Dreams can provide insight into our deepest thoughts. Using dream interpretation to explore dream symbols and uncover a dream's meaning can lead to a better understanding of ourselves.
I am looking at a man's shirt; it is blue with a buttoned-down collar. I know intuitively that the shirt belongs to my friend craig. There is no objective evidence that the shirt belongs to Craig, however. I look at a tag affixed to the shirt that indicates its size. I see that the collar measures 15 1/2" and the sleeve measures 33", which is my shirt size. I feel a great deal of satisfaction to learn that Craig and I wear the same size shirt. I have an impulse to smell the shirt. At that moment I think: "Only a qu--r would smell another guy's shirt." I examine the collar of the shirt and notice that it is frayed in one location.
EVENTS OF THE PREVIOUS DAY, July 1, 1994: I watch the televised preliminary hearing in the O.J. Simpson murder case. On this day of the hearing the prosecution attempts to establish the approximate time of death of the victims, who were killed in a knife attack.
I receive a bill in the mail from the george washington University Medical Center for psychological testing that had been performed in May 1994. I am angered because I had been told at the time of the testing that I would not be charged because the testing was being performed for didactic purposes. In view of the fact that my psychiatrist at GW, Suzanne M. Pitts, M.D., had told me that she had not been apprised of the test results, the testing had absolutely no therapeutic value. I thought: "It's like billing a corpse for a didactic autopsy."
EVENTS OF JULY 1, 1976: My father dies one day after having undergone a coronary artery bypass, a surgical procedure. A brief time after my father's death, doctors approach my mother to obtain her permission to perform an autopsy. The doctors tell my mother: "We view an autopsy as a continuation of our medical care for your husband." My mother refuses to give her consent. On the evening of July 1, 1976 my mother gathers together a suit, necktie and shirt for my father's burial. She wants to bury him in a white shirt, but my father does not own a suitable white shirt. My mother asks me if I will give her a white shirt that I own, which I do. I had worn the shirt on only one previous occasion. Thus, my father was laid to rest attired in my white shirt.
The following is a partial transcript of the testimony of one of the witnesses called at the O.J. Simpson preliminary hearing on July 1, 1994. The witness is wearing a white suit, dark tie--and a blue shirt with a buttoned-down collar.
I interpolate various personal associations between the lines of the transcript.
[Clerk]: State and spell your name for the record.
[Witness]: My name is Steven Schwab. S-T-E-V-E-N S-C-H-W-A-B.
The name Schwab calls to mind an incident involving the composer Richard Wagner and one of his creditors, a woman named Schwabe. One of Wagner's biographer's describes the incident as follows: "Police officials entered Wagner's house with warrants to attach his furnishings for failure to settle the claims of Madame Schwabe, the English Jewess who had once generously lent him money in Paris. Despite his efforts to quash the idea that the King's coffers were at his disposal, old creditors, not fooled, were pressing their demands. Julie Schwabe quite justifiably expected to be repaid, and her attorney had given ample notice." Gutman, R.W. Richard Wagner: The Man, His Mind, and His Music at 275 (New York: Time Inc., 1972).
I discuss Wagner's relations with his creditors in a letter to Dr. Pitts, dated November 27, 1992 (page 2, 2). Perhaps significantly, the letter dated November 27, 1992 was written days after the "Dream about Greensboro" of November 25, 1992, the latent content of which deals with my father's death. See letters to Dr. Pitts dated December 3, 1992 and December 9, 1992, which letters analyze the "Dream about Greensboro."
Though he lived the life of a sybarite, Wagner's pleasures came at a cost. His luxuries were more often than not paid for with borrowed money. For many years of his adult life, Wagner was pursued throughout Europe by creditors seeking repayment for their loans. Wagner's chronic indebtedness--a central feature of his life--was a kind of guilt by alternate means. It was as if Wagner could not enjoy a luxury unless that enjoyment carried a penalty. One might say that Wagner had established an extrinsic superego: the anxiety associated with being doggedly pursued by creditors being a symbolic, externally-rooted sense of guilt. Indeed, one wonders whether pleasure was Wagner's ultimate aim or whether, paradoxically, the ultimate, unconscious aim of his pleasure was the gratification of a masochistic need to remain debt-ridden. Not unlike those individuals oppressed by an unconscious sense of guilt, about whom Freud writes, who require an opposing force of equal strength to mitigate or expunge that guilt, Wagner sought out wealthy patrons who would redeem his debts and not seek repayment for themselves. (One might note that, as with Freud, the theme of the father is an important aspect of the verbal content of Wagner's creative output. Though the fathers of Wagner's dramatic heroes are almost always absent, their presence hovers over the action as a kind of Divine Absence, to use one of George Steiner's phrases.) Wagner's benefactor, King Ludwig II of Bavaria, who finally rescued the composer financially, extinguished Wagner's debt (Wagner's symbolic sense of guilt), serving as an "opposing force" to Wagner's creditors--literally acting as Wagner's "protector, savior, and redeemer." Excerpt from Letter to Dr. Pitts, dated November 27, 1992.
Note the symmetry of the following issues pertinent to the present dream:
1. The inventory of Wagner's possessions by his creditor pursuant to a warrant. (Dreamer's association)
2. The search of the home of O.J. Simpson, the legality of which was at issue in the preliminary hearing. (Emotionally significant aspect of the previous day's experience)
3. The autopsy of my father's body pursuant to a consent sought from my mother; the didactic purpose of the procedure is deceitfully concealed. (Emotionally significant event from the Dreamer's past)
4. The inventory of my personality by means of psychological testing; again, whether the testing was primarily didactic or therapeutic is unclear. (Emotionally significant aspect of the previous day's experience)
See Palombo, S.R. Dreaming and Memory at 219 (New York: Basic Books, 1978) ("the dream compares the representation of an emotionally significant event of the past with the representation of an emotionally significant aspect of the previous day's experience.") The highly emotionally-charged nature of item no. 4, above, is suggested by the fact that three months later, in October 1994, I wrote a letter of complaint to the Federal Bureau of Investigation that referred to inadequacies in the testing, which letter also referred to the President of the United States. The FBI forwarded my letter to the U.S. Secret Service for investigation. In December 1994 the U.S. Secret Service initiated an investigation into whether I posed a security risk to the President of the United States. The Secret Service called me in for questioning in mid-December 1994: an indirect result of my reaction to the psychological testing performed in May 1994 by the george washington university Medical Center.
