The Defiant Ones -or- The Prisoner's Dilemna

During one University psychology course on learning and behaviour, I remember one student was in a state of absolute disbelief about the professor's presentation of the idea that humans are largely conditioned much like Pavlov's dog. My fellow student's attitude was that humans were free to choose. Reading such books such as Aldous Huxley's Brave New World, I learned early on, that there is no escaping reality especially a dystopian one. Many people have tried, as evidenced in the dream below.  

Bobby, 24  

"I was in flight from somebody. I escaped and then ran and flew away from my captors. I came to a cave. It had a door on the entrance and the doorway was full of cobwebs. I brushed them aside and went inside. I looked down a stairway and it was dim, but I saw a figure of man. He was supposed to be a hermit or spook. He yelled up at me, "Now that you came in, you are not going to get out." I started to go out and all at once I was like in a shop and John (fellow worker) was trying to keep me from escaping. I pushed him and he fell down, but he held onto me. So I took one of his arms and hooked ist on one of the rotating turrets. He begged me to free him that he would help me to escape. So I freed his arm and he showed me the way to the escape door."

Mr Hagen's Reply; Reactance Theory -or- Learned Helplessness  

The philosophical problem of free will has been debated at many universities and in our nightly dreams (like the one above). One of the first theories I learned that provided one piece to solving the philosophical puzzle is known as reactance theory. Psychological reactance occurs when we perceive a threat to our freedom of thought and/or behaviour. Another important clue I learned were the experiments carried out by Martin Seligman who developed the learned helplessness model of depression. Essentially, we learn that there are situations we cannot escape, there is no way out. The inability to escape a harmful or traumatizing situation can lead to psychological and behavioural symptoms of helplessness and depression.   

In the dream above John tries to stop Bobby from escaping, then agrees to help Bobby to escape. From a game theoretical perspective, this problem is known as the "Prisoner's dilemna". Working together, they find the way to escape. Said another more idiomatic way, "you scratch my back, I'll scratch yours". I'll help you, if you help me, a good lesson to learn, if both parties can agree to help each other. Having said all that, we can return to the beginning of the dream where we find that Bobby "flew away" from his captors. This shows and tells us that this dream is most likely an "escapist" fantasy.  

From a popular culture perspective the film "The Defiant Ones" fits the sentiments of your dream.  

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