Sunday, March 2, 2008

Psychology: Dream Analysis

What is a dream? What purpose do they serve? Dreams are a random dumping of leftover thoughts, sometimes frightening, sometimes comic and sometimes prophetic. I find it hilarious how the most interesting dream in the mind of its bearer will bore a listener to tears and yet we all feel compelled to share these stories with our friends or, in this case, our readers.

I have felt for quite some time that dreams are often a window into thoughts and feelings that the conscious mind is unwilling to express. Careful consideration of an unusual dream can lead you to an unexpected epiphany and can be quite enlightening. For the sake of simplicity, I will group some of my most typical dreams and describe the understanding, or lack thereof, that I have gained through my unschooled and amateur analysis.

Group One- Reoccurring Dreams and Dream Themes

When I was little, I would have reoccurring dreams that were like television episodes. They were always the same, with the same characters and sequence of events. Having these dreams was somewhat like visiting an old friend. There is one that particularly come to mind:

Episode One- In which the Super Friends help me to escape my house where I am in danger due to a volcano that is erupting in my backyard.

To this day, I still remember snippets of this dream. It is unfortunate that I cannot remember what events were occurring in the real world that may have been responsible for the dream's frequent visit.

As an adult, my reoccurring dreams have a slightly different flavor. Rather than precise repeats, I enjoy repetitive dream themes. For example:

Episode Two- In which I am exploring a huge house with many bathrooms, each bathroom being more wondrous and elaborate than the last.


Episode Three- in which I am being chased or racing against someone through a house, the goal being to reach the highest pinnacle first - this almost always involves finding a secret stairway that appears to go in the wrong direction but eventually leads to the goal.
Note: This dream theme actually evolved from a childhood dream that invariably took place in the church I used to attend but now takes place in houses or castles that only exist in my imagination.


Episode Four- in which I must baracade the house against infiltration by zombies with special consideration regarding water supply, bathroom facilities and what to do about the cats.

All of these dreams are "good" dreams that I wake from happy, this is especially true of the "dream of the house of 1000 bathrooms" and its variation, "dream of the house of 1000 bedrooms". I don't know exactly why but these themes always leave me feeling satisfied. This dream, I have learned to associate with time in my life that there is positive change about to occur. Times in which I feel good about a choice and the different options that will come from it. I almost always have this dream right before I go to more into a new place and right around the time that I complete a significant goal.

In regard to the dream in which I must reach the highest point of the building, I associate this one with the fear of change or coping with a difficult decision that I am faced with. I think it leaves me feeling satisfied because I (a) always find the correct route, (b) always win the race and, (c)it places the variable change into a region of familiarity and comfort. It's kind of like a subconscious pep talk, my way of telling myself that the real world is manageable.

Now the zombie dream. This one may be out of a desire for safety or control but I think it is more likely about my intense love for zombies. That would mean that this dream also falls into the second group:

Group Two- Face Value Dreams

Episode Six- in which I am at Cedar Point riding lots of roller coasters.

This is a dream that I have any time that I think about roller coasters too much.


Episode Seven- in which I either drink and drink without slacking my thirst ot pee and pee without feeling relief.

Obviously exhibiting that I have gone to sleep thirty or with a full bladder.


Episode Eight- in which I am returning to school after a break only to discover that I can't remember where the classrooms are.

This dream is exhibiting my desire to remain on break or my anxiety over not having done enough over the break. This seems like a natural place to start our next group:

Group Three- What the Fuck Dreams

I think that everyone has these types of dreams, I'm sure they have deeper meanings but I prefer to just laugh at the absurdity.

Dreams in which doors do not fit in their frames, crutches bend, punches have no impact and running happens in slow motion.

Dreams in which you go to school or work in a towel or completely naked.

Dreams in which you are trying to use the bathroom but people keep coming in or the toilet is located in a large room with no privacy.

I'm starting to realize that this post could go on and on so I'm going to wrap up with a dream I had a few months ago that is definitely a "what the fuck" dream but was also unique. Maybe you can help me figure out the deeper meaning.

Episode Nine- in which I receive a package with a bazaar assortment of items.

I had this dream after a good friend of mine and her boyfriend broke up. The background that you need is that I suspected that the boyfriend disliked me. He was also a very solitary kind of guy without many interests outside of video games and maybe guns.