[Court]: You may inquire.
[Prosecutor]: Thank you, your honor. Good morning, Mr. Schwab.
[Witness]: Good morning.
[Prosecutor]: Directing your attention, sir, to the date of June 12th, 1994, Sunday, as of that date, sir, can you tell us where you lived?
[Witness]: I live on Montana Avenue. Do I need to give the address?
[Prosecutor]: No, sir, you don't. Was that on Montana near to Bundy?
[Witness]: Yes. That's on Montana between Bundy and San Vicente.
[Prosecutor]: How far from the intersection of Bundy and San Vicente did you live at that date?
[Witness]: It's about half a block.
[Prosecutor]: Do you own any pets, sir?
[Witness]: Yes, I have two pets. I own a dog and a cat. 1/
[Prosecutor]: Do you ever walk the dog in that neighborhood?
[Witness]: Yes, I walk the dog in that neighborhood, in the morning and at night.
[Prosecutor]: With regard to at nights, is that a habit that you have, sir, of doing that every night?
[Witness]: Yes. I walk the dog every night after watching television.
[Prosecutor]: Is there a particular time that you always walk the dog at nights?
[Witness]: There . . . It varies from day to day, because of the different shows that are on, generally, during the week I walk at a different hour than on the weekends.
[Prosecutor]: During the week, what time do you usually walk the dog at night?
[Witness]: I usually leave the house at 11:30. That's during the week. I generally watch the **** Van Dyke Show, and then walk my dog, and that's during the week. That's on between 11:00 and 11:30.
[Prosecutor]: And on Sunday nights?
[Witness]: Well, the **** Van Dyke Show is also on, but it's on an hour earlier. So, I watch the **** Van Dyke Show on Sunday night--I watch it between 10:00 and 10:30. And then I go to walk my dog.
[Prosecutor]: Now, June the 12th was a Sunday, sir?
[Witness]: Yes, it was.
[Prosecutor]: Did you watch the **** Van Dyke Show that night?
[Witness]: Yes, I did.
[Prosecutor]: And that was at what time you watched that show?
[Witness]: I watch the show between 10:00 and 10:30.
[Prosecutor]: Did you watch the entire show, sir?
[Witness]: Yes, I did.
[Prosecutor]: And what time did that show end?
[Witness]: That ends just prior to 10:30.
[Prosecutor]: Did you walk your dog that night after you watched the show?
[Witness]: Yes, as soon as the show was over, I got my dog, put her leash on, and took her for a walk.
[Prosecutor]: So, on the night of June the 12th, that Sunday night, about what time did you leave your apartment to walk your dog?
[Witness]: Shortly after 10:30. Between 10:30 and 10:35. Much closer to 10:30, though.
The unvarying routine of the witness's conduct parallels the theme of periodicity that I discussed in the "Dream about Greensboro" (See letter to Dr. Pitts of December 9, 1992, page 6, 3): "Note the recurring theme of periodicity: the annual trips to Atlantic City in early July, the annual celebration of Thanksgiving, the annual celebration of Christmas at which time I would have played with my toy trains, the weekly visits to Dr. Pitts, the regular revolutions of the toy trains around the track--all possibly symbolizing that most fundamental and vital periodic event, the contractions of the heart."
[Prosecutor]: Can you tell us what route you took when you walked her?
[Witness]: Yes, I walked down Montana, and I continued along Montana, I crossed the street at the intersection of Montana and Bundy and continued along Montana until I got to a street called Gretna Green. At Gretna Green I made a left and walked up one block, made a right on a street called Gorham, I then walked down one block, made a left on Amherst, walked up one block to Amherst and Dorothy, made a left at Amherst and Dorothy, and continued along Dorothy until I came to Bundy.
[Prosecutor]: Now, if you can tell us. You walked along Montana past Bundy, and you went left on Gretna Green?
[Prosecutor]: How long did it take you to get to Gretna Green?
[Witness]: Well, I looked at my watch, when I turned to go down Gretna Green and that was 10:37. I remember that my dog had taken care of its business. I was deciding whether to return home or continue walking. And it was a nice night, so I decided to continue walking.
[Prosecutor]: Sir, what time was it about when you got to Gretna Green?
[Prosecutor]: 10:37 -- You know that exactly?
[Witness]: Well, between 10:35 and 10:40. Obviously, it's not exact because I don't have a digital watch. But it was between 10:35 and 10:40.
[Prosecutor]: Were you wearing a watch at all?
[Witness]: Yes, I was wearing a watch.
[Prosecutor]: A regular watch, not the digital kind?
[Witness]: Not the digital. In fact, I'm wearing it now. It's a regular watch.
[Prosecutor]: Can you tell us what kind of watch that is?
[Witness]: Sure. [Witness displays watch.] It's a regular watch. It doesn't have numbers on the face. It's not a digital watch.
[Prosecutor]: For the record, the witness is indicating a watch that has dots where the hours would
be . . .
[Court]: All right.
[Prosecutor]: An analog watch.
The witness's discussion of his watch parallels a portion of the "Dream of Greensboro" letter of December 9, 1992 (page 7, 6): "Wagner's last words, 'my watch,' are noteworthy. In light of certain observations by Erikson, the phrase, which symbolically expresses a concern regarding the passage of time carries certain existential implications (though certainly not intended by Wagner) that may have significance with regard to the interpretation of my dream. Erikson's comments may shed light on the theme of the train station in my dream and its underlying relation to my father's death from heart disease. Erikson writes, 'During these years [the 1890's] Freud at times expressed some despair and confessed to some neurotic symptoms which reveal phenomological aspects of a creative crisis. He suffered from symptoms of an over-concern with the all too rapid passage of time. 'Railroad phobia' is an awkwardly clinical way of translating what in German is Reisefieber--a feverish combination of pleasant excitement and anxiety. But it all meant, it seems, on more than one level that he was 'coming too late,' that he was 'missing the train,' that he would perish before reaching some 'promised land.' He could not see how he could complete what he had visualized if every single step took so much 'work, time and error.' As is often the case, such preoccupation with time leads to apprehension centered in the heart, that metronome and measure of endurance.'" Insight and Responsibility at 39 (New York: W.W. Norton, 1964).
