Role and Utility of Dream Interpretation in Homoeopathic Practice: A Study

Dr. Nikunj Jani shares a research project on the role and utility of dream interpretation in homoeopathic practice. Dreams reveal the suppressed desires and emotions and provide relevant rubrics for repertorisation.

Role and Utility of Dream Interpretation in Homoeopathic Practice: A Study

Abstract: Dreams have a great importance in Homoeopathic Prescribing. This paper presents the observations of a study done on 30 cases. The study adequately demonstrates the utility of dreams and their interpretation in homoeopathic practice.

Keywords: Dreams, Dream interpretation, Homoeopathy

“A dream that is not understood remains a mere occurrence; understood, it becomes a living experience.”      Carl Gustav Jung

Everybody dreams. A normal night’s sleep always includes not one but several periods of dreaming. A few people entirely forget every dream they have, and claim they don’t dream at all; some have almost a complete record of their dreams; most of us remember a few elements of our dreams, and occasionally recall in great detail a dream that seems, for some reason, to be especially impressive and important.

What are Dreams?

The dictionary definition of “dream” is, “A series of images, ideas, and emotions occurring in certain stages of sleep” (American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, 1969). In dream interpretation, the dream images are accepted as facts presented by the dreamer’s unconscious psyche; the interpreter seeks the meaning of facts to make a psychological statement that is relevant to the dreamer. The work of Freud, Jung and others made dream analysis an important feature of our understanding of the unconscious mind and for psychotherapy.

Dreams reflect the unconscious mind; hence in homoeopathy they are very important. They reflect the hidden desires and aversions and the innermost turmoil, thereby acquiring a lot of importance in Homoeopathic prescribing.

Major Theories of Dream Interpretation:

Most current theories of dream interpretation are historically rooted in, or in general accord with one of three schools: Freudian, Jungian, or Existentialist. Freud was the first person to undertake the development of a scientific method for dream interpretation. Jung, on the other hand, adhered to the interpretation of the manifest content, – the images themselves-, because he insisted the dream is not a disguise.9

Significance of dreams in Homoeopathy:

Whenever the prover reported dreams, these were included in the Materia Medica. We have thus a whole chapter on dreams (drawn of course from Materia Medica) right from the first repertory, the Therapeutic Pocketbook of Boenninghausen, through Knerr’s repertory (from Hering’s Guiding symptoms), Kent’s Repertory and the most recent Repertories. 4

Role of dreams in understanding the mental state:

Affects or the bodily reactions occurring within the dream, as well as affects or bodily reactions occurring while talking about the dream are a part of an entire image. They often lead directly to the emotions underlying the dreams. Thus, they give a glimpse of the real mental state of the individual.

Not all dreams of the subject can be subjected to a detailed analysis. Then the question arises, which dreams are to be considered to be subjected for analysis.

  1. Dreams that are recurrent, persisting over a period of time.
  2. Dreams that are vivid elaborate and etched in the memory.
  3. Dreams that leave a powerful emotional impact on the person either during or after their occurrence.

The question which then arises is, which other dreams are to be taken in the formation of the repertorial totality? Dreams which cannot be interpreted but are very striking, and have an impact on the individual should be an essential part of the repertorial totality. 6

How do we analyze?

Before we proceed on to the do’s, we ought to clarify the don’ts. These are:

  1. Avoid all fixed interpretations for symbols e.g. sex for snake.
  2. Avoid interpretation where the dreams are incompletely remembered and rendered.
  3. Avoid instant interpretation without reference to context.

It is useful to look at dreams in two ways:

  1. The content of the dreams
  2. The context in which they occur

It must be remembered that the dream analysis is not mandatory. Reference to the repertory in the large proportion of the cases should do the job especially when the nature of the dream is a characteristic one. Analysis is only for the imaginative, sensitive physician who would like to know more in depth and breadth.  This desire should be accompanied by a corresponding discipline of a high order.6

Dreams play a twofold part in homoeopathic case-taking:

  1. To reveal the suppressed desires and emotions.
  2. To provide relevant rubrics for repertorisation. 11

The Study:

A retrospective case series study of 30 cases was done to study the dreams and co-relate them with the expressions of the underlying mental state as a part of dissertation, submitted to the University of Mumbai for MD degree by the author in the 2007.

