Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Views from a Troubled Mind 
Scene #10

The Pumpkin Patch/Petting Zoo
in Happier Days

The storm front that brought the San Gabriel Valley three days of thunder, lightning, and torrential rains is still trying to push in a new front from the Pacific Ocean on the west coast, but the Santa Ana Winds (aka The Devil Winds) that are blowing in from the desert from the east are clashing with the cooler winds from the sea and creating a monstrous wind storm between the desert and ocean gusts. 

At about 5:30 a.m., October 15th, 2018, this battle between the two wind fronts pounding on the house, ripping down the awnings, tearing up the roof tiles, and tossing the half-full recycle bin and the full trash container and scattering plastic bottles, plastic bags, and aluminum cans across the driveway, into the front yard, and unto the street in front of our house

Wind uproots a tree,
splitting the sidewalk apart.

When I finally got up (yes, I did manage to sleep through much of the noise), I expected to find more damage to the house, the neighborhood, and the community. Mostly, however, there was a hell-load of trash, leaves, broken branches, and general debris covering the streets and lawns of every home and avenue. As I walked by the neighbor, who also is a gardener, he told me in Spanish that this mess meant lots of work for him. He was like a kid in a candy store sitting on his tool truck sizing up the piles of leaves that needed to be blown and the number of branches that needed to be bundled. I laughed, but he laughed louder.

The bus-stop was shut down going east because the sidewalk was folded in half. Meaning: half of the sidewalk was lying in the street, preventing the bus from being able to stop there, and the other half was sticking straight up, blocking pedestrians from using the sidewalk. I crossed the street to catch the other bus (both buses end up at the Target department store).

The skeletal structure of the tents
is first to be rebuilt.

Then I saw something that shocked me. The Pumpkin Patch/Petting Zoo was destroyed. The fences were yanked up and away by the winds, the circus tents were ripped apart (pieces of red and white tent strips were everywhere), and most incredibly, the Zoo animals were dead. No one bothered to cover them up. The workers were more concerned with rebuilding the framework to lay the new tents over. Police were there, helping the workers to move the heavy tent poles, city workers were there, shoveling the broken pumpkins, but no one was there for the animals. 

I wasn't just thinking of the unhealthy state of these dead animals. No, this was a major street where children walk home from school. But no one seemed concerned. 

As I stood there watching the men work, while I waited for my bus, I heard what it was that concerned the workers. No, not getting the tent up as quickly as possible, not replacing the broken pumpkins with new ones, and not replacing the dead petting animals. 

What concerned them was why they were rebuilding the damn Pumpkin Patch. They're coming back, they kept saying. And the supervisor said that the winds had died down. Fuck the winds. They're coming back. Look at the animals. The wind didn't kill them. That's why we can't move them. The cops want to examine them. 

The new sign is put up two days 
after the destruction.

The supervisor glanced at the police helping with the tent poles. Not our department, said one of the cops. The supervisor told them to finish their work and he'll find other workers to take their place. No one was forcing them to work there. He'll cut them a check at the end of the day. 

The workers nodded as they went about their work. I focused my phone camera on the dead animals and zoomed in. I couldn't even recognize what animals they were. No animal was complete. Pieces of the animals were placed together as close as possible to resemble what the animal used to look like. I didn't take pictures. What for? Just like in every horror movie I've ever seen. What killed those animals? Why, the winds, of course. The Devil Winds. 

Sunday, October 14, 2018

Update 9

Trauma & Therapy

Religious Therapy
Death: Doorway or Dust?


We now turn to Religion, our next avenue of therapy for sufferers of trauma. Whether we witnessed a death or fought past cancer, we need to lean on some form of physical and mental support to get beyond the shock. God provides both forms of support. Most religions provide physical support in churches, halls, temples, shrines, and other places of worship where people can meet and socialize. These congregations allow the trauma patient a means to find friends and neighbors with stable lives, lifestyles, and habits, all forms of predictability and reliability for the cautious and chaotic mind of the patient. In addition to gathering with "safe" folks, the patient can also establish a weekly schedule that provides spiritual routine: Nightly prayer, biblical readings, Sunday mass, or Bible classes. A predictable routine helps the patient feel in control of his social surroundings. However, it is in the teachings of the religion itself where the patient may discover reminders of his trauma. For with every heaven we find in religion, we must also face its hell.

Here we wish to address this dichotomy of the good and the bad that the therapy of religion holds for the patients of trauma. Since every religion is so different, we cannot hope to discuss them all; so, I've decided to cover the most common ones referenced by trauma sufferers who have shared their stories with us. As usual, we will try to avoid using real names; however, we will use real religions and will do our best to present the best view of their belief systems as they apply to the patient. While, at the same time, it is not our intent to sugarcoat the punishment or "evil" inherent to these beliefs.
Anthony Servante


Anthony Servante Essay
Death: Doorway or Dust?

Just as we find therapeutic value in Dream Analysis, we cannot ignore its obverse and must contend with nightmares. In Paint Therapy, there is release in drawing out the demons found in nightmares, but there is stress, too, in facing these creatures on the canvas. We must remember that what was painted on paper lives in the patients' mind. Psychological Defense Mechanisms can only go so far to protect the patients from their own memories and images borne of their trauma. The therapy provides additional help for the patients to confront their painful pasts. 

So, too, in religion can we find help in a system of worship that promises an afterlife, a world without trauma or its bodily suffering, but choose the wrong path and the same faith that can lead to heaven can also lead to an immortality of pain. The religious person is always mindful of his mortal life and living it with the promise of Heaven, Nirvana, or a productive Reincarnation. This promise, however, is a double-edged blade, for a sinful or bad life can lead to damnation or reincarnation as a lower form of life. 

Which brings us to our dichotomy:  Is Religion a doorway to heaven, hell, or reincarnation, or an illusory path leading to the graveyard and a destiny of dust?

Since this is the mental struggle the trauma patient must wrestle with in terms of doubt, belief, and faith, I thought it best to approach the subject based on the belief that death is a doorway. What is on the other side of that doorway depends on the religion and the belief of the patient as he is taught and guided by his place or person of worship. 

Let's take a look at the common beliefs on what awaits us when we die. 

The most common expectation is that when one dies, their spirit leaves the dead body, faces judgment at the Gates of Heaven, and either enters Heaven or sinks to Hell. Many variations of this belief have the spirit, or ghost, wandering the Earth unaware that they are dead or haunting their old neighborhood as revenge for some incomplete justice left unfinished. So, only by finding justice can the spirit move on to be judged at Heaven's Gate. But there are other beliefs. 

In one of my short stories called "The Cucuy" (The Ghost), a group of boys discuss how they were raised to believe in ghosts. Here is an excerpt from "The Cucuy", Tales of Horror & Heaven by Anthony Servante, where common beliefs in spirits vary:

"Ghosts," Andre explained, "are the spirits of people that die. It's like the soul leaving the body and floating around the earth until God takes it up to Heaven or sends it down to Hell with the Devil. They usually hang around their old neighborhoods and watch what their old friends and family are up to. If the ghost scares someone on purpose, then the Devil gets to have its soul, but if it does a good deed, then God takes him to Heaven." 

"You're drunk," I said sharply. 

"No way, man," Andre said defensively, "it's in the bible." 

"What bible you been reading?" spat Wilo. "But that's kinda right. A ghost is a dead person's soul, but it doesn't do good or bad deeds. Only an idiot would believe something like that. Ghosts can't tell the difference between good and bad. God decides that stuff. There is a place called Limbo, where the new souls hang out until they are called to Heaven or Hell. It's like a big waiting room. But Limbo is not on Earth, that’s for sure. The ghosts that are on Earth cannot find Limbo. They’re confused and think they’re still alive; they don’t know where to go, so they go around acting like they’re still alive. I think they’re like poltergeists or something like that.”

BB exploded in anger and stood to speak, “You guys are full of shit. “Ghosts aren’t anything but projections of ourselves, our memories, the residue of life-particles left in space over a period of time. It’s like when you have a clock on your dresser for a long time and one day someone moved it, but you see it for a moment like it’s still there. You see the residue of its former presence. The image is the ghost of the clock.”

“And you say I’m drunk,” Andre said, shaking his head.

BB continued, ignoring the sarcasm, “I once read that people who saw ghosts always said the same thing, that the ghost was only visible at the periphery of their eyes, but when you looked at it square on, it vanished. The same thing happens when people live in a house a real long time. They leave particles of themselves behind. The longer they lived there, the more particles that are left behind. It never leaves enough particles to be looked at straight on. It evaporates. That’s why you can only see it at the corners of your eyes. Years after the people move out of a house, the new tenants begin to see the old tenants walking around the house at the periphery. They’re washing dishes or watching TV or just sitting around the spot where they always sat. The old tenants aren’t dead. They just moved somewhere else. It’s their residue in the house. But if they died, it’s the same thing. It’s just residue. No God. No soul. No Heaven or Hell. Just people who left their image behind.”

After he finished speaking, BB looked at each of us, anxious for one of us to disagree with him. Cautiously, I spoke up, “I don’t believe in myths, whether it’s Odin, God, or Superman. When a person’s dead, that’s it; they’re dead. The mind and the brain are the same thing. They both die at the same time. It’s chemical death. The body and the spirit are the same thing. When life is over, they all rot equally. There are no ghosts of people, or of rocks, or of trees. Superstitious people made up the bogeyman, the cucuy, to scare kids who wouldn’t go to sleep. We’re not kids anymore. There is no cucuy.”

The Janis Joplin record had finished, and the phonograph needle slid across the record label screechingly. Rather than turn the record over and play the other side, BB turned off the player and returned to the conversation with a seriousness that I had never seen on his face before tonight. “Go on,” he told me.

“Alright,” I agreed. “No spirits like religions teach. There are just too many religious points of view of what ghosts are; you can’t just pick one and say that’s the right one. If you want to believe that we have a soul, like Wilo and Andre say, that’s cool, but I say we’re just live meat getting ready to be dead meat. The chemicals and electrical impulses stop churning. It’s over. You’re dead. You’re not handed a harp as your spirit leaves your corpse like in the cartoons. Maggot time, bro. Not even residue. Nothing.”

Wilo shook his head disapprovingly. “You’re going straight to Hell for talking like that.”
Andre nodded in agreement. They were both joking, of course, but they were taught by the priests to fear God more than love Him."

BB slammed his fist on the record player cabinet. The impact sent the phonograph needle arm skidding across "Summertime Blues". With a controlled anger in his voice, he said, "I know where there's a residue being, or a ghost, or a dead body, or whatever you want to believe. I dare all of you to go with me to see this thing. We go together. Then we'll know who's right." 

No one wanted to say no the the already angry BB. And so we went to find the cucuy.