[Prosecutor]: So, at what street did you decide to turn around and go back home?
[Witness]: Well, that was when I came to Amherst and Dorothy. At Amherst and Dorothy I made a left, which would take me back home. I use this route . . . This takes me, generally, half an hour to do because I get home and then another show begins at 11:00 and 11:30. So, that's the route I use.
[Prosecutor]: So, you turned around at Amherst and Dorothy and decided to go back home.
[Prosecutor]: What happened next?
[Witness]: Well, I was walking down Dorothy and as I approached the corner of Dorothy and Bundy, I saw that there was a dog at the corner of Dorothy and Bundy, I saw that there was dog at the corner. It was a large Akita, very white, and as I approached further I saw that it wasn't with anyone. There was no one walking the dog. The dog was just there. And, the dog. . . It was unusual for a dog to just be wandering the neighborhood by itself. And the dog seemed agitated. It was barking at the house on the corner.
[Prosecutor]: On the corner of what?
[Witness]: On the corner of Dorothy and Bundy. There's a house on the corner that has a driveway that . . . a path to the door--that comes right to the corner. And it was unusual for a dog to be barking at a home that way. But that's what it was doing. And. . .
[Prosecutor]: Can you describe the way the dog looked?
[Witness]: Yes. It was a white Akita. Beautiful dog. It had a collar on, what looked like a very expensive embroidered collar--red and blue.
The witness's discussion of the dog's collar seems to parallel the dream thought concerning the frayed collar: "I examine the collar of the shirt and notice that it is frayed in one location." The precise significance of the collar's frayed condition is not known.
Note, incidentally, that the witness's use of the phrases "white Akita" and "red and blue" collar links up with the witness's later use of the phrase "I flagged down a police car" to create an unintended patriotic allusion; my father died days before the U.S. Bicentennial celebration, held on July 4, 1976.
[Witness]: Um, and it smelled my dog and my dog smelled it.
The witness's statement clearly parallels the following dream thought: "I have an impulse to smell the shirt. At that moment I think: 'Only a queer [i.e., a castrate] would smell another guy's shirt.'"
Note that the chemical formaldehyde, a compound with a distinctive and pungent odor, has applications both in the textile industry and as a tissue preservative. Formaldehyde thus encapsulates in some symbolic fashion both the manifest dream thought about the shirt and the corresponding latent dream thoughts about death. Even the word "formaldehyde" itself suggests the idiosyncratic symbolism: "formal"=formal wear=dress shirt; "hyde"=hide= (to keep secret)=human skin=tissue preservative.
In the weeks prior to my job termination in 1991 by the law firm of Akin, Gump, Strauss, Hauer & Feld, I had been working on a special project for the client Hoechst-Celanese, a chemical firm, and had been reviewing technical documents relating to formaldehyde, including its industrial (textile) applications. I was terminated, in an apparent retaliatory action, by Akin Gump in late October 1991, a few days after I made a complaint of harassment to senior management about my supervisor. The supervisor in question was later determined by a federal district court to have engaged in racially-inappropriate conduct in her dealings with minority employees. It was my view that my intrusion on the firm's "secrets" provoked the termination; firm management had, in a sense, seized the opportunity to suppress me by terminating me. See n. 3, below.
Cf. Letter to Dr. Georgopoulos, dated July 10, 1995 ("Dream of the Elephant Sanctuary") (discussing my identification with a rebellious son figure who intrudes on the private ("secret") territory of another, and fears being "smelled out" and retaliated against [i.e., castrated].)
Significantly, my associations to the present dream relate to two noteworthy acts of rebellion and their consequences: (1) my complaint of harassment to my employer in October 1991 concerning a supervisor (and the employer's response in "investigating" my complaint and later terminating my employment); and (2) my letter of complaint to the FBI in October 1994 that referred to inadequacies in the psychological testing performed by GW and that also referred to the employer's allegation that I was potentially violent (and the FBI's response in forwarding the letter to the U.S. Secret Service, which initiated an investigation). The present dream is no doubt an Oedipal dream.
[Witness]: And I looked . . . I checked the collar to see if there was an address or a tag on it. But there wasn't.
The witness's statement regarding a possible dog tag or other identifier seems to parallel the following dream thought: "I look at a tag affixed to the shirt that indicates the size of the shirt. I see that the collar measures 15«" and the sleeve measures 33", which is my shirt size. I feel a great deal of satisfaction to learn that Craig and I wear the same size shirt."
It is significant that the theme of inquiry into identity recurs (or is, loosely speaking, "overdetermined") in the hearing transcript. The witness's inquiry into the identity and origin of the dog ("I checked the collar to see if there was an address or a tag on it") parallels the later courtroom examination of the witness himself, who was asked pro forma by the Court to state his name, and, by the prosecutor, to state his address. The witness's later description of his discovery of blood on the dog's paws points to some unidentified victim. An issue of personal identity attaches to three figures in the hearing transcript: the witness (Schwab), the unidentified dog, and the unknown putative victim. Thus, the theme of personal identity emerges in various guises in the testimony, thereby conferring an unintended esthetic balance and integrity.
Similarly, at almost every level, Wagner's opera Parsifal derives its conflict from situations involving the problem of identity. Cf. Gregor-Dellin, M. Richard Wagner: His Life, His Work, His Century at 20-21 (New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1983). In Act I Parsifal blunders into an alien realm he has no means of understanding; Gurnemanz's cross-examination of Parsifal exposes the ignorant boy's orphaned dislocation from his origins. Beckett, L. Richard Wagner -- Parsifal at 31 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1981). Cf. Lost Prince: The Unsolved Mystery of Kaspar Hauser. Translated and Introduced by J.M. Masson (New York: The Free Press, 1996).
[Gurnemanz]: From where did you come?
[Parsifal]: I don't know.
[Gurnemanz]: Who is your father?
[Parsifal]: I don't know.
[Gurnemanz]: Who told you to come this way?
[Parsifal]: I don't know.
[Gurnemanz]: Your name then?
[Parsifal]: I once had many, but now I don't know any of them.
[Witness]: So, I didn't know where the dog was from. And as I examined the dog further, I noticed that there was blood on the paws.
