime persists. "Why won't they learn?" good people constantly ask. The film Sudden Impact furnishes a catchphrase in the words of a detective, Dirty Harry Callahan. Harry has gone for a cup of coffee, when a hold-up ensues; a criminal holds a waitress hostage. Pointing his .44 magnum at the criminal's head, Callahan says "Go ahead, make my day." (see video clip)

Dreaming the Future

The science fiction (SF)  genre has fascinated for centuries. John Dunne Experiments in Time (published 1927) believed that "dreaming the future" was not an occult experience, but instead a scientific curiosity that one day would be explained by physicists. President Abraham Lincoln reportedly had a precognitive dream shortly before his assassination. In his dream Lincoln found a corpse in the East Room of the White House which was wrapped in funeral vestments. Lincoln asked one of the soldiers stationed there; "Who is dead?", "The President", was the soldiers answer, "he was killed by an assassin."

Other precognitive dreams reported to the IIDR appear to have predicted 9/11 and the 2003 Shuttle disaster. This dream interpretation section is devoted to SF as it relates to dreams about the future. The IIDR articles Does God Play Dice as well as Tales of the Paranormal try to frame, describe and explain these beliefs and experiences.

Grand Unified Theory: A Behavioural Economic Model of Dreaming

In the early 1930's the physicist Wolfgang Pauli and the psychiatrist Carl Gustav Jung set out to develop a grand unified theory of everything based on the psychological, biological and physical foundation of dreams and dreaming. Their work to create a scientific paradigm shift of a unified theory of nature, mind (psyche) and body (physis) remains unrealized. In this section, I will proceed to illustrate the scientific paradigm shift Pauli, Jung and others have envisioned. Beginning with Socrates "philosophical dream of reason", a theory of rational mysticism (aka quantum mysticism) will be explored and a quantum model of mind/computing re-created. In conjunction an evolutionary game theoretical and behavioural economic model of dreaming will be developed. This evolutionary equilibrium model will paradigmatically focus on the "Business of Restoring the Dream."

Media Effects: Art, Music, Literature, Film and Dreams

There is a growing global movement to make the streets, television, music and the public imagination safer places to live and grow up. Media effects are evident in such news stories that witness ritualistic outpourings of grief following tragedies such as mass murders or the deaths of societal icons. Rituals that were once played out in the relatively small theatres of church and family are now often large-scale media events. Have we then created news stories that require tragedy to provide a dramatic media tension that will fulfill the need for ritual?

Nowhere are the effects of media more evidenced than in our dreams. The purpose of this section is to make the effects of media on dreams and dreaming visible. Many leading authorities have pointed out and called for the need of a media ecology. In a similar vein, I call for the 'ecology of dreams'.

Medical Humanities and Therapeutic Metaphor

Dreams provide insight into how we live and "The Human Condition". Dreams provide a medical foundation for clinical diagnosis and treatment (read article Clinical Use of Dreams). The editor Joseph Natterson The Dream in Clinical Practice provides an anthology of articles related to the clinical use of dreams. If the medical humanities would re-institutionalize the dream as an important source of psychotherapeutic information concerning the individual and the community's well-being, a great deal of needless pain and suffering could be avoided.

Do national health institutions such as the Center for Disease Control and Prevention in the United States or Health Canada pay attention to the healthy or unhealthy dreams of their citizens? The political rhetoric that they promote health and safety is superficial as long as the dimension of dreams is not covered. Health is a psychosomatic whole in which dreams and dreaming play a vital role. Nowhere do I see the vital statistics of the dreams of the poor, of native peoples, of the elderly, of the sick and dying. When we have an accurate sample of everyone's dreams we will be able to discern the true nature of everyone's health concerns. Much as Gregory Bateson called for the ecology of the mind, I call for an ecology of the dream.

Nietzsche had already asked; "What is truth? a mobile army of metaphors, metonyms, anthropomorphisms, in short, a sum of human relations which poetically and rhetorically heightened, transferred and adorned, and after long use seemed solid, canonical, and binding a nation." The truth is, that many social problems are censored, repressed, silenced and made invisible. The truth survives in our dreams. Making the truth of these "private troubles" visible, that are in fact public social issues, is imperative if we want to restore the dream and everyday dream work. Working in the Global Village, the medical humanities need to create a mobile army of therapeutic metaphor (read IIDR article Medical Humanities and the Clinical Use of Dreams) to restore the dream, the human condition and our social order.

