Trauma & Therapy
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.
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.
The Dreams and the Nightmares
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.
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.
[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.
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.
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.