Down and Out in Detroit -or- Destitution in the Global Village

Poverty of the American Dream 

Poverty is a very real problem, not only in reality, but also in the types of dreams it can induce. According to reports nearly 1.3 billion people living on the planet, are living in "absolute poverty". Over 45% of those living in absolute abject poverty live in India and China. Poverty however is not restricted to these two countries alone, also in America poverty and/or the fear of it, can be found in American's dreams. Here is one such dream; 

Alma 35, African American 

I was recently fired from my job. I have been on a constant search for employment for the past two months. I have been very stressed out, I have 30 dollars to my name and rent is due next week. Last night I had the following dream:  I was on a date with this guy, that I have never seen before. Everything was going great and we were about to take it to the bedroom when all of a sudden a guy that I dated in the past shows up. I am laying in the bed when my ex-boyfriend walks in, whispers something in the new guys ear and they both give me this look. This shameful, awful look. I sit up and ask what is wrong. They both just shake their heads and walk out of the bedroom.  I awoke from this dream feeling like this had really happened to me. I know it was a dream because the guy that I was out with is not real (to me). I felt horrible after waking up, I cannot shake this feeling.  What did he whisper to him?  Why did this feel so real?  I just wonder is this the beginning of a nervous breakdown.

Mr Hagen's Reply: Very Stressed Out -or- Depersonalization and Derealization

Just as awe and awful can have totally different meanings, so to your dream is best described by recognizing the "awful", "horrible" and "shameful" emotions that you report that you feel in the dream. Right now you appear to be feeling very depressed, low and down on your luck. You evidently feel that your future prospects are bleak, will poverty, destitution and bill collector soon be knocking on your door. In your own words, you are feeling "very stressed out". You cannot even find refuge from your distress with a dream lover who might be able to give you momentary consolation, solace and stress relief. The harsh reality of your past comes back to haunt you in form of your cruel ex-boyfriend, who takes away any hope of happiness or satisfaction. You seem to be feeling you have no future. Your hopes and dreams have turned into an awful and horrible nightmare.

Shame is a feeling that is associated to a person's narcissism, specifically the "ego ideal". In this sense, instead of having positive feelings about yourself, you only find negative ones which devalue your self-worth as a person. Your story reminds me of George Orwell's memoir about poverty "Down and Out in Paris and London". Orwell felt destitution for a time. Some believe in terms of his writing, that the long term effect of the experience was a positive one. You ask, whether you are loosing your mind? As stated earlier, I think you are stressed out and experiencing some "derealization" and "depersonalization" feelings, that's why the dream seems so dramatically real to you. 

While finding the strength and courage in the face of great adversity is not always easy, I hope you can find it in your self. 

Further Reading: 

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