The dream went as follows: I was having a conversation with this guy on the phone, a friendly chat that would never have happened in real life. During the course of this conversation, he asked me if I had even seen the movie Hellraiser. I told him that I had not so he said he would mail it to me. I later received a package at my house (which incidentally was not a house that I have ever lived in or been to as far as I can remember). Inside the package were the following items:

A birdhouse
A "learn to drum" instructional book with drumsticks
A framed painting by Georgia O'Keefe
The movie Hellraiser

There were other item as well but those are the ones that I remember as being particularly odd and memorable. I should point out that none of these items are in any way connected to either him or I or anything that we ever discussed together.

So take your best shot, what does this dream mean? Where did it come from? Is there any significance whatsoever?

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Humor: Mayhem- Great Hunter of Wet Socks

Originally posted on January 23, 2006

I hate socks. Aside from the fact that my dryer is a portal to Narnia from which Mr. Tumnus has obviously acquired one half of all the sock pairings that I own, I just hate that no matter how frequently I buy socks I never have enough to last until the next laundry day. To compound this problem, I also live with Mayhem-Great Hunter of Wet Socks.

My cat, Mayhem, has developed a behavior which entails the hunting of anything small enough for him to carry usually, but not limited to, socks. First he finds a sock, takes it to the water dish or toilet, soaks it thoroughly, then brings it to me for inspection. I don't know what instinct this behavior grew from but it is endlessly entertaining to his little kitty mind. If I make sure that no socks are available from my drawer or laundry he still manages to bring one from his secret stash or he brings anything else he can find, sweaters, tank tops, etc. I feel sure that one day I am going to come home to find my bedroom comforter stuffed in the toilet.

I can understand that as an indoor cat he feels compelled to exercise his hunter instinct but as neither of my other two indoor cats have ever done anything of the sort, I wonder what sets him apart. And what is the deal with getting them wet before bringing them to me? It isn't something that he does every time, I often get dry socks offered as a gift, but I sometimes think that there is kitty humor involved. Is it possible that this is a primitive sense of the ridiculous? When he drops a toilet-sock on my face while I am sleeping or leaves one in the middle of the stairs or on the seat of the couch, is he seeking a reaction and laughing in his kitty-heart while I rant and sputter?

Am I anthropomorphizing his ability to see and appreciate humor? Cats are not supposed to be smart enough to indulge in such things, and yet... Dogs are not either, but I am sure that I have seen a dog laugh. Cats are so stoic that one could never know what goes on in their heads. Incidentally, Mayhem also likes to chew out the nipple area on all of my roommate's wife beaters... is this coincidence? That every tank top she owns has this area and no other nibbled out? That seems even more far fetched as it would include an understanding of the human sense of modesty as well as result in a reaction that he would not be there to witness (she always discovers them when she gets changed at the gym to work out).

As an owner of three cats I can vouch for the fact that all cats (and other animals) have distinctive personalities regardless of the environment that they grew up in. That isn't to say that they aren't often altered by their environment, especially as kittens, but even with fairly consistent conditions they develop their own quirks and attitudes. Doesn't the evolution of a distinct personality speak toward a certain understanding of their environment and their role within it?

My aunt owns two cats that are vicious and horrible to any but their owners. I used to think that this was because they have never lived with children. My cats, however, are very lovable to all strangers and, although they have never lived with a child, they find children particularly interesting... they even put up with a different sort of play and handling from a child than they are willing to put up with from me. If a cat can sense that a child is to be treated gently and tolerantly, regardless of the fact that they have never come in contact with one before, wouldn't that say that they understand much more than we give them credit for?

I read once that cats do not "recognize" us or each other visually but rely purely on olfactory cues. Cat's are also supposed to have very poor memory. This is not true. My cats most certainly recognize each other regardless of scent and have the abillity to tell the difference between a cat they don't know and one that they do even after a great deal of time being separated.

One day one of my cats got outside without me realizing it. The other two were staring out the sliding glass door the next morning but not with the typical posture they take with a strange animal. I wasn't even sure it was my cat as they don't wear tags and he is just a garden-variety all black cat. But they knew. The same was true when my ex-husband took one of the cats when he moved out then needed me to take him back after a six-month period. I brought him in and all of the cats were completely comfortable, as if he had never left. I found additional evidence of this when I watched a cat for a friend. This cat was one that I had fostered in my home when she was just 6 weeks old. When she came back all of my cats recognized her... That was particularly surprising as a kitten smells different to me than a full grown cat, is there a deeper scent that humans don't detect but cats do that is present throughout life or did they recognize her despite the change in size?

The whole point here is that I suspect that animals are capable of much more than we think. Humor would seem to be a stretch for this theory but sometimes it's just hard to tell for sure. If you have a story about witnessing an animal appreciating humor, please respond.