Social Psychological Space -or- Follow the Yellow Brick Road

Social Psychological Field Theory -or- Hodological Force Field Analysis of Dreams

We all learn to orient and psychologically move within our environment. Not finding our way (path), or getting lost can be anxiety provoking, while getting into a traffic jam or a detour is usually frustrating. Today for the most part, GPS has solved and/or at least helped us with these hodological problems. In dreams, we can find the concept of a "course (or path)" and social "field" that can be viewed from numerous perspectives such as the social psychological, the physical and the mathematical. The concept of a path is simple and intuitive, Dorothy in the film "The Wizard of Oz" is told "follow the yellow brick road". From a popular music perspective the Beatles "The Long and Winding Road" (music video) and Tom Cochraine's "Life is a Highway" (music video) provide the idea of Doris Day's "Sentimental Journey" (music video) of life's twists and turns. 

We can find the concept of a field, in the playing field or the battle field. From the social psychological perspective Kurt Lewin popularized the concept of a psychological field. This psychological field is structured by the paths (or hodological space in Lewin's words) we learn to follow starting in childhood. These paths are subject and influenced by the social psychological forces we encounter. Lewin believed that it was possible to complete a "force field analysis" of social psychological situations. This "path" analysis can be applied to dreams.

Below are a number of dreams sent to the International Institute for Dream Research (IIDR) that make parts of this social psychological force field of the "Small World" of the "global village" visible. Making the whole field and pathways found in our dreams visible for all to see, is a primary aim of the IIDR. 

Joe, 23 

Walking down residential street, then path is blocked by giant shiny truck. Try to walk around but there is no room on either side. 

Mr Hagen's Reply: Hindering Forces -or- Finding No Room 

The dream has similarities to a dream that Otto von Bismarck had (read dream interpretation "The Culture Wars"). Joe's path is blocked, what the social psychological problem (hindering forces) is, and why and where he wants to go (personal goal?), is information most likely only known by him. 

Harry, 56 

I walked down a path that was grown up with high grass; there were fields with fences that hadn't been taken care of. I could tell it was a beautiful place at one time. And I woke up. 

Mr Hagen's Reply: Good Fences build Good Friendships 

The path most likely signifies a relationship, while fences are usually a sign for "boundaries". The boundaries that the dream is speaking about are likely personal boundaries and personal space. Ronald Laing considered the loss of personal boundaries a psychological sign of mental breakdown, perhaps psychosis. Many psychological theories, including Salvador Minuchin's "Families and Family Therapy" and Murray Bowen "Family Therapy in Clinical Practice" use the concept of family boundaries to explain social psychological conflict and family dysfunction

Larry, 32

In my dream, I know that I am a general/leader of a number of troops.  In my mind I know where my troops are positioned and I'm very pleased with the battle plan I have set up. I'm with my adjutant and we proceed down a path out of a wooded area into a clearing where I can see a few divisions of my troops lined up on the battlefield behind a slight hill. I don't recall specifically what kind of weapons they have, but they are armed.  I get the feeling that they have medieval weapons and their dress is definitely not modern, but the whole scene is reminiscent of a civil war battle.  

Mr Hagen's Reply: Social Psychology of the Civil War 

From a social psychological perspective modern war gaming, war and battle reenactments dates back before Otto von Bismarck. H.G. Wells "Little Wars" was a book that explained war gaming using toy soldiers and simple battle rules. PBS in the TV series "The Civil War" followed the psychological paths of the political players, the Generals, the armed forces and the battle fields, using narrative quotes from the historical figures. The impressive documentary uses period photographs, newspaper articles and paintings from the time of the American Civil War. General Robert E. Lee surrendered at Appomattox on April 9, 1865 effectively bringing the war to a close. President Lincoln we are told had a pre-cognitive dream of his impending death and the end of his road in life. Lincoln was assassinated on April 14, 1865.  


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