Misanthropic Dreams: Anatomy of Hate and Destructiveness

Dreams received at the IIDR often speak of militarism, racism, sexism, and classism (read IIDR article Anatomy of Hate Literature). The dream measures the dynamics of discrimination and prejudice as it begins to grow in children. I have been able to observe the process in therapy, in everyday life, and in children's circle of friends and peers.

Gordon Allport On the Nature of Prejudice has provided a scale for measuring and reading hate and prejudice within a society. It is possible to adapt the scale such as Allport's to measure hate, prejudice, violence and harm in all its' vicissitudes in individual and the communal (i.e. nations) Dream Vision patterns.

The mind can take one of two personified positions of the imagination: philanthropy, a creative force, and misanthropy, a destructive force. In everyday life, the psychodynamics of love and hate become anthropomorphized, revealing the forces of eros and thanatos, life and death motivations.


Natterson's The Dream in Clinical Practice provides an anthology of articles related to the clinical use of dreams as they relate to psychopathology. Dreams provide a medical foundation for diagnosis and treatment. The Holy Writ of psychiatry the DSM IV (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) provides a literary plotting and scripting device for psychiatrists and medical professionals.

W.I. Thomas On Social Organization and Social Personality tells his reading audience that; "The difference between the schizophrene or the day-dreamer and the artist is that the artist selects his material and elaborates then with regard to social patterns and social values." 

If we collect the dream texts of individuals from around the planet, what we will find are the psychodynamic roots of the psychopathological imagination and consciousness caused by failed dream work washing over the planet as we speak. A vicious psychopathological generational cycle and literary pattern of plotting, speaking, writing and reading about social  problems exists.

Social Problems

We can easily understand that social problems have always been with us. The Social problem novel and the problem novel of youth are modern types of drama. The social problem novel was popularized by the likes of Tolstoy in his War and Peace, the dream thematic of war and peace still echos in our collective unconscious. Henrick Ibsen's play A Doll's House is a thematic that still appears in women's dreams (read IIDR interpretation Doll's House).

George Bernard Shaw Widowers' Houses which was Shaw's first play, addressed and criticized the social problems of capitalist behaviour. In problem novels the hero or protagonist is faced with the imaginary yet real canvas of broad contemporary social and political issues and problems such as the militarism, class system, racism, sexism, homophobia, prostitution, abuse, chauvinism, crime, violence, poverty, political corruption and moral values clarification. Applying the sociological imagination to dreams, we can enter these nightmares, with the aim of understanding these problems. Then, we can begin to imagine solutions.

Spiritual Dreams and Dreaming

The evolution of the oral tradition into writing produced the sacred texts of Judaism (Torah), Christianity (New Testament), Islam (Koran), and Hinduism (Vedas), making these texts accessible to the introspective imagination (read article Allegories of Monotheism). The temple, the synagogue, the church, the mosque, the ashram are all places of worship and prayer. "To be a Christian without prayer is no more possible than to be alive without breathing", Martin Luther King Jr. said.

Some religions profess belief in life before birth; others believe in reincarnation or in life after death. The question of whether an afterlife exists is impossible to answer, I think. Instead I ask, "Is there quality of life after birth, and before death?" Philosophy of religion is devoted to this question and the search for its answers. What is the meaning of life and death? What many seem to desire is a "mystical" experience that affirms the presence of God or a higher force, yet they feel nothing, philosophical "nihilism." Nihilistic feelings could represent a spiritual crisis.

Stress and Dreaming

Louis Breger The Effect of Stress on Dreams shows that stress influences the content of dreams providing further support to the pioneer of stress research Hans Selye The Stress of Life discovery of the medical basis of the wear and tear on the mind and body. We have come to learn that war, rape, child abuse, armed robbery, or auto and industrial accidents can result in post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The nightmares that relive traumas are invariably part of the clinical picture. They represent the polyphonic voices of the walking wounded. Reading symptoms in dreams provides a way out of social psychopathology.

The Canadian Dream -or- Dream Vision, Made in Canada

The Canadian Dream (read article) provides a distinct national vision, as it relates to all the other nations in the Global Village. Northrop Frye, in The Bush Garden: Essays on the Canadian Imagination, writes "it is simpler to notice the alternating current in the Canadian mind, as reflected in its writing, between two moods, one romantic, traditional and idealistic, the other shrewd, observant and humorous (see CBC TV clip)." Frye in The Educated Imagination believes that "The constructs of the imagination tell us things about human life that we don't get in any other way. That's why it's important for Canadians to pay particular attention to Canadian literature, even when the imported brands are better seasoned."

