Healing and Dreams

Healing and Dreams


Dreams are associated with healing in several ways. The role of dreams in psychological healing and growth is discussed in several different entries in this book, particularly the entry on psychotherapy and the entries on particular psychotherapists, such as Carl Jung and Karen Horney. Dreams can also play a role in healing bodily ailments, as revealed in customs going back at least as far as the practice of dream incubation in the ancient world. The practice of going to a dream temple to seek healing reached its peak in the cult of Aesculapius, the legendary healer of the classical Greeks. Seekers could be healed directly in their dreams, or they could receive a diagnosis and a prescription for healing.

In contemporary Western culture, the notion of dreams playing a role in physical healing has recently been widely popularized through Patricia Garfield’s book The Healing Power of Dreams. In this useful and very readable work. Garfield, a professional psychologist, makes a case for using dreams in all phases of the healing process, from diagnosis to cure. In addition to recounting concrete instances of how dreams reflect one’s state of health and stage of healing, she includes a kind of dream dictionary at the end of her book that offers guidelines for utilizing dreams in diagnosis.

Garfield also discusses how to “program” dreams (suggesting the direction or content of dreams to oneself before going to sleep) to assist in the healing process, somewhat along the same lines as using creative visualization in healing. Of particular interest is her discussion of how the practice of lucid dreaming—becoming conscious of one’s dream and controlling its contents—can be used in the healing process.

The Dream Encyclopedia, Second Edition © 2009 Visible Ink Press®. All rights reserved.