3 out of 4 stars
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In the late 1990s, I attended a workshop on dream interpretation. The facilitator noted that dream dictionaries aren't worth the paper they're printed on. While working in a small group, I mentioned my recurring dreams about rushing to catch a train but encountering multiple obstacles. One group member said that meant I was preoccupied with control, but I wasn't content with that analysis.
This came back to me as I read Modern Dreamwork by Linda Yael Schiller. I welcomed her emphasis that "the dream belongs to the dreamer". (Modern Dreamwork by Linda Yael Schiller, p.76). In other words, to be of worth, an interpretation must resonate strongly with the person who had the dream. The dreamer should know this intuitively by dint of a tingle or "Aha!" moment. However, this insight should be selected from the widest possible range of associations with the dream symbols in question, and other people can certainly be helpful in suggesting these. Even dream dictionaries could have their uses here because although dreams are created in an individual's mind, they may contain images from shared mythology.
Universal myths and the anthropological history of dream interpretation are some of the many subjects Schiller explores in this comprehensive guide to working with dreams. The book explains how to use dreams to promote self-knowledge and personal development, also demonstrating how to tap into subconscious wisdom when struggling to make a decision. Schiller provides tips on how to remember and record dreams as well as supplying frameworks for interpretation. Each chapter ends with an exercise and a link back to the contents page, which is a welcome aid to navigating the chapters as needed. One of my favourite aspects was Schiller's originality in devising her own analytical methods. Her Guided Active Imagination Approach (GAIA) is particularly helpful in dealing with nightmares. There is even a section on how to soothe children suffering from nightmares.
Therefore, one group of people I'd recommend this book to is parents. Otherwise, anyone plagued by nightmares or recurring dreams will find tools in it that will help them move forward. I'd also recommend this to anyone who is fascinated by the alternate universe offered by dreams and would like to learn more about their roles in waking life. Written in a clear and lively style, this could also appeal to mental health professionals who use their clients' dreams for therapeutic purposes. Schiller has experience with this, and her book is a scholarly one that draws on the work of many experts. However, this book is not for sceptics who think that sleeping minds simply generate random thoughts.
I sometimes came across that attitude when I recounted my dreams in the 1980s and 1990s. Yet I can reveal that I am still having the same recurring dreams as I did in my youth. I believe my vivid and recurring dreams are trying to get my attention. I look forward to employing the techniques in this book and will know I'm on the right track, so to speak, when the train dreams stop. An overarching theme of the book is that of a journey home. In that connection, Schiller frequently illustrates her points with examples from The Wizard of Oz.
One very minor criticism I have is that she constantly refers to the movie version. I came to know and love the books by L. Frank Baum well before I saw the movie, and there are some differences. In a stunning example of how nightmares can be transformed, however, Schiller does reveal that Scarecrow had his origins in L. Frank Baum's nightmares!
This is just one example showing that this book is as informative as it is practical. It has clearly been carefully put together; however, unfortunately, a few typos slipped through the cracks. As I found more than ten of these, I have to rate this book three out of four stars. I deducted a star only because of the errors; this is a fascinating, multifaceted book and a marvellous resource.
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