Let's begin with a discussion of Doppelgangers. Although the word originates in Germany, its appearance dates back to ancient Egyptian times. As the word was first used, it referred to a "twin" for every person in the world--that each human on Earth had a double ("Doppel"). At the Crossroads of the World located at popular tourist spots in various countries (Hollywood has one on Sunset Boulevard), it is believed that if you stand at the crossroads long enough, you will meet your exact double. Whether that sounds like a good thing or whether the thought sends chills down your spine, we'll leave for you to consider. In this type of meeting, you'd encounter another person who looks just like you, thus you'd meet a normal, natural person. It was (and still is) a common belief that we do have a double in the world; it's not a scary thing.

It is the Supernatural Doppelganger that worries us. There is another belief that other dimensions exist alongside our own, and that sometimes these dimensions traverse the same time and space in what many Science Fiction fans have come to call doorways. On each side of the opening there exist exact duplicates of each dimension, although there may be some minor changes, like a person who looks into a mirror--the image in the glass is almost the same, only it's reversed; it's left is your right, and your right is its left. Even its history may have some alterations to the timeline; the double may have scars from an accident, and accident that you never had. Sometimes when these doors open for whatever reason (Atomic Bomb testing was a popular theory for such openings in the 1940-50s), your doppelganger may enter your dimension. When your double enters your world, only one of you can exist, and so it must kill you to take your place.

Whether the doppelganger is natural or supernatural, the trauma patient can sometimes believe that "something" is trying to take his place in this world or that that double has already taken their place, and that they are not themselves, that they have been taken over. The trauma can trigger this feeling of low self-esteem, that they are not worthy to occupy this body, this life, that a superior person should inhabit their life. When the patient turns to such a belief in dimensions or alternate worlds in an effort to find an escape, he sometimes assumes that it was the doppelganger who found "escape" by taking over his own life.

It is the work of the therapist to mesh such a belief in alternate doubles with a routine or mechanism to accept that the patient is unique and cannot or has not been replaced. Building his self-esteem is a good starting point to build a natural foundation over the supernatural groundwork of his belief.

In trauma therapy, the rules of natural and supernatural order are important. Just as much as our visits to our therapist clarify the rules for dealing with our new world view of our day to day life, so, too, do our visits to our religious guides help us to deal with the darker unseen views of our post-traumatic life. One shows us how to deal with the stress of the busy workplace, while the other explains the behaviors that can make nightmares, delusions, and perceived dangers and potential threats bearable if not tolerable.

When we choose the right therapy for our trauma, we can't ignore the medicinal value of religion as a viable alternative to traditional therapy. Sometimes, in faith, we can find the answers that will lead us to a cure for the pain our trauma inflicts on us daily. It may not be for everyone, but if your culture can help you deal with the pain, that's as good an answer as paint therapy, prescription drugs, or talking to a Shrink.

In many cases, we turn to the supernatural for comfort from traumatic memories and nightmares. It helps us put a face on that unknown dread that haunts our waking and sleeping moments. It is often much easier to turn to demons and evil spirits than it is to turn inward and face the core of our trauma, whether it involved death, violence, or sexual abuse. For in trauma, we often confront death; yet we live through the ordeal. However, the memory lingers, and the specter of dying remains and surfaces on stormy nights, walks home at night, or loud noises from neighbors or traffic. A sense of dread hangs in the air, palatable and claustrophobic. It is then that "death" seems close at hand, or in the mind of the trauma victim, seems to have returned.

Religions tend to capture this dread and make it part of its faith.

In the Thai Religion, we have the Nokkhaophika: Owl Ghost. It is bad luck to village, when it comes to town; we know it is near because birds act unnaturally. Prayer and incense burning are the best remedy to keep the potential for evil at bay. On a side note: I have found Thai Horror films most effective in capturing both the dread and hope of its religion. Although there are plenty of evil spirits abound, there are also plenty of religious practices for the layman (as well as easy access to priests) to deal with the bad side. There are good birds to help ward off the bad birds. Take, for instance, the Krasue: Head of a beautiful woman with her innards hanging from her neck. It accompanies the Nokkhaophika. Burn some incense to quell the Krasue and the Owl Ghost will lose its guide to find you.

In China, there is the Yan Gui. Yan means nightmare; Gui means ghost. Together, they refer to spirits venturing outside the Underground (Diyu or Hell) who traverse the land of the living on such days, for example, as The Hungry Ghost Festival (similar to Halloween or Day of the Day). As the holiday implies, simply feed the hungry ghost to keep it content and harmless. The trauma victim here has easy access to power over his own demons.

In Mexico, Aztec warriors and women who died during childbirth returned as spirit Hummingbirds, otherwise known as Cihuateteo: women spirit birds who spent five days on earth before being assigned a place in the afterlife. During this time, these angry ghosts stole children as replacements for the babies they lost.

Mayan people believed that every plant, mountain, sea and earth, were inhabited by spirits and that these spirits had to be appeased with sacrifices in order to avoid natural disasters, such as earthquakes, floods, famine, etc. These spirits were named for nature, and as such, natural herbs have replaced the need for human or animal sacrifice in modern times. When women lost a child in childbirth, they could turn to a White Witch (Herbologist) to cover her body with the proper medicine to allow the child to reach Heaven and not be taken by these female flying creatures. This belief in natural medicine helped relieve the trauma of loss and assist with dealing with returning to a normal life after the child has reached the afterlife.

In Japan, Reikons are souls which depart the body upon death. If the body receives a proper burial, or if the last emotion of the body before death was undramatic, the ghost will join its ancestors in the afterlife and act as protectors for the family. However, lack of a proper funeral or an unjust death created evil spirits (even if the victims were good people in life). Yurei are angry souls who were murdered or committed suicide in life. Even if they didn't meet such a terrible end, if their final thought before dying was evil or emotional, they will traverse the spiritual and earthly realms, being part of neither one nor the other realm. They can cause trouble for both good ghosts (reikons) and the living alike. It is up to the family to ensure that whatever injustice their dead family member suffered, that they would find a way to remedy it so their loved ones can reach a state where they can be reincarnated, for without reincarnation, the most evil ghosts provoke the most suffering and pain, especially on their own family and friends. Rarely do strangers haunt strangers. It is always loved ones who die badly and become bad spirits. For the Japanese, solving the mystery for these evil ghosts is the most difficult task. It's not about prayers or incense-burning here. If you believe in Buddhism, you face the biggest challenge as a trauma sufferer. Your friends and family in life will do all that is possible for you to live a happy life, lest you die unhappy and return to haunt them.

For Jehovah's Witnesses, the concept of eternal flesh is accepted. God will reanimate the dead, and the dead will be reborn whole to find Heaven on Earth. In this religion, they believe there is no mention of the word "soul" in the Bible, and, therefore, there are no ghosts. Just as God imbued the dust with his mighty breath and created a living being, the breath of God is the "soul" together with the dust. Together they live and there is life, for dust alone is not life, and the breath alone is not life. Hell, in this sense, is death without rebirth, rotting in the ground without hope of being reborn. Faith here, then, encompasses the belief in death as a doorway to Heaven on Earth. Even as you rot in the grave, when the time comes, God will reanimate all dead believers to inherit the Earth. No ghosts. No fiery hell. No cloud-laced heaven. All you need for immortality is in your hands now. The trauma victim is most empowered with life itself and death itself as tools for a happy afterlife.

These are but a few of the religions and their therapeutic means for a productive life for trauma sufferers. Not all these beliefs hold all the answers. Some are higher maintenance and may be more stressful, but even those that require more work may be just the ticket one needs to help one keep a productive routine going, maintain a stable social life, and focus one's attention on hope and happiness from day to day. 


Jaye Tomas Essay:

The Tradition of Ghosts in Literature and Cinema

Who reading this has not, at one time or another, thrown a sheet over their head and "played ghost"?
When you think of ghosts what do you first see in your minds eye? A shadowy or transparent figure? A chubby Casper? A protector or something crying for your blood?
Ghost touch every part of literature, movies, art. And are as diverse as snowflakes.

In the film Spirited Away, written and directed by Hayao Miyazaki, animated by Studio Ghibli, ghosts or spirits are mostly unaware of the living. In fact it is the living Chihiro who starts to fade after being in the ghost land for too long. Some of the ghosts come for recreation and refreshment, spending most of their time in traditional bathhouses. Others, like No Face, are searching for something or someone to banish their loneliness.

In 'The Stand' by Stephen King, the character Nick comes back as a ghost to help Tom take care of the gravely ill Stu, telling him what kind of medication he needs to get and how to care for him. As good a friend in death as he was in life, Nick only turns away when Tom tells him how much he looks forward to seeing him again.

Some give no explanation as in the 'The Upper Berth' by F. Marion Crawford. The horrid and sea drenched ghost returns night after night and we are never told why. In 'The Haunting of Hill House' by Shirley Jackson we are left to wonder if Eleanor was being haunted by ghosts or was she the one doing the haunting.

Ghost stories have been told in every language and culture. We usually identify ghosts with dead people, especially ones who died with unfinished business. In Japan the ghosts are generally destructive and represent mortal dangers. Carbon monoxide poisoning has been implicated in ghost sightings as well as "mediums" who carry spurious messages from those passed over.
But why this interest in ghosts? Neil Gaiman explained in his TED address in 2014 that perhaps we enjoy those small, short burst of fear, all the more for knowing they will be brief, leaving us still here and safe.
It's possible that people take comfort in their dead loved ones still being present in the day to day. A way of avoiding the fear of our own mortality and taken as evidence as the survival of the soul.
It may be that it's easier (and more fun!) to blame a noisy ghost then get up on the roof and fix those banging tiles. And the paranormal tourism industries, of course, are happy to exploit this fascination. In some places residents pride themselves on their "haunted heritage"
Michael Shermer, author of 'The Believing Brain', argues that humans have a tendency to look at patterns and see them as deliberate.
iPhone users have seen a rise in people claiming to have spectral photos show up on their screens.

We are looking for them obviously. We want to see the ghost, even just for a moment. We are enjoying the delicious frisson of fear dancing along our spine. We do not really want to know that the banging is industrial, that the moaning in the attic is a hooting owl, that the occasional broken plate is not Great Aunt Mable's annoyance at her house being sold.
We want to see beyond, just for a moment, and try to understand what is hidden.