[Prosecutor]: Blood on all four paws?
[Witness]: There seemed to be blood on all of the paws in different amounts. There was more on some than on others. But there was blood on the paws. I specially, I noticed some blood on one of the back paws. That was the one I noticed first.
The witness's unwitting discovery of evidence relating to an as yet unreported crime parallels a recurring theme in the Wagner operas: the naive innocent who unwittingly stumbles upon--and becomes entangled in--an ongoing web of corruption. The theme finds its starkest representation in Parsifal, where, coincidentally, the hero's initial appearance in Act I is heralded by the discovery of a recently killed swan, the feathers of which are soaked in blood.
It was, in fact, Parsifal himself who had shot the swan, with bow and arrow, in mid-flight (psychoanalytically, suggestive of male sexual arousal--"To look for his mate he flew aloft"). 2/ In Act II of the drama Parsifal barely escapes being impaled by a spear, hurled at him by a castrating father figure 3/ while Parsifal contemplates the commission of an Oedipal crime. There is, therefore, a likeness in the fate of the swan in Act I and the near fate of Parsifal in Act II, strongly suggestive of child sacrifice and sacrificial substitutes for children. A cultural analogy for these dramatic themes is found in Jewish belief and ritual practice, where symbolic derivatives of child sacrifice are prominent features of the modern-day ritual observance of Passover. 4/ "Originally, (pre-Judaic) child sacrifice must have been prevalent at festival time. Eventually, animal surrogates were permitted. At a later stage, these events were memorialized in holy day ceremonies. The origins of Judaism must lie in that transition. . . . The traditional basis of the reading of the Haggadah [i.e., the book that presents the holiday's liturgy] on Passover eve is derived from the biblical sentence 'and thou shalt tell thy son . . .' (Exod. 13:8).
But the Bible also states, 'and it shall come to pass when your children shall say unto you--what mean ye by this service?' 5/ (Exod. 12:26). This question is repeated three more times in different forms in the Bible (Exod. 13:14; Exod. 13:8; Deut. 6:20). . . . [C]hildren ask this question because of their anxiety, whose source is the unconscious recognition that the 'service' (sacrifice of the lamb) is a substitute for their sacrifice." Lustig, E. "On The Origin of Judaism: A Psychoanalytic Approach." In: The Psychoanalytic Study of Society. Id. Vol. 7: 359-367 at 362-3.
The issue of guilt transmuted from object to object (or from generation to generation) emerges as part of the Passover observance. "The most popular Seder song is the Chad Gadjoh (One Only Kid). It is in Aramaic Hebrew and harks back to medieval days. It is a repeated refrain in which a hierarchy of killings occurs from the destruction of a kid through the destruction of the slaughterer by the Angel of Death and culminating in the Holy One (Hakodesh) slaying the Angel of Death. Here in this children's song is captured the quintessential meaning of the holiday." Schlesinger, K. "Origins of the Passover Seder in Ritual Sacrifice." In: The Psychoanalytic Study of Society. Id. Vol. 7: 369-399 at 389.
"The song was popularly interpreted as an allegorical history of Israel. The kid was Israel, purchased by God for the price of the tables of the Covenant." Gaster, T.H. Passover: Its History and Traditions at 72 (Westport: Greenwood Press, 1949).
Wagner's Parsifal has, likewise, been interpreted as an allegory depicting an endless cycle of guilt, passed from generation to generation. "In his essay 'Parsifal: A Betrayed Childhood: Variations on a Leitmotif by Alice Miller' the musicologist Martin Geck attempts a radical reinterpretation of Parsifal using the unconventional views of the psychoanalyst Alice Miller [citation omitted]. Whereas the drama, in keeping with Freud's Oedipus theory . . . , has variously been seen hitherto as the symbolic enactment of a necessary process of development by which the individual learns to conform, Geck seeks to turn this positive interpretation right side up. The process of development depicted here is not in the least necessary for Parsifal either as a boy or as adolescent. Rather it is necessary for the patriarchal society of the Grail brotherhood, which seizes the opportunity offered by the 'pure fool,' mistreating him as a sacrificial lamb and expecting him to solve the problems which their society has brought on itself. Just as Alice Miller sees Freud's drive theory, and the kind of psychoanalysis practiced on the basis of that theory, as a means by which to implement paternalistic interests at the cost of children's rights in life, so Geck shows how the Grail fathers unload their own sense of guilt onto the shoulders of the next generation in the person of Parsifal, thereby breaking that generation on the wheel of their demands and rendering its members sufficiently submissive as to rid them of their guilt, while in actual fact forcing them to accept the same obligation to atone for that guilt, an obligation which passes ineluctably from one generation to the next in a never-ending spiral." Wagner Handbook at 140-141. Muller, U. and Wapnewski, P., eds. (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1992) (emphasis added).
[Prosecutor]: Now, what time was it when you first saw that dog?
[Witness]: Well, I didn't look at my watch the moment that this occurred. But based on the path and how long it generally takes me, I would say that that was approximately 10:55.
[Prosecutor]: And that was at the corner of Dorothy and Bundy?
[Witness]: Yes, it was.
[Prosecutor]: Did the dog wear a leash?
[Witness]: No, there was no leash. There was just the collar.
[Prosecutor]: The blood that you saw on the dog's paws, did it appear to be wet, fresh or dry?
[Witness]: I didn't touch the blood, so I don't really know. The dog was also dirty, and there seemed to be mud on the dog. But, um, I didn't get like any blood on my hands or anything like that, so I don't know whether it was wet or dry.
[Prosecutor]: After those two dogs met each other, what happened next?
[Witness]: Well, my dog doesn't like other dogs very much. They barked at each other for a little bit. And then I noticed by that time that no one had come that wasn't like a block or two behind that, you know, in front of its owner or anything. So, I crossed the street at that point. I crossed the street from one side of Bundy to the other. And the dog stayed with us. The dog followed us, and, ah, so knowing that this was a lost dog I allowed it to stay with us. And I continued. . . I made a left at that point on Bundy heading back towards my house.
[Prosecutor]: During the time that the dog walked with you, did it continue to bark?
