The Dream as a Problem Solving Tool -or- Fallacies of Love

Troubleshooting -or- Solution Focused Pedagogy 

Making errors is part of life, it is also a principle way we all learn. One of the most common ways of learning is called "trial and error" learning. To quote Alexander Pope; "to err is human; to forgive, divine." Dreams provide important problem solving tools and techniques, that can be employed in everyday life. Problem solving skills are also directly related our coping skill  abilities. In September (advance-polling) and October 2011, the Ontario general election was held in Ontario. I have worked elections on all three levels of government in a supervisory capacity over the last ten or so years. Two of the reasons, one I love democracy, two I love troubleshooting.

This past Provincial election cycle afforded me to employ my troubleshooting skills for 10 days, it was a blast. On the last day, one polling station of four women even gave me a heuristic, written on paper from the bathroom hand towel dispenser, that referenced a comment I had made a few days earlier. I had disclosed to them, that I had foreseen a problem (while in the shower) at another polling station I was going to be taking on. The possible problem that I had dreaded in my thoughts, in fact happened. The problem was dealt with. The hand written note I received, read; "Ten things not to think about in the shower". An allusion to David Letterman's "top ten list"? On my last run to the polling station before it's final closure, I returned the favor by bringing the four women, bathtub scrubing pads from the dollar store. The troubleshooting time brought much needed humor, at a moment when I needed it the most. Humor as the IIDR dream interpretation "Humor" points out is one of the best tools and weapons when coping with stress. The artistic list now "hangs" in my bathroom.

For me, I have learned that the dream is the most important problem solving channel, since there are so many fallacies and fallacious forms of thought. As a student Edward de Bono's concept of "lateral thinking" fascinated me. The ideas posted in "Avant-guard Studio" and "Dreams as thought experiments", give a voice and a ear to the creative aspects of dreamers and dreaming. As the saying goes "if you're not part of the solution, you're part of the problem". Problem solving oriented therapy is always close to me. Many years ago, I received a referral of one young student who was confused. During one of our last sessions, she conveyed a dream to me. The gist of the dreams message was, I was "Mr Fix It". Solution focused therapy, has always been my aim. The interpretation, "E-mails to a Young Dream Researcher", was written in the hope that the use of dreams can help all of us to find our poetic way.

Here then is the dream of a similar young girl, whose dream shows us the psychological dilemmas and fallacious thinking of many adolescents. For me, what it really shows and gives pedagogic voice to, is the poverty of our educational system, it is failing to give students the psychological learning, tools, techniques and skills that are needed in life.

Jessie, 19

I usually dream in black and white, and i was amazed to hear that most other people dream in color and that only a small percentage dream in black and white. This is why this particular dream is very interesting to me:

I am surrounded by a lot of people and i just got married. I am in a white dress. Then near me i see this guy; i do not see his face, only his body and i feel his presence near me. Then all of a sudden i get this overwhelming feeling that i made a mistake and that i shouldnt of gotten married and that im supposed to be with this guy. Then we start to walk through a field of tulips. The tulips are all a vivid red and orange color and there is a breeze and the entire time i just feel like crying. I feel like crying both because im happy to be with this unknown guy but im sad because i know i can never be with him from then on. Like i stated above i never dream in color and the fact that i could see the colors of the tulips is very weird.

Choosing Mr Right -or- Dreaming in Masochistic Black and White?

Getting married is one of the biggest decisions people make in their lives. Today many regret their decision and decide to get a divorce. As many dreams sent to the IIDR reveal, we live in a divorce culture, one that is marked by a cultural pattern that I call the "Ex-Files", of our dreams. The reason that your dream at first is in black and white, may be because your thinking is also structured that way. This form of thinking and perceiving the world is also known as false dilemma, a fallacious and erroneous way to make rational decisions. The fact that the world of your dreams colors up, may allude to the idea that your inner perceptual world is now based on yes-no, either-or, happy -or- sad, optimism -or- pessimism. Monochromatic (black and white) classification systems of social thought can only create an "illusion" about how the social world really operates. From a popular culture perspective, the song that best fits the mood of the dream is "Both Sides Now", by Joni Mitchell.

In the dream, you get this overwhelming feeling. This feeling grows into the colorful field you walk together in. Is there a better metaphor for the poetic Garden of Eden, where love and sexuality are still a unified concept? Color, being a conceptual metaphor of feelings can meld with our abstract thought process by playing out of decision making scenarios in dreams. Your dreams appears to be telling you, the way you will know to choose "Mr Right", is when all your thoughts and feelings are involved, black and white, no and yes, sad and happy, down and up, "for worse or for better". By saying, "I know I can never be with him"...what are you saying? Is your "theory" (the word means, to see) about yourself, one that paints a masochistic picture of you, as not good enough, or not deserving? Why you decide to deny yourself is unclear? 

Color Your World -or- Theories of Error, and Attacking Fallacies

There are numerous theories about rational errors of thinking. One was Freud's model of error, his theory is dominated by the idea that all error is "motivated". For Freud Psychopathology of Everyday Life even what seems to be gibberish can be found to have hidden meaning (at least when it relates especially to dreams). Another theory is Jean Piaget's theory, where error is primarily due to "not knowing". While there are other theories (including mathematical) about error, I basically subscribe to a combined and re-worked version of Freud and Piaget. As Charles Mackay made abundantly clear in his "Extraordinary Popular Delusions and Madness of Crowds" numerous fallacies circulate in the marketplace of thought. A book that tries to attack such fallacies head on is T. Edward Damer Attacking Faulty Reasoning.

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