“Be hole, be dust, be dream, be wind/Be night, be dark, be wish, be mind,/Now slip, now slide, now move unseen,/Above, beneath, betwixt, between.”
Neil Gaiman, The Graveyard Book

“No live organism can continue for long to exist sanely under conditions of absolute reality; even larks and katydids are supposed, by some, to dream. Hill House, not sane, stood by itself against its hills, holding darkness within; it had stood so for eighty years and might stand for eighty more. Within, walls continued upright, bricks met neatly, floors were firm, and doors were sensibly shut; silence lay steadily against the wood and stone of Hill House, and whatever walked there, walked alone.”
Shirley Jackson, The Haunting of Hill House

“A house is never still in darkness to those who listen intently; there is a whispering in distant chambers, an unearthly hand presses the snib of the window, the latch rises. Ghosts were created when the first man woke in the night.” — J.M. Barrie


Rhys Hughes Essay(s)

The Futility of Not Believing in Ghosts
Rhys Hughes

I once had an Iranian girlfriend who told me a strange story about what happened to her father in their garden in a very desirable part of Tehran. He saw a face peeping at him from among the flowers, a strange yellow face much larger than that of a person. He wasn't sure if the face was itself a type of gigantic flower. Then it laughed at him silently and rolled its eyes and the father felt chills spread all over him. He retreated to the inside of the house and it was a long time before he ventured into that garden again. We had been talking about ghosts, so I asked my girlfriend if the peculiar face among the flowers might also be a ghost.
“There are no such things as ghosts!” Anahita said with great emphasis. Then in response to my puzzled frown she added, “There are only genies who pretend to be ghosts.” She meant djinn, who aren't at all the way we in the West imagine genies to be, but are a separate class of beings unrelated to angels or humans. They are faster and stronger than people and few of them are left now. Those that remain have been offered another chance at salvation. What the one in the Tehran garden wanted can't be ascertained. Maybe it just wanted to create some mischief. For Anahita it was very important to differentiate it from a ghost.
As a Muslim, it was impossible for Anahita to accept that ghosts exist. A ghost is the disembodied soul of a once living man or woman. But in Islam there is simply no room on the Earth for such spirits. You die and the Angel of Death come for your soul and takes it away and won't return it until the Day of Judgment. Therefore if someone sees a ghost, or if you see one yourself, it can't be a ghost but something else. It must be an entity that only seems to be a ghost. If it looks, walks and talks like a duck then it's a duck, but this rule doesn't apply to ghosts. How about the ghost of a duck? Let's not get too clever for our boots. Ghosts don't exist in Islam, or rather the way they are defined is different, and this difference is essential to enable encounters with them to be accommodated within the strictures of the religion. It is the same problem faced by atheists or anyone else who doesn't believe that the souls of human beings are able to survive death, or who don't believe that souls exist at all, that they are illogical and an error of language. Yet ghosts continue to be seen. So alternative explanations must be found as to what they are. Hallucinations, mirages, electromagnetism, autosuggestion or misinterpretation of something real.
For it is futile not to believe in ghosts. I don't believe in them and yet I once had a ghostly encounter anyway. I was in a hotel bar with some friends. We had attended the wedding of a student we had been to university with. This was in Solihull, a town just outside Birmingham. There were four of us and apart from the barman we were the only customers in the place. Suddenly a table in the middle of the room, at least three metres from where we were standing, flipped itself over so that its legs were pointing at the ceiling like those of a frozen dead horse. The barman remarked very casually, “The ghost is early tonight,” and we all just nodded as if this was perfectly fine, as if his explanation made utter sense. It didn't feel odd, neither the event itself nor the barman's observation. It just felt normal, small talk. Later when we left the hotel, the four of us stopped and looked at each other. “Did that really happen?” The incident was already acquiring a dreamy aspect, as if it was something remembered from childhood rather than a very recent event. And now the barman's words hit us with delayed force and became in hindsight as fantastical as one would have expected them to have been inside the hotel bar.
This remains my most profound ghostly encounter despite its simplicity and often I have discussed it with those who are interested in such things. I developed a theory that I always knew was contrived and whimsical but which I offered as a serious idea anyway, just to gauge the reactions of others who had endured similar cases. Perhaps there are other universes, an almost infinite number of them, all in parallel, with the most adjacent ones being most similar to ours, differing perhaps in only one detail or so. This is not an original concept by any means, but I wondered if somehow the bar of that hotel was a place where two almost identical universes overlapped. While we believed we were in a bar in Solihull in our familiar universe, we were actually in a bar in Solihull in the universe next door, a universe absolutely the same as ours with one difference, namely that ghosts existed there, were normal and nothing to elicit surprise, which is why we had accepted everything so calmly, almost disinterestedly. The moment we left the hotel we were back in our own universe, where ghosts don't exist, and that's why we were now surprised.
This nonsense resonated with people and the unsettling feeling that maybe it was true nonsense, the worst kind, began to grip me. I was intrigued to discover that many people who'd also had ghostly experiences felt the same way at the time, blasé, aloof, very accepting of the manifestation. They were calm too until after the incident was over. Only then did they question the veracity of the phenomenon and their reaction to it, as we had done that day in Solihull. Of course others offered jocular solutions to the occurrence. We had come from a wedding and were standing at a bar. Clearly we were drunk! But I don't drink alcohol. Ah, then we were exaggerating for effect? Not in this instance, no we weren't. Might I have dreamed the whole thing but thought it was real? Yes, that's plausible, but that doesn't change the fact that so many people I spoke to also had a feeling of 'normality' when a supernatural event happened to them even if the events weren't really supernatural.
It is futile not to believe in ghosts. The real question is to ask instead what exactly are they? If they are not the spirits of dead people, they are phenomena of psychology or physics that remain untested. They are a problem that hasn't been solved, yet the probability is that one day they will be understood. Then atheists will be able to rest more easily. They already force themselves to rest more easily by dismissing ghosts as an irrelevance in the modern world, but the solving of this problem scientifically will be a blessing because it will remove the coercion they apply to themselves. All of us are human beings, emotional beasts, including atheists, and when a ghost appears we jump in fright and our hair stands on end. Even if we don't believe in ghosts, our goose pimples do. Our rational minds don't really have sufficient strength to enable us to act in tandem with our sceptical claims.
What is true for atheists in this regard is equally true for those who subscribe to a religion that forbids the definition of ghosts as the souls of the dead, and in fact most of the world's major religions dislike this definition. Yet we remain enamoured of the floaty spirit that has been released from the ties of sinews and the tubes of bones and the garb of flesh and we wonder what it would be like to be a ghost ourselves, and we tell ourselves secretly that one day maybe we'll find out, because whatever our faith or lack of it there seems to be a residual belief, almost never talked about, more of an ambivalent hope than a certainty, that after death we get a chance to be ghosts at least for a while. That we don't immediately ascend to paradise or descend to perdition or have our identities snuffed out. That there is a pending period in which we get to have some fun, to enjoy ourselves, to blow around in the breeze, to pass through walls and spook the people we knew in our lifetimes.
The incident in Solihull was my most remarkable ghostly experience but not the only one. The others were all sensations rather than sights, a feeling that something wasn't right about the places I was in. Those places were always remote and always locations I encountered on hiking trips. Perhaps tiredness had something to do with my extra sensitivity or maybe it merely muddled my mind a little. Sometimes the unsettling experienced happened in the daytime and sometimes at night. Often I might be looking for a spot to camp and after finding one would settle down. Then minutes later, or an hour later, or many hours later, I would be compelled to pack up again and move on, in a state of near panic. Near the rather isolated Pwlldu Beach in Gower, South Wales, I heard what sounded like a bell tolling under the sea. I later learned that I was camping in a place called Grave's End where on November 26th in the year 1760 a ship named The Caesar was wrecked on the rocks with the loss of ninety pressganged men locked in the hold.
The corpses of those unfortunates were buried in a gully that was filled with soil and a ring of limestone rocks was placed on top to mark the site. Unwittingly this is where I had chosen to bivouac. I had to leave and blunder my way through a wood that was pitch dark. Anything was preferable to remaining in that unwelcoming spot. That wood also has a reputation for ghosts and my panic compelled me to keep going until I reached the next beach along, where I slept soundly and happily. It really does appear that some geographical locations come with a good feeling, some with a bad one. This is indisputable. But surely there is a host of rational explanations for why this should be so? I have felt a malevolent presence in a number of areas during these hiking trips and now I avoid those places at night. I regard myself as a sceptical man, yet my actions appear to indicate otherwise.
If we consider the matter closely, it will became plain that the malevolent quality of the atmosphere of those haunted places is an argument against the idea that ghosts are the spirits of dead people. In the unforgettable words of the most famous of all ghost story writers, M.R. James, ghosts are “the angry dead” and yet how can anger be associated with any entity that lacks a body? Anger is an emotion and absolutely requires a physicality in which to exist. It is not that the body is a vessel for anger but that anger itself is a function of a body. Without a heart to beat faster, without lungs to breathe deeper, without blood to increase its pressure, without the glands to secrete adrenalin, how is anger practical? It simply isn't. The most that a disembodied soul can feel in this regard is a cold and indistinct intellectual disdain. There are no anger opportunities for the souls of dead people. And is true malevolence possible without the input of at least some anger? No, alas. It is equally futile to doubt the existence of ghosts and to believe we will become one.


Three Ghosts in a Boat
Rhys Hughes

A friend was talking about ghost stories and why the Victorians were so good at them. It occurred to me that whether or not they were good at them back then is irrelevant, because they are certainly good at them now. Every story of any kind told by any Victorian has become a ghost story because all Victorians are dead.
Even a light comedy such as Three Men in a Boat is a ghost story in the present age because when we read it we are reading the words of a dead man. It may well have been a story told by a living man once, but now it’s a dead man’s story. A ghost story. In other words the content of the story might not be a ghost story, but the form of it is.
And yet we laugh when we read it. It appears that a story featuring ghosts written by a living person is spookier than a story featuring men written by a ghost. How strange!
If a dead man whispered words in your ear while you were lying in bed, you would be scared. But when you read a book in bed by an author who is no longer alive, you are reading the words of a dead man, and if the book is a comedy you aren’t scared. And yet in both instances a dead man is communicating with you.
In both instances the words of a dead man are going into your mind. It’s the same thing! So don’t laugh when reading Three Men in a Boat. Be scared instead! That book is a direct communication from a dead man to you! When we consider the matter objectively, Three Men in a Boat must be scary. Logic demands this.
So let’s take logic seriously and always be scared by it from now on. Because a dead man is communicating with us through it. That’s the very definition of a supernatural experience!
When funny incidents happen in the book, tremble with fright. That’s the correct reaction. Shiver with dread.
Because a GHOST is TELLING JOKES!!!!