[Witness]: Yes, it was very strange. It would bark at each house as we passed. It would bark at. . . When we got to the entrance to the house, the path leading to the door of the houses, it would bark at the house. I had never seen anything like that before. But it would stop at each house and bark.
[Prosecutor]: So, as you walked down the sidewalk, you and your dog. The other one was following you. And every time you got to a place where a path leading up to a residence met the sidewalk, the dog would stop, look at the house, and bark.
[Witness]: Yes, absolutely. But the dog also didn't want to get very far from myself and my dog. It stayed very, very close to us.
The witness's description of the dog's seeming desperate need to communicate what it had witnessed parallels in some way Bruno Bettelheim's discussion of his need to communicate his experiences as a prisoner in a Nazi concentration camp. Bettelheim writes: "From the moment I arrived in this country, within weeks after I spoke ["barked"] of the camps to everybody willing to listen, and many more unwilling to do so. Painful as this was because of what it brought back to mind, I did it because I was so full of the experience that it would not be contained. I did it also because I was anxious to force on the awareness of as many people as possible what was going on in Nazi Germany, and out of a feeling of obligation to those who still suffered in the
camps. . . . It was a need which, many years later in the literature on survivors, was called their compulsion to 'bear witness.'" Bettelheim, B. Surviving and Other Essays at 14 and 16 (New York: Vintage, 1979).
[Witness]: Well, I continued to walk down Bundy and at that point, ah, a police car came, going in the other direction. And so I flagged the police car down to tell him that I had found this dog. And I did. I told the officer that I had found this dog that's obviously lost, and that maybe he could, you know, call someone, find out if someone had reported a missing dog. And he said he would take care of it. And so I continued on, but the dog continued to follow me. And it followed me down Bundy past Gorham, again, and then, all the way to Montana. So, I turned the corner on Montana. I made a right on Montana heading home, and the cop pulled into a driveway on Montana heading home, and the cop pulled into a driveway on Montana and we spoke again because obviously the dog wasn't going to leave my side. So, at that point I gave him my address and the phone number and said that I would take the dog home and that he would call the animal control people, and that they would contact me with regard to the dog. So, I left the police officer at that time, continued home, and the dog followed me into the courtyard of my building, which has a pool, and up the stairs--I live on the second floor--up the stairs into my apartment. I mean, it stayed right with me. At that point I went into the house, leaving the dog outside because my wife was inside, and I also have a cat. And I didn't want to freak either of them out. So I closed the door and told my wife that this big Akita followed me home.
* * * *
[Witness]: At that point while we were discussing the various options my neighbors came home.
And. . .
[Prosecutor]: Can you tell us what their names were?
[Witness]: Yes. His name is Sukru and her name is Bettina. And they live. . .
[Prosecutor]: What time was it when you saw them?
[Witness]: That would have been, oh, about 11:40.
[Prosecutor]: At the time that they came into the apartment building, were you outside still?
[Witness]: Yes, we were out in the courtyard. And we were discussing whether it would be OK if maybe we could tie the dog up in the courtyard overnight 'cause my plan was to tie the dog up or keep the dog with us overnight and then print up some posters on my computer, go back to the location, put up lost dog signs, and try to find the owner.
[Prosecutor]: So, you were outside in the courtyard with your wife and the dog. . .
[Witness]: And the dog, absolutely.
[Prosecutor]: when Sukru and Bettina came up.
[Witness]: That's exactly what happened. And Sukru and Bettina take care of my dog when I'm away, either on vacation or if I'm out of town for the weekend, they take care of my animals. And, um, so, at that point Sukru offered to take care of the dog overnight and to leave it out in the courtyard in the morning so that in the morning I could deal with trying to find the owner once again.
[Prosecutor]: And, did you give him the dog?
[Witness]: At that point I gave him the dog. And, I said, "fine." And at that point he took the leash that I had put on the dog--it was still on the dog--he took the dog for a walk. My wife and I spoke to his wife, Bettina, for a few more minutes and then went to bed.
[Prosecutor]: And did you ever see the dog again after that?
[Witness]: I have not seen the dog again since then. That was the last that I saw of the dog.
[Prosecutor]: Thank you. I have nothing further.
Another witness, Steven Schwab's neighbor, Sukru Boztepe, later testified that "he had been literally pulled to the murder scene by [murder victim, Nicole Simpson's] dog, a white Akita, which [Schwab] had found wandering the streets earlier in the evening and given to him to keep for the night. Boztepe said he and his wife left their apartment around midnight with the dog, which was pulling hard on its leash. Finally, he said, the dog stopped in front of Nicole Simpson's condominium and looked up the path that led to the house. . . . Bettina Rasmussen, his wife, testified that there was blood everywhere. 'It was coming down like a river,' she said." The Washington Post, A3, July 2, 1994.
Note, additionally, that the murder scene, described as a place flowing with blood, is--as a literary symbol--a negated image of the Biblical "promised land," described as a place "flowing with milk and honey." This conflicted imagery--of a cursed place of suffering from which there is no escape that disguises by means of negation a place of fond recollection (or a promised land that one despairs of ever attaining)--is elaborated in Part II of this dream analysis, which follows. See Rothenberg, A. "Janusian Thinking and Creativity." In: The Psychoanalytic Study of Society. Vol. 7: 1-30. Gertrude R. Ticho, M.D., contributing editor. (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1976) (describing a creative ego process characterized by "actively conceiving two or more opposite or antithetical ideas, concepts, or images simultaneously").
1/ A group of daydreams, the animal fantasies of the latency period, originate as a result of the same emotional conditions (oedipal conflicts) that are the basis for the so-called family romance wherein the latency period child develops fantasies of having a better and worthier family than his own, which has so bitterly disappointed and disillusioned him. Burlingham, D.T. "The Fantasy of Having a Twin." In: The Psychoanalytic Study of the Child. Vol. I: 205-210, 205-6 (New York: International Universities Press, 1945). The child takes an imaginary animal as his intimate and beloved companion; subsequently he is never separated from his animal friend, and in this way he overcomes loneliness. This daydream is constructed in much the same way as the family romance, with this difference: the child does not here choose a new family, does not repeat a similar experience under improved conditions, but chooses a new companion who can understand him in his loneliness, unhappiness, and need to be comforted. Id. at 206. Animal fantasies and the fantasy of having a twin sibling are related fantasies, oedipal in origin, of the latency period. Id. at 210.
