How to listen to dreams, an article by

Patricia Garfield, Ph.D. of the 

Association for the Study of Dreams

This article orginally came from USA Today:

DON'T, PANIC. Not every dream of cancer means you are ill. Research shows up to 60% of the content in dreams reflects anxiety.

LEARN THE LANGUAGE. Dream imagery is highly individual. Observe your own dreams to learn what a symbol means to you.

LOOK FOR CLUES. Some symbols are more universal. For example, a house or car often represents the body. Note crumbling houses, broken vehicles, etc.

TUNE IN TO RERUNS. Watch for recurring dreams focussing on one body part.

PAY ATTENTION TO PAIN. If you feel genuine pain in a dream, monitor the body part that seems to be hurt.

ALERT YOUR DOCTOR. you don't have to reveal your dreams. For instance, say,`"Let's get more X-rays."


In the newest round of debate, prominent experts in mind-body medicine say dreams not only speak to us, but also send lifesaving messages. Dreams, they maintain, can warn us of serious illness long before symptoms erupt or signs appear on medical tests. "Many physicians have been stunned by the accuracy of their patient's dreams" says Larry Dossey, M.D., an internist who popularized prayer and healing in his book Healing words. His new book, "The Reinvention of Medicine" (Harper) advocates using dreams in standard medical diagnosis. Another alternative-medicine luminary, Bernie Siegel, M.D., lectures graduating medical-school classes on the importance of listening to patients' dreams.

Dossey tells of a patient who came to him worried because she'd had a vivid dream (diagnostic dreams are said to be more emphatic and urgent than ordinary dreams) that she had three white dots on her left ovary.

Her physical exam was normal. She was none the less referred for a sonogram and the radiologist found three white spots on her left ovary.

But Harvard Medical School dream authority J.Allan Hobson, M.D., says dream diagnosis is "scientifically unattractive" and might be explained by coincidence. "What about all the people who dream about cancer." he says, "but don't get cancer?"

Scientific evidence for dream medicine is sparse. In one of the rare studies of the topic, Russian psychiatrist Vasily Kasatkin analyzed the dreams of 1,200 subjects and found they sometimes pinpointed the precise location and severity of an illness before the malady could be medically diagnosed. "Dreams are hard to pin down," says James Pagel, M.D., chairman of the dreams section of the American Sleep Disorders Association. "Because of that, it's still a very limited science, We don't even know why people sleep, let alone why they dream." Dossey says healers can't afford to ignore their patients' dreams. "We have to be grateful for helpful information - no matter where it comes from."

Ann's NOTE: If you want to better remember your dreams, place a pad and pen by your bedside. Write everything down as soon as you awaken, whether in the night or in the morning. Sometimes doing this will yield an interpretation immediately.

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