Sunday, September 23, 2018

Arcade Fire 
The Zombies 
at The Greek Theatre  
September 20, 2018

Reviewed by Anthony Servante

The Zombies

Arcade Fire

I've often spoken with you readers about the trials and tribulations of getting to and from concerts without a motor vehicle or public transportation and my reliance on rides from family and friends. Often, as well, the person who gives me a ride will usually ask: Who's the band? Much akin to asking What are you serving when invited to dinner. In this case, I told them the band was THE ZOMBIES. He accepted my invitation. I asked him when was the last time he's been to a concert and he answered, "Pink Floyd--in 1969." Needless to say, my driver and friend was giddy as hell to be invited to see a band from his era of music. I didn't mention that ARCADE FIRE was the headliner. I know that he didn't know who they were. And it didn't matter. He was going to see The Zombies. And now with a ride, so was I. 

We made good time. He knew every shortcut and he turned an hour trip into twenty-five minutes of back-roads and side streets. I got the tickets and "After Concert Party" passes, we parked the car, and we grabbed a pretzel and Diet Coke before finding our seats. We landed 12 seats back from center stage, right between the speaker system, with a perfect view of the light show. After a thirty minute wait, the lights dimmed twice, warning the attendees to find their seats. Then The Zombies took to the stage.

The Zombies 
Colin Blunstone still sings for the band, and has since the 1960s; Rod Argent still plays keyboards and sings as well. Tom Toomey plays guitar and sings backing vocals. Soren Koch has bass duties, and Steve Rodford is in charge of percussion. The last time I saw the band, other original members joined this line-up to play the group's "Odessey and Oracle" (1968) in its entirety. For the Greek Theatre show, Argent and gang played four songs from the 1968 LP and cherry picked a selection of hits from The Zombies years. Nope, no Argent music ("Hold Your Head Up") was played this time out for this truncated version of the O & O show that I saw in Beverly Hills. 

What worked best this time out that was missing from the longer concert last time (nearly two hours in BH versus 45 minutes at the Greek) was the improvisational versions of the hits. Argent traded jam lines with Tom Toomey's guitar licks, and Koch and Rodford exchanged bass and drum beats during longer versions of songs like "Time of the Season" and "She's Not There" and "Tell Her No". These jams maximized the limited time the band had by sticking to the hit songs and adding that extra bit of jazzy improv. The crowd responded enthusiastically while the Arcade Fire seemed a bit surprised to hear such "old songs" played so lively. 

If you haven't seen this line-up of the band, I recommend that you see them soon as they are still currently touring. I didn't mention this up front, but let me just point out that this was the most eclectic pairing of opening band and headliner since Jimi Hendrix opened for The Monkees. I mean, hit songs from the 1960s leading up to Indie hits from 2004-2018. It was a unique pairing, a one of a kind concert, and I guarantee you will never see the likes of such a classic line-up again. But that doesn't mean you should give up. Arcade Fire is inviting some interesting opening acts on the California leg of their tour. Take advantage and take in a show before it ends. 

I love this band. Little did I realize that history was going to be made this night. There was no point in sitting down in the great seats. The whole theatre crowd was on its feet as soon as the lights dimmed and the opening notes of Neighborhood #1 (Tunnels) started the show. The roar of the audience was massive. This was the opening song from the band's debut LP "Funeral", which is rarely played. Then the second song began: Neighborhood #2 (Laika). The first two songs from the first album played back to back. Could this be happening? Yes. It was. Arcade Fire played the entire Funeral LP exactly in the order of songs that it was recorded. In a decision that was made just minutes before the show began, the band decided to play their first record from beginning to end. After all, they've never played it all before. And, besides, it was 14 years ago that the LP was released. 

And boy did they play the shit out of those songs. The audience was like the tenth member of the band, singing along to the harmonies and chorus lines. Every Oooo-ooo-oo, Ahhh-ahh-ah, matched the band's vocals and back-up vocals. The Greek crowd was the third harmonic for the band that night. We were part of that historic moment as Arcade Fire played the classic cuts from their first music hits, the hits that brought this crowd to this show tonight, to sell out the Greek Theatre. (I was offered hundreds of dollars for my tickets as I walked to the entrance). Poor fools who sold their tickets and missed this historic moment is music legend. 

After the last song from the LP was played ("In the Backseat"), the band took a five minute break, then returned to play a "best of" Arcade Fire hits from 2004-2018. Every song had an choreographed light show that combined confetti, fake snow, band members appearing in the audience, three screens showing animation to accompany the lyrics, and color lighting to set the mood on certain songs. It was a feast for the ears and eyes, and as you fans know, that combination of sound and lyrics is a feast for the mind as well. It was an epic musical show that could only be enjoyed standing. The seats were an encumbrance. 

For my driver, he said he loved The Zombies and the first half of Arcade Fire. He's got good taste, obviously. The newer music by AF takes multiple listenings to truly appreciate. I'll lend my friend my AF CDs, and maybe we'll see them again next time they're in town. But we'll also keep our eyes open for The Zombies shows locally. However, we can forget ever seeing this pairing of bands ever again (Never say never, says the optimist). But we saw them tonight. We saw The Zombies jam on their hits, and we saw Arcade Fire play an LP they've never played in its entirety before. There may be more historic moments in Rock and Roll (tonight being one of them) in the future, but there will NEVER be another concert like September 20, 2018 at The Greek Theatre. 

And we were there....  

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Update 8D

Trauma & Therapy

Paint Therapy:
Drawing Out Demons

A Pandemonium of Parrots 
Anthony Servante's Photo Rendering 

Just wanted to wrap up Update 8C Case Studies, as one new one arrived, and the artwork that I was waiting on also reached me. So, before we get to Update 9A, let's introduce the missing segments from Update 8C with Update 8D.

To summarize: These case studies were participants in "paint therapy". The new case study addresses a facet that I overlooked in the paint therapy overview.

Let's begin.

Case Study #4
Hi Anthony
I’m really loving the new trauma series. That sounds bizarre I know. I work with adults who have severe autism, some with other complex mental and physical problems and some are nonverbal or have limited vocabulary. The change in some of their artwork over the last year is stunning. We’ve found there was a malicious “care provider “. Before the provider in question was hired, the paint therapy was productive. The children drew trees, birds, blue skies, white clouds, all the traditional viewings found in the backyard of the clinic where the children sit and draw what they see. Since the arrival of this malicious person on staff, the art the patients produce is entirely different in its colour and some were so dark before they were quite frightening. Here's a sample that a parent allowed me to share. She told me that the child was having nightmares and that the birds in the backyard had begun to resemble the nightmare creatures. Based on the drawing, the therapist explained that the creature was half dream beast and half emotional outlet. Either way, it is quite nightmarish, for lack of a better word. I hope you use it in your next article on trauma. If you don't feel it relates to the topic of trauma, that's fine. Thank you for you attention in either case.
Counselor Diane Newland.

William Cook re-drew this drawing
to avoid any copyright infringement. 

My response:
That's frightening to think that such a problem could exist in-house and such an employee could go undetected save for these drawings. Could I share this story? I won't use any names, but it's a facet of trauma that I haven't covered--the abusive therapist. I will have an artist friend of mine re-draw the patient's drawing in order to avoid any future copyright infringement. The drawing will contain the elements and themes of the original without the child-like simplicity of the original.

Hi Anthony
Feel free to re-draw the original drawing. That’s fine. Regarding the abusive care-giver: The abuse was noticed by a doctor and us as teaching team and families who started to hear a happy person change, grow introspective, and paint lots of scary dark images. In just under a year we’ve reversed it. The carer who looked after them doesn’t care anymore for them. Unfortunately there was no evidence on camera just a few of us observing weird things that weren’t enough for a case. But the artwork has lost its darkness as those involved have relaxed and got happier. Please do use it without names.

My Response:
Thank you. Very relevant to my subject matter. Much appreciation for the work you do. Let's keep in touch about your therapy, as that's what I'll be covering now.

Case Study #5 Norie Email

Email from Norie H

My name is Norie. You don't remember me, but I remember you. You're not the only one with trauma. There are more. Old ones. New ones. I wasn't the first. You aren't the latest. We haven't met the last yet. The Plvmage Punks are getting restless. That's another therapy. My therapist told me about it. Make clothes to wear. I make costumes. Bird costumes like in these pictures. This is my poem. You never got to read it. It was for you. Suzie says hello. Bridget is still in a coma. Not a real coma. She just doesn't talk. She's home-schooled now. Watches videos on history and biology and plants and animals and birds and weather patterns. Climate change. It has to do with the hot weather. If you understand the poem, let me know. The therapists won't understand. You need to remember. Or no one is going to get well.

To evade the terrors in dreams, one must have the right weapons. You can't fight these monsters awake. It's like the Tokidoki Kids have their Cactus suits, we need a suit to confront the evil. But evil is the wrong word. It's more like we need the weapons to fight our bad selves. That's all bad dreams are, our bad selves waking up in dreams while we sleep. They sleep while we're awake. How can you fight what appears only in dream? With the dreams of your waking self. And my dream is the Plvmage Punks. We made pajamas for keeping away our bad selves.

And remember, a bunch of parrots is called a pandemonium. A pandemonium of parrots. Notice that "pan" + demon = pandemonium (lots of demons). We have them here in Santa Monica, too. You're not the only one in San Gabriel Mountains who see them. They're everywhere. You know, "pan" also means everywhere. But this is about "paint therapy" and nightmares, right? Right. I contacted your Facebook friend, Jerry Langdon, and hired him to draw my nightmare demon. He came up with two versions. My mom sends her permission for you to use them on your blog. She loves your blog. It's new to me, if you'll remember. Our trauma is not over. Not till we face our demons. Here's mine.

Jerry Langdon Rendering of Dream Creature
(without clothes)

Jerry Langdon Variation on Dream Creature 
(2nd description, with clothes)

My Response:
Sorry, Norie, I don't remember you. But these drawings look very familiar. Perhaps it's because I know Jerry Langdon's work so well. I hope you will friend me on Facebook, with your mother's permission, of course. I'd love to hear more from you, as you raise some interesting points. Although we have both suffered traumas, it's how we respond to the trauma that reveals who we are. The trauma doesn't make us change. It's our behavior that changes. By looking at the "demons" in our heads, in our dreams, in our nightmares, in our drawings, we look at our behavior. That we can change. You touched a nerve with me with your point about pandemoniums of parrots. Yes, we need to talk more. I, too, need to change. You're right: When people with shared traumas talk with each other, it feels like more gets done than meeting with "Shrinks". LOL. :)  Anthony

Norie Email:
We will talk more, sir. I promise. We need your help right now. Counseling only helps so much. Your "Shrink" doesn't seem to help you at all (my mom says that this is rude to talk to you like this, but that's how friends talk. I don't have a Facebook account. We'll have to be friends on your blog and my mom sends our phone number--she'd like to talk to you, too). I know we can help each other. I talked to Suzie and she smiled when I told her you were going to help. She hasn't smiled for a long time. It's good to have hope again. HOPE all capitals! 

The words are coming back to me. I wrote this poem for you. 