The Dream of Masculinity

The IIDR has attempted to give Men's Dreams a voice (read IIDR article). In ancient Greek society the myths of creation depict the powerful forces of order battling the primordial forces of chaos.This war of the gods establishes a sacred ritual social order of a male creation mythology which lives on in men's dreams and fantasies. We find these masculine fantasies in literature, films, advertisements and dreams: heroic, self-sacrificing warriors battle against evil adversaries to make the world just and secure again. In the Iliad, the shield of Achilles is as an artifact of the Trojan War that symbolizes Athenian honor and its code. 

Leo Braudy in From Chivalry to Terrorism: War and the Changing Nature of Chivalry finds that male honor involves the policing of boundaries of families, tribes, and nations.  Film westerns like High Noon confirm this idea, as does the noir film The Maltese Falcon, the historical romance novel and film Gone with the Wind, the Cold War film Top Gun, and Japanese samurai film Seven Samurai. Braudy tell us that from the time of the Ancient Greek theatre, masculinity has always been in search of an audience, to witness its virility.

The Tropics of History -or- Who Will Write the History of Dreams?

The dream gives insight into what Hayden White in Metahistory  calls the "tropics of history." The IIDR gives a voice and a Vision to the history of dreams and dreaming by revealing the deep psychodynamic structures by which a community operates. Dreams permit an understanding of the motifs that communities are built upon and collectively memorialize, and the spectacles it mounts through ceremonies, rituals, myths, folklore and dreams.

Marshall McLuhan War and Peace in the Global Village used James Joyce Finnigans Wake as an archetypal blueprint to understand the history of war. In Finnegans Wake, we find a Tower of Babel of mother tongues, cultures, mythologies, and words that meet, collide, and merge into one river, one ocean, one cosmic dream. So it is with Dream Vision, which looks, sounds, and feels like someone privy to the nightly mentations on the planet. Finnigans Wake is the comic side of the ritual celebration of the whole of history as a dream in search of redemption. Wake provides an endless historical cycle of speaking, reading, writing and dreaming, it is the stuff everyday Dream Vision is made of.

Dream Vision is an ongoing epic like that of The Book of One Thousand and One Nights, endless tales told every night, including love stories, tragedies, and comedies. The IIDR article Dreaming in the 21st Century explores the need for a "revolution in dreaming".

The United Nations: Cultural Communication in the Global Village

As Michael J. Arlen comments in Life and Death in the Global Village, the TV set is a global icon that has the power to be an "exorcisor of grief." On the noir day in November 1963 when John F. Kennedy was shot in Dallas, the TV set to which nearly everyone (especially in North America, myself included) was glued to, was a watershed event for the Global Village.

Today, global positioning systems have mapped the planet and put it under surveillance for military and commercial purposes. With the advent of the commercial Internet in the 1990s, the world started to shrink further and the pace of interaction and communication became faster, allowing story cycles to be shown instantaneously, such as through eyewitnesses embedded with troops in a combat zone. Dreams act as a news media channel that screens documentaries about life on the planet (read IIDR article Get Connected:Dreams and Dreaming in the Global Village).

As an international political platform for dialogue, the United Nations, is an institutional body, whose mission is to "maintain international peace and security...develop friendly relations...achieve international a centre for harmonizing the actions of nations." Until all nations and all individuals on the planet understand that the real communication platform that connects us all is the dream, the human condition will remain geopolitically fractured, leaving only a divided planet.

Varieties of Sleep and Dreaming

Science has been unable as yet to determine the function of sleep, however progress was made when William Dement and Nathaniel Kleitman discovered the four phases of REM and Non-REM sleep. The varieties of sleep and dreaming phenomena such as sleep paralysis, sleep learning, sleep apnea, lucid dreaming, out of body experiences and so on, will continue to generate interest in the experience we call sleep and dreaming.

Of greater concern is the politization of our dreamscape by the American and Russian militaries (read article Tales of the Parapsychological) during the Cold War, in such psychic programs as the Stargate such phenomena as remote viewing were explored for military purposes. Like out of a Hollywood script, Dale Graf River Dreams: The Case of the Missing General and Other Adventures of Psychic Research tells us the story of the US Department of Defence research program into parapsychological phenomena known as "psi". The remote viewing program code named "Stargate Project" (read interpretation). "Stargate" was the pragmatic attempt to implement psi phenomena. As far as we know these programs are still going on as we speak? The films Matrix and Inception speaks to how thoughts and dreams can be manipulated, a fact that Charlotte Beradt had already shown in her book The Third Reich of Dreams (read interpretation Third Reich of Dreams).

