What role do dreams play in psychiatry? Are "prophetic" dreams part of the paranormal, or maybe better show the potential power of our brains?
PSYCHIATRIC VIEWS ON THE DAILY NEWS
As teenaged Paul Atreides begins his heroic journey in Dune—but well before he even takes the psychedelic spice, he experiences partially realized prophetic dreams. Atreides felt ambivalent about what they were foreshadowing.
Dreams have long been thought to have meaning, both prophetic and personal. Lucid dreaming is said to offer the potential to control the content. In these aspects, dreams seem to be a natural phenomena with paranormal possibilities.
The paranormal refers to psychological processes and abilities that do not seem to have any scientific verification. They include extrasensory perception, clairvoyance, and seeing auras or ghosts. Coincidentally, today starts Day of the Dead, a primarily Mexican holiday that celebrates the deceased and welcomes visits from the souls of the dead.
In his memoir Memories, Dreams and Reflections, the famous psychiatrist Carl Jung reported having a waking vision in 1913 of Europe being inundated by a flood. Two weeks later that vision had the addition of a voice telling him it was real. Jung, on the other hand, wondered if he was having a psychotic break. The following spring he had 3 similar catastrophic dreams, then World War I broke out in August. Similarly, Abraham Lincoln apparently told others of his dreams of being assassinated right before it happened.
For self-disclosure, I have been regularly experiencing unusual serendipitous experiences since the Jewish High Holy Days 2 years ago. They help guide what I write and speak. But, then again, as I have been told, they could just be coincidences.
There are periodic reminders by savants and others with unusual skills that our brains have more potential abilities than we use, if only we can find ways to tap into them. Will we?
Dr Moffic is an award-winning psychiatrist who has specialized in the cultural and ethical aspects of psychiatry. A prolific writer and speaker, he received the one-time designation of Hero of Public Psychiatry from the Assembly of the American Psychiatric Association in 2002. He is an advocate for mental health issues relate to climate instability, burnout, Islamophobia, and anti-Semitism for a better world. He serves on the Editorial Board of Psychiatric TimesTM.