Like a Pandemonium of Parrots

Like birds, my wings take me
high, effortless, and fast 
I flip on my back in the ocean
of warm air that wraps me In strong arms 
Keeping me afloat, I spin to
look back down,
hidden in white clouds, 
From those below 

I flew away from your
scratching claws on the
I soar into the clear blue
above as your many eyes look
up high 
Search for me 
Your laser vision pierces the
sky, darts all around 
I am cloaked 

You want to steal the energy
from my feathers, 
I fly higher, you cannot pluck
the heat from me 
I see you crawl 
On the ground you dig, 
consuming all you find 
But not me 

I am free
by Norinko H

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Update 8C

Trauma & Therapy

Paint Therapy:
Drawing Out Demons

14 Year Old Finds Comfort with Wings


I spoke with SaraH about Update 8B and mentioned the other dreamers who volunteered for the dream interpretations. I told her that I wish we could get all five of our group to submit testimonials, dreams, or therapy treatments that they are undergoing. SaraH corrected me and said our group consisted of 12 people. She said that she was never introduced to any of the others but there were definitely 12. 

I then contacted Evelyn, the Sheriff's deputy; she remembered 7 people. I asked her if she could talk with her ex-partner to see what he remembered. After some coaxing by me, she agreed to speak with Steve, who still services the city of Santa Monica in the graveyard shift. He may have kept his job on street patrol, but he got what the deputies refer to as the "Donut Shift", Midnight to Eight-thirty in the morning. He told her that he recalled 7 people as well. However, when they compared notes, they had different names among their list of 7. 

I decided to follow up on this discrepancy in our memories and try to get a list from all our participants about what they remember. After all, this could come under the category of "Incomplete Memories", the basis for nightmares, according to our research. 

But I digress.

While I don't want to get off track, I do want to anticipate what Update 9 will entail. But let's get back to Update 8C and discuss a form of therapy that I think will work nicely to help our group of volunteers find some commonality. 

It is called Paint Therapy.

An Overview of the Tools for the Therapy for Trauma

In "Treatment for Children: The Work of a Child Guidance Clinic" by David Maclay, M.D., he discusses how "paint therapy" in a clinical setting can provide a tool for understanding nightmares, improper behavior, and adverse responses to normal situations. While Maclay concentrates his examples and case studies to children from toddler to pre-teen, he does encourage the use of drawings for therapy post-trauma as well as an adjustment medium to prevent possible troubled behavior. But, even though Maclay believes in any tool that can help the patient, he writes, "It is, however, a cardinal feature of child psychiatry that we try to explain our children's problems on psychological grounds unless we can show that there is real substance in some constitutional factor." What he means here is that the ultimate goal is to adjust the child's environment, and if drawing helps to reach that goal, then so much the better.

For instance, if Billy disrupts his Kindergarten class beyond a normal range for a five year old child, the therapist may hold a session where he has Billy draw something about his class. If, in the drawing, Billy draws himself in a corner, and the rest of the students with the teacher, the therapist now has a tool to understand that Billy's disruptions are a cry for attention based on his painting of solitude in the classroom. The therapist can then address whether or not the parents at home are giving Billy enough attention. If the therapist finds that Billy's mother is caring for a newborn baby, he has the components to make an informed analysis: Billy feels ignored at home and rebels at school, the environment where he can exert more power over with his tantrums. The therapist may find that Billy's strong-willed father does not allow Billy such power in the home where the baby requires a quiet environment.

Maclay furtther clarifies the role of the therapist: "We have laid stress on the importance of trying to explain emotional illness on the basis of environmental influences, unless an organic basis is reasonably substantiated. It thus becomes almost a matter of policy in child guidance to seek the origins of the child's problem along avenues of emotion and cultural atmosphere." Paint therapy ties the goals of the therapist with the organic origins of the trauma or roots of the bad behavior.

The primary tool we want to address today is "paint [or drawing] therapy".  Those of you who are familiar with Dr. David Maclay's studies know that he doesn't discuss this therapy until chapter 12 of his book on "Treatment" for trauma. In the first 11 chapters, he tackles the process of building a "Case Summary" for the patient. Briefly, the therapist must "diagnose symptoms", that is, list potential "defense mechanisms" objectively (twitches, stuttering, short attention span, anger, etc). Secondly, he must list the environmental factors of the patient (school, home, work, play, etc). Thirdly, list potential "emotional illnesses" (ADD, Autism, etc). Fourthly, list potential "psychosomatic illness" (tummy-ache, sleepiness, etc). Once the components are listed in a patient chart, the paint therapy can begin.

Paint therapy does not necessarily refer to "paint". The drawings can be made with crayons, pencils, pens, water colors, or any means to put figures on paper. No drawing is too big or too small. No topic is too taboo. Although (for children) the subject matter of the drawings will be discussed with the parents, there may be instances where the subject matter will remain between the therapist and the patient, especially in adults. Here's how Maclay puts it, "If the child has elected to paint, ... I ask him to paint anything he likes, not anything he sees in the room, but something just from himself." Without the confidence that these drawings will not leave the room, the child may not elect to paint or paint something not from his own experience but something from his imagination unrelated to the reason for the therapy session.

With a few case studies, we can understand this therapy a bit better.

Case Study #1
Boy, 12 and a half years old; high IQ.
Bed wetter, stealing, loner.
Parents: Mother, warm personality; father, bitter streak.
Sessions: Boy does not communicate. Paint therapy tried.
Drawing: "the boy painted a country scene with two symmetrical hillocks, a river flowing between them down to the fields below, a bridge, three rabbits, a tree and many birds."
Possible Interpretation: "The hillocks and the river could have represented breasts and milk..., a wish to withdraw into a paradise of responsibility-free childhood."
Further Sessions reveal the boy's obsession with masturbation. Possibly punished by father for "deviant" behavior. Self-gratification conflicts with memory of punishment, deepening trauma.
Drawing Reinterpretation: The hillocks were testicles, the river a penis. "The birds in the painting could have possible relevance in that in current adolescence terminology the word 'bird' was widely used to mean 'girl'."
Further sessions were more productive with a more reliable interpretation of the drawing. We now had a tool to address the symptoms of distress and guilt that the boy felt by masturbating. The boy stopped bed wetting and has improved his grades in school.
Therapy continues.

Case Study #2
Boy, 9, average IQ.
Bed wetter, temper tantrums, fear of the dark, kleptomaniac.
Parents: Domestic difficulties raising four kids.
Sessions: Concurrent with speech therapist. Paint therapy recommended to minimize oral communication.
Drawing: "In the first of these sessions he painted a duck attacking a boat."
Initial Interpretation: The therapist interpreted "the boat as his mother, father and the home situation, which he, the duck, was attacking because he felt they were not being good to him."
Second Drawing: Boy "paints a submarine striking at a boat which was raising anchor." Upon further discussion of the second drawing, the boy mentioned how sad it will be to go home after the submarine blew up all the land.
Second Interpretation: The boy has come to realize how destructive his anger becomes to his family. He is destroying the home he must come home to. The realization, however, triggered a deeper trauma involving his destructive behavior (he beat his younger sister and an older brother severely beat him in retaliation). When the third painting turned to "two cows in grassland" with several cow feces (cow pies), the boy regressed to an "anal phase". He also began sucking his thumb around his mother in front of the therapist.
Therapy continues.

Case Study #3
Girl, 14, high IQ.
Quiet, ultra-religious, afraid of the dark, recurring nightmares.
Parents: Religious, strict but fair, very protective (perhaps overly protective).
Sessions: Although shy, girl likes to talk about school and temple (Buddhist). She talks of friends fondly and often speaks of them in the future tense. She avoids speaking in the past tense. For instance, she'll talk of her friends waking for school where she'll meet them, but she will not talk about any times she has met with friends. When the therapist asks about her school friends in the present tense (what did you and your friends discuss at school this morning), she'll answer evasively, "The same thing we'll talk about tomorrow morning". Paint therapy suggested. She eagerly accepted.
Drawing: Girl drew herself as a bird with wings and talons. No human parts but for the face and part of the head; the forehead was part beak.
Initial Interpretation: Birds fly above all their worldly problems. Just as the girl speaks in the future tense to avoid the present, she sees herself as a bird can fly on a whim. Oddly, she drew herself standing on the ground, rather than flying. When the therapist asked why she wasn't flying, she responded that she was awake. She only flies in her nightmares.
Therapy continues.

The 4th and 5th case studies included drawings that were supposed to be emailed to me. Case Study #3 sent in the bird drawing in the headline pic above. Originally, I'd hope for more drawings for Update 8C. I know I'm being pushy asking the volunteers who sent in their trauma accounts to draw a picture for me, and I do realize I'm being a bit insensitive. But just as the dream interpretations was productive in a therapeutic way, I thought the "paint therapy" drawings would serve the same positive productivity. I'll try asking again a bit nicer. My psychiatrist, by the way, thinks all this dream and drawing therapy is a waste of time. Yeah, like Xanax is the answer to troubled minds and haunted souls.

Anyway, we'll continue with the Trauma & Therapy Update 9 next time, hopefully with some drawings. Thank you, readers, for your patience and your readership.

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Views from a Troubled Mind
Scene #9

Porcelain "Bonita Muchacha"

Que Bonito El Bonito

In a small village in Mexico, an angry father went into the neighboring project to see about his sons being pelted with rocks. 15 minutes later, the man lay on the ground, his bloody hands holding in the guts spilling from the stab wounds in his belly. As the story goes, the wounded man said. "Que bonito el bonito."

People who understand a little Spanish would be quick to translate this phrase as "How pretty is pretty." But that would be wrong. The masculine use of "bonito" (rather than the feminine "bonita") changes the entire meaning. A more accurate translation would be, "How beautiful is life."

Take into consideration the circumstances of the man on the ground, bleeding out. Imagine the scene a few minutes earlier when the father confronts some older boys (bullies, gang members, or sociopaths), who react to the questions or accusations of the older man as annoying, bothersome, or insulting. Whichever the case, in the man's eyes, the older boys overreacted to his assertions about the pelting of his sons. This view by the man can be deduced by the use of "bonito", which has to modify a masculine subject (in this case, the stabbing, the knife, or the absurdity of the overreaction leading to his guts hanging out).

If the word were "bonita", the subject would have to be feminine (only "blood", namely sangre, is feminine); in which case, "Que bonita la bonita" could refer to all the blood escaping his open guts. However, he chose the masculine form to describe his situation to whoever was close enough to hear his sarcastic phrase. "Que bonito el bonito" thus refers most likely to situation rather than condition (being stabbed rather than bleeding out). In other words, he is saying, "Oh, what a lovely day" (Mad Max fans will understand).