2/ Gurnemanz asks Parsifal if it was he who killed the swan; Parsifal replies: "Of course, I hit in flight whatever flies!" Gurnemanz explains to Parsifal what he has done: he has killed a beautiful creature who has done him no harm: "What did the faithful swan do to you?" Gurnemanz forces the boy to see for himself the congealing blood on the white feathers, the dead eye, as the music moves from a lyrical description of the swan flying over the lake to the dawning of guilt in Parsifal. Beckett, L. Richard Wagner -- Parsifal. Id. at 31.
3/ It is believed that "infanticide was widely practiced by prehistoric man. Possibly, therefore, parricide never occurred in the form described in [Freud's] Totem and Taboo. Instead of the son's successfully rebelling against the father, it may be that the father successfully suppressed the son by murdering him. In terms of later Judaism, the extensive ritual laws developed by the Jews, as well as their ethics, were not the result of guilt feelings for the crime of parricide. Rather, they were adhered to because of the constant reminder that infanticide can be invoked against a rebellious son." Lustig, E. "On the Origin of Judaism: A Psychoanalytic Approach." In: The Psychoanalytic Study of Society. Vol. 7: 359-367 at 362. Gertrude R. Ticho, M.D., contributing editor. (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1976).
4/ Wagner's wife, Cosima, records in her diary that the composer had the following (possibly unconsciously-determined) associations on a morning just weeks prior to the premiere performance of Parsifal, which took place in late July 1882. "Tuesday, June 27  R. had a restless night, he got up 4 times, dreamed that he was on trial and having a difficult time in court! [suggesting the themes of guilt and interrogation, or questioning.] In the morning he is pleased by the peacocks, the white and the colored ones sitting together on the roof timbers of the poultry shed. He jokes about the 'mousetrap for house tutors' he is setting in friend Gross's 'den.' Then we talk about a preface for [Heinrich von] Stein's dialogues. At lunch he remarks on the beauties of La Juive [i.e., the opera The Jewess], the Passover celebrations, the final choruses, also the lively first act, and says it contains the best expression of the Jewish character; before that he jokingly told [the Jewish conductor] Levi that frivolity did not suit him." (Heinrich von Stein was the tutor of the Wagners' son Siegfried, the couple's youngest child.)
(Parsifal features a depiction of a Eucharist-like service, which may have reminded Wagner of "Passover celebrations.")
Tradition dictates that at the Passover celebration the youngest child ask four questions, prescribed by ritual, relating to the Passover service. "The earlier determinants for questioning [might] arise out of the child's response to his previously central role to the ceremony as sacrificial object. The four questions thus interpreted are a later vestigal remnant of a child-centered celebration in which sacrificial and purification rites were central." Schlesinger, K. "Origins of the Passover Seder in Ritual Sacrifice." In: The Psychoanalytic Study of Society. Id. Vol. 7: 369-399 at 386.
5/ In Act I of Parsifal, when the Eucharist service is finished, Parsifal, who has been an interested spectator of the scene, shows no comprehension of its meaning. Gurnemanz asks Parsifal: "Do you know what you have seen?" When Parsifal shakes his head slightly, Gurnemanz tells him, "You are nothing but a fool!"
The Dream of the Blue Oxford -- PART II
According to Greenspan "every dynamic drama must take place in the context of a particular structure or set of structures. In addition, when focusing on structural perspectives it's [important to recognize] that structures provide the foundation--the housing, so to speak--for different dynamic dramas, each with its own content or meanings." "A Conversation with Stanley Greenspan." The American Psychoanalyst, 28(3): 25-27, 26 (1994).
I have identified a text the structure of which is identical to that of the Schwab testimony reproduced in Part I of the dream analysis, while elements of the content of that text mirror important aspects of both the manifest and latent dream content.
The text is a portion of the transcript of the 1985 French film Shoah. The film, produced by Claude Lanzmann, comprises a collection of interviews of Nazi holocaust survivors, Nazi officials, and other eyewitnesses of the holocaust. The text in question is a transcript of an interview of Jan Karski, a former courier of the Polish government-in-exile in London who was enlisted by underground Jewish leaders in Poland to inspect the Warsaw ghetto and report his observations to the Allied governments. See Lanzmann, C. Shoah: Transcription of English Subtitles to 1985 French Film Shoah at 167-175 (New York: Pantheon Books, 1985).
The key figures in the text are (1) the interviewer (an intellectualized, or affectively neutral, figure), (2) Jan Karski (an outsider witness), (3) the underground Jewish leaders (frantic witness-participants), and (4) inhabitants of the ghetto (mute victims).
These key figures parallel the central figures of the Schwab testimony, who comprise (1) the prosecutor (an intellectualized, or affectively neutral, figure) who examines (2) Steven Schwab (an outsider witness), (3) the dog Kato (a frantic witness-participant), and (4) the mute victims.
I am intrigued by the apparent likelihood that it was not the content of the Schwab testimony alone that instigated the dream, but also the housing of that content: namely, the structure of the Schwab testimony. Cf. n. 4, below. That structure may be interpreted to symbolically express the differentiated or contradictory mental states of a single individual: integrated representations of thought and feeling of a single individual as projected onto a "gallery of characters."
"The existence of the complicated split mental representations of self and parents does not automatically make for pathology," explains Shengold. "That depends on how the splits are used. The crucial questions are whether the contradictory mental representations can be integrated if necessary, and whether they
can be brought together and taken apart again so that they can be worked with in a flow of thought and feeling." See Shengold, L. Soul Murder at 280-281 (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1989).
The structure of the Schwab testimony (and that of the Shoah narrative) may be interpreted to relate to aspects of ego structure and functioning:
--a split between observing and experiencing egos;
--a differentiated ego structure that houses, or accommodates, valences of thought and feeling arrayed in layered gradations; and
--a superego that permits (indeed, demands as a form of ego mastery) examination of the self and the environment (denoted symbolically in the Schwab testimony by the judge's direction to the prosecutor: "You may inquire." 6/). Cf. Shedler, J. et al. "The Illusion of Mental Health." The American Psychologist, 48(11): 1117-1131 at 1119 and 1121 (1993) (discussing the use of verbal defensiveness to stifle inquiry by persons whose superego intones: "That question shall not be put!").