Conclusions obtained at the End of the Study:

The conclusions of the study are as follows:

  1. Dream interpretation was possible in 83% of cases (In 25 cases out of 30, it was possible). (Figure 1)

Figure 1

  1. Dream interpretation was not possible in 17% of cases (5 cases), as no  co-relation with the life situation could be established.
  2. Out of the 83% of the cases where interpretation was done, dreams played a key role in understanding the real mental state in 72% of the cases (18 cases); and in the remaining 28% of cases (7 cases) the mental state could be well understood through the life situation of the patient’s dreams and their dreams enhanced the understanding of the mental state. (Figure 2)

Figure 2

  1. Dreams have a good role in treatment of chronic as well as acute illness.
  2. In the study, dreams served as an eliminating symptom in 6.67% cases (2 cases). (Figure 3)
  3. Dreams have been used as characteristic symptoms in 93.33% of cases (28 cases). (Figure 3)

Figure 3

  1. This study highlights the importance of dreams as an important criteria in the assessment of regular follow-ups. There is a considerable alteration in the dream sequence post-treatment, enabling us to understand the remedy response in a better way.
  2. On Repertorization, not all dreams seen by the patients get covered in the repertory. We have to take the dreams with similar themes for repertorization in such cases.
  3. A variety of dreams have been seen in the 30 cases taken in this study. The highest incidence is of Dreams of Water in 9.32% cases (11 cases), this is followed by Dreams of Dead People and Dreams of Mutilations and Blood which are seen in 5.93% of cases (7 cases).

 

Types of Dreams Frequency of occurrences in casesPercentage
Water119.32%
Dead people75.93%
Mutilation and blood75.93%
Snakes75.93%
Exams65.08%
Failures65.08%
Amorous54.24%
Drowning54.24%
Falling54.24%
Frightful54.24%
Death43.39%
God43.39%
Murder43.39%
Prophetic and clairvoyant43.39%
Animals32.54%
Embarrassment and humiliation32.54%
Fire32.54%
Marriages32.54%
Rape32.54%
Anxiety21.69%
Children21.69%
Disease21.69%
Ghosts21.69%
Past events21.69%
Accidents10.85%
Being naked10.85%
Coloured10.85%
Crowds10.85%
Fights10.85%
Fish10.85%
Food10.85%
Graves10.85%
Landscapes10.85%
Pursuit10.85%
Relatives10.85%
Teeth10.85%
Travelling10.85%

 

  • The following histograms show the occurrence of the various dreams in the 30 cases:

Fig 4 : Frequency of occurrences of dreams in cases

Fig 5: Frequency of occurrences of dreams in cases

Fig 6: Frequency of occurrences of dreams in cases

Fig 7: Frequency of occurrences of dreams in cases

Fig 8: Frequency of occurrences of dreams in cases

  1. On interpretation of dreams, various themes were reflected, out of the 25 cases which are interpreted; the underlying theme of Anxiety and Sexuality was observed in 22.03% of cases (13 cases); this was followed by themes of Suppressed and Repressed emotions in 18.64% of cases (11 cases). Themes of Violence and Aggression in 56% of cases (8 cases), Fear in 6.78% of cases (4 cases), Loneliness and Forsaken Feeling in 6.78% of cases (4 cases) , Unfulfilled desires in 6.78% of cases (4 cases), Clairvoyance and Humiliation were also noted in this study.

Fig 9: Frequency of occurrences of dreams in cases

  1. Dream themes or solitary dreams are more useful in construction of repertorial totality, and dream sequences have a limited role in repertorization but are very useful for understanding the mental state of the person.
  2. Total 28 cases in this study received a constitutional remedy. 9 cases received Magnesium in combination with some anion out of which 4 cases were of Mag Mur and 4 cases received Mag Carb. 3 cases received Kali Carb; the other 2 cases each received Lac Can, Lycopodium and Lachesis respectively.
  3. The other 12 cases received different remedies and we can say that the spread and depth of Materia Medica by using dreams was wide.
Remedy Total casesPercentage
Mag Mur413.33%
Mag Carb413.33%
Mag Sulph13.33%
Magnesium group9 
Kali Carb310%
Lac Can26.66%
Lachesis26.66%
Cencheris13.33%
Naja13.33%
Ophidia Group4 
Lycopodium26.66%
Merc Sol13.33%
Lyssin13.33%
Hurra13.33%
Calcerea Silicata13.33%
Zinc Picricum13.33%
Sepia13.33%
Rhus Tox13.33%
Plumbum13.33%
Platina13.33%
Nat Mur13.33%