The reason I bring this up is because it is a phrase that is common to my people. I really don't know the real origin of the words, but the above origin is the one that's commonly told to those who never heard the phrase. It doesn't work politically or emotionally; it only works in gory situations of life and death. A pane of glass falls from the window of a tall building during an earthquake and slits a pedestrian in two. While some people might scream or look away, others will say "Que bonito el bonito."

Atheists would use the phrase to mean "bonito" as God (in the words of Al Bundy, "Good one, Lord"). Nihilists would use the phrase to mean "It's a wonderful life." Horror fans could use it to give a perfect score to a horror film or book. Crazy people would use it to mean, "I'm the only one who sees life as it truly is, suckers."

Remember, only hardcore Mexicans use the phrase. It has never translated well for American born Latinos. When we see death in all its bloody glory, we tend to say, "Grody to the max" or "Splash, your table is ready." We refer to Freddy Kruger more than the actual beheadings by cartel hitmen. For Mexicans, they devise phrases more attuned to the cartel violence they see on a near weekly basis on the streets or a daily basis on the TV news; they avoid phrases based on the gory killings of Michael Myers or Jason Voorhees. Yet in both American and Mexican cultures, we love our horror heroes, as long as they're not real.

Maybe Americans do tend to worship killers a bit too much (Bonnie and Clyde, Al Capone, Ed Gein). But I can't think of any phrases that were born from sociopaths. I could be wrong. When I think of "Que bonito el bonito", I don't admire anyone. If anything, it's meant to elicit a chuckle, not admiration. It reduces visceral horror to a level of laughter. And what could be funnier than holding in your guts with both your hands!?

Sunday, July 29, 2018

Update 8B

Trauma & Therapy

Dilemmas & Dreams:
Incomplete Memories

Morpheus, the Winged God of Dreams

Summary of 8A

When we're awake, our brains gather information via our senses (taste, touch, smell, sight, and hearing). These sensory images are stored in a memory bank. We remember the smell and taste of hot dogs wrapped in bacon grilling on sidewalk vendor grills; we recall the sizzling sound and colorful sight of the green peppers and white onions cooking next to the wieners. We retain the touch of the soft bun warmed on the grill and the hefty weight of that sidewalk dog right before we bite into it. These memories are etched into our brain. So, too, is the memory of our getting sick with a tummy ache after eating the huge and spicy hot dog. We remember both the good and bad memories of those hot dogs. We also remember most sensory impressions as dualistic experiences. The concert was great; they played all our favorite songs, but half the concert was new music that wasn't too good. There was that overlong drum solo. And after the concert, you ate that bad hot dog. When we're awake, we have more control over how we remember our memories. We do have a tendency to suppress the bad side of our good experiences.

In dreams, however, bad memories may make up that nightmare and good memories may make up that pleasant reenactment, one where the concert was all good songs and the hot dog was delicious. Because The brain only requires half of the memories to make up a dream, it will randomly select only a portion of the memories and rearrange them to tell a narrative conducive to the waking experience. Since the cortex cannot make new images via the imagination (which is dormant during sleep), it randomly selects images from the memory bank stored from waking life. If you ate some bad pork chops before bed, your brain may select the closest memory to that final memory you had before bed--the bad eating experience--and select the bad hot dog memory to trigger you first dream. It might then segue to the boring drum solo of the concert to fit the rumbling of your stomach as the bad pork chops give you indigestion. And as the drums drone on, you may experience nausea, headaches, and incessant dreams where that drum solo just won't go away no matter how many times you wake up and go back to sleep. For dreams are half real waking experience and half memories from the storage bank.

In addition, as we discussed in Update 8A, the waking mind perceives "reality" with its limited sensory resources, the five senses. In the same way an illusionist or Las Vegas magician deliberately tricks your eyes with a sleight of hand to make a coin look like it has vanished, reality inadvertently tricks the mind to believe that which may or may not be real. From a certain angle, an old man may look twenty years younger, but upon direct observation, we see that he is indeed over 70 years old. Had we not observed the old man face to face, we may remember the man as younger than his true age. This is the incomplete memory, the false memory. Add to these memories the true memories, and you can see how the cortex when selecting memories from its bank to populate a dream, can use both false and true images. In dream, we may imagine a young man with an old face, or a young-faced man with an old body. The mind finds gaps left by perception in the false memories, and it uses true memories to fill each gap.

How the brain works to perform this ritual of creating dreams is what our guest Lorraine Mc will address by interpreting and deconstructing a set of dreams sent into our blog by volunteers who have been following our Trauma series.


Lorraine Mc was born and raised in Liverpool, England and immigrated to Canada in 2004. Lorraine has written fiction for many years and is the author of Euphoria, a novel set in Liverpool, England in the 1990’s. When in the UK, Lorraine co-owned two different businesses. Khamsin Jewelry, and The Print & Book Station. Lorraine had a great interest in photography, and later worked for a children’s photographer in Liverpool.

On arrival in Canada Lorraine mainly worked as a web designer and usability expert. Later, she also became a project manager and obtained her Project Management Professional certification. Despite the day jobs, Lorraine continued to pursue her creative interests. A new novel, Hallutown, grew bigger than intended, and is still a work in progress. Lorraine is also working on a children’s novel. In recent years Lorraine has returned to her photography roots, having a Your Shot National Geographic account to showcase her work, and in 2017 started to develop her new venture, Infinity Star Photography which launched in April 2018.

Lorraine has always been interested in the purpose of dreams. Many years ago Lorraine had a series of nightmares. In those nightmares she was unable to prevent an unseen person trying to attack her and was frozen in the dream. These nightmares felt extremely real as in the dream, she was in her bed, just has she had been when she fell asleep. Eventually the way she ended these nightmares was to “lucid dream” and walk up to and face the person she’d been unable to see. After she told that person to ‘go away’, the dream never happened again. The fear had been faced and was now gone. Several years ago Lorraine worked with a local group and developed awareness of how we can make our own life what we desire it to be. Part of this group work involved determining how we look at our dreams, and how to learn from them.

Lorraine looks at the dream and what’s happening, but equally, if not more important is the feeling that the dreamer has in the dream as that helps to interpret what's going on. Dreams are usually about what's happening currently with the dreamer. She listens to the dream and then asks the dreamer how they felt in different parts of the dreams. These could be big or small issues. Many dreams are a rehash of our day with no real meaning behind them. Other, rarer, dreams can be prophetic, but these are a minute percentage of our life full of dreaming.

Lorraine Mc explains, "I look at the dream, but equally, if not more important is the feeling that the dreamer has in the dream as that helps to interpret what's going on. Dreams are usually about what's going on currently with the dreamer, though occasionally there are prophetic dreams that accurately come true. So I listen to the dream and then ask the dreamer how they felt in different parts of the dreams." Nightmares or recurring dreams, she explains further, are more likely to be related to a situation/fear/obstacle that we’re either not recognizing or not dealing with. 

Lorraine is not a scientist, or a psychologist, and her dream interpretations are based on looking at the feelings inside the dreams and taking those feelings, looking at what occurs in the dream, and giving her interpretation to the dreamer. Lorraine is not responsible for any actions taken by a dreamer after delivering the interpretation as all choices and actions are each individual’s responsibility. Lorraine hopes to help people to see what is hidden in their dream-self so that they can better their sleeping life and chase away nightmares to enable restful sleep.

The Dreams and the Nightmares

SaraH Dream Image

Dream 1 – Pigeons

SaraH's Account: I work for Starbucks. I am a Barista. I've known Anthony since last summer. I worked the afternoon shift, but I've been working mornings since last August 2017, after the incident that drove Anthony into his little "cabin in the mountain", as he likes to call it. I call it his fortress of solitude. Recently, like two months ago, I was transferred back to the afternoon shift and I ran into Anthony. He is not a morning person so we haven't talked since last August. He told me about his trauma series on his blog and asked me to write something about my trauma. Problem is, I didn't suffer any trauma, but Anthony asked me to write something anyway as he's having trouble reaching the people involved with our little party last year. Anyway, it is good to see Anthony out and about again, buying his coffees and croissants. He always feeds the pigeons at the bus bench outside the cafe with crumbs from his pastry.

Where do I begin? Well, I now wear glasses. It was the first thing Anthony noticed about me after seeing me for the first time since last August. Let's see, I like old style Punk Rock, like The Cramps, and new style, like GWAR. I go to community college. I study art history. I like to draw but I'm not that good, but I get good grades. I prefer the historical side of art better, but if I could make a living from my artwork, I would. I mean, I doubt it's anyone's dream to be a lifetime barista. I guess you want to know why I wasn't traumatized. Well, I wasn't in the sense of PTSD, I guess. I mean, except for the nightmares.

I dream about the night of August 9th, 2017. I am walking with Anthony, a man named Torinko, and a priest named Horaguchi. I met them that evening and we drove to pick up Torinko's daughter from this place in Santa Monica. We walk through this long tunnel until we find the girl and her friends. But I don't go into the tunnel in the dream. I wait outside by the van until they all return, except for Torinko. No one talks as Horaguchi drives everyone home. He drops me off at Anthony's (with Anthony) last and drives off. Anthony says goodnight to me, and I get in my car and drive home. But before I can get home, I'm back in Santa Monica. In the tunnel. Waiting for Anthony to come and get me. Did he forget me? Torinko is there with me. He speaks Japanese to me. I'm sure it's Japanese. Then it's not Torinko anymore. It's the pigeons. I have a croissant, so I feed them. And they grow bigger and bigger as they feed. But now I'm afraid and want to stop feeding them because they are growing so big. But if I stop, they'll get mad. What might they do? Torinko tells me to run and stands between me and the pigeons. I try to run, but I'm in my car again, driving into my driveway. I turn off the ignition and look around.

I'm in bed. I just woke up. It's morning. 7:00 A.M. But I don't have to go to work yet. I don't work mornings anymore. But I'm scared to go back to sleep. I do some homework and drink some coffee. The dream doesn't seem so scary anymore. It's just memories of the time I helped Anthony with his blog. I'm confusing his blog with the time changes in my job. It's just a dream. A silly dream.

Questions for SaraH from Lorraine: (SaraH's answers in italics)

I am walking with Anthony, a man named Torinko, and a priest named Horaguchi. I met them that evening and we drove to pick up Torinko's daughter from this place in Santa Monica. We walk through this long tunnel until we find the girl and her friends.
The dream starts with normal events that appear to be normal. But, in the dream, why are all four of them going to pick up the daughter? I get the feeling that the daughter is a teenager or young adult. Are they afraid for her safety in any way or are they just picking her up to give her a ride home?
What is the feeling at this point in the dream?
No feelings one way or another on my side. I’m just travelling with Anthony to help him out because he’s been sick. In the dream, I don’t know why the daughter is so important. At this point it’s just about taking care of Anthony.
But I don't go into the tunnel in the dream. I wait outside by the van until they all return, except for Torinko.
Because now the dreamer does not go into the tunnel. How does the dreamer feel at this point of the dream? Happy, sad, anxious, fearful, apprehensive?
Anthony asks me to stay outside for my safety. I know I’m supposed to be helping him, but in the dream, he seems to be taking care of me, so I do what he says.

