By , November 27, 2008 11:40 am

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Using Gendlin’s “bias control,” looking at dream images from opposite-to-usual-ego way (Eugene Gendlin, Let Your Body Interpret Your Dreams, available in bookstore at ), we can see that nightmares, so frightening to the Ego, our usual way of looking at things, are actually a loud and clear message from “the rest of us,” the intuitive, implicit body-knowledge meant to try to offer some balancing information.
Here is a nightmare I had recently, and its “message”:
“My husband, with his boots on, is working in a small ditch. I step in to help him, then realize there is water in the ditch. It is filled with algae. I become completely terrified as I fall down and start struggling, sure I am going to drown, and hating being in this murky, germ-filled, algae-filled water. I am screaming and screaming desperately, “Get me out of here! Get me out of here!” and wake up in heart-stopping anxiety and terror. A true nightmare for my usual-way-of-looking. Nothing worse than falling into that murky pool.”
But let’s look from another perspective, for instance, the perspective of my husband in the dream. First of all, he has his boots on to keep his feet dry. He is prepared for standing in water. Also, seeing me struggling and terrified, he is perfectly aware that the water is way too shallow for me to drown in. And the algae — well, it is just a kind of life, not poisonous in any way!
I look at the dream images through one way I have of understanding a difference between my husband and myself, in waking life. In our shared life-situation, as we try to help our son struggle through divorce/custody/job issues, I am overwhelmed with anxiety, sleepless, seeking every possible catastrophic outcome, every danger to be avoided. He sleeps well, functions well in his day job, “compartmentalizes,” as he calls it.

On the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI — see Personality Tests ), he is ISTJ, me INFJ. We share Introversion and Judging (being organized). But he is Sensing Thinking (ST), I iNtuitive Feeling (NF). And it is this sixth sense, this Intuition, that, while having a positive side, also leads me to imagine every future possibility, positive and negative.
My husband, in his five-Senses way, lives comfortably in the “real-world,” the common, everyday world. He is not frightened about all of its implications. He is not worried about its germs, its algae. He is not afraid of drowning in its shallow ditches. It is me who is terrified of it.
And, so, the nightmare tries to send my consciousness an alternate message: “This reality, these daily life events,  is only a shallow ditch. It is only algae, not poison. You will not drown in it.”
And, in my waking anxiety, I can keep bringing this dream image back to help me find balance.

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Dr. Kathy McGuire, Director

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