Man Depressed Despite Being Successful at Work and Personal Life
Dream Analysis Uncovered His Suppressed Emotional Wounds
We often say that “time heals all wounds”. With each passing day, we can gradually forget a painful event, putting it at the back of our mind as our life goes on as usual. Even as time passes, the “forgotten” event that is buried deep down within us may trigger unexplained fear, anxiety, or depression. A psychotherapist, employing dream ananlysis, can help those who experience these unexplained emotions uncover their cause.
There was a case of a successful middle-aged man, who is in an admirable leadership role. He got married and hosted his wedding banquets in different countries to celebrate with his family and friends there. His newly wedded wife is a caring and considerate lady and is well-regarded by many as a good wife. Despite living a life that is a dream to many, this gentleman was not happy. He was moody and quiet and felt depressed without any known reason. With his wife’s encouragement, he decided to seek help from a psychologist.
Dr. Vinci Cheung believed that dream analysis would be useful in investigating the cause of his unexplained depression. This is because dreams would reveal information from his unconscious mind. Unfortunately, the gentleman rarely dreamed during his sleep. Hence, Dr. Vinci Cheung taught him some techniques to overcome this. When they met again, he was able to describe a dream. The gentleman dreamt that he was at a green prairie. His father walked up to him, passing him a phone and indicating that someone was looking for him. The gentleman was unable to remember who was on the call and the content of the phone conversation. But he remembered clearly how he was looking at his father when he came to him
Same Scene in a Dream can Have Different Meanings
Dr. Cheung points out that a character in a dream can represent the relationship between the character and the dreamer. It can also represent the personality of the character. “Even if we dream of strangers or friends whom we are not close to, the dream may not be related directly to them. Our unconscious mind may be relaying a message through the characteristics or personalities of these individuals.” When the gentleman dreamt of his father, there were three possible underlying meanings: (1) the dream symbolised a concern directly related to his father, (2) the dream symbolised his father’s unique characteristics, or (3) the dream symbolised his future role as a father. “Therefore, although different people can have the same dream, it may mean differently to them,” says Dr. Cheung.
Upon further questioning, the gentleman told Dr. Cheung that eight years ago, he broke off his relationship with his father over the phone. He told Dr. Cheung the reason behind it and shared with her information about his relationship with his father, as well as his experiences growing up. The gentleman thought that since he was no longer in touch with his father, they would have nothing to do with each other anymore. Unbeknownst to him, the mental stress he experienced due to his poor relationship with his father was causing him to be anxious and unhappy. His dream meant the following: the green prairie in his dream signified his growth; looking at his father when he passed him the phone meant that he should not avoid his past relationship with his father. Through his dream, his unconscious mind was relaying the message that instead of avoiding his father, he should be upfront, learn to accept, and let go appropriately to get peace of mind.
Our Unconscious Mind Shows Us the Way Through Dreams
When we think that time heals everything, we actually only forget about the experience. But it does not erase away our feelings. A psychotherapist can employ dream analysis to help us address and alleviate the emotional distress that arises from these suppressed feelings. Dr. Cheung says: “Once we get to the right direction through an exploration of a dream, we will lead the client to the next step with another dream. This step-by-step approach allows us to slowly break through the defenses of our unconscious mind and uncover the information it relays in our dreams. Once we uncover and understand this information, we can help our clients identify the causes of their concerns.”
(Note: The case study has been adapted for privacy purposes)
Ways to Remember Your Dreams Clearly:
- Place pen and paper at your bedside before sleeping
- Before sleeping, relax by doing some gentle stretches
- While stretching, gently tell yourself that you will have a clear dream before waking up and that you hope to remember one dream
- Upon waking, write down details of your dream when the memory is fresh
- Try to write legibly
- Do also note down your thoughts, feelings, and emotions
Dr. Vinci Cheung