Thursday, September 07, 2006

Day 8: Process-Experiential Dream Analysis of Emotion Schemes in a Pair of Loss Dreams

Entry written 6 September 2006.

No smirr today. But I had two sad dreams shortly before I woke up, which I will use to illustrate how the Process-Experiential concept of emotion schemes can be applied to dreams.

In the first dream, I was cleaning out my house in preparation for leaving it, emptying things out, leaving empty rooms. In the process, I realized that our garage was structurally damaged and in danger of falling down. So I decided that I needed to demolish it myself before we left, pulling it down and setting the pieces in a pile to one side. As I did this, I became aware of a feeling of strong, but resigned, sadness.

In the second dream, one of my young nephews had died; although he didn’t look like any particular nephew of mine, I clearly knew he was my nephew. I and one of my siblings had the job of dressing the body, putting a nice dark suit on him, in preparation, presumably for showing and burial. I remember feeding his arms into the suit jacket. Again, I felt not repelled or anxious but instead overwhelmingly sad as I helped do this.

While the main sources of these dreams are pretty obvious in the events of past two weeks of leaving home and taking our youngest son to college, what struck me as important about the dreams was the pervasive sense of intense sadness. It seems that I have some more important grieving to do!

In the process of recording these two dreams, I noticed that they are organized around the same key emotion, which makes them particularly appropriate for analysis of the loss-sadness emotion scheme embedded in them. This, then, is a PE dream analysis:

A. Emotion scheme nucleus (felt emotion):
-strong, intense loss-sadness

B. Perceptual-memory elements (intentionality; associations):
-sorting and packing up many of our belongings before leaving Toledo house
-our previous neighbor, whose garage became so delapidated that he was forced to demolish it
-helping Kenneth get ready for college, then leaving him there

-preparing my father's body after he died last march

C. Bodily/expressive elements:
-a sensation of heaviness and tiredness in my body
-a feeling of being about to cry

D. Cognitive/symbolic elements (e.g., metaphors, propositions, identities)
-leaving home is a like demolishing a building
-having one’s youngest child leave for college is like a death
-“This is hard” (saying or wanting to say to myself)

E. Action tendency/wish (also lessons, directions for action):
-to be helpful, to do something useful
-I need to pay attention to the impact of this loss in my life

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