I had seen the eight-hour movie Shoah in a television broadcast in about 1987 or 1988. In my recollection the many interviews presented in the film merged into a vague sameness, except for one (which apparently held some special meaning for me), the interview of --
Jan Karski, university professor (USA), former courier of the Polish government in exile:
Now . . . now I go back thirty-five years. No, I don't go back . . . I come back. I am ready.
In the middle of 1942, I was thinking to take up again my position as a courier between the Polish underground and the Polish government in exile in London.
[The reference to the "government-in-exile" may be interpreted, psychoanalytically, to relate to the Family Romance fantasy, with the Nazi occupiers of Poland representing a debased parental image, and the Polish government-in-exile in London representing an idealized parental image, endowed in fantasy with a rescuer role.]
The Jewish leaders in Warsaw learned about it. A meeting was arranged, outside the ghetto. There were two gentlemen. They did not live in the ghetto. They introduced themselves--leader of Bund, Zionist leader.
Now, what transpired, what happened in our conversation? First, I was not prepared for it. I was relatively isolated in my work in Poland. I did not see many things. In thirty-five years after the war I do not go back. I have been a teacher for twenty-six years. I never mention the Jewish problem to my students. I understand this film is for historical record, so I will try to do it.
They described to me what is happening to the Jews. Did I know about it? No, I didn't. They described to me first that the Jewish problem is unprecedented, cannot be compared with the Polish problem, or Russian, or any other problem. Hitler will lose this war, but he will exterminate all the Jewish population. Do I understand it? The Allies fight for their people--they fight for humanity. The Allies cannot forget that the Jews will be exterminated totally in Poland--Polish and European Jews. They were breaking down. They paced the room. They were whispering. They were hissing. It was a nightmare for me.
Did they look completely despairing?
Yes. Yes. At various stages of the conversation they lost control of themselves. I just sat in my chair. I just listened. I did not even react. I didn't ask them questions. I was just listening.
They wanted to convince you?
They realized, I think . . . they realized from the beginning that I don't know, that I don't understand this problem. Once I said I will take messages from them, they wanted to inform me what is happening to the Jews. I didn't know this. I was never in a ghetto. I never dealt with the Jewish matters.
Did you know yourself at the time that most of the Jews of Warsaw had already been killed?
I did know. But I didn't see anything. I never heard any description of what was happening and I was never there. It is one thing to know statistics. There were hundreds of thousands of Poles also killed--of Russians, Serbs, Greeks. We knew about it. But it was a question of statistics.
Did they insist on the complete uniqueness . . . ?
Yes. This was their problem: to impress upon me--and that was my mission--to impress upon all people whom I am going to see that the Jewish situation is unprecedented in history. Egyptian pharaohs did not do it. The Babylonians did not do it. Now for the first time in history actually, they came to the conclusion: unless the Allies take some unprecedented steps, regardless of the outcome of the war, the Jews will be totally exterminated. And they cannot accept it.
This means that they asked for very specific measures?
Yes. Interchangeably. At a certain point the Bund leader, then at a certain point the Zionist leader--then what do they want? What message am I supposed to take? Then they gave me messages, various messages, to the Allied governments as such--I was to see as many government officials as I could, of course. Then to the Polish government, then to the President of the Polish republic, then to the international Jewish leaders. And to individual political leaders, leading intellectuals--approach as many people as possible. And then they gave me segments--to whom do I report what. So now, in these nightmarish meetings--two meetings--two meetings I had with them--well, then they presented their demands. Separate demands. The message was: Hitler cannot be allowed to continue extermination. Every day counts. The Allies cannot treat this war only from a purely military strategic standpoint. They will win the war if they take such an attitude, but what good will it do to us? We will not survive this war. The Allied governments cannot take such a stand. We contributed to humanity--we gave scientists for thousands of years. We originated great religions. We are humans. Do you understand it? Do you understand it? Never happened before in history, what is happening to our people now. Perhaps it will shake the conscience of the world.
We understand we have no country of our own, we have no government, we have no voice in the Allied councils. So we have to use services, little people like you are. Will you do it? Will you approach them? Will you fulfill your mission? Approach the Allied leaders? We want an official declaration of the Allied nations that in addition to the military strategy which aims at securing victory, military victory in this war, extermination of the Jews forms a separate chapter, and the Allied nations formally, publicly, announce that they will deal with this problem, that it becomes a part of their overall strategy in this war. Not only defeat of Germany but also saving the remaining Jewish population.
* * * *
Between those two Jewish leaders--somehow this belongs to human relations--I took, so to say, to the Bund leader, probably because of his behavior--he looked like a Polish nobleman, a gentleman, with straight, beautiful gestures, dignified. I believe that he liked me also, personally. Now at a certain point, he said: "Mr. Vitold, I know the Western world. You are going to deal with the English. Now you will give them your oral reports. I am sure it will strengthen your report if you will be able to say 'I saw it myself.' We can organize for you to visit the Jewish ghetto. Would you do it? If you do, I will go with you to the Jewish ghetto in Warsaw so I will be sure you will be as safe as possible."
A few days later we established contact. By that time the Jewish ghetto as it existed in 1942 until July 1942 did not exist anymore. Out of approximately four hundred thousand Jews, some three hundred thousand were already deported from the ghetto. So within the outside walls, practically there were some four units. The most important was the so-called central ghetto. They were separated by some areas inhabited by Aryans and already some areas not inhabited by anybody. There was a building. This building was constructed in such a way that the wall which separated the ghetto from the outside world was a part of the back of the building, so the front was facing the Aryan area. There was a tunnel. We went through this tunnel without any kind of difficulty. What struck me was that now he was a completely different man--the Bund leader, the Polish nobleman. I go with him. He is broken down, like a Jew from the ghetto, as if he had lived there all the time. Apparently, this was his nature. This was his world. So we walked the streets. He was on my left. We didn't talk very much. He led me. [Compare Steven Schwab's description of his interaction with the dog Kato.] Well, so what? So now comes the description of it, yes? Well . . . naked bodies on the street. I ask him: "Why are they here?"
The corpses, you mean?
Corpses. He says: "Well, they have a problem. If a Jew dies and the family wants a burial, they have to pay tax on it. So they just throw them in the street."