The research of the IIDR shows that mind control (read IIDR interpretation Mind Control) is far from being science fiction, it is more like science fact. President Eisenhauer had already warned Americans of the reach of the American military-industrial complex (read interpretation Apocalypse). From a popular film culture perspective, the latest edition of the Manchurian Candidate (see film trailer) stars Denzel Washington as Major Bennett Marco who has been brainwashed to further the interests of a global mega-corporation, the only clue is a recurring dream that haunts Bennett. 

Welcome to My Nightmare -or- The Sum of All Fears

From a historical perspective countless nights of sleep have been disrupted or lost because of nightmares. The dream and the nightmare have been a durable staple of human history. Throughout history we find references of them. Milton Paradice Lost and Shakespeare Hamlet used the nightmare as a literary device for their protagonist's (and their audience) to experience. From a popular music perspective Alice Cooper Welcome to My Nightmare (see music video) tells us a story about a journey through the nightmares of a child. Dreams and nightmares can be seen as the motor driving personal and collective history, propelling individuals, families, communities, nations and the Earth each day into an unknown and ofttime foreboding future.

The International Institute for Dream Research (IIDR) has received many nightmares from children, adolescents and adults. Nightmares cast an archetypal shadow over humanity every day, working through this shadow is imperative for our individual and collective survival. The IIDR has attempted to make this shadow of the nightmare visible for those living on The Boulevard of Broken Dreams (read article). Victims of war, genocide, crime, violence, prejudice, hate, rape, abuse, post-traumatic nightmares testify to the walking wounded who experience reality via horrible thoughts and feelings which are infused in their nightmares. Nightmares are not always negative experiences, the literary nightmares Charles Dicken's A Christmas Carol created for his character Ebenezer Scrooge became a catalyst for positive life changes. This section is devoted to better understanding the meaning of nightmares.

Women's Dreams -or- A Room of One's Own

The IIDR has attempted to give Women's Dreams (read article) a voice. Patricia Garfield Women's Bodies, Women's Dreams tells us "Women's dreams are special: their dreams change as their bodies." The book is intended as a dream guide through each phase of a women's life journey, to help "suggest that positive growth is going on and when emotional trouble is brewing." Garfield's advice, "Value every dream, distressing or uplifting, as a night letter from the inner self that can help guide your days."

Virginia Woolf in A Room of One's Own expressed the view that women's voices had been silenced or, at best, marginalized. Margaret J. M. Ezell in Writing Women's Literary History believes that by memorializing the works of women a feminine canon can provide a gynocentric voice to female experience. In search of a feminist poetic Sandra M. Gilbert and Susan Gubar The Madwoman in the Attic use a variety of metaphors such as the battle of the sexes, the metaphor of literary paternity and the Freudian parables of the Platonic cave. The cave as Freud pointed out is a womb shaped place, a sacred shrine, a secret house of the earth. Gilbert and Gubar attempt to understand and describe "both the experience that generates metaphor and the metaphor that creates experience". Western literature and therefore the "family romance" are viewed as being based on a patriarchal poetic. They ask, "Where does such an implicitly or explicitly patriarchal theory of literature leave women?"

Works of Art and the Creativity of Dreaming

Many dreams received at the IIDR speak of the artist dreamer's desire for growth and development. For Freud, the dream was a plastic art form, where life and living were sublimated. The art history of Western civilization from the ancient Greeks to the present is a poetic odyssey and metamorphosis of Dream Vision, finding expression in the philosophy of mind and the philosophy of life and death. As a "Künstlerroman", the dream has always found durable employment in religion, philosophy, literature, poetry, the visual arts, music, science and medicine. The human cosmos has strived towards artistic sublimation and interpretive social order. With what Samuel Taylor Coleridge first called "suspension of disbelief," you may enter Dream Vision. Every night, the suspension of disbelief allows fiction to become reality. If life imitates art, then the dream work uses and orders words and the imagination by conceptually blending the artistic material, transforming the word and poetic image into a work of art.

If Georg Hegel in the 19th century predicted "the end of art", Walter Benjamin in "The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction" signaled the end of the "aura" in art, causing mass self-alienation. Marshall McLuhan caused an intellectual uproar, when he insisted that traditional elites in the electronic mass media age were no longer in control of the taste distinctions between high culture and low culture. McLuhan's diagnosis has proved correct, in that popular culture produced by the dream factory culture industry dominates our collective iconic dream world. Studying the aesthetic effects of popular culture on dreams, the IIDR is dedicated in providing a popular scientific and "fine art" explanation to its' audience.


All material Copyright 2006 International Institute for Dream Research. All rights reserved.