Fig 10: Frequency of Remedies used in cases

  1. In this study only 2 cases received acute remedies, and those had excellent results. Remedies like Plumbum and Rhus Tox were used exclusively on the basis of their dreams.
  2. The defense mechanism Suppression was seen highest in 13 cases, followed by Repression in 11 cases. The other defense mechanisms like Communication Block, Projection, Introjection, Escapism, and Channelization were also found in this study.
  3. In all the 25 cases which were interpreted on the basis of Jung’s and Freud’s theory of Dream Analysis, the mechanism Ego Displacement was seen being used in 8 cases. The other mechanisms like Symbolism, Allegory, Archetypes and Rebus were also seen in this study.
  4. Repressed and Suppressed feelings formed the major core emotions of the Magnesium group. Suppressed violence and aggression was also seen in the Magnesium Group.
  5. The theme of Sexuality was prominent in the Ophidia group and in remedies like Lyssin and Calc Sil.
  6. A detailed case taking is essential to study the dreams by co-relating them with the life situation of the patient.
  7. Steps of symptom classification, analysis, and evaluation of symptoms form a very important role in selecting the simillimum.
  8. By using a psychodynamic study of the person, it is possible to derive the materia medica portraits of the various remedies.
  9. Materia Medica representation is not adequate in rubrics like Dreams of Examination and Dreams of Failures listed in the Synthesis Repertory. Here only rare remedies are present, and well proved remedies are not adequately mentioned in the repertory under such rubrics.
  10. The majority of the cases have been approached using Kent’s Totality which indicates the availability of qualified Mentals, Cravings, Aversions, and Thermal states with differential thermal modalities. Physical generals all have their valuable place in building the totality. They communicate to the homoeopathic physician the level and degree of susceptibility.
  11. Interpretation of the dreams can mislead the physician if they are not interpreted in the right way. Dream interpretation requires discipline of the highest order. Fanciful interpretations have no role in understanding the real mental state and they can prove hazardous.
  12. To understand the utility of dreams and their interpretations from the life space and behavioral patterns, it is essential to undertake a detailed interview focusing upon childhood, upbringing, schooling, work, and family with respect to various expressions from time to time.
  13. Along with the remedial measures, in which a constitutional remedy was the main-stay, ancillary measures also helped. Active interactions with the patient and in some cases with their relatives, at some stage of the treatment helped in the curative processes. It helped the patient to be aware of their problems, identify the specific problem areas, and deal with these problems as per guidance or suggestions of the treating physician. In some cases, these interactions gave new perspectives to the patient or a gave chance of retrospection.

Bibliography:

  1. Dhawale, M. L; (2000) Principles and Practice of Homoeopathy, 3rd Edition, Dr. M. L. Dhawale Memorial Trust, Mumbai.
  2. Freud, S; (1909), The Interpretation of Dreams, New York: W.W. Norton & Company.
  3. Freud, S; (1923), The Ego and the Id, New York: W.W. Norton & Company.
  4. Gunvante, S. M; (1993), Significance of Sleep and Dreams, National Journal of Homoeopathy, Jan / Feb, Vol II, No 1.
  5. Jani, Nikunj (2012), “Utility of Dreams in Homoeopathic Practice: A Study”, National Journal of Homoeopathy, (Oct 2012, Vol 14 / No 10).
  6. Kapse, A. R; (2003), Dreams and their interpretation, ICR Operational Manual, 2nd Edition, Dr. M. L. Dhawale Memorial Trust, Mumbai.
  7. Processing the Case (Part 1), The Mental State: Analysis, Recording and Synthesis, ICR Operational Manual, Dr. M. L. Dhawale Memorial Trust, Mumbai.
  8. Kasad, K.N; (2003), D5 Paper, Repertorial Syndrome, Recognition, Representation and Differentiation, ICR Symposium Volume on Hahnemannian Totality, Volume II, 3rd Edition, Dr. M. L. Dhawale Memorial Trust, Mumbai.
  9. Matton, M. A; (1984), Understanding Dreams, Spring Publications, Wood Stock, Connecticut.
  10. Parker, Derek and Julia; (1985), Dreaming, Prentice Hall Press.
  11. Parthasarthy, V (1993), Editorial, National Journal of Homoeopathy, Vol II, No 1.
  12. Vakil, P; (1997), Dreams, Come To Rescue, Dr. P. D. Vakil, Mumbai.
  13. Withmont, E. C; (1969), The Symbolic Quest, Pub: G. P. Putnam’s Sons, New York.
  14. Withmont, E.C. and Syliva B. Perera; (1989), Dreams, A Portal To The Source, Roultedge, London.

About the author

Nikunj Jani

Nikunj Jani

Dr Nikunj Jani – M.D. (Hom) is a homoeopathic physician with over 10 years of clinical experience. He is currently working as Associate Professor, Dept of Repertory, Dr. M. L. Dhawale Memorial Homoeopathic Institute, Palghar, Maharashtra. He is also involved as a Physician in the Dept of Geriatric Medicine at Dr. M. L. Dhawale Memorial Trust’s Rural Homoeopathic Hospital, Palghar. Dr Nikunj Jani has over 35 papers published to date in various peer-reviewed and national journals of Homoeopathy.

2 Comments

Leave a Comment