When “they all return” in the dream, is the daughter with them? Who returns? Anthony, Horaguchi, and the daughter? Any of the daughter’s friends?
A lot of different people come out of the tunnel. I don’t know them. My only concern is that Anthony comes out. The rest seems unimportant. And yes the daughter is with them, but there are a group of young girls. I don’t know which one is the daughter. I remember Horaguchi holding one girl’s hand. She was a bit chubby.

No one talks as Horaguchi drives everyone home.
Does the dreamer (as the dream-self) know why no one is talking in the dream? How does the dreamer feel at this point because no one is talking?
I’m concerned that Anthony is not talking, but I remember that no one was talking on the trip to the tunnel either. It doesn’t seem important.  I guess I mean that Anthony doesn’t talk to anyone and no one talks to Anthony.  I’m concerned that they’re angry with Anthony about something.

Waiting for Anthony to come and get me. Did he forget me?
What is the feeling here? Fear, worry, abandonment, something else?
I feel worried about Anthony being with people that I never met. It worries me too when he comes out with even more people that I’ve never met. No one seems to know Anthony. And no one acknowledges me. It’s like I’m watching everything but I’m not there. But I am there. I know that sounds weird.

Torinko is there with me. He speaks Japanese to me. I'm sure it's Japanese.
The dreamer is not alone in the tunnel, Torinko is with her, he is the person who didn’t come out of the tunnel earlier. In the dream, did she want to go back in order to bring him out?
I was wondering what happened to Torinko when he didn’t come out. That’s when I was in the tunnel with him, like the dream shifted location because I thought of him.

What is the feeling here? Fear, guilt, confusion, something else?
I feel like Anthony forgot him. Like maybe he’ll forget me outside by the van. And when no one talks, I also feel forgotten, like I’m not there, like I said earlier.

Then it's not Torinko anymore. It's the pigeons.
There is a transformation here, a change. How does the dreamer feel about this change?  Happy, relieved, something else?
Anthony keeps talking about all the birds dying in Monrovia where I work. And squirrels too.  I don’t know why pigeons appeared. Maybe because I always see Anthony feeding the pigeons outside of my work. I guess I feel relieved because it’s a familiar sight. I really don’t remember how I felt in the dream to be honest.

I have a croissant, so I feed them. And they grow bigger and bigger as they feed. But now I'm afraid and want to stop feeding them because they are growing so big.
There is a feeing of fear here, but is there another feeling also? Why is it scary that they’re growing big? Will they explode, or become aggressive? Something else?
It seems like the giant pigeons will chase Anthony away and he might not come back. I guess it’s like the forgetting me thing. That Anthony will leave and forget me. And I’ll be alone in the tunnel. Maybe it represents my job. Sorry. That’s your job. J

But if I stop, they'll get mad. What might they do?
What is the feeling here? Is there a consequence that is feared? What is the consequence the dreamer is afraid of? What does the dreamer think they might do?
They might chase Anthony away. Maybe attack him for running out of bread crumbs. Actually I get kind of scared that they might attack me too. I don’t want them to notice me. And if Anthony leaves, I’ll be alone with them.

Torinko tells me to run and stands between me and the pigeons. I try to run, but I'm in my car again, driving into my driveway.
The dreamer is offered protection, a way out. When the dreamer tries to run she finds herself in the safety of the car.
What is the feeling when Torinko tells her to run, and does that feeling change when she finds herself in the car? What are those feelings?
I feel like he wants me to return to the van and wait for Anthony because Anthony told me to wait there, and I shouldn’t be in the tunnel. Anthony didn’t want me to go in. It just seems like Torinko is trying to protect me from getting Anthony angry.

I do some homework and drink some coffee. The dream doesn't seem so scary anymore. It's just memories of the time I helped Anthony with his blog. I'm confusing his blog with the time changes in my job. It's just a dream. A silly dream.
Homework is normal life. Coffee is normal life. Normal life shouldn’t be scary. The dreamer now convinces herself that everything was a dream and attributes it to a confusion of waking life events getting muddled.
What is the feeling? Why would helping with a blog create a nightmare?
Is there a feeling of complete relief, or, is there a feeling of relief mixed in with fear in the background?
This is relief. I’ll go to work and see Anthony later. I’ll tell him about my dream and how silly it was.  When I helped Anthony when he was sick, he dictated his investigation of a missing girl in Santa Monica by the tunnel. I used to type the dictations on his blog. That chubby girl in my dream was the missing girl. But she wasn’t important in the dream. It was more about my friendship with Anthony. He’s still sick and elderly and I like helping him when I have time from work and college, especially now that he’s working on something new on his blog. I’m trying to get more of my friends to volunteer to tell their dreams but everyone doesn’t want to share their private thoughts on a Horror blog.

Lorraine's Dream Interpretation:

When reading this, please keep in mind, that my interpretation is regarding a small snippet of SaraH’s current life experiences. When I say things like, “Sara is anxious”, that doesn’t mean she is always an anxious person, just that she is anxious about a specific thing, or situations.
I hope all of this makes sense for Sara!

There are several recurring themes in this dream.
·         Abandonment/being forgotten.
·         Caring for others.

·         Being an observer, or out of the main picture. Wanting to be the observer rather than being noticed.
SaraH cares about other people and likes to help. I get the feeling that she is, or has been a care-giver at some point in her life, maybe for a family member. Caring for other people as much as she does, she’s not used to people trying to take care of her. It’s different for her and she doesn’t really know how to react as is shown in the dream. Sara goes along with what other people want a lot of the time, rather than saying what she wants. She doesn’t mind this. It works for her and she’s comfortable with it.

There are two possibilities I see that could be relevant here. It could be one, or the other, or even both.
1)      There is someone in her life that Sara cares about a lot. A significant person in her life. This could be someone older than Sara, I don’t see this as being a romantic partner due to the dream-people she is taking care of and is concerned about. I see this as someone older she has concerns about. She is worried how other people view this person. Is there someone in Sara’s life who might be going into a care facility, or need help to remain at home? Or to a place where Sara worries there will be no one there to care for them in the way she would like?

2)      Alternately, if there isn’t a person like this in Sara’s life, then I would say that Sara herself is considering moving to a different place/school/town/job and is worried about meeting new people, how she will fit in. What will people think of her? The older person could represent her old (current) life, and concerns about moving on to a new life. The tunnel in the dream also shows this.

Sara feels her voice is not being heard regarding a situation that is important to her. She feels ignored, but she also doesn’t think she is able to stand up for herself, or her opinion on this matter. This could be the job that Sara is in currently and could be for various reasons. A lot of people put up with job situations they’re not really happy about due to fear of being let go out of the job.  I don’t feel that Sara could lose her job, but more that maybe there is a person there who has a louder voice that drowns out other people.

Tunnels can be scary. This one is scary, so this shows that there is also something Sara is afraid of. This isn’t literally a tunnel, but a tunnel is a way to get to somewhere else. Maybe Sara is afraid of moving on, moving through the tunnel to another life-experience that she knows is waiting for her.

The familiar sight of Anthony feeding the pigeons in the dream brings Sara a feeling of relief and normalcy. Sara wants that normal life but feels that she doesn’t quite have the life she wants at the moment yet, she is cautious about taking steps to change.

Sara is anxious regarding change. This is the giant pigeons part of the dream. The feeling is that Sara will be alone if she changes the direction her life is going at the moment. Although Sara feels that no one really notices her, she is also afraid to make changes and have her voice heard because she is worried about the reactions of other people. I don’t think Sara is a person who usually ‘rocks the boat’. Sometimes though, a little boat rocking is needed. 

There are people in Sara’s life who do want to keep her safe and protect her. In fact, Sara has more people around her than she might at first think. All of these people are ready and willing to help, if Sara will let them know. Sara is not as alone as she sometimes feels. Sara tends to observe, she prefers observing to being involved sometimes. This is a good skill to have, and has proved very valuable to Sara in the past. Her being an observer isn’t due to shyness or fear, it’s a skill that helps her to assess situations and make good decisions. I feel this is something she has developed since childhood.

Her caring nature shines through the entire dream, despite the fear and worry. Her concern for others is paramount throughout. This tells me that no matter what situations Sara finds herself in, her core strength that she uses to care for others, will pull her through that tunnel to the other side.

Sometimes, it’s okay to put ourselves first. By looking after ourselves, we are more able to help others.

Evelyn Dream Image

Dream 2 – The Beach

Evelyn is a Sheriff's Deputy who was assigned to desk duty after an incident on the job (she asked that this assignment be mentioned along with her dream--Lorraine was informed of this):

I'm walking on the beach. I'm cold. I wake up and get another blanket and drink some water from my night table. I return to sleep. I'm back on the beach, but this time I think I'm awake. I touch the sand to make sure I'm awake. The sand feels real.

It is cloudy so I can't tell what time it is. The parking lot is full, but no one but me is on the beach. I assume I am trespassing so I walk faster. I hear sirens. I am scared. What if this is private property?

Suddenly there is a fence around the shore. The parking lot is gone. I must have walked far. There is a beachfront house with people having a barbecue. I try to walk by them, but the man at the grill tells me that I have to exit through the house. The police won't arrest me if I go through the house. I slide the glass door and enter the house.

I'm in the police station. The deputies ignore me as I leave through the front door. When I'm outside I'm at the Academy at Griffith (sic) [correctly, Elysian] Park for Sheriff's deputies. I am told by my instructor that I'm late for graduation. Next time be on time. I am in uniform now. I didn't need graduation. I'm a cop now.

But I don't know where to go. I don't know where I'm stationed. I am walking the beach again. Now I know it's a dream. I awake to find I had kicked off my blankets. I'm so cold. I want to cry but I don't know why I'm sad. It's almost time to wake up and go to work. I am a deputy. I don't work the streets anymore. I'm stuck behind a desk. I'm gaining weight. I've been having this dream since my reassignment.

Lorraine's Dream Interpretation:

[Because the deputy has a traumatic back story, let me answer by sharing a few things. She and her partner were involved in an "incident". Her male partner was put back on the street with a new partner (and has to attend bi-monthly counseling assigned by his superior). She was re-assigned to a desk and given weekly counseling sessions with a psychologist from the county health facility. Even when I read her dream, I saw the resentment of the way her department treated a man and a woman involved in the same incident. There is some "favoritism" and/or sexism going on--perhaps.] 
Note by Anthony Servante with permission from Deputy Evelyn.  