Because they cannot pay the tax?
Yes. They cannot afford it. So then he says: "Every rag counts. So they take their clothing. And then once the body, the corpse, is on the street, the Judenrat [i.e., the Jewish Council] has to take care of it."
Women with their babies, publicly feeding their babies, but they have no . . . no breast, just flat. Babies with crazed eyes, looking . . .
[The phrases "If a Jew dies and the family wants a burial" and "Every rag counts--so they take their clothing" are facially related to both the dream's manifest content (the blue shirt with the buttoned-down collar) and the dream's latent content:
"On the evening of July 1, 1976 my mother gathers a suit, necktie and shirt for my father's burial. She wants to bury him in a white shirt. My mother asks me if I will give her a white shirt that I own, which I do. I had worn the shirt on only one previous occasion. Thus, my father was laid to rest attired in my white shirt."
It has occurred to me recently that the choice of the title "Dream of the Blue Oxford" may have been more than random. My father's parents lived on Oxford Street in North Philadelphia, in a house later occupied by my father's older sister and her family (the Klein family). As a small boy I accompanied my mother, by subway train, to visit my aunt on Oxford Street, where she lived until about 1957. Perhaps, other relatives were present, possibly including my father's maternal aunt, Tante Elke. I have no firm conscious recollection of these visits, but I can assume that for a small boy Oxford Street must have looked "like a completely strange world, another world." The word "Oxford" is a play on words, relating both to an article of clothing and to a street associated with my father's world.]
Did it look like a completely strange world? Another world, I mean?
It was not a world. There was not humanity. Streets full, full. Apparently all of them lived in the street, exchanging what was the most important, everybody offering something to sell--three onions, two onions, some cookies. Selling.
[When I was a small boy I used to accompany my mother once a year to the Jewish market on Marshall Street in North Philadelphia, where my mother would buy, in preparation for Passover, kosher chicken, fresh carp for gefilte fish, and horseradish (which the merchant ground fresh).]
Begging each other. Crying and hungry. Those horrible children--some children running by themselves or with their mothers sitting. It wasn't humanity. It was some . . . some hell.
[Karski's account of his visit to the Warsaw ghetto, in which he was accompanied by a Jewish underground leader, parallels psychoanalyst Jeffrey Masson's description (published in his autobiographical work Final Analysis) of his visit to a psychiatric hospital where he was guided by a psychiatrist who showed Masson "his world." See Letter to Dr. Georgopoulos dated July 10, 1995 ("The Dream of the Elephant Sanctuary"). The lethargy of the patients as described by Masson resembles the despairing demeanor of the Warsaw ghetto inhabitants: in the case of both psychiatric patients and the Jewish ghetto inhabitants, the victims' fate is attributed to an autocratic regime. Also, as in the Karski narrative concerning the Warsaw Ghetto, the Family Romance fantasy may to some extent inform the Masson narrative.
Extended excerpt from Letter to Dr. Georgopoulos dated July 10, 1995 ("The Dream of the Elephant Sanctuary"), beginning with a passage from Masson's book Final Analysis:
And so, in September 1973, on a cold gray evening, I presented myself to the Clarke [to begin my psychoanalytic training]. The building was forbidding. It was a psychiatric hospital; this was immediately apparent upon entering. I spotted another man carrying a letter of acceptance and introduced myself. He was David Iseman, an M.D. who had only recently completed his residency in psychiatry. He was my age, about thirty. He seemed shy and, like me, in awe of this first evening, so we made our way together down the halls.
I had rarely visited a psychiatric hospital before, and I was struck by the patients who shuffled past us in the hallways wearing slippers and institutional gowns, with their vacant stares, tic-like movements of the mouth, and slow deliberate gaits.
"What do they have?" I asked David. "What kind of illness is this that makes them look so vacant?"
"They don't have anything. Or rather they do. That's part of the problem. What you're seeing is not from the illness, it's from the cure.
[Note that the emphasized phrase is a symbolic variant of Alice Miller's concept of "poisonous pedagogy." Miller writes: "the conviction that parents are always right and that every act of cruelty, whether conscious or unconscious, is an expression of their love is so deeply rooted in human beings because it is based on the process of internalization that takes place during the first months of life--in other words, during the period preceding separation from the primary care giver." Miller, A. For Your Own Good at 5 (New York: Farrar, Straus, Giroux, 1983)].
They look the way they do as a result of psychotropic drugs. Some of them probably have tardive dyskenesia, a real scourge, and one that is entirely iatrogenic."
I was glad that I sensed a note of disdain in his voice. I also liked the sound of "iatrogenic," which means "created by the doctor." I had never heard it before. I was puzzled and pleased by his apparent irreverence for psychiatry.
"They're not suffering from an emotional disease?"
"You mean an affective disorder? Oh, I guess it's the same. You know, when it's put like that the physician in me bristles. When I was doing my histology rotation, I never saw an emotional disease under a microscope." He was thinking out loud, and was thinking critically. I realized I could learn from him.
[It appears possible that the psychiatric patients Masson describes are his own Family Romance-mediated identification projects. In effect, Masson may be saying: "You see, this is what the 'occupiers' (actually, Masson's real parents) did to me; my 'real' parents (actually, Masson's exalted fantasy-parents) would never have allowed this to happen!"]
I also knew that David was no dyed-in-the-wool psychiatrist. We both smiled, and I sensed we were going to be friends.
Masson identifies in his colleague Iseman another person with whom he shares a secret identity and affinity in a strange world that both attracts and repels him. 7/ There is an almost subversive quality about the relationship, which Masson seems to savor: a subversive attitude of disdain for the therapeutic ideals of the medically-trained analytic candidates who comprise the majority of Masson's training unit.
I am reminded here of a passage from Demian by Hermann Hesse:
'When you were a little boy, Sinclair, my son one day came home from school and said to me: there is a boy in school, he has the sign on his brow, he has to become my friend. That was you. You have not had an easy time but we had confidence in you. . . .'
We who wore the sign might justly be considered 'odd' by the world; yes, even crazy, and dangerous. We were aware or in the process of becoming aware and our striving was directed toward achieving a more and more complete state of awareness while the striving of the others was a quest aimed at binding their opinions, ideal
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