Monday 24 April 2017

A Rolodex And A Phone

 photo courtesy of

Our dreamer this week is a woman in early retirement who seemed to stop dreaming several years ago. Recently she has also had trouble falling asleep, so she began taking melatonin. That helped her sleep more soundly, and she also began remembering her dreams again. But now her dreams were terrifying nightmares. She wanted to know why this was.

I suggested the following idea to her. First, it is well documented that there is a relationship between natural melatonin production and dream recall. As we age, we produce less melatonin, and so our recall diminishes. The first job of a dream is to try and be remembered. Even with good melatonin production dreams have to work to bring themselves into the conscious memory of the dreamer. Perhaps, in her case, as melatonin production decreased, her dreams were working harder to make themselves remembered. They were doing this by using ever more radical and outrageous imagery. When her dream recall ceased altogether, her dreams desperately tried to break through the memory wall, using any imagery available, including overtly scary plots and characters. Still the dreams were not getting through.

Then, because she couldn’t sleep, she took melatonin in a reasonably high dose. Suddenly the floodgates of dream recall were opened wide, and all the outrageous images that the dreams had been manufacturing came pouring into the dreamer’s consciousness.

With this idea in mind, our dreamer wrote herself a note just before she went to bed. In the note, she asked the dream-producing part of her mind to ease up on the images and offer gentler dreams. She promised to examine these dreams if they didn’t scare her half to death.

It took four nights in a row of writing essentially the same note every night. Finally, she experienced results. In an animated phone conversation with me, she said that, for the first time since taking melatonin, she recalled a dream that was not a nightmare and was gentle. But now the problem was that the new dream seemed so silly and pointless, she didn’t know what to make of it.

I asked her to describe it to me.

The dreamer’s “pointless” dream
I’m standing somewhere that I can’t identify, and I’m looking at a kind of a desk or table. It’s modern. There are no natural materials. I think the surface is some kind of Formica, and it’s grey. There are two items on this desk or table. One is an older model phone—a landline with a chord going into a phone jack in the wall. The other item is an old-fashioned rolodex with hand-written cards in it in alphabetical order. And that’s it. Everything but the table and its two items is in a complete fog. I don’t do anything, nothing happens. I’m just standing there looking. And then I wake up.

My reactions
As always, it was important for me not to interject my opinions. But, quietly, I had strong ones: A phone and a rolodex are all about communicating, and here was a dreamer who had not been able to remember her dream communications.

On Wednesday, we’ll see where this dream takes her.

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