When reading this, please keep in mind that my interpretation is regarding a small snippet of the dreamer’s current life experiences. Where I say the dreamer is “restricted”, or “trapped”, etc., this is meant to indicate a particular waking life situation, and not the dreamers full life experience. Our life is more than one life-situation.

Dream interpretation is more accurate when the feelings of the dreamer at key points in the dream can be identified. For this dream, where feelings are not identified I’ve given options as to what I think the feeling/s may be from the scenes in the dream.

The recurring themes in this dream are:
·         A sense of being lost, lack of direction
·         Authority – a source of authority in the dreamer’s waking life has an influence.
·         Restriction – there is a restriction in a situation in the waking life that the dreamer feels they have little control over.
·         Stagnation – unable to move on, arriving back at the same place. Being cold.
·         Slow progress – some progress has been made, but not enough to enable the dreamer to move on.

The dream starts with the dreamer being cold, waking up, and going back to sleep in the same dream. The dreamer is on a beach.

The dreamer touches the sand to make sure he/she is awake. Self-questioning. There is a lack of trust in herself/himself at this point of the dream. The sand feels real, but the dreamer doesn’t know the time because it’s cloudy. 

Without knowing the feeling the dreamer has at this time, I’m going with what is happening. The cloudiness indicates to me that there is something the dreamer is unable to see properly in waking life. Depending on the feeling at this point, it could mean different things. If the dreamer is feeling unsure, anxious, or confused at this point, this could indicate an issue in the waking life that the dreamer is unsure about, or is questioning the reality/validity of. If the feeling is of sadness, (possibly indicated by cloudy), then it would indicate there is something in the waking life that the dreamer is questioning (the reality of the sand), and this makes the dreamer unhappy.

I interpret this to say that the dreamer is questioning a lot in the waking life, is unsure and questioning the validity of a situation/situations. This questioning leads to a feeling of insecurity/fear/sadness. Things don’t feel real in the waking life. There is questioning of the self.

The parking lot is full, but there is no one there. Depending on the feeling at this point this could mean different things. Is the dreamer curious as to where the people are, or upset/worried/concerned that the people aren’t around? If the dreamer is curious, then this could indicate a questioning of the people around him/her. If the dreamer is upset/worried/concerned, then the dreamer may feel in waking life, that he/she can’t “see” the people around him/her, that maybe these people are keeping something from him/her.  That the people are “hiding” or that they are excluding the dreamer on purpose. The dreamer may feel that these people have abandoned him/her.

As I think about this, it could also indicate a feeling of mistrust in the people around the dreamer in the waking life as the dreamer is alone on the beach. This does not appear to be by choice as when the dreamer arrives the cars are already there, and the lot is “full”. It feels as though the dreamer is being excluded.

The dreamer assumes they are trespassing, so walks faster and then there is a fence around the shore.
A fence around the shore – indicates a restriction in waking life. The dreamer says he/she is scared, so there is a fear of being in the wrong place (private property) at the wrong time (sirens). When the fence appears the dreamer is now restricted, indicating a feeling of being trapped, there is no way out. There is a restriction in the dreamer’s waking life. Could this wrong place/wrong time have led to the restrictions?

“The parking lot is gone. I must have walked far. There is a beachfront house with people having a barbecue. I try to walk by them, but the man at the grill tells me that I have to exit through the house.”

The dream changes. Indicating a change in the dreamers waking life. Earlier the dreamer walked faster and now realises they have walked far. The dreamer has been working (walking) on something for a while.
I don’t know for sure, but the man at the grill seems to the one in charge as he says the dreamer must exit through the house, indicating there is only one direction the dreamer can take. Again, a restriction, but this time the restriction is being imposed by a singular person. In the waking life this direction could be from a person or a rule/entity that appears to control the dreamer’s direction. In waking life, I feel that the dreamer is being sent in one direction, (through the house), with no opportunity to change that direction. Again, this gives rise to a feeling of being trapped as there is no other way offered.

“The police won’t arrest me if I go through the house.” This appears to indicate that if the dreamer follows the direction set (grill guy), then things will go as expected and there is no need to fear the authority. (Police being authority). The dreamer is now in a police station, a place where other people have authority. The dreamer feels he/she does not have authority in the waking life as this is indicated by being in a place of authority, and the cops ignoring the dreamer.

The dreamer has an instructor, another authority figure. The instructor gives orders and the dreamer obeys and becomes a cop. The dreamer has made some achievements/progress as graduation wasn’t needed, but the dreamer doesn’t know where to go. This could indicate that the dreamer has made progress with something in the waking life but still has a way to go.

Without knowing the feeling the dreamer has at this point, from the theme of the dream so far I think the feeling could be one of lost/confused/lack of direction. This assumption is made as the dreamer doesn’t know where to go and has not been told where they are to be stationed. Having a station to go to would indicate some sort of solidity or grounding, but as the dreamer is without a base, I would think this means that there is a feeling of not being grounded, of being a little lost and unsure of which direction to take in the waking life. This could indicate a job, or just where the dreamer feels they are in their life/career/relationships.

The dreamer is back on the beach. This makes me think that in the waking life the dreamer may feel as though they are going in circles, or that no matter what they do, they still arrive at the same place. I think this is where some progress has been made, but the dreamer ends up back at the same place. There is a situation in the dreamers’ life that they feel they have no control over, and that makes them feel they can’t progress or move forward.

The dreamer was cold at the beginning, and is cold at the end. Again, this is indicating a lack of progress, being stuck, and then the dreamer is sad but doesn’t know why. 

In the waking life, the dreamer does know why, but I think the coldness indicates that the dreamer is stationary in the waking life, unable to move forward or backward. Cold keeps us in one place and stops us from seeing/thinking clearly.  I think the dreamer does know why, but the coldness is a place where nothing changes, and maybe this is safer than allowing a thaw?

Anthony Dream Image

Dream 3 – The Pilot

Here's the dream I posted on my blog a few months ago. I shared this with my Shrink, but she doesn't talk about it; she only asks if I got a good night's sleep, and if I say no, she'll give me pills, so I say yes, but she won't ever talk about the dreams I talk about.

I dreamt I was piloting a jumbo jet.

I remembered learning that left controlled climbs and dives, and that right controlled velocity. But the controls did not correspond to my maneuvers.

A hand from behind me reached over and flicked on the automatic switch. And we landed.

As I exited into the city, I wondered what became of my comic books.

I was at the University. I climbed the stairs. Maybe I'd find my comics there.

But I couldn't see the small letters on the campus map. The small boy next to me was holding a pair of glasses that looked like mine. Those are mine, I told him. One dollar, he said. The old man next to him whispered into his ear. Then the boy said, Forty five dollars. I told the old man that he can buy them if he wants. I won't pay even a dollar for what is mine.

The police arrived and I saw my comics in the patrol car back seat. The door was open. I grabbed the bag tightly and thought, No dream will take what is mine. With comic bag in my grip, I slid down the stairway rail to the waiting jet. I boarded and didn't look back as we ascended.

Lorraine's Dream Interpretation:

The dreamer is the driver of his own destiny. Flying the plane at the beginning of the dream, the dreamer loses control when things don't go as planned, but by the end of the dream, the dreamer has taken back control.

·         Flying
·         Searching
·         Obstacles
·         Control

"I dreamt I was piloting a jumbo jet."
In the waking life, there was a period of being in control, rising above issues and problems (flying the plane), but then things didn't go as expected. The dreamer understands perfectly how to handle a situation, but the dreamer loses control of this situation, and others have to step in to help. (the hand that flicks the automatic switch).

The dreamer was back in control, with assistance, and life and issues were managed.  With this management though, came some concern, and a search.

A search for the comic books begins. I think in the waking life, the dreamer is searching, (climbing the stairs, (to the mind) indicating the search and progress), for inner peace/happiness/state of calm/acceptance? The dreamer does make progress. The comic books represent happiness, peace and relaxation. When the dreamer is at peace and happy, the dreamer feels in control. There are times though, when the dreamer feels he does not have as much control, times when this happiness slips away, and the dreamer continues the search.

There is a pattern to the dream, which I think indicates a recurring or unresolved issue (searching). The dreamer looks for the comics in several places, but does not find them. The dreamer is still searching in the waking life for the happiness that the comics represent. But he's "wondering" about the comics, and "maybe" he'd find the comics, so there is no panic about finding this happiness, it's as though he knows it's there, but he just has to keep looking a bit longer.

Not being able to see the letters on the map. It's difficult to track down the place he wants to be at. Something is preventing this. In the dream it's the glasses, the eyesight. What is the dreamer not seeing in the waking life? If glasses indicate independence, what does the dreamer not feel he is independent about in the waking life? What is impacting on independence in the waking life? The fact that he can't see the letters could mean that he's not looking at a situation in the waking life clearly, that something (or himself) is preventing this clear vision.

In the dream the boy is offering the glasses for a price. What is the price of independence in the waking life? In the waking life, the staff have to help if the dreamer doesn't have the right glasses. So, the independence is reduced by reliance on the staff. In the waking life, are there any other areas where independence is at stake?

The dreamer doesn't want to pay the price for the glasses. There may be a situtaion in the waking life that the dreamer feels independence comes at too high a price. More than he is currently willing to pay. In the dream, the dreamer "won't pay even a dollar for what is mine". In the waking life, there is likely a situation where the dreamer does not want to give up something, in order to get what he feels he should be afforded without impact to any other area of his life. It doesn’t seem "right" to have to give something up. He does not want to give up his independence as it's something he's had for all of his life.

Finally, the dreamer sees the comics, but they're in a patrol car. Police represent authority. There is an authoritative person/situation that appears to have some control over the dreamers' happiness and sense of peace. "The back door was open". The dreamer sees the opportunity and takes it.  In the waking life, there is also an opportunity to take back what the dreamer feels he has lost/is at risk of losing. In the dream he has no qualms about taking this back, and again, goes back into the plane and rises above the issues that threaten his inner peace, independence, and happiness.

The dreamer has success. He overcomes the obstacles in his way and takes off on his plane. I think this points to the dreamer knowing he can overcome the situation in his waking life that is currently obstructing his path to happiness and independence as there is an opportunity waiting to be taken.


Thank you to Lorraine Mc for contributing her insights and skills in dream interpretation. Also, thank you readers for your patience as the Trauma & Therapy series hits the occasional bump in the road. I am currently working madly on Update 8C, which ties our dream updates to the appropriate therapy to dreams and nightmares. So, until next time, please feel free to send in your comments and suggestions, and if you have some trauma or therapy you'd like to share, contact me at servanteofdarkness@gmail.com.