Dreams

Although dreams cannot foretell the future, they can provide clues for solving future problems. Nevertheless, the dreamer frequently does not wish to solve the problem hi a productive maimer. Adler (1956) reported the dream of a 35-year-old man who was considering marriage, hi the dream, the man "crossed the border between Austria and Hungary, and they wanted to imprison me" (p. 361). Adler interpreted this dream to mean that the dreamer wants to come to a standstill because he would be defeated if he went on. In other words, the man wanted to limit his scope of activity and had no deep desire to change his marital status. He did not wish to be "imprisoned" by marriage. Any interpretation of this or any dream must be tentative and open to rehiterpretation. Adler (1956) applied the golden rule of individual psychology to dream work, namely, "Everything can be different" (p. 363). If one interpretation doesn't feel right, try another.

Immediately before Adler's first trip to the United States hi 1926, he had a vivid and anxious dream that related directly to his desire to spread his hidividual psychology to a new world and to free himself from the constraints of Freud and Vienna. The night before he was to depart for America, Adler dreamed that he was on board the ship when suddenly it capsized and sunk. All of Adler's worldly possessions were on it and were destroyed by the raging waves. Hurled into the ocean, Adler was forced to

Chapter 3 Adler: Individual Psychology 89

swim for his life. Alone he thrashed and struggled through the choppy water. But through the force of will and determination, he finally reached land in safety. (Hoffman, 1994, p. 151)

Adler interpreted this dream to mean that he had to muster the courage to venture into a new world and to break from old worldly possessions.

Although Adler believed that he could easily interpret this dream, he contended that most dreams are self-deceptions and not easily understood by the dreamer. Dreams are disguised to deceive the dreamer, making self-interpretation difficult. The more an individual's goal is inconsistent with reality, the more likely that person's dreams will be used for self-deception. For example, a man may have the goal of reaching the top, bemg above, or becoming an important military figure. If he also possesses a dependent style of life, his ambitious goal may be expressed in dreams of being lifted onto another person's shoulders or bemg shot from a cannon. The dream unveils the style of life, but it fools the dreamer by presenting him with an unrealistic, exaggerated sense of power and accomplishment. In contrast, a more courageous and independent person with similar lofty ambitions may dream of unaided flying or reaching a goal without help, much as Adler had done when he dreamed of escapmg